A new State Department initiative to build unique, energy-efficient embassies across the globe is drawing criticism for both its excessive costs and the security concerns posed by the time it’s taking to build new embassies.
As part of the initiative, called “Design Excellence,” a new U.S. embassy in London is scheduled to open in 2017. Six months into construction, according to a new report from CBS News, the $1 billion project is already $100 million over budget.
Meanwhile, inPapua New Guinea, the State Department completely discarded a proposed embassy design and had to entirely restart the project, which will now cost $211 million instead of the original $50 million.
Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary of state for management, said, “When you have a significant change in the scope of the project, it is logical that the price would go up.”
But congressman Jason Chaffetz is concerned about the fact that these embassies are taking so long to build, when American diplomats do need safer, more modern accommodations. “We don’t have time to make sure that the buildings and the flowers look more pretty,” the Utah Republican told CBS. “We’ve got to make sure that these people are safe and secure, and can do their jobs.”
The State Department undertook an internal security review after the Benghazi attack, which found that the slower pace of construction left “more personnel exposed in inadequate facilities for larger periods of time.” It additionally found that there was “no evidence of a . . . cost benefit analysis supporting this new . . . initiative.”
Chaffetz has called for a hearing on the issue later this month.