The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making waves with the proposed transfer of its 79 civilian employes from Fort Belvoir to Vicksburg, Miss., where they will, appropriately enough, study waves.
Rep. Stanford E. Parris (R-Va.) yesterday accused the corps of throwing $14 million "down the rat hole" and making the move primarily for political reasons and the convenience of its new technical director, Robert W. Whalin.
Parris, who has protested the move to the White House and congressional committees, said disgruntled employes told him the move was wasteful and a hardship for the corps' Fort Belvoir scientists--who study the impact of waves on shores and structures--and for their families.
Parris charged that Whalin was promised that the unit he was going to head, the Coastal Engineering Research Center (CERC), would be transferred to his hometown of Vicksburg. "That's like moving the mountain to Mohammed," Parris said.
James Choromokos, corps director of research and development, called Parris' charges "outrageous." He said the move, under study for more than two years, "was made not for political reasons but for efficiency and economy . . . I hired Whalin . . . and there was no promise or anything like that made."
The corps said the cost of the move would be $2.8 million, not $7 million as Parris alleged. Parris also contended that $7 million would be wasted by abandoning Fort Belvoir's largest wave-making research tank. The corps said the tank will be mothballed and could be used again.
The wave-making studies would be consolidated at Vicksburg, Choromokos said, because of tight federal budgets, the high cost of upgrading the Fort Belvoir unit and the large and modern Vicksburg facility, where the corps already has 1,300 employes and 13 acres of wave-making tanks.