Report | May 10, 2022

Evaluation of the Air Force Selection Process for the Permanent Location of the U.S. Space Command Headquarters (DODIG-2022-096)

Evaluations

Objective

The objective of this evaluation is to review the basis for selecting Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred permanent location of the U.S. Space Command headquarters.

 

Findings

We found that the process Air Force officials used to select Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred permanent location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters (USSPACECOM HQ) complied with law and policy, and was reasonable in identifying Huntsville as the preferred permanent location. 

We determined that, overall, the basing action process directed by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) complied with Federal law and DoD policy, and the Air Force complied with the SECDEF’s requirements for the basing action, though the Basing Office personnel did not fully comply with Air Force records retention requirements.  We found that Basing Office personnel developed relevant and objective evaluation factors and associated criteria to assess, score, and rank candidate locations. In addition, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Energy, Installations, and Environment and Basing Office personnel sought input from stakeholders, including USSPACECOM officials.

Of the 21 associated criteria Basing Office officials used in the process, we determined that 10 criteria were reasonable and accurate because either the Basing Office personnel or subject matter experts (SMEs) generally had the supporting documentation, or we were able to verify the information using publicly available data. In addition, eight criteria were reasonable based on extensive discussions with the Basing Office personnel and SMEs; however, we could not fully verify the accuracy of those rankings due to the lack of supporting documentation. In addition, for three criteria, we could not determine reasonableness or accuracy of the ranking because either the Basing Office personnel or SME were not available to discuss them or there was no supporting documentation. However, the Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) placed less importance on these three criteria in selecting the host location for USSPACECOM HQ.

 

Recommendations

First, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense establish policy and procedures for implementing basing actions of a unified combatant command. As discussed in the Recommendations, Management Comments, and Our Response section of this report, this recommendation remains unresolved.

Second, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense should review the concerns expressed by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the United States Space Force Chief of Space Operations, and the Commander of United States Space Command pertaining to the “Full Operational Capability” of the United States Space Command discussed in this report. As discussed in the Recommendations, Management Comments, and Our Response section of this report, we consider this recommendation resolved and open.

Third, we recommend that the Secretary of the Air Force consider issuing a memorandum to the Basing Office emphasizing the requirement that Basing Office personnel retain all records of basing actions in accordance with Air Force Instruction 33‑322. As discussed in the Recommendations, Management Comments, and Our Response section of this report, we consider this recommendation resolved and open.

Finally, we recommend that the Secretary of the Air Force review the Air Force Basing Office’s analysis of the criteria of “Childcare,” “Housing Affordability,” and “Access to Military/ Veteran Support” to verify that the United States Space Command Headquarters basing decision was supported.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The SECDEF partially agreed with the first recommendation and stated that the controls we recommended exist through the incorporation of Military Department policies and procedures, which require transparency and data‑based decisions during the basing action process. The SECDEF stated that DoD policy for combatant command basing actions flows from DoDD 5100.03, and that the DoD has an existing practice of relying on the CCSA’s Military Department basing policies, procedures, and internal controls. The SECDEF agreed that the DoD would continually assess the effectiveness of the Military Departments basing policies and procedures and will issue additional DoD‑wide policy and guidance where necessary and appropriate.

Comments from the SECDEF partially addressed the recommendation; therefore, the recommendation is unresolved and remains open. We agree with the SECDEF that DoDD 5100.03 designates a CCSA for each combatant command and assigns the responsibility to provide administrative and logistical support to the combatant command headquarters. The SECDEF stated that the DoD has an existing practice of including combatant command basing decisions within the responsibilities of a CCSA and relying on the respective Military Department CCSA to use its own basing policies, procedures, and internal controls for those basing decisions. However, as described in our report, the Air Force was the designated CCSA, but did not exclusively use its standard basing policies and procedures described in AFI 10‑503 to complete the USSPACECOM HQ basing action. Instead, the Air Force primarily relied on the SECDEF’s guidance to develop and execute the USSPACECOM HQ basing action. DoDD 5100.03 does not require the CCSA to use their own Military Department’s policies, procedures, and internal controls. We request that the SECDEF provide additional comments on how the DoD plans to establish a DoD‑wide policy to require the designated CCSA to use their own Military Department’s policies, procedures, and internal controls in future combatant command basing actions

The SECDEF also agreed with the second recommendation and stated that he would direct the SECAF to conduct a review of the concerns regarding the USSPACECOM FOC, and to take such steps as the SECAF deems appropriate. Comments from the SECDEF addressed the intent of the recommendation; therefore, this recommendation is resolved but remains open. We will close the recommendation once we verify that the SECAF reviewed the USSPACECOM FOC concerns

For the third recommendation, the Acting SAF/IE, responding for the SECAF, agreed and stated that the Air Force will issue a directive emphasizing the requirement to retain records of basing actions in accordance with Air Force policy, as well as conduct recurring oversight to ensure sustained compliance in ongoing and future basing decisions. The Acting SAF/IE addressed the intent of the recommendation; therefore, this recommendation is resolved but remains open. We will close the recommendation once we verify that the SECAF has issued the Air Force directive.

Finally, the Acting SAF/IE, responding for the SECAF, agreed with the fourth recommendation and stated that prior to finalizing this basing decision, the Air Force will conduct further analysis for the criteria of “Childcare,” “Housing Affordability,” and “Access to Military/Veteran Support.” (U) Our Response (U) The Acting SAF/IE addressed the intent of the recommendation; therefore, this recommendation is resolved but remains open. We will close the recommendation once we verify the Air Force has completed the additional analysis of “Childcare,” “Housing Affordability,” and “Access to Military/Veteran Support” criteria.