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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  July 16, 2014 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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in closing, you are not the people responsible but people who are listening today and watching today at the state department understand they have stone walled our request. they have even used mail to -- ordinary mail to disguise and delay responses. and this is contemptible. this is serious oversight of the congress over the very lives and safety of state department employees. this committee is reaching the end of its rope with state department stalling. you stalled on benghazi. and two years after the tragic death, we only learned that in fact state department was complicit with the white house in attempting to disguise a false narrative as to how and why the consulate was attacked. you were not the messengers that
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will be shot, but understand you may very well be back again and again as the documents that were requested finally come in. for that, i am truly sorry that you may have to come back here again and again, but if we do not receive documents that were requested in plenty of time, then many of your testimony today will be a first round and not in fact a definitive oversight that we expected to have. with that, i recognize the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this very important hearing, and i thank you all of our witnesses for being with us today. the horrific bombings of our embassies in kenya and tanzania in 1998 were a watershed moment for our nation. following those attacks, the state department reported that 80% of its overseas facilitiy i
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did not -- i repeat, did not -- meet security standards. congress authorized billions of dollars to expedite embassy construction around the world. as part of this effort, the state department's bureau of overseas building operations launched the standard embassy design initiative to promote the use of standardized designs for small, medium and large embassies. this program has been very successful in achieving its goals. since the year 2000, the state department has constructed 111 new buildings and more than 30,000 u.s. personnel and moved more than 30,000 u.s. personnel into safer facilities. the program also has its limitations. for example, it typically requires large parcels of land which sometimes result in
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buildings being constructed further from urban centers. critics contend that this impairs u.s. diplomatic efforts overseas and makes it harder for officials to conduct their work. as one commentator noted, the standard embassy design initiative was, quote, an expedient solution to an urgent problem but one that narrowly defined an embassy as a protected workplace and overlooked this larger representation role, endz of quote. so we commend the tremendous progress made under the standard embassy design initiative, but we must always ask whether we can do more. we must ask the question whether we can do better. on this committee, we must ask how to make this program run even more efficiently and even
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more efbfectively. to me, there are three basic factors we must consider. one, security. two, cost. and three, function. in 2011, the department launched a new it embassy construction effort called design excellence. as i understand it, this effort aims to provide the same or better security at the same or lower cost while improving the ability of american officials overseas to do their jobs. this new program seeks to achieve these goals by being more flexible than the current program. for example, by incorporating more customized designs rather than standard designs, the department may be able to build on small or regular lots. this may allow more embassies to be located in urban centers to improve the effectiveness and
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efficiency of our missions. more flexible designs also may reduce costs, though lower initial construction costs and lower long-term maintenance and operating costs. for example, the new u.s. embassy in london, although not constructed entirely under this new design excellence concept shares many of its principles. according to the state department, this new facility will be more secure than the existing embassy. it will be more functional and effective for our diplomatic missions. it will be completed on time. and it will be built at no cost to the united states taxpayer. this entire project is being funded due to proceeds of sales due to existing u.s. properties there. to challenge with this program, however, is the lack of data. no embassies have been constructed to date based
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entirely on this new concept. the new embassy in mexico city will be the first facility constructed from start to finish under this initiative, but it will not be completed until 2019. according to mr. green, testifying here today, the department has not put together a comprehensive business case that analyzes the potential cost and benefits of this new program in detail. we all know that what can happen when the lack of adequate planning. under the previous administration, the new embassy constructed in iraq went wildly overbudget, came in well after the deadline, and was plagued with corrupt contractors. it end eed up costing the amerin taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more than it should have. and that money could have been used to secure other u.s.
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facilities and american personnel throughout the world. so, as we evaluate the merits and drawbacks of this new effort, we must keep one goal at the top of our list, the security of our diplomatic officials serving overseas. mr. chaffetz who serves as the chairman of our national security subcommittee has asked whether this new initiative to customize diplomatic facilities could delay their completion. in other words, if customizing is slower than using standard designs, does that keep our people in harm's way longer as they wait for new secure buildings? i believe this is a legitimat d question and concern can. i want to know from the department what their answer is. our diplomatic officials deserve the safest embassies in the world, and they also deserve facilities that help them conduct u.s. foreign policy in
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the most effective and efficient manner possible. i truly believe that every member of this panel feels the same way. and with that, mr. chairman, i look forward to the testimony of our witnesses and i yield back. >> thank you, mr. cummings. i'm pleased to recognize the chair of the -- >> mr. chairman? >> yes? >> prior to that, can i ask consent to introduce into the record a number of items? >> without objection at this points, you want to go ahead and state -- >> i would. i'd like to introduce into the record the gao report on embassy construction dated january 2001, another gao report from november 2004 regarding embassy construction, an additional gao report from june of 2006 about embassy construction, the july 2010 gao report new embassy compounds. i'd also like to enter into the
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record a letter chairman issa and myself sent to secretary kerry requesting a series of documents that we have not yet received. i'd also like to enter into the record the response from the state department dated july 3rd, which we actually received on july 8th of this year. and then the final document is the u.s. department of state bureau of overseas building operations fact sheet cbs news, are moerndz u.s. embassies becoming too costly to build? it issued a response to a couple of news programs. i'd like to enter that fact sheet into the record as well. and ask unanimous consent to do so. >> without objection, a request is agreed to. now i'd like to recognize the gentleman from utah for an opening statement. >> thank you. i want to be clear. this is beginning of a series of
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hearings that i think are essential to figure out and get to the bottom of the truth of a situation that is thousands of americans are facing with their mission and their service overseas. the bureau of overseas building operations mission is to place americans overseas in safe, secure facilities as fast as possible. i would note for the record that the state department budget, overall state department budget, since fiscal year 2008 has increased more than 58% going from $17 billion to over $27 billion, and that security funding from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2014 has increased more than 100%. prior to 2011 and design excellence, the bureau seemed to be fulfilling its core mission, constructing secure overseas facilities quickly and effectively. not only that, they were doing it on time and on budget.
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yet in 2011 obo decided to take this rare government success story and replace it. the new program focuses instead on constructing fancy buildings to enhance the u.s. reputation around the world all the while americans are waiting for their facilities. hailed as designed excellence, we've subscribed to the view that fancy buildings equals diplomacy. that aesthetics alone can further u.s. diplomatic relations. since the bureau initiated the major overhaul three years ago, embassy construction has slowed significantly while construction costs have skyrocketed to millions over initial price tags. long awaited facilities in less than secure cities have been delayed for years while american officials overseas who devote their lives to further interest abroad must remain in unsecured dated structures. earlier this year i traveled to
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papa new guinea. there i saw an embassy construction project originally slated to cost $50 million. yet this has ballooned to a price tag of more than $200 million all in the name of aesthetics. during my short visit there was an attempting car jacking of an embassy stafr. this event along with my conversations with foreign officials stationed at the port allowed me to see first hand that having a fancy building is high on their list of concerns. no one told me, what we really need is something that -- as design excellence purports. they wanted a facility that offered safety and security for themselves, their families and many visitors. why the department allowing foreign service officials to remain in unsecured dilapidated facilities at the price of esthetics is beyond me. we had a chief mission there who tried to secure his people.
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they're in an old bank building. it is not secure. they work in an office. they have to have an armed guard take them from their living facilities to the embassy itself. a facility that by any standard is not properly secure. in a may 2013 internal state department panel on diplomatic security organization and management which was chaired by former undersecretary grant green issued its final report of the the panel found no evidence of a business case or cost/benefit analysis supporting design excellence. it introduces significant risk to kruktsing facilities on time, on budget while moving officials overseas into secure facilities. it despite requesting and to my ranking member and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we cannot do the work on either side of this aisle unless we get the documents and operate from the same set of facts.
