WASHINGTON -- A federal watchdog agency has criticized the Navy for providing sketchy documentation to justify its proposed list of base closings and wants officials to explain the realignment plan.
The General Accounting Office said yesterday that the Navy had "insufficient documentation" to support its proposed list, which calls for the closings of a military laboratory in St. Mary's County, Md., and the realignment of three other Navy labs in the state.
The GAO's criticisms are a boon to Maryland lawmakers, who for months have protested the Defense Department's inclusion of military laboratories on the closings list. Congress last year established a laboratory commission to review the Pentagon's research and development system and report back by Sept. 30.
"The GAO is without a doubt saying that this is less than thorough," said Maryland Rep. Thomas McMillen, D-4th. "The bottom line is that the GAO in a nice way gives the Navy an 'F' in the way they have proceeded with the whole process."
McMillen, whose district includes the Navy's David Taylor Research Center in Annapolis, will testify before the base closure commission next week.
He and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., have introduced legislation that would forbid the inclusion of labs on the list. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, also said that the Navy did not establish internal controls to make sure the data it used was accurate.
The GAO recommended that Defense Secretary Richard Cheney require Navy Secretary Lawrence Garrett III to tell the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission specifically how it developed its recommendations.
It also said Cheney should establish a system for ensuring that consistent practices among the services are used in future base closure and realignment reviews.
Lt. Phillip McGuinn, a Navy spokesman, said the Navy had no comment on the GAO report because it had not reviewed it.
GAO officials are scheduled to present their findings today to the base closure commission, which has until July 1 to review the Defense Department's consolidation and closure plan.