House Members Request GAO Review Of Costs At 28 Military Bases
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A group of 15 House members asked the General Accounting Office on Wednesday to review 28 military bases around the nation to see if activity at the bases can be cut back sharply as a way to save money and help reduce the federal deficit.
The legislators suggested the action could help avert what they said is a decision facing President Reagan which involves ″the lesser of two evils.″
They explained that as part of the ongoing talks aimed at developing a budget deficit reduction package, Reagan may be asked to raise taxes or face cuts in defense spending as part of the Gramm-Rudman law.
″While the Gramm-Rudman ‘fix’ explicitly prohibits the closure of military bases,″ they wrote, ″we believe there are a number of bases whose function can be significantly curtailed and whose personnel can be transferred to other locations without unduly compromising the nation’s defense.″
The legislators asked simply for a GAO study, answering a variety of questions about each of the bases. Among the questions are the current cost of operations and the costs of transferring functions to other bases.
The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the request has already been denied by Comptroller General Charles A. Bowsher, who said the Pentagon should do any such study.
Legislators generally have opposed base closings because that would mean the loss of jobs and payrolls in their districts or states. Congress has enacted a series of new barriers to Pentagon efforts to close what the Defense Department says are obsolete or otherwise unneeded bases.
Those new laws were passed a year ago after reports that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was proposing the closure of 22 bases.
Rep. John Kyl, R-Ariz., noted that ″we are not recommending that these bases be closed.″
But ″we think it’s time we have an objective analysis of whether some of these savings can come from reductions in the expense of military bases,″ he said.
The letter noted that ″we believe that keeping these bases open with the absolute bare minimum staff necessary″ will allow the Pentagon to save money.
The installations: Blytheville Air Force Base (bombardment wing), Blyetheville, Ark.; Ft. Devins (intelligence), Ayer, Mass.; Jefferson Proving Ground (ammunition test center), Madison, Ind.; Ft. Wingate (storage), Gallup, N.M.; Army Material Research Center, Watertown, Mass.; Naval Air Rework Facility, Alameda, Calif; Naval Regional Medical Center, Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia Naval Shipyard; Philadelphia Naval Hospital.
Also the Naval Air Station (reserve air training), South Weymouth, Mass.; Naval Air Development Center (aircraft technology), Warminster, Pa.; McConnell Air Force Base (strategic missile wing), Kan.; Westover Air Force Base (reserves), Chicopee, Mass.; Vancouver Barracks (reserve component training), Vancouver, Wash.; Bader Army Ammunition Plant, Baraboo, Wis.; Frederick Municipal Airport (auxiliary airfield), Frederick, Okla.; Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant (projectile production), Riverbank, Calif.
Also Point Arena Air Force Station (general support annex), Anchor Bay, Calif.; Naval Supply Center (supply support), Oakland, Calif.; Fort Missoula (Army reserve component training), Missoula, Mont.; Bismark Bomb Scoring Site, Bismark, N.D.; Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant, Ravenna, Ohio; Naval Industrial Reserve Plant (electrical equipment), St. Paul, Minn.; Stratford Army Engine Plant, Stratford, Conn.; Ethan Allen Firing Range (testing and evaluation), Jericho, Vt.; Laughlin Air Force Base (flight training), Del Rio, Texas; Naval Air Station (flight training), Kingsville, Texas.; Shaw Air Force Base (reconnaissance wing), Sumter, S.C.