Michael J. Courts, Director International Affairs and Trade, U.S. Government Accountability Office
Lydia Muniz, Director, Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO), U.S. Department of State
Gregory B. Starr, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), U.S. Department of State
Donald S. Hays, Senior Inspector, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of State
Jarrett Blanc, Senior Inspector, Principal Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State
Michael L. Gulino, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aegis LLC
- Construction of the Kabul Embassy Compound is now projected to come in at least 27 percent over budget and more than three years behind schedule. The project was originally expected to cost $625 million. It is now estimated to cost at least $792 million.
- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that one of the factors causing delays and cost overruns is State’s failure to follow its own directive to have a “strategic facilities plan.” During the hearing, OBO promised to send the Oversight Committee documentation relating to their planning process.
- Many U.S. personnel in Kabul live and work in “temporary” facilities for which there are no specific security standards.
- State should have conducted four cost containment studies and six risk assessments during the embassy construction process. State instead completed only one study.
- To examine the State Department’s risk management practices overseas, focusing on construction of the new U.S. embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- The hearing will continue the Oversight Committee’s examination of safety and security of U.S personnel serving in embassies and consulates around the world.
- Director Muniz previously testified before the Oversight Committee on July 10, 2014, to discuss implementation and execution of the State Department’s Design Excellence program.
Chairman Chaffetz: “The reality is that (Kabul) is 27 percent over budget; you missed it by hundreds of millions of dollars. You have facilities that aren’t secure. There is no master plan. There is no plan for temporary facilities. And it’s the biggest expenditure we have… This is a 2 billion dollar expenditure, and it’s not. Yet. Finished.”
Rep. Walberg: “I understand that GAO recommended to State to establish security standards toward the temporary facilities, and that they did not accept these recommendations. Is that correct?”
Mr. Courts: “The State Department partially concurred with that recommendation. They didn’t fully accept it.”
Rep. Russell: “What I see is no desire to streamline infrastructure.”