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we issued a letter the third week of june asking for a series of things in preparation for this meeting. i have been working with the state department for months. they've known that i've been curious about this. i've traveled overseas. i've visited a number of facilities. yet, despite that, we have not received a single document. i got page thone page that said will get this to you as soon as possible. if you look at the document request, to have nothing coming into this hearing is inexcusable. how can you provide us nothing? we don't have documents that mr. lynch or mr. welch or myself or mr. wahlberg can look at. how can you do that to the congress? it's a waste of time and money and effort and we'll bring you back. we'll do it again. but you cannot come to the united states congress when we ask you for these basic documents and provide us
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nothing. our staff worked with you and said, if you have problems with one or two or three of the documents, whatever, just give us on a rolling basis what you have. and we got nothing. and i think on both sides of the aisle this is fair criticism. i hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle also will please help us with that. >> will the gentleman yield for one second? >> sure. >> i agree that -- and i'm hoping, mr. chaffetz, that the witnesses will provide us with reasons as to why we have not gotten what we need. you're absolutely right. in order to do oversight, we have to have documents. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. let me give you an example. one of the documents we asked is this report on diplomatic security organization and management. it's on the al jazeera web site, yet our own state department won't give it to us. so i printsed it out on the
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al jazeera web site. why do i have to go to al jazeera to get the information you have and you're withholding from kuhn congress? i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. let me recognize the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch. you're given five minutes. >> thank you. let me just say to begin with, we really do need to have prompt bei , accurate response as an oversight committee regarding these matters. it helps no one to have the allegation of obstructionism cast back and forth here. so i think that some of the
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gentleman from utah's complaints are well founded about the responsiveness of the state department to our requests. we need to do better, okay? that's from everybody up here. this committee is coming up on too many instances where there's been a long delay in providing information. things blow up. and then it looks like you're being less than honest and less than forthcoming, at least with respect to the conduct of this committee. i will say that, like the gentleman from utah and many members on this committee -- i've spen i've spent a lot of times in embassies at some of the tougher spots around the world. we've had an ongoing debate about how to secure the personnel at our embassies. it's a difficult problem, and i
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don't there's any cookie cutter approach to this. i know that there was an earlier before the more creative design initiative was adopted, we also had during the 110th congress, this was during the bush administration, we conducted an extensive information about the rampant waste, fraud and abuse over the embassy compound in baghdad, iraq. i've spent many nights there. the old embassy, the new embassy. it was a huge expense. going to be very difficult to staff. it's got more staffing requirements than the white house, to be honest with you. i think 3,400 people as opposed to 1,700 at the white house. it's just unreasonable are to expect that that is suitable to our requirements in baghdad.
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you know, we've had situations in yemen. i'm happy to hear -- and whether i was there we had reconstruction efforts and strengthening efforts there in yemen with good cause. we had fruitful discussions up to a point with the syrian bashar al assad about relocating our embassy in damascus of the we don't have it there anymore. it's not staffed. we're going to have to get around to relocating that. it's far too vulnerable to car bombs. we're right on the main street. we have to look at that again. i do support having a more remote not necessarily remote but a little bit of a setback for our embassies in and around the world. and that goes for not damascus when we eventually get back in there but also beirut.
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but there's a been a profound lack of oversight in the construction process of one of the things i used to do, you know, i was a construction manager. that's what my undergraduate degree is in. i've had an opportunity to see how we're going about this, and there is -- to put it bluntly -- great room for improvement here in terms of how we're going about spending this money and as i said before the sort of cookie cutter way that we've tried to approach this in the past. i'll be very interested in your answers to a number of questions regarding some of these arrangements. i know that in the case of the baghdad embassy we had 130 million-plus in questionable charges by the first kuwaiti corporation that was allegedly
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engaged in a $200,000 bribery and kickback scheme in order to obtain -- we've had flagrant overlapses on the part of the state department that had been previously warned by the defense department audit agency. it's just been a series of missteps on our part. and underlying all of this is just a new world out there in terms of the risk to our people in these embassies. benghazi is example, although that was not an embassy. still, it shows us what can go wrong. and we have a real obligation here to reassess the defense protocols we have at our embassies, and that obviously includes how we're building them and what kind of apron of security that we provide for these facilities. so we've got to get smart about this in a big hurry. we've got to be more effective
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with our architectural design and we've got to be much more wise with the expenditure of taxpayer money in support of these efforts. we can't afford to fail. with that, mr. chairman, i'll yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. thank him for his important comments and mr. lynch i thank you for your being a willing traveler to tough places over the years. you and i have had the privilege of going to some of those places xs. >> thank you. we now welcome our witnesses. ms. lydia boniz is the director of the bureau of overseas building operations at the united states department of state, obo, as it's known. mr. casey jones is the deputy director of the bureau of overseas building and operations at the united states state department. and the honorable grant s. green jr. is the former undersecretary for management at the department of state.
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lady and gentlemen, pursuant to the committee rules, would you please rise to take a sworn oath. raise your right hands, please. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. please be seated. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. in order to allow sufficient time for questionings and answers on both sides, i would ask that -- i'll let you know that your written statements are already part of the record so please use your five minutes either to read a portion of that or to other comments as you please. ms. muniz. >> thank you. >> oh, and i must tell you these mikes really want them closer to you not further away to be heard. if you'll pull it significantly closer, it will make it easier.
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>> thank you. chairman issa, ranking member cummings and committee members i appreciate the opportunity today to discuss the state department's program to build safe and secure facilities for our u.s. government staff serving abroad. i'm lydia muniz, i've been with obo since 2009 and came to the department with nearly 20 years of government and real estate development experience. the state department is deeply committed to the safety and security to our personnel overseas. every project obo under takes must and will meet the security and life safety standards required by law, by our colleagues in the bureau of diplomatic security and by obo. security is the cornerstone of our building program and because we have an obligation to the american taxpayer to be efficient in constructing our facilities we are committing to ensuring that we neither compromise the speed at which we can deliver siafa silts nor incur unjustified costs.
