“We all look forward to moving forward with a final decision as soon as possible,” said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.
WASHINGTON — During a May 13 hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) asked Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to present the next steps in the possible relocation of Command. US Space.
“Assuming the GAO does not recommend overturning the original base decision” to move Space Command from Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, to Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Aderholt asked, how long will it take for that to be done?
“We all hope to move forward with a final decision as soon as possible,” Kendall told Aderholt.
The Government Accountability Office completed one of two independent investigations into how the Air Force determined its preferred location for US Space Command.
Alleging that the decision was unduly influenced by the former Trump administration, Colorado lawmakers asked the GAO and the Department of Defense inspector general to review the process that led to the Air Force in January 2021 to recommend Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
The IG said in a report last week that investigators found no evidence of undue influence. Many of the details of how six candidate bases were scored and comments made by senior US military officials were taken from the IG report.
The GAO report is also being heavily drafted. TThe Department of Defense designated it CUI, short for c.controlled but unclassified information.
“We are working as quickly as possible to develop a public version of our report; I anticipate this will happen in the coming weeks,” said a GAO spokesperson. SpaceNews. GAO has shared his report with members of Congress and officials who requested and “who demonstrated a need to know,” the GAO spokesperson said.
One of the lawmakers who was briefed on the GAO report, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), said that the GAO “confirmed that during the U.S. Air Force’s comprehensive process, the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama was the site highest scoring site in the evaluation phase, the highest ranked site in the selection phase and the site with the most advantages in the final decision matrix.”
He also said that the GAO was “critical of last-minute attempts to elevate a much lower-rated facility to second. This artificial action gave the appearance of prejudice.”
Kendall said at the HAC-D hearing that her office has not yet reviewed all of the final reports. Under the standard baseline process, the next step would be to conduct an environmental review “as well as look at some other considerations before finalizing the decision,” he said.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions.
Typically, this process would take about four months in total, Kendall said. Three months would be needed to complete the assessment and one month to allow public comment. “I am very hopeful that, one way or another, we will have a final decision in the coming months,” he said.
If Redstone Arsenal passes the environmental review and no major problems arise, it would still take several years to erect the new headquarters.
Kendall noted that a new building would have to be constructed that would meet the requirements of a military command headquarters.