The complaint from Nebraska and Colorado that politics tainted the selection of Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred site for the U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters is about to get a hearing in Washington.
The Department of Defense inspector general announced Friday that it will review the process Air Force officials used to pick Huntsville’s Redstone Army Airfield over Offutt Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs and three other sites.
The selection of the Huntsville site was announced Jan. 13, just one week before the end of the Trump administration.
“We still believe Offutt AFB is the best place for USSPACECOM HQ and that the data will ultimately confirm that,” David G. Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Offutt support committee, said in a statement. “We are pleased that DoD IG and other entities are taking a second look at the selection process and results.”
The other three finalists were Port San Antonio in Texas, Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
A memorandum to acting Air Force Secretary John Roth — posted to the inspector general’s website — said the evaluation would begin this month and look at whether the Air Force’s selection process complied with DOD and Air Force policies.
The memo said the inspector general will also study whether the Air Force used “objective and relevant” scoring factors to rank the six locations and whether costs and other scoring factors had been accurately calculated.
Each of the six finalists was scored on a 100-point scale that rated them on factors related to compatibility with the Space Command’s mission, base capacity, costs to the DOD and community support.
Each was allowed to make a one-hour presentation to the site selection committee over videoconference. Each also received a site visit.
Offutt’s team touted the area’s low cost of living, livability, quality of schools and strong support for the military in its bid, which also included $107 million in financial and infrastructure incentives. It also offered a new university alliance headquartered at the University of Nebraska to provide research and academic support.
Colorado Springs offered its own academic alliance and a reported $130 million worth of incentives. Backers also boasted of the area’s decades-long association with Air Force space missions.
The inspector general’s memo didn’t say how long the investigation is expected to take. Brown said in his statement that he is looking to an early decision.
“The sooner we can get this resolved, the better for our nation and the important space warfighting mission,” he said.
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