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obo facilities serve as the overseas platform for u.s. diplomacy. they provide access to -- ensure food and product safety with partners and implement programs critical to our national security interests. since congress enacted the secure -- act in 1999 obo has, with the continued support of congress completed 76 new embassies and consulates with 16 more under design and in construction. we have moved over 31,000 employees to more secure facilities with plans to move another 14,000 within the next five years. after t after ten years of a successful program, we instituted the initiative that deployed lessons learned, including how best to construct facilities that meet the requirements of our missions abroad most critically safety and security but also
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durability, flexibility, proximity and a platform that serves the needs of the missions abroad the we know that security safety and -- the standard embassy design or sed created a discipline within obo to deliver those facilities. using the standard embassy design, obo came to better understand the common requirements of missions like consular sections and specialized office space. but we also learned that while embassies and consulates have a number of things in common they also very widely. their mission in dense urban environments and rural areas posts with as few as three staff to as many as 2500. some have consular sections with one window. others have more than 100. while the sed provided consistency, we learned that a standard design didn't permit obo to meet the needs of the
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mission or deploy taxpayers' dollars in a most cost-effective manner. we learned we should take into account local conditions and materials in order to have buildings perform better in the long term and consider not only first cost but long term operating costs. and we recognized that our facilities not only meet the functional requirements of our missions they represent the united states to the rest of the world. our embassies are the most america that many who live around the globe will ever see. at a time when it is increasingly important that we provide for the security of our citizens at home through diplomacy and engagement with people around the globe embassies that convey u.s. value culture strength and know-how can be instrumental in that effort. all of this can and must be done meeting all of the department's security standards and without compromising on schedule or cost. we must protect our staff abroad and using the lessons learned over the decades we can design and build embassies and consulates that is serve our mission and colleagues our
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better value to the u.s. taxpayer and make better use of scarce resources in the short and long term. i would like to thank congress for their consistent support of obo's building program including an fy 2013 providing increased funding to help our program keep a pace of infliegs. in these uncertain times, we know that our facilities must keep our staff safe and secure. the excellence initiative will ensure that, meet the needs of our missions and provide the best value to the american taxpayer. >> thank you. mr. jones. >> good morning, chairman issa, ranking member cummings and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i am a deputy director at the u.s. department of state and have served in this position since october of 2013. the safety and security of the individuals who work for the u.s. government agencies overseas and creating and maintaining safe and secure
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facilities in all parts of the world is critical to the department. i know firsthand the reality of living in a high threat environment as part of a foreign mission. as a child i lived in pakistan through periods of martial law and civil unrest. in iz lau islamabad we lived on the embassy, returning to the united states just months before it was stormed in november 1979. experience had a profund impact on me. security has been obo's top priority since the 1998 bombings of the american embassies. for ten years obo executed a successful building program utilizing a standard embassy design. this work is now being enhanced by our excellence in diplomatic facilities initiative which will build the next generation of safe and secure facilities. i want to assure you that the excellence initiative does not diminish the safety and security of new embassies. every office within obo, real estate, design, engineering,
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construction, facilities, cost and security was involved in developing the initiative. as well as collaboration with other bureaus including diplomatic security. briefings on the improvements were provided to the department, congress and the industry at large. the excellence initiative is about constructing co cost-effective buildings, buildings that meet all the requirements for our mission, safety and security chief among them but including function, durability, flexibility and efficiency. ds and obo work together throughout planning, design, construction, and day-to-day operations of diplomatic facilities. i also want to assure you that the excellence initiative does not lengthen the deliver itty time of embassies and consulates. obo uses two common delivery methods, both methods have time, cost, design control and risk implications. that must be evaluated. the choice of which to use fends on the unique conditions of the
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building project. under excellence, obo will utilize whichever methods is most cost-effective, most expedient and reduces the most risk. finally, i warrant to assure you that excellence does not increase project budgets of new embassies and consulates. obo has salvaged its budget -- design that are based on scope, local conditions and prior year cost information. obo has a depth and breadth of data that allows us to be accurate for setting budgets for safe and secure buildings. but obo cannot anticipate every potential impact. real world events, unforeseen increase in costs, civil unrest, security fluctuations and natural disasters can affect our projects. we're also not immune to policy changes. if the u.s. government decides it's in the nation's best interest to significantly increase or deit crease the size of a mission or change the functions located at a post, the cost of our projects are
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impacted, sometimes significantly. an sam example is the -- in 2011 obo. in spring 2013, with construction well under way, the u.s. government made two policy decisions that significantly changed the project. first, a marine guard detachment was added and second staff population was increased by almost 75%. the cost/benefit analysis conducted by obo concluded that the additional requirements could not be accommodated in the existing contract without incurring an additional $24 million over the scenario. as a result, obo stopped the remaini ining work and will recompete a modified project with the additional roy aal requirements. this option utilizes what already has been built on site, provides the best value and yields the best end project.
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continuing as is would not have provided safer, more secure facilities any faster. as deputy director at obo, i want to emphasize that i take the responsibilities to provide safe and secure facilities very seriously. and that there has not been nor will there be a move away from that critical mission. diplomatic facilities are an essential function of our national interest. the individuals who represent the u.s. deserve safe and secure workplaces and as good stewards of taxpayer dollars it is our goal that those resources are invested wisely. thank you. >> thank you. mr. green. >> mr. chairman, members of the committee, i'm pleased to be here this morning to responds to your questions related to embassy security. my background part of which has been mentioned, i served as undersecretary state for
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management under colin powell for four years. i subsequently served as a commissioner on the commission for wartime contracting in iraq and afghanistan, and most recently chaired the panel that's been talked about here which looked at the management and the organization of it diplomat ick security. this panel grew out of the accountability review board following benghazi that was chaired by admiral mullen and ambassador pickering. as we on the panel progressed with our deliberations, we looked at one thing and we looked at many things, but one thing we looked at was the relationship of diplomatic security to other bureaus and organizations both within the state department and across the government where appropriate.
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obviously obo, a close partner of diplomatic security, was included in that. as we talked to many ds employees and others who are familiar and certainly concerned with security issues, it became evident that they had security concerns with certain aspects of design excellence. we can talk about the importance of security, secretary kerry has stated publicly that that is his most important mission, to protect the people working for this country overseas. but when we hear from people who are close to ds/obo operations
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and they have voiced concern, then we were concerned. and as a result we came up with a number of observations and a recommendation. it wasn't to throw the baby out with the bath water. it wasn't to say do away with this crazy scheme and go back to standard embassy design. all we said was state department, you need to take an in-depth look at the security implications of this program. >> so with that, mr. chairman, i conclude my opening remarks and would be happy to answer any questions. >> ms. muniz, i want to go into one embassy, not including the ones we're primarily here, on a bipartisan basis i went to london and looked at the
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facility there. and we understand that's an iconic facility. the justification for a glass curtain wall building and a stunning appearance and even a mote has to do with perhaps our most close ally. is that correct? >> i think that's accurate. >> it's not part of either standard design or design excellence. it has its own purpose. let me ask -- would you turn your mike on when you answer. but i have one question, which is, do you believe that it is a good policy for congress to ever say, you can spendz all that you get from the sale of other buildings, not a penny more and no encouragement to spend a penny less? that's really a yes or no. do you believe that is a good policy? because that's what they're doing there.
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>> i think that, as you noted, london is unique. >> i know. but i really want the yes or no because i want to get on with the rest of the time. the congress made a decision and state department is spending every penny adjusting up or down depending on how much money they have, spending every penny that they got from all the revenues that they did on there. they're not spending any more because they're prohibited by congress but not spending any less. we watch as they're adding and subtracting to get there. do you believe that's an appropriate way to design any building? yes or no, please. >> i can't answer yes or no. these are unique circumstances. >> ma'am, my time is limited. do you believe that that is appropriate doing it that way? first of all, do you disagree that that's what they're doing, spending exactly what they got from the sales, yes or no? >> they're spending marginally
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less. the budget has been fixed and there should be additional income coming from the proceeds back to the u.s. government. >> i wish that were so. that's not the report we got on a bipartisan basis less than two weeks ago. i'll consider that you're not going to answer the other question yes or no. but i'll answer it for you. no, it is not appropriate to say, spendz all the money you can get. they could have spent $200 million less and we could have build two other embassies. if they needed $200 million more to do 0 it right, we should have considered that initiative and made a request. that is not how the private sector builds corporate headquarters or anything else. i don't want to get into the details of that building because it's not a part of it here. mr. green, basic, basic question that you found in your study. standard embassy designs have a certain look, which would be modified quite a bit. but is it fair to say that what they look like, to a great extent, is industrial/commercial
