Review of the New London Embassy Project

Hearing Date: December 8, 2015 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

1208_London_Embassy

TAKEAWAYS:

  • The State Department (State) demonstrated poor risk management when it began construction of the London embassy compound prior to completion of the blast testing.
  • According to the Inspector General, State violated federal law and the Foreign Affairs Manual by completing certification after the contract was awarded and after construction began.
  • Despite driving piles into the ground and laying concrete for a foundation, State rejects the IG’s conclusion that it engaged in construction before blast testing was completed.
  • State’s aggressive construction schedule led the Department to take risks with construction, including the use of an untested form of contracting resulting in their inability to account for approximately $42 million.

 

PURPOSE:

  •  To examine issues related to construction of the new U.S. embassy compound in London, including the Department of State’s (Department) improper commencement of construction prior to completing all legally required blast tests that ensure building safety.
  • To review concerns expressed by the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in its July 2015 report.

 

BACKGROUND:

  • The Department is building a new embassy compound in London that is expected to cost more than $1 billion.
  • In its report earlier this year, the OIG found deficiencies related to several aspects of the project, including: (1) the Department’s commencement of construction before completing all legally required steps and certifying to Congress that the steps were complete; (2) the Department’s use of a unique contracting vehicle that resulted in the Department’s inability to fully account for approximately $42 million of expenses.
  • This hearing continues the Oversight Committee’s investigation into embassy security around the world. In June 2014, Chairman Chaffetz sent a letter to Secretary Kerry asking for more details on the security of the London project. CBS News also covered the high cost of the ongoing project.
  • Earlier this year, Chairman Chaffetz traveled to Mexico to examine the new embassy compound. The Committee also held a hearing on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

 

KEY VIDEOS:

 Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT): “You have a very skeptical Congress who thinks you’re gambling with a lot of money and a lot of commitment here.”

Rep. Walker (R-NC): “Did State’s certification to Congress in December 2013 explicitly alert the committees that State had not even begun blast testing?”

Rep. Hice (R-GA): “Did your office, the Office of the Inspector General, make recommendations to OBO to not begin construction until they were sure the building would survive a blast?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Ms. Lydia Muniz Director, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations U.S. Department of State Document
The Honorable Gregory B. Starr Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security U.S. Department of State Document
The Honorable Steve A. Linick Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of State Document

Related Documents

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