From Illinois Business Journal news services
WASHINGTON – U.S. senators and Congressional representatives from Illinois wrote National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo today to detail their “strong concerns” with the agency’s rationale for selecting a St. Louis site for its new facility, known as NGA West.
With the deadline for public comment on the site selection approaching, the members asked Cardillo to meet with them as soon as possible to discuss these issues, and to ensure that the NGA’s final decision is “based upon correct information and fully-formed analysis.”
The letter was sent jointly by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, and Reps. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.
Earlier this week, Durbin hosted a meeting with Kirk and Bost to discuss the site selection process for the new NGA facility with St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, former U.S. Representative Jerry Costello and retired Air Force General Duncan McNabb.
In today’s letter, the members laid out a number of factual inaccuracies and other concerns regarding the NGA’s site selection process, focusing on issues related to mission, security, and environmental risks and associated threats to cost and schedule.
In regards to mission, an element highlighted by the NGA when announcing its Agency Preferred Alternative, the members wrote: “We are shocked that any fair analysis of Southern Illinois could conclude anything other than the area has a strong, enduring track record of recruiting and maintaining a highly-skilled workforce of all ages, offers a plethora of financial and quality of life advantages for employees, and has a proven track record of supporting national security missions, which is second-to-none.”
On April 1, the NGA announced that the Agency Preferred Alternative for the new NGA West Campus was the site in North St. Louis, and not the St. Clair County site next to Scott Air Force Base. Although the public comment period on this decision was initially just two weeks, on April 8, NGA Director Robert Cardillo extended the deadline through May 2 upon the request of Kirk, Durbin, Bost, Shimkus, and Davis.