Forbes Focuses on Costs at Readiness Hearing
Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee, only had time for one question during Wednesday’s hearing on DOD’s fiscal 2012 budget request for military construction, but he made it pretty clear from the outset of the session that eliminating wasteful spending was one of his major priorities.
His opening statement included several examples of what he termed “poor decision making.” Forbes pointed out an energy efficiency contract the Navy entered into that had a financial payback of 447 years. He also noted his surprise to learn that the military pays a premium of between 25 and 40 percent for construction costs compared to commercially built facilities.
Forbes also criticized the Navy’s plan to move an aircraft carrier based in Norfolk to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., calling it a “strategic misalignment” that is neither wise nor cost effective.
The chairman devoted his one question to a recent news story claiming the Army was considering paying $600,000 for a public art project to place outside the Mark Center, the Alexandria, Va., location now being readied to house 6,400 workers moving from Arlington due to BRAC. The city of Alexandria had been conducting a competition to select the winner, but most of the local stories focused on one entry which seemed very out of place for a DOD office complex, a sculpture of a 10-foot fairy riding a toad.
Katherine Hammack, the Army’s assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, responded that the sculpture was one of the art works under consideration, but that the Army had not made a decision yet.
“It’s a hard sell,” Forbes said of spending $600,000 for a sculpture when the federal government is being forced to cut many other pressing needs to save money.