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office buildings all over america, what's commonly called classes b or concrete till top buildings that are made to look nice but ultimately fairly industrial? >> i don't think so. i think when we adapt the facade of a building, the goal was to fit it in with the culture, the country, to make it as unattractive as we possibly could. in my time at the department, i visited more than 100 of our posts overseas. >> how about perfe keen faus se? can we put one of those up? i think it's important because, quite frankly, design excellence
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seems to be about pretty look. you see those two buildings? now, the state department has not given us any of the information for us to evaluate the cost per desk or anything else, which makes it very hard to do some of the assessment. but your study shows us that they're not cost justifying. the building on the top is made with nonlocal materials that are only made in three places in the world, this concrete facade. it clearly is an architectural design rendering to a great extent, not necessarily all functional. it's not a standard build. it cost a lot of money. and it's in an area in which there are more security guards than there are embassy personnel at desks. it's a high-risk area. is that justified versus a standard built in your opinion? if i need 550 people to provide security for 400 embassy personnel, do i in fact have a place in which the priority
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should be i'm looking pretty for the population so that they can be happy with us? >> not in my opinion. >> security, if it takes 550 people to protect 400 people, is that a place in which there's any question about what the priority should be? >> no. priority has got to be security. in the department, there's always this argument, whether it be with embassy construction or anything else, we used to -- or housing, for example. we used to have those who would say, we need to be out in the community, we need to live out in the community. there were others that said, i don't want to live out there because of the hazard. i want to be on a compound. if you pin people down, security is the most important to them. >> let me ask one closing question because i have picture after picture, cost after cost,
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and we're going to have some of these folks back here once the state department delivers the actual arithmetic so we can evaluate it. but mr. green, i know that you were above the folks here and so you oversaw people doing the jobs of muniz and jones. but from a construction standpoint, from what you were trying to achieve, during your tenure, weren't we essentially making a decision to cut out architect tuurl fees and change that made embassies dissimilar versus similar? >> i don't know that we were trying to make embassies similar, but we were trying to stay within a fixed amount of money so we could build as many embassies as we could to get as many people out of harm's way as we could. if they weren't as beautiful as somebody might like, that wasn't the main factor. the main factor was get
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embassies built. as you mentioned, there were -- after the beirut bombing we had 120-some-odd embassies that were rated unsatisfactory. and what we wanted to do was get as many of those fixed as we could. as i said, i've been to 100 of our posts. are all of them beautiful? no, they're not beautiful. in fact, i opened darr sa lom and nairobi when we opened new embassies there. and they're fine. >> i want to give you a chance to answer, ms. mun eighties muniz, but i want two things on the record. the pretty building on the top is in the 19th most dangerous highest priority area. this is an embassy that needs to be built sooner rather than later and in which security is one of our greatest concerns. secondly, i want to mention my trip to britain was interesting
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in that, as the ambassador and key staff went through and explained to me how awful the embassy was and how desperately we need to replace it, he of course explained to me that the rather ugly building was designed by the guy who designed dulles airport. it was in the time that beautiful buildings were in the eye of the beholder. and we were building them all over the world. and in fact design excellence is inherently like a designer's suit. it ages more quickly than, if you will, the industrial look. if you had any other answers, i wantsed to give you that opportunity. >> thank you, mr. chairman. what i'd like to go back to when talking about this project is, as my colleague casey noted, we base our budgets on standard embassy design budgets, on the number of desks, on the local context, which has us taking into account distance to get
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materials. we fix that budget, and we work within that budget. so the building that you see that might be more attractive, might be more tailored to the mi missions in question -- >> but when we have the numbers, we can have that discussion. i would love to hear your answers today, but since the state department has refused to comply with a lawful request for any data, even one slehred of i we only have, if you will, the whistle-blower side of t. we don't have your side. but to fly in concrete europe for the top building to me is a questionable item i'm going to want to see why those materials were chosen over materials that could be provided more locally. mr. cummings? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm sitting here, and i want us to take a deep breath and focus
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on what you said, mr. green, security. when all is said and done, a lot of these buildings will be in it existence when we're dead and gone. and this is our walk watctch. we have a moment in time right now to get this right. not just for it our present diplomatic corps but for generations yet unborn. and i want us to stay focused. i think we can kind of drift off and not zero in. that's why i think when mr. chaffetz's comments about the data that we've asked for is so important, so that we can try to figure this thing out using the best information that we have in the time that we have.
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so, with that backdrop, he want to go to you, mr. green. and let me start by -- you know, chaffetz serves as the chairman of our national security subcommittee has raised a legitimate question, this new design excellence to customize diplomatic facilities could delay their completion. you raised a similar concern, mr. green, and i quote, despite schedule cost assurances from obo, there is concern that nower facilities -- and you said this just a minute ago, too -- embassies, consulates can be built over the same time frame, leaving more personnel exposed in inadequate facilities for longer periods of time, end of quote. mr. green, can you elaborate briefly and what are some of the challenges with customizing versus using standard designs? and you said a moment ago that
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you didn't say throw the baby out with the bath water. you said we need to certain recommendations we need to meet. i assume you were saying, look, we just want to be practical to get back to that security thing, cost and function so that we can be effective and efficient in what we're doing. could you comment, please, sir? >> sure. yes, sir. the observations that we made -- and this is it in the report, certainly not all-inclusive -- this wasn't six smart guys in the mess hall that dreamed these things up. these were based on comments we got from security experts who were with obo on a daily basis. i would tell you, for one, if you can build a beautiful embassy under design excellence and you could do it as fast and
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it doesn't cost any more, i'm all for it. i don't care. i don't care what we build. but what i am concerned with, it's just not just not logical to the people we talked to, and frankly to me, that you can build under design excellence as quickly, and as cost-effectively as we did under standard embassy design, either pull a design off the shelf and build it, and adopt the facade in a way that is fitting with the local -- the country, as opposed to going through a design bid/build with architects and builders, it just doesn't make sense. now, if you can show me with facts and figures that it does, i'll salute and agree with you.
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>> there's one thing that you did not mention, and i assume you meant to, function too. you talk about security, number one, cost and function. so you want them to make sure they function properly too. >> yes, absolutely. and i think that standard embassy design was a living, breathing thing. there were reviews done constantly. sure, was everything perfect? no, the ceiling is too high, we can't put the light bulbs in, or we don't have enough parking are on are or the medical facility isn't large enough. those challenges were address the periodically and standard embassy design was modified accordingly. function is certainly important, and i think that the director mentioned 100 consular windows
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versus one. that should -- and maybe that happened, but that should be worked out as you're planning a design in a certain country that says five consular windows aren't enough for us. hopefully within the budget we could adopt that. >> what's your response and would the design program delay embassy construction? >> notice response is no, but i need to go into detail that did i suppose lose folks, but if you could bear with me. we use two different methods. we use design/build and we use design/bid/build. sometimes we need to go into tr tripoli, it allows you to do
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advance year planning very easily. we know in any given fiscal year we're going to do the five embassies. we designed the four, but because we are going to get under the excellence initiative to 100% designs, when we award the contract, the duration from award to cutting the ribbon and letting people into the safe, secure facility is actually shorter, because we will only be doing construction. we will not being doing design and construction after the award of the project. if we don't have a lot of advance notice, i think we do need to go back to design/build and reexamine the type of building that we would put in place, but i think what's great about this initiative and this new approach is that it will allow us not only to meet the same schedules, but in cases to improve on them. >> what do you have to say to
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that, mr. green? i'm not an architect nor an engineer, and if o.b.o. contends that they can build things as quickly, you know, i may or may not question it. all i'm saying is the folks that work with obo on a regular basis questioned it. >> the new embassy in iraq was build during the previous administration. >> before the project -- that was fraught with delays, cost overruns, contractor corruption, in fact this committee found seven years ago back in 2007 that the project was delayed 16 months, and the cost to the united states taxpayer was $144 million more than originally projected. so the issue of delays and
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increased costs can occur regardless whether 9 department uses standard embassy design or design excellence concept. would you all agree on that? its i would agree. baghdad was kind of a unique situation. once it would been planned initially, then the defense department want to do put more people in there, so we had to modify the side of it. i'm sure there were many, many other things that, you know, i want to be there. i want 15 desks instead of 3, it was a moving train, believe me. >> ms. munoz? >> i think that's accurate. in fairness as my colleague mr. jones pointed out, we build in different environments. there are all kinds of things are that can complicate delivery. the department, the country can decide to change the staffing
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pattern significantly and require us to modify. war, shortages, natural disasters can impact those schedules. so while i haven't looked at the iraq contract in detail, i've looked forward since comes to o.b.o.s in difficult environments, those can have a real impact, but i think having a dialogue with congress, with our appropriators, and this committee on such changes so that people understand those changes i think can be helpful. >> as i close, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a letter sent to the state department on october 9th, 2007 by the committee's previous chairman waxman describing in detail the many flaws with the construction of a u.s. embassy in iraq in 2007. >> without objection, so ordered. if the gentleman will yield -- >> of course. >> i want to join with you.
