Metro-East News

Bost urges Army Corps IG to investigate report that led to NGA decision

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, is calling on the Inspector General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an independent investigation into the site selection process for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West campus.

The Army Corps’ Final Environmental Impact Statement, which NGA Director Robert Cardillo relied on in selecting a North St. Louis site for construction of the $1.75 billion project, included flawed geographical data and a poor analysis of the impact on mission security and the environment, according to the statement from Bost.

Bost joined other Illinois lawmakers, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, fellow Republican Reps. John Shimkus and Rodney Davis, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and others, in meeting with Cardillo on Thursday to try to convince him to reconsider placing the new NGA headquarters in North St. Louis instead of a site near Scott Air Force Base.

Cardillo is set to issue his final decision on the NGA West location after June 2.

“In our meeting this afternoon, I asked Director Cardillo to delay his final decision on the site location until a laundry list of inaccuracies in the Army Corps’ report were addressed,” said Bost. “When he refused, I had no alternative but to request a full, complete and independent investigation by the Inspector General.

“The more than 1,000 constituents who submitted letters for public comment deserve to have their concerns addressed. Until we have answers, we will continue to fight through any means available.”

The three-page letter that Bost sent to the Corps raises a lot of difficult questions about the goals and motivations behind the decision-making process that led Cardillo on April 1 to announce that North St. Louis would be the new home for NGA West, replacing its nearly 190-year-old facility south of downtown St. Louis at the old St. Louis Arsenal.

The meeting Thursday was part of a last-ditch effort by county officials and Illinois lawmakers to convince Cardillo to reverse his decision and locate the NGA West campus, and its 3,100 jobs, on a 182-acre site in St. Clair County next door to Scott Air Force Base.

Kirk on Tuesday also sent a letter to the Comptroller General of the United States seeking a review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report that favors a St. Louis site over St. Clair County for the new western headquarters for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

In a letter to Gene L. Dodaro, the comptroller general, Kirk said the Corps of Engineers ignored previously identified errors in the draft report, followed specific regulations while ignoring others and “ranked the total cost of the project as the lowest priority.”

Dodaro, as comptroller general, serves as head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the federal government’s chief fiscal watchdog and auditing agency.

The NGA, a secretive Defense Department intelligence agency that makes maps based on satellite imagery, announced two years ago it needs a new home for its western headquarters. The NGA must move because it needs more room to grow and a modern and secure infrastructure, officials have said.

Construction on the NGA site is set to begin in mid-2017 with completion set for 2021.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000