Mine Safety and Health Administration:

Information on Proposed Relocation of Its Denver Technical Center to West Virginia

HEHS-97-100R: Published: Apr 30, 1997. Publicly Released: May 14, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) plans to relocate its Safety and Health Technology Center in Denver, Colorado to Triadelphia, West Virginia, and the likely effect of the relocation plan on MSHA's: (1) ability to protect the safety and health of mine workers in states west of the Mississippi, including MSHA's ability to respond to mine emergencies nationwide; and (2) budget in the short term (fiscal years 1996-1997).

GAO noted that: (1) mining industry union and trade group representatives, as well as academic experts, expressed serious concerns that MSHA's proposed relocation could adversely affect the level and quality of services provided to western mines and their workers, particularly in the event of a time-critical mining situation; (2) in response, MSHA modified its plan to address these concerns by maintaining in Denver the technical equipment and personnel necessary to respond to such emergencies; (3) MSHA believes that certain planned hiring and training actions will enable MSHA to maintain the level and quality of technical services currently provided to western mines; (4) overall, GAO has little or no basis to believe that the revised relocation plan will have a significant adverse affect on MSHA's ability to protect the health and safety of western miners; (5) regarding MSHA's cost estimates, GAO's review raised issues about MSHA's estimates: (a) of savings from the elimination of supervisory positions; (b) of additional travel costs; and (c) for planned renovations at the Triadelphia facility; and (6) in response, MSHA revised its travel and labor cost estimates and provided GAO additional information on its renovation plans.

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