A Government Accountability Office review of the process that awarded U.S. Space Command to Huntsville, Ala., instead of Colorado Springs, has identified “significant shortfalls” in the “transparency and credibility” that led to the decision, according to a senior-level source with knowledge of the report.
The GAO report won’t be available to the public for at least another month; but Colorado lawmakers who requested and signed off on it got an early look.
Sources familiar with the report say they hope what it reveals will inform the questions posed during a “posture hearing” Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill, at an annual meeting during which members of the House Armed Services Committee get to grill the nation’s military leaders on topics including national defense.
The Wednesday hearing will offer a chance to get questions on the record before the report's public release, as well as responses that could fuel what sources say will hopefully lead to a reevaluation of the surprise decision made by the outgoing Trump administration in January 2020.
The GAO findings were “a report card that, if I gave it to my parents, I’d probably get grounded,” sources said.
A quest to find a permanent location for the headquarters for U.S. Space Command had been ongoing, in fits and starts, for years — with Colorado Springs apparently a front-runner — before the 2020 announcement in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Sources say the GAO review launched in the wake of the announcement found that Peterson Air Force Base, where Space Command is temporarily headquartered now, could bring the command up to "full operational capacity" much faster than the Alabama site could, two to three years compared to at least six at the Redstone Arsenal site. The difference in readiness could play an important role in the Biden administration reassessing the basing decision given heightened national security concerns brought about by Russia's attack on Ukraine, the official said.
The GAO report was requested last year by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and championed by other elected officials in the state, who sought a deep dive into the “methodology and scoring” that went into the Air Force’s decision.
A separate inquiry by the Pentagon's Office Inspector of General, requested by Colorado lawmakers, also was launched, and a report is due out soon.