WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) jointly agreed to postpone a hearing on the future of the V-22 Osprey. This decision came as the result of a failure by the Department of Defense to release information gathered by the Marine Corps in response to requests by the committee.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates dated May 5, 2009, Chairman Towns requested two reports on the performance of the Osprey in Iraq, called “Lessons and Observations” and a list of all V-22 Ospreys acquired by the Defense Department, including their current locations and flight status. The Defense Department did not meet the Osprey document request by the letter’s stated deadline of May 13, 2009, and has yet to deliver the documents. Chairman Towns clearly stated during his opening remarks that if the Defense Department does not fulfill the Committee’s request he is willing to compel the Department’s compliance.
“I intend to conduct a thorough investigation of the Osprey, not just an investigation of the information that the Defense Department wants us to see. The American people deserve to know that this $100 million aircraft is working as advertised and does the best job of protecting our troops and helping them accomplish their missions,” said Chairman Towns. “Failing to provide us with important information about the Osprey’s status is simply unacceptable. With the support of Mr. Issa, the Ranking Member, we will pursue this investigation even harder than we have so far.”
Ranking Member Issa said, “Chairman Towns and I, this morning, agreed that the failure by the Department of Defense to turn over pertinent information to this committee’s investigation made a postponement necessary. This postponement does not weaken our bipartisan resolve to carefully and fairly evaluate the V-22 program. I want to be clear that the immediate reason for this postponement was not the Marine Corps, which gathered requested information, but rather a bureaucratic failure of the Office of the Secretary of Defense which has not authorized the release of these documents.”
Towns and Issa agreed to postpone the hearing for two-weeks, at which time all witnesses scheduled to testify today will be asked to return. Before this time, the Committee fully expects the Department of Defense to turn over all requested information.