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RE: The Department of Defense Report on the Military Dining Facility Conflict

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RE: The Department of Defense Report on the Military Dining Facility Conflict

WHEREAS, beginning in 2003, and occurring in every annual piece of legislation to reauthorize Department of Defense (DOD) Programs through 2006, Congress has addressed the conflict between blind vendors under the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the severely disabled under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act in the operation of military dining facilities; and

WHEREAS, these attempts to address the conflict have satisfied no one—neither blind vendors, JWOD officials, military contracting officers, nor Congress itself; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, in Section 856 of Public Law 109-364, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, Congress mandated a report by the Inspectors General of the federal Departments of Defense and Education, a report that DOD finally released on April 15 of this year; and

WHEREAS, the final report is replete with errors which, if accepted as fact, would diminish or completely eliminate the opportunities blind men and women currently have to serve the fighting men and women of this nation; and

WHEREAS, among the assertions in this report not supported by facts are that blind vendor-managers provide no value to the military dining contracts; that Randolph-Sheppard contracts may cost more than other dining contracts and are monopolistic, driving potential competitors away; and that the Randolph-Sheppard Act takes control away from the DOD because the blind vendor is selected by the state licensing agency; and

WHEREAS, the inclusion of these errant assertions was apparently intended to, and will in fact, prejudice the Congress as it seeks to make critical decisions about the relationship among Randolph-Sheppard, JWOD, and other government contractors feeding our nation’s troops; and

WHEREAS, the release of the IG DOD report was timed to allow inclusion of its prejudicial recommendations in annual legislation to reauthorize DOD programs without opportunity for opponents to provide public comment--though so far it does not appear that Congress intends to do so: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2008, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore the errant and prejudicial report submitted to Congress by the DOD for the purpose of depriving blind vendors of military dining opportunities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Congress to refrain from including any of the recommendations of this report in legislation either to reauthorize defense programs or to appropriate funds for defense programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge Congress to ignore the IG DOD report completely and instead to conduct a public process with all stakeholders in order to reach a lasting solution to the conflict between Randolph-Sheppard and JWOD.

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