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i was on the committee at that time. chairman waxman did a great job of exposing that our wartime construction of an embassy as fortress usa, as a base to when we departed, and with vague ideas of what they wanted at the beginning and ever changing, was the best example of a bad example of how to build an embassy. i think the ranking member has made a good point that that is exactly what we don't want to be doing. >> thank you. >> if i have i have the indulgence to follow up, mr. green, i want the public to sort of understand something about the standard design. >> some most people have flown in that are listening, they started making them in the late '60s, early '70s, and they are different than they are today. a continuous design that at any
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given time the 737 is a standard build. would that be similar to the evolution that what you built 20 -- the standard would change over time, but the idea is to effectively have a continuously improving product like a 737 boeing aircraft that everyone conditioned of recognizes it, but it keeps getting better over time? >> i think that's a fair analogy. >> ms. muniz, the same idea, it's not a fixed design, but an evolution of a standard build. thank you, mr. chaffetz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in response to a cbs morning news program and evening news program, the state department was able to put out its fact sheets, but against for documents produced to the united states congress.
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in this you say all facilities will be delivered on the same, if not shorter, schedules. there's no evidence to the contrary. do you have any examples of a design excellence building that is coming in on time or, say, a shorter schedule than standard embassy design and do you have any examples of any building that's been built for less than the money that we would have spent under standard embassy design? >> thank you for that question. as the committee knows, the process -- >> no, no, i'm sorry. i have five minutes and i have like 100 questions. do you have a single example of success, as you've stated it? >> yes. >> which one? >> there are early excellence initiative projects. there was one in 2011, one in
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'12, there are three -- >> i need the names of these facilities. >> we could submit that for the record, and i'll take a bit more time to go over those -- all of those. >> hold on, hold on. i'm sorry. i've already taken up a minute and a half. you're going to give us the names of these buildings, and when will you give them to us? >> 2011 -- >> no, you said you want to submit them for the record. when are you going to give them to the congress? >> i could give them to you now. 2011 is viente, 20 is, those are early excellent initiatives. the first projects that will be awarded under the full initiatives in the new standards are in fy 14 typically awarded at the end of the fiscal year. they were all on schedule, and we can provide additional information as soon as the projects are awarded.
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>> >> let's go to port morseby in a second. i had a chance to visit in february. when was that originally slated to be completed. >> in 2014. >> may of 2014, correct? >> yes. >> now when is it slated to be completed? >> in early 2018. >> so they're having to stay in the same facility, it's exceptionally dangerous, correct? >> the reason port morseby is on the vulnerable list and getting a new embassy is because it's dangerous. >> when did you get the final determination that the marines would be located at port morseby? >> the embassy being built was based on numbers provided in 2008. as the committee members know the numbers and program for embassies is not set by o.b.o. >> i'm asking when did you get notifications marines would be located -- >> we awarded the contract in 2011.
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two years into the construction of that project we were notified that marines would be going to port morseby and that a staff of 41 had increased by 31, including the marines. that's a doubling of the size of the embassy. there was no way to continue with the project in a way that allowed us to deploy our resource intelligently, that would have allowed diplomatic security to certify the building and colocate all of the staff. we made the modifications necessary based on real changes that reflected american priorities -- >> let me try against. when did you get the official notification that you were getting marines. >> 2013. >> can you provide that to this body? >> yes. >> when will i get that? the department is part of that answer, so we will provide that as quickly as possible. >> this is the challenge, chairman.
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if it's so dangerous and they need marines, why aren't they there now? >> the deployment is not within obo's purview, so i would direct that back to the -- >> against you have to get back to us. so that cost was going to be what? originally under standard embassy design, it was going to be an expensive roughly $50 million was the projection. is that correct? >> no that's inaccurate. that's the construction contract only. the information we provided to the committee and to the cbs reporter who reported on this was that the budget was $79 million. >> and what's the budget now? >> the budget is not yet reconfirmed. >> wait a second. it's not reconfirmed? what about this document here that i have that has initials on it, that says will remain $211
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million for this option. >> we believe that the cost will be under that. we are at -- >> why? >> we are at 35% design. >> but that is what was signed off on. >> that is not what was signed off on. that is not a final budget. >> we will go through that in further detail. i'm past my time and i have a host of our questions, chairman. >> i thank the gentleman. we now go to the gentleman from massachusetts, the other mr. tierney, congressman lynch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i appreciate this. i do want to say, to be fair, the state department did turn around an immediate request from the chairman last weekend to inspect the embassy in london. that request came in on a friday. the codele left on a sunday. the meetings and briefings were lined up for monday.
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usually congressional delegations are planned for weeks ago, so the department should be thanked, i think, for the effort in helps the committee do that inspection. i would caution you and to your colleagues that have the authority to approve oversight committee codels for inspecting these various, we do need cooperation. we need it right now in iraq. i notify you have limited resources, but we have a responsibility here so we need cooperation there. we need cooperation in yemen, in afghanistan, and so we understand very well the trepidation that ufz, but this is a necessary part of our job.
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we need full cooperation from the state department on doing oversight. it's not just your job, it's also our job. we just want to amplify our need to get in and out of these countries as expeditiously as possible. we apologize for any diversion of resources to make that happen, but if we're going to sign off on a budget, we need to know what the situation is on the ground. we owe that to the taxpayers and also to the personnel in these facilities. so enough of that. i do want to talk a little bit, ms. muniz about the drawback -- i understand mr. chaffetz has the affinity for the standard design, but looking at it, it requires a pretty good parcel of land in order to set it down. this is the problem wet with bashar al assad in damascus, where sort of downdown there, or on the street, very exposed, we
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need -- we were trying at that point to try to get the set design configuration for the new embassy there, the new location. there was nothing downtown, so we end up further out. that exposes us, even though we would have sort of mr. chaffetz's that set design of an apron of security there, we would have to be further out, out of town with a long commute for our people once they fly in, they would be very much exposed in getting to the embassy. this is the same problem we've had in afghanistan. the most dangerous drive, you know, in recent years is when delegations fly into afghanistan and you have to drive up that road through massoud circle. they tried to tip my car over there in that rotary there a while back, a bunch of people very upset about somebody
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flushing a koran down the toilet or something like that, and the crowds went wild. so putting our people out in a remote location is not the safest result for our embassy either. tell me the answer how to configure this. you haven't abandoned that whole set design, right? is that still on the table when the land is available? >> thank you for the question. let me try to reply to it quickly. you make a great point. part of the difficulty of the standard embassy design is that it was a largely horizontal solution, so that where land is abundant, where we could still be on that much property in close proximity to our colleagues so that we're not required to travel back and forth, which has not only
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security but extensive cost implications, it made sense. but in a lot of the cities we're required to build in now, not only is it not possible to find thousands ten acres the, if we were able to find it it's extraordinarily expensive. the example of london, we are building on less than five acres. property in london is very expensive. it makes a huge difference to be able to be on a smaller plot of land while still meeting all the security requirements, including the legal requirement for 100-foot setback. so both costs and security play, but it also gives you a lot of flexibility in building in all of the locations that we need to build in where ten acres may simply not be available. >> you're saying the design excellence model gives you that flexibility? >> it absolutely gives us that flexibility.
