Government
7:07 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Wagner to Audit Pentagon's Proposal to Close 911th Air Base

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner will audit the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) proposal to shut down the 911th Airlift Wing.  That is as soon as he gets the appropriate information from the Pentagon.

The audit comes at the request of U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18), who's "not going to wait" while the DOD suspends all base closures until July 2013. At a press conference Wednesday at the Moon Township air base, Murphy said the Pentagon's decision was based on faulty data.

"I want to make sure we have an official government office auditing this data that's coming through," said Murphy. "It's clear to us that sound data is not coming through."

The Congressman said the 911th proposed closure was based on allegedly high maintenance costs, as well as a "loophole" that allows for the termination of bases with fewer than 300 employees. However, he said there are 316 civilian workers at the base, and the nearby Pittsburgh International Airport actually handles much of the maintenance for free.

"If this base is able to do a better job with fewer employees, they actually become a victim of their own success," said Murphy. "The Pentagon uses the 300-employee loophole, but this base says, 'Look, we don't need fifty extra firemen here, because the airport provides that. We do not need snow plows, because the airport provides that. We don't need all the people to maintain the runways and tarmac.' You may be talking about 100 or 200 fewer employees needed."

Auditor General Wagner said he hasn't yet received the requested information from the Pentagon, although he asked for it several months ago. According to Wagner, the Pentagon has said the data is "forthcoming."