Update at 6:40 PM - The GAO's report is now available on line here. Thank you again, anonymous commentator!
It's 44 pages and I haven't read it yet, but it starts great. The first sentence of the summary "What GAO Found" reads "GAO evaluated four Department of State (State) Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) requirements that GAO determined were critical in the selection of a site for a training facility and found that Fort Pickett, near Blackstone, Virginia, fully met all four while the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) campus in Glynco, Georgia, did not fully meet any."
The GAO audit report that Rep. Ed Royce requested "to review the proposals put forward by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of State (“State”) to determine which proposal meets the State’s security training requirements in the most effective, efficient, and timely manner" has now been completed. According to the AP, it found that State's proposal for a training center at Ft. Pickett, Virginia, is the better choice. I say "according to the AP" because Rep. Royce is - again, according to the AP - sitting on the report and preventing its release to the public.
So, basically this development gives Virginia a first down somewhere inside Georgia's ten yard line. The question now is whether Virginia can carry the ball into the end zone before Rep. Royce interferes with the play.
The AP report is here, 3 years post-Benghazi, audit favors Virginia over Georgia for delayed Diplomatic Security site. These are GAO's key findings:
The Government Accountability Office's 38-page report, released to key members of Congress and federal agencies, bolsters the Virginia bid.
Sending all the agents to Georgia instead of Virginia could cost U.S. taxpayers up to $736 million more over the next 50 years, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. It also criticized the Georgia cost estimate for not being comprehensive, fully documented, accurate or credible.
-- snip --
"Spending money on something that doesn't meet our requirements is not going to be a good investment," Assistant Secretary of State Gregory Starr shot back. The Georgia site, he argued, lacks facilities for the type of weapons the agents use and would force staff to travel to and from a bombing range 60 miles away.
The GAO says Fort Pickett would consolidate almost all of Diplomatic Security's training for high-threat posts, which involves firearms, driving and explosives training and is currently scattered in 11 locations over seven states. It says the base can host nighttime exercises, which staff conducts 190 days a year, whereas limitations apply in Georgia. And it says the Virginia option benefits from proximity to Washington, a requirement stemming from the post-Benghazi, Accountability Review Board's report.
The limitations of FLETC Georgia for hard-skills training are absolute physical limits, like space, proximity, and location. Its training space is too small, its proximity to populated areas is too close, and its geographic location is too far from State’s training partners. I don’t see how those limits can be wished away. So long as GAO remains an honest broker in this matter, the objective argument over where to locate FASTC is over.
That leaves the political argument, which of course will not be settled until Rep. Royce gets what he wants or is beaten by a some stronger coalition of political interests.
Virginia has its own Congressmen and Senators. Why aren't they on the field blocking Royce?