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all right. when i try to think about the different locations and the different demands, different environments that our embassies have to operate in, you know, it does give me pause to, you know, to try to come up with a one size fits all solution to that, which i think the set design more or less requires. i do support your ability to have modifications on that more towards the design excellence piece, but, you know, sometimes we do have what someone -- a casual observer might observe it as being, you know far beyond what is necessary. so you have to caution people on the cost aspect of that as well. i've exhausted my time. >> will the gentleman yield for a moment? >> sure i would. >> i believe there are multiple
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examples of standard embassy design on less than ten acres. one of the concerns i have is we have multiple gao reports, appear inspector general report all confirming these buildings are coming in under budget and faster. is a and -- >> just re-claiming my time just for a minute, the baghdad embassy, though, dear lord, that was $750 million. that was three quarters of a billion. >> and baghdad is not a standard industry design. >> it's a modified. >> it's a monday trollsity. >> that's what it started out as. we have more than ten acres there. all i'm sake is it's not just a question of one method verse another. whatever allows us some flexibility to consider the situation on the ground would probably provide the best -- and
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i don't disagree with the points you're raising, i don't. i don't. i just think that it is so varied, the landscape under which the, you know. o.b.o. and state department have to operate, they need that flexibility. i yield back. >> now recognizing mr. wahlberg for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman and for the panel for being here. i open my statement have been had the privilege to travel to a number of embassies and consulates in regions of great insecurity my impression of our public servants in those positions was enhanced, increased almost to disbelief that some would take those positionings. so we do want to make sure they are cared for appropriately. we want to make sure the taxpayers are cared for appropriately as well.
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i would add my comments to those already requesting that you please convey to people who can get us documents that we've been requesting, it's so important, when i've been listening to questioning already and find disagreements on numbers, on size figures, and things like that, simply because we don't have the information, and we can't do the work. i don't connect any hard drive to break down -- i hope not. 6 before we get that nivg, but we really need that. in your testimonies, ms. muniz and mr. jones, you talked about the development of design excellence. you talk how working with them was a very participatory process within the state department. can you describe how the bureau of diplomatic security participated in the development of divine excellence -- we know
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that words, but design excellence. >> the foundation of -- >> the foundation of the excellence initiative sort of our base going in statement was we are not changing the security standards, period. i have been in discussions with my colleagues and diplomatic security at the highest levels and at the working level, and have made that assurance. i think that that is what is most important to them. they have every reason to insist that that still be the case. >> did they clear. >> yes. >> on design excellence? >> they cleared on our process, yes, and they support the process. >> who cleared? >> i would have to get back to you on the clearances, but again how we put those buildings together is in the respond to
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the degree that we continue to build facilities that meet all of diplomatic security's concerns, that's what they need to sign off. in addition to understanding that we need add cost or add time to schedules in a way that would also jeopardizes security, and we have committed to not doing that. >> they haven't signed off yet, or they have signed off? >> we have the support at the highest levels of diplomatic security in moving forward with this, a formal sign-off within the department? was not in the process, but they have signed off on our documents describing the process and how we're going to go about it. emplgts cou emplgts. >> could you get those documents to us? could i give you that assignment? >> yes. i would also like, if i could, a number of members have mentioned the document request. i would like to convey both personally and professionally i
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take seriously the role of this committee and of other congressional committees. it was a vast request. we are working as quickly as we can to collect that information together and we'll get information to the committee. >> but even in the information that was in. >> i appreciate your intentions, but we really need the documents. mr. green, the panel on -- a group which you cared says in its final report, that it understands the desire to have embassies and consulates be more welcoming and reflect the openness of american society and that i quote, o.b.o. is convinced that design excellence has widespread support within the department. however, the report also mentions that from a diplomatic
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security standpoint there are questions raised by the changes under way in the embassy construction program. the question is, can you explain what those concerns are from a security perspective? >> sure. and we outline them in the report. and leave that to the committee to read at your leisure, but there's another one that came up later. this goes to an earlier discussion here about the flexibility that design excellence provides. in real estate and smaller places. that is one of the areas that d.s. really objected to in our discussions with them. both urban sites and smaller areas. are we going to just have more waivers for the 100-foot setback? i know the difficulty in transiting if you're out in the
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boondocks somewhere, but there's got to be some accommodation if security in fact is our most important issue, then -- and let me quote from an o.b.o. document here. it says -- whenever possible, sites will be selected in urban areas, allowing u.s. embassies and consequence las to contribute to the civic and urban fabric of those host cities. special attention will be paid to the general ensemble of surrounding buildings, streets, and public spaces, which the embassies and consequence las will form a part. what d.s. doesn't want is something on the street that a car bomb can drive up to and blow a hole in the wall. so i agree with the flexibility, there are cost issues, as the director has mentioned, but some way, as we recommended in our
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report, the department has to do an in-depth analysis of the security implications before you just start building downtown. >> appreciate that. the gentleman's time has expired. now recognizing ms. kelly for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> the independent accountability review board made several recommendation to enhance embassy security. mr. green, you led this panel which issued a report last year raising concerns with the design excellence program. this report stated, and i quote -- while the panel agrees special consideration proposed for places are warranted, security concerns for many other posts deserve serious consideration. the report also found, and i
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quote, no evidence of a business case or cost/benefit analysis supporting this initiative. mr. green, is that correct? >> when we did the report, there was no evidence of any business case or cost/benefit analysis, that's correct. >> why is such a study worth while? >> why is the study we did worthwhile? this was only. this was only one recommendations of 35. there were 34 other recommendations that dealt with d.s. management and operations and organization and training. this was only one which came to light as we began to talk to d.k. people who expressed concern about security. >> has the department responded to this finding? >> no, the department -- the department has not responded to any of these recommendations. i've heard informally that they
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have accepted in part or in whole the 30 or the 35, but i frantly was not expecting them to respond. this was a report asked for by the undersecretary for management based on the arb recommendation. we did the report, turned it in, and went home. >> you're saying there's no cost/benefit study on the new initiative? >> not that i know of. >> director, i gather the department has not dismissed mr. green's panel in i did finding as irrelevant, so what has the department done in response to the report? >> typically a cost/benefit analysis is done before we go into a scenario where there is additional cost, to make sure that additional cost is warranted. as i've explained and assured the committee, there is no additional cost under the excellence initiative. we're setting budgets based on
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standard embassy design budgets. if anything, we are hoping that costs will go down as we're able to look at longer-term operating costs and make decisions that allow us to affect that. the recommendation was that we look at what the impact was on security. again, as ui've explained to th knittee and the members, there is not an impact on the security. we will meet all of the standards. two of the standards are in law, setback and colocation. as mr. green describes, the concern about being on urban plots, we will always meet that setback that is required in law, regardless of being in a smaller plot. it's simply that the ability to have a building go up rather than be horizontal, to not have a warehouse in a place where we're able to get materials in real time, and to build one
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would be wasteful, we're able to take those into consideration and build on smaller pieces of property. >> would my friend yield for just a second? would you remind us what the setback requirement is? >> the setback requirement is 100 feet. >> mr. green, any other comments? >> no. >> well, i would thank you for your work. >> would you yield for a moment? >> yes. on the one hand you say you'll be confident to come under budget. at the same time we don't have a cost/benefit analysis. it hasn't been down, correct? >> i've not said under budget. >> you were hoping that it would come under budget. >> the department sets budgets.
