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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) built the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center located near Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the early 1960s to withstand a multimegaton-yield-weapon strike and to provide protection against chemical and biological warfare. The mission of the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate is to monitor, process, and interpret air, missile, and space events that could threaten North America or have operational effects on U.S. forces or capabilities. This mission is conducted at five major centers--the Command Center, Air Warning, Missile Correlation, Operations Intelligence Watch, and Space Control--all currently located within Cheyenne Mountain. Elements of United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and Air Force Space Command are also located in Cheyenne Mountain. The Air Force's modernization of the attack warning systems within Cheyenne Mountain will cost more than $700 million from fiscal years 2000 through 2006. DOD officials have stated that they no longer need to continue operating in this hardened facility considering that the threat of an intercontinental ballistic missile strike in today's environment is low. In July 2006, the former Commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM announced plans to move certain functions from Cheyenne Mountain and create an integrated command center at Peterson Air Force Base, which he projected at that time would save between $150 million and $200 million per year. Additionally, USSTRATCOM announced plans to relocate its missile warning mission from Cheyenne Mountain to Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, and Air Force Space Command is in the process of moving the Space Control Center from Cheyenne Mountain to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and USNORTHCOM officials told us that after these functions have been moved, Cheyenne Mountain will be used as an alternate command center, a continuity of operations relocation facility, and a training center. You asked us to determine (1) the estimated costs, savings, and benefits associated with moving functions from Cheyenne Mountain to other locations; and (2) how DOD evaluated the security implications associated with moving the functions, and what these implications are.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress may wish to consider restricting DOD's authority to use funds to renovate new locations to accept functions designated to move out of Cheyenne Mountain until such time as all security analyses are complete, the full costs of the move are determined, and DOD provides Congress with an analysis of the operational effects of the proposed realignments.
Closed - Implemented
In May 2007, GAO recommended that Congress should consider restricting the Department of Defense's authority to use funds to renovate locations to accept functions designed to move out of Cheyenne Mountain until such time as all security analyses are complete, the full costs of the move are determined, and DOD provides Congress with an analysis of the operational effects of the proposed realignments. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on the relocation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command center from Cheyenne Mountain by no later than March 1, 2008, and limits the availability of $5 million in fiscal year 2008 funds for Air Force operation and maintenance of Cheyenne Mountain until Congress receives the report from the Secretary of Defense.

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