- By Barrie Barber Staff Writer
A secretive intelligence agency has pushed for a bigger expansion at Wright-Patterson beyond the $116 million building slated to rise at the local Air Force Base within the next few years.
The National Air and Space Intelligence Center has lobbied Congress for another additional $66 million in future years, budget documents show.
The agency has added about 100 employees a year since 2000, creating overcrowded work spaces. Some employees share desks, work a second shift and in scattered spaces, according to NASIC.
NASIC has exceeded its work space by about 30 percent, said Michelle Martz, an agency spokeswoman. “The primary need is absolutely focused on overcrowding,” she said in an interview. “… We don’t have enough space for the people that we have.”
Among its chief missions, NASIC analyzes ballistic missile threats to the United States and briefs the nation’s leaders on its findings, a job that has gained more scrutiny recently with concerns over North Korea’s nuclear-missile ambitions.
The first phase of the expansion would add 148,000-square-feet of space. A second phase, if it were to receive funding, would add another 107,000 square feet, according to the agency.
“There’s no guarantee the second phase will follow,” said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs. “That will require strong (support) from the community, the Air Force and the congressional delegation.”
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract to build the $116.1 million expansion was expected to be awarded between the late summer of 2019 and winter of 2020, with a 30-month construction timeline, according to Martz. Congress must still appropriate money in the defense budget for the project.
The expansion would be the second at the facility that routinely has members of Congress tour the Wright-Patterson campus. In October, the secretive intelligence agency had a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for a $29.5 million foreign materials exploitation facility for a 58,000-square-foot building to dissect adversaries weapons technology.
NASIC has about 3,200 employees and about a $450 million budget, according to the agency.
In another pending military construction project, the Air Force Research Laboratory has asked for a $30 million lab at the Airmen Systems Directorate at Wright-Patterson.
The nearly 3,900-square-foot facility would seek funding in fiscal year 2020, according to an Air Force budget document.
A timeline for construction has not been determined, Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer said Tuesday.