Federal officials followed the rules when they chose St. Louis over St. Clair County for a new intelligence agency headquarters, according to a study released Monday.
In March 2016, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced it would build its $945 million headquarters in north St. Louis instead of St. Clair County. While the St. Clair County site scored higher than St. Louis on security and is near Scott Air Force Base, officials told county leaders that the St. Clair County site would make it difficult to attract and retain high-tech employees.
The St. Louis site later landed a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for revitalization of the area around the new headquarters.
But officials followed proper procedures in deciding which site to use, according to a review issued Monday by the federal Government Accountability Office.
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NGA’s process for selecting the site “substantially met three of the four characteristics of a high-quality, reliable AOA process,” the report read. The only part where it found fault was in “credibility,” because “it did not fully include information on the risks and sensitivities to cost estimates.”
According to the report, the GAO has recommended that the U.S. Department of Defense develop better guidelines for best practices in military construction decisions. The Department of Defense does not concur, however, and “the recommendation remains open,” according to the report.
The GAO was asked to evaluate the selection process, according to the report, and at the time of selection, several metro-east representatives said they would push for full accountability on the decision.
The GAO’s conclusion is that no recommendation should be made to the NGA regarding the St. Louis project choice.