The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General ruled after a year-long inquiry that the recommendation from January 2021 to move US Space Command head offices to Huntsville, Alabama, from Colorado Springs was appropriate and not unduly influenced by politics. The IG’s findings were published in a report titled “Evaluation of the Air Force Selection Process for the Permanent Location of US Space Command Headquarters” on May 10.
Colorado lawmakers requested the assessment in February 2021, claiming that the decision to relocate Space Command head offices from Peterson Space Force Base facility to Redstone Arsenal, made during the Trump administration’s final days, was politically motivated and unhelpful, given that the majority of Space Command’s employees and industrial base are based in Colorado.
However, the IG found no evidence to support those claims. “Overall, we concluded that the Secretary of Defense’s 2020 Basing Action procedure met with Federal Law and DoD policy and was reasonable,” wrote Randolph Stone, who is the assistant inspector general for the space, intelligence, engineering, as well as oversight.
According to the IG report, the Air Force designed the 2020 basing decision “based on best practices” employed by the Army when it chose Austin, Texas, as the site of the Army Futures Command in 2018.
The Department of Defense approved 4 evaluation criteria that the Air Force proposed for evaluating six potential locations:
- Evaluation of available competent labor, proximity to mutually enabling space entities, and capacity of eligible locations to satisfy emergency and incident response criteria, as well as mobility.
- Facility and parking space requirements; anti-terrorism, force protection, & security requirements; special access communications; communications bandwidth and redundancy; energy resilience; and the nearest active-duty installation’s base operations support to service personnel, which includes military housing, medical care, childcare, and transportation.
- Military support is judged by educational quality, housing affordability, professional licensure portability, cost of living, and military/veteran support programs.
- One-time infrastructure and transportation expenditures, construction cost factor for the location, basic housing allowance rate, and locality pays for the area.
The Air Force “used publicly available data, integrated site inspections made by basing office staff, and submitted quarterly status updates to Congress” to grade bases, according to the inspector general.
The IG report was heavily redacted. The criteria used to select Huntsville “were a legitimate and objective means of analyzing, scoring, as well as ranking the candidate sites for housing the USSPACECOM HQ,” according to the report.
“The Air Force base office workers were chastised by the IG for inadequate record-keeping. During our review of the selection process, we discovered that basing office staff could not give us all of the material they needed to back their analysis and rating of possible locations since they had not developed or kept it. As a result, the IG had to put in extra effort to obtain the data it required.”