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oo.b.o. sets budgets based on number of desks. we use historical data accumulated from the construction of the standard embassy design to set our budgets. >> but you have no completed design excellence building. in fact you used as an example ennjemina, which is in chad. if we content to chad and looked at it, what would we see? >> it's one of the early projects -- >> what would we see if we went ko chad? you used it as an example of success. what would we see if we went? >> i'm not certain. >> do they even have a hole in the ground yet? >> i don't have the status of the project. >> you came up with the example, and i'm telling you that it's not even scheduled to be completed until october of 2016. we're not even sure there's a hole in the ground yet and you're using that as a success
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story. am i wrong? >> i described the projects that were awarded using the excellence principles. to say that those projects are awarded is not the same thing as to say those projects are completed. >> do you have any completed studies -- or any completed projects under the standard -- or under the design excellence program? >> as i explained, we do not. the first project we awarded on the variation was in 2011. the first real projects that we were awarded, we will award as i stated are in 201, this fiscal year. >> so the success that you have is just the awards, it's not actually achieving -- time is expired. i appreciate the gentlewoman from illinois yielding me time. will now recognize -- the gentleman from michigan, for
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five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for being here today to testify. the chairman earlier alluded to beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and i can tell you from experience, the sandbag bunker looks really good to a soldier under a motor attack, but i'm sure that we don't want to build the embassies looking like a sandbag bunker. but i know we do have a need for curb appeal. after going through these reports and talking to some other people outside of this hearing, i just have a real few simple questions. do we have a final number for the baghdad embassy? cost? >> i believe we do. >> i heard that the contractor made over $500 million profit? did you hear the same thing? >> again, this was a project
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that was awarded -- >> one of the most expensive -- >> years ahead of my time under the bush administration. >> you have access to those numbers? >> yes, and we can certainly provide those. >> and what did we say the london embassy is going to cost us? >> the total project cost for london is near a billion -- >> a billion. how many people will work in there? >> if you exclude the property price, it is under $800 million. the cost to do a major rehabilitation and security upgrades of the existing chancery, which would have never met security standards, including two in law -- >> i understand the need -- >> have been $730 million. >> for a billion, i would probably -- no, i can't say that. we do need an embassy in london, but a billion seems like we should be looking at alternatives. in places like iraq, we use haskell barriers, concrete,
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prefabricated concrete barriers placed relatively quickly in times of danger. i have some questions in regards to -- wrap heavy reinforcement stand offdistance, i understand steel structures with curtain walls, all kinds of things that, well, deal with security, but you're putting more emphasis, it seems, on curb appeal, and i just -- a few more questions. can you give me a few reinforced concrete examples of how moving to this new design strategy enhances security? >> so i think london is a great example, and i'd like to speak in that context. >> a billion dollars worth, yes, you have my -- >> we sold the properties that were existing in london. this is a project that did not have to be done, no phet zero, for the taxpayers. we were able to 100% replace those facilities for $50 million
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more than it would have cost to do massive upgrades to the existing facilities that would have still left it vulnerable due to setback, no colocation and not meeting other security examples. >> would it have to be outside of london where the cost is less expensive? a billion dollars. >> i would argue in london it would hurt to be outside of london. >> do you have a uniform layout for all embassy facilities which could aid security personnel and training during emergencies? you have to go from one embassy to the next, everything is different, the design plan is different. everything seems to be tailored as expensive costs. >> our diplomatic security staff are incredibly skilled. right now they deal with a wide variety of contexts and buildings. i would also like to say if we stayed with the standard embassy design which basically had two separate bars of construction,
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it is less efficient, it is harder to get from one bar to the other than a cube. london is a good example of that, and to build more efficiently also saves dramatically in terms of cost. >> a billion dollars for an embassy. and that's efficient. i just have a real problem with that, because having experienced in iraq and vietnam, i know we build the same bunkers, pretty much the tame standard design, a few improvements here and there, but they suffice. i know we could do same thing with a more modern building, use a standard format design either going up or out. you probably could have three standard designs that would fit just about anywhere. why do i know that? because i have experience in that business. you know, we build or military vehicles pretty much the same way. their compartmentized. we can drive an abrams tank and
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change the engine out in a matter of hours. mr. chairman, i have a real problem with billion dollar designs and costs when contractors are making $500 million profit on some of our most expensive embassies. thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentleman from vermont, mr. welch, for piv minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you've got a pretty hard job. it really is. but two things. one, mr. lynch indicated gratitude for your cooperation in turning an a codel. secondly i know the chairman of the subject committee sent a request for some information. it is helpful to the committee, a burden on you, but it makes for better life all around if there can be as much cooperation as possible in a timely way. but i do want to acknowledge the hard work that you have to do.
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one question i have is -- how much -- the costs are high. how much of the complications that you face day to day in making decisions about an embassy, wherever it may be, have to do with the enormous security requirements that now seem to be part of everything? i'll ask you, ms. muniz. >> i think the security requirements clearly significantly add to the expense, but i don't know that anybody in the state department on this committee would call into question the need for those secure measures, and the measures physically that are put in place. >> it does, when you look at the average cost of an embassy as compared to the office building on the market, those costs are very different, but they are really driven by what are some of the safest facilities in the
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world. >> mr. green, one of the things that i find a bit troubling, is when i visit embassies, in remote and different working circumstances, it seems to some of the embassy personnel as a result of the security requirements. and is there some indication that there's -- there are some cases where too much security actually interferes with the ability of the embassy personnel to do the job effectively? itches i could say general lly i would say generally no, but if you talk about access, for example, for employees, particularly non-u.s. employees who are held up going through various security checkpoints, possibly there is. but i think generally d.s. is not going to spend money to
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oversecure a place. if anything, we probably have some that are undersecured. >> that's helpful. mr. chairman, i am prepared to yield the balance of my time. >> would my colleague yield his time, mr. welch? >> i want to yield my time to mr. chaffetz. >> i'm sorry. all right. go ahead. >> i yield my time to mr. connelly. >> i thank my friend. sorry for the misunderstanding. >> you know, this is not a theoretical discussion, mr. green, you were in the regular admission, i was in the senate. i went to beirut before the embassy bombing. no setback, right on the main thoroughfa thoroughfare, and i had a friend killed, bill mcintyre, and of course or embassy was bombed again in beirut, to stay nothing of the marine bar racks at the
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beirut airport. kenya, tanna nia. some of the largest critics of course are the first to talk about the lack of security in benghazi. it is a balance, but security we have learned all too painfully is a very important component in making decisions about fortifying setbacks and the like. is that not true, mr. green? >> it is the most important decision. >> let me ask, how do we balance, though, the need for accessibility, the need for visibility, the need for convenience in another country. i mean, we cannot forget it isn't just about us, and our security and convenience. it's also about the population, our embassy, consulate is serving. a lot of people want to get visas, do business and so forth.
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help us understand, how do we strike the right balance? >> that's probably the toughest question that anyone here has asked today. i don't know that there is a magic bullet to do that. but you've got to manage risk. and people have different opinions of how you do that, whether security takes precedent or access takes precedence. i remember when i was still at the state department, there was a big battle between those in the old usia who wanted more access for the local pop you las to go to the libraries, and then on the flip side of that were the security people that said we can't afford to have a library hanging out there in some commercial building. so we haven't solved it.
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i think it's you have to manage risk based on the situation, based on the threat, and if you need more security or less security, then that's what you do. i mean, we -- we can adjust. >> finally, just based on what you just said, you can't just have a cookie cutter approach, because the situation is going to be different everywhere. >> that's right. >> mr. welch, thank you for your courtesy, and thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. the gentleman 'time has expired. we'll now recognize the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chaffetz. i think this is an important hearing. sometimes it doesn't get the attention that others do, but it is an important meat and potatoes hearing that talks about our embassy's security, a lot of that would you highlighted by the events at benghazi, and also our vulnerability with our various posts around the world.
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now, it's kind of interesting, my brother was a member of congress who chaired the subcommittee, i think it was international operations that did the inman buildings when they were looking at secure facilities. >> mr. mika, if i may, that was your democratic brother. >> that's right. and if he got it right, we wouldn't be here with this hearing, but touche. 6 it's nearly impossibility to protect every compound. they are at risk around the world. they can't all be confined in the compound, but some things can be done.
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we have two lists. one is prepared by o.b.o., and another one is by the security folks, diplomatic security folks, on the risk level. i just saw a copy of one of those, which you have all not provided to us, but we've gotten a copy, and for obvious reasons we don't publicize that. we don't want our enemies to know where our emphasis is, but there are just some common-sense things that need to be done and more posts are at risk than others. mr. jones and mr. green, you would agree? one of the problems we have is there's a security list i have seen and it differs from the o.b.o. list. can you tell me about the differences?
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>> yes, i can, and i appreciate the opportunity. d.s. assesses every facility worldwide on an annual basis for its risk. that's called the vulnerability list. that list is very, very extensive, because it includes every building in a compound which may have, say, a half dozen facilities spread around the town. we take that -- >> but it does rank them? >> it does, absolutely. >> your list is different from their list. is that correct? >> we basically translate their list into the highest risk posts. we pull up -- in other words, if they're assessing 12 facilities, we pull up the highest at risk and put it on the -- our vulnerability list, our our capital -- >> but they don't match, i'm told. >> they can't match exactly, because for their ten entries, we would have one. >> well, again this started out as looking at design excellence
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and choosing design as opposed to security, you have diplomatic security that is directed to make certain that our folks are protected, and you are making your determinations, but they don't mesh. that may leave must have or facilities at risk. for example, benghazi i was told was high on the list, but actually didn't get the attention either from reinforcement after a number of requests of security personnel, and other safeguards, and that some of the attention that should have been focused there -- and that would be the second tear of state's ultimate responsibility. is that correct? or is this --
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>> the department o.b.o. and d.s. decide on that capital security schedule. >> does the secretary review the list? >> not to my knowledge. >> not to your knowledge? that's something we may need to change in the law, but again, i would think that the secretary of state charged with the safety and security of our embassies would at least look at the list. you don't think like the former secretary when benghazi occurred even looked at the list or was given the list? >> i can't speak to that, but i can assure you working with diplomatic security, which we do every year on that list, that diplomatic security signs off on the order of that list, and that it is based on the ranks of our buildings. >> someone failed in benghazi. i'm told it was high on the list, that the proper attention was not paid to making certain it would the protections. even a high school -- a high
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schooler could look at the list, libya, benghazi, and pick that as a top priority, wouldn't you say that would be a top priority if you were looking at a list? a year ago or whenever? >> benghazi was neither an embassy nor a consulate and was not on the list. >> but it had american personnel, and it also posed a risk diplomatic security was also responsible for the security of the personnel there. i'm -- and they contracted also for services. is that correct? >> i could make a general statement about benghazi and about o.b.o.'s role, but i think beyond that i didn't come today prepared -- >> i just want the general procedure. mr. issa and i visited post-benghazi some of the different diplomatic posts.
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we saw some simple common-sense things that needed to be done, improvements in video capability, improvements in a whole host of areas. are you aware that those improvements that have been identified by the different groups and congress have been made so our personnel are not at risk? final question. >> you're talking about improvements in benghazi, we no longer -- >> security improvements in our diplomatic posts that have been -- there's a host of groups investigating, reporting, and they've said that certain things need to be done. i cited one as video capability. there are many others. maybe we don't want to discuss it in an open forum, but can you tell the committee, from your position, have those improvements been made and addressed? >> so let me respond on two fronts. >> excuse me, could you please
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speak into your microphone. thank you. >> sorry. as the committee knows, the secretary in the wake of benghazi appointed an accountability review board. that review board made 28 recommendations. the department accepted all of those recommendations, and has been aggressively implementing those recommendation. they've also reported to congress on the implementation. o.b.o. is involved -- we're -- >> can i interrupt you right there? part of that accountability review process was the development of this report by mr. green, and you had secretary -- undersecretary kennedy go on cbs news and say they don't accept it. so how do you represent that the state department has accepted all those recommendations when the work of mr. green was not accepted? >> and also, mr. chairman, if they could for the record -- and i think all the members would want this -- >> let's -- >> can you also give us for the
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record what has been implemented if some of those recommendations have to remain not public, that's fine, but give them to the committee? >> i can certainly take that back to the department and we can reply to that request. >> you didn't answer mr. chaffetz's -- >> we're going to recognize mr. connelly and we'll come back to this. >> i thank the chair. the assertion is being made that patrick kennedy contradicted the secretary of state, and i don't believe that's true. i believe that's ink accurate, and for the record, i would ask you to go back and have mr. kennedy clarify, but i'm quite confident, knowing mr. kennedy, he was not contradicting the secretary of state, who said she had accepted all recommendations, as you just
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said. if there's in daylight between those two points of views, by all means come back and clarify, but i didn't hear mr. kennedy say any such thing. i also find it interesting that in hindsight we have perfect understanding of the security needs in benghazi, and you should have understood that benghazi of all the posts in the world was number one. shank on you for not understanding that. how many post dos we have in the state department around the world? >> roughly 270. >> i'm sorry? >> roughly 270. >> you really don't like that microphone, do you? thank you. >> we have roughly 270. >> yes. >> so we have lots of security challenges, and benghazi was neither a consulate nor an embassy. that doesn't mean it's not important. we want to protect all american personnel, we don't want anyone at risk, but unfortunately we live in a dangerous and
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imperfect world. here's the same crowd explaining about you spending too much money, which, well, you know, in any security situation, you've got to do some triage in where you put your money and how you prioritize it. >> i think that's absolutely right. >> and obviously you wish all 270 posts, including benghazi were perfectly secure with the perfect setbacks and in the right location that met all of the demands, the functionality, the needs of the host country, accessibility for everybody, but security that's impregnable. is that not correct? >> i think that's accurate. >> that would be called a perfect world. would that be fair? >> yes, that would be. >> so i'm not quite sure how much that perfect world would cost, but absent a perfect world, the question is, can we do better? can we make better decisions? better informed decisions? as mr. green and i were talking
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about earlier, clearly understand that in security in some ways is to dominate some decisions or at least takes preponderance of the weight as we consider auld factors, but it can never be the only consideration, because what's the point of having a state department facility? an embassy, a consulate, if it can't function? that's the dilemma. that's what mr. green and i were talking about earlier, that balance. i assume that's something that bedevils you and your colleague, mr. jones? >> i would say that i'm naturally optimistic, and i really do believe that with great architects, great engineers, great builders, that we can crack that nut, that we can build buildings that are secure, we can make them as efficient as possible, but i really do think that we can't do everything that's humanly
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possible and have those buildings do the maximum they should do. i think the standard embassy design taught us a lot. i think we were able to take a lot of those lessons and i think we'll continue to learn and to learn and make these facilities better and better and faster and economical and efficient. but i believe that we're going to get there and i'm dedicated to getting us there. >> i want to pick up on this point, however. while i am bothered by, sort of a double standard. some seem to have about this whole issue of security. you should have known but don't spend so much money and the cookie-cutter approach will do fine and as mr. green said, it won't be fine. we have to take this into the verification among the 270 posts and the different cultures and threat assessments and so forth. but a billion dollars is a lot of money. first of all, it was not clear,
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it's hard to follow your map. were you telling us that all by $50 million of the $1 billion has been recovered by the sale of other property we own in london and in the vicinity? there's the microphone again. >> okay. let me go ever out very briefly. >> really briefly. i have 90 seconds. >> we sold all of our current properties in london. the proceeds of the sale from those properties are paying for the project. there will likely be a small amount of money left in reserve at the end of the london pr projects. comparison i was making is that the bureau before my time there and i believe at the time that mr. green was at the department, assessed whether it would be better to fix the current chancery, which would have cost $730 million, or to build a new up with. when you compare the cost, excludeing the site in london,
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it's under $800 million. for a difference of $50 million we're able to build a facility that needs setback and it meets all the security requirements and that doesn't require any new appropriated funds. >> thank you for that clarification. mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank the gentleman. we'll recognize the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you each for your testimony. i wanted, mr. mr. conley leaves, he made the comment to the gentleman from virginia he sits on the foreign affairs committee with me. i guess i'm troubled that this is the first time that we're really hearing about design excellence and in terms of the re -- and in the way that it's gone and i'm -- i'm a passionate about foreign affairs. and i attend the majority of those hearings and so, i think the gentleman from virginia would say that this is the first
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time he's heard but i yield for a couple of seconds. can i just -- >> to my friend from north carolina. i'm sympathetic to the challenge we face. i think before, you're right. for me, this is not some political thing? >> right. >> i had a friend killed in one of our ambassador in our terrorist attack because there was no setback and because we were not diligent about the threat assessment. >> is this the first time you've heard about design excellence? >> it is. and i