GAO completes investigation of the decision to relocate U.S. Space Command

by
Colorado officials alleged the Trump White House improperly influenced the process while the Air Force has defended its selection method

WASHINGTON — Colorado lawmakers announced April 12 that they have been briefed by the Government Accountability Office on the agency’s investigation of the January 2021 decision to relocate U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama. 

GAO shared its findings with lawmakers but has not publicly released its report.

The GAO and the Defense Department’s inspector general both were asked by members of the Colorado delegation to review how the decision was made. These lawmakers have argued that the process was tainted by politics and did not follow the standard military basing process. 

In a joint statement April 12, Senators Michael Bennet (D), John Hickenlooper (D), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) and Rep. Jason Crow (D) said GAO’s briefing has not changed their views on the basing decision. 

“We have said before that the U.S. Space Command basing decision was the result of a flawed and untested process that lacked transparency and neglected key national security and cost considerations. After reviewing the draft GAO report, we are even more concerned about the questionable decision to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama,” the statement said. 

“We will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to urge the Biden Administration to keep U.S. Space Command at Peterson,” said the statement. “We look forward to the report’s public release in the near future.”

U.S. Space Command is currently headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs. Former Air Force secretary Barbara Barrett announced in January in the final days of the Trump administration that after a nine-month review, the Air Force was recommending Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville as the future home of U.S. Space Command headquarters. 

Colorado officials alleged the Trump White House improperly influenced the process. The Air Force defended its methods of selecting the base. Officials said they assessed candidate bases by relying on community questionnaires, installation questionnaires and publicly available information. Some of the criteria used to rank bases included access to qualified workforce, proximity to space organizations and quality of life considerations such as commuting time, availability of childcare, schools, transportation and affordable housing.

Former president Donald Trump last year told al.com that he specifically directed that Space Command move to Redstone Arsenal, contradicting Air Force statements that the selection process followed objective criteria used for military basing decisions.