Auditor General Jack Wagner Urges Defense Department to Keep Open the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh
Air Force Reserve Base saves taxpayers millions annually
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Auditor General Jack Wagner today called on the U.S. Department of Defense to keep open the Air Force Reserves' 911th Airlift Wing located at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Wagner said his department's review of available financial information concluded that the 911th should remain open because of its strategic location, operational efficiency and low overhead costs, which save the Air Force and taxpayers $10 million annually.
"It is troubling that in an effort to achieve long-term sustainability, the Air Force would make such a short-sighted error as to close its most efficient Air Force Reserve base, costing taxpayers in the long-run," Wagner said.
Established in 1943, the 911th flies and services the C-130 "Hercules" aircrafts, while employing over 1,600 reservists and civilians. The Pentagon announced in last February that the base will close in September 2013 as part of an effort to save $8.7 billion over the next five years.
According to Wagner, the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport is a model of cost efficiency for the Air Force Reserve because its 16-day average fly-to-fly inspection time is the shortest among all Air Force Reserve Command units, saving an estimated $42.2 million and 940 mission days since 2007.
"The 911th Airlift Wing is the most efficient AFRC unit, at the most efficient base in the county," Wagner said.
Wagner also cited the strategic location of the 911th as a reason for the Department of Defense to keep the Airlift Wing, noting that Pittsburgh is less than an hour and a half flight time away from 70 percent of the nation's population and all of the metropolitan areas in the Northeast, and easily accessible to major cities in the South and Midwest.
"As the taxpayer advocate for both state and federal tax dollars, I urge the Department of Defense to keep the 911th fully operational," Wagner said. "Our goal should be to enhance its continued existence by having the most modern and efficient aircraft assigned to it for operation from one of the premiere airports in the United States of America – Pittsburgh International Airport."
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth's elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts thousands of audits each year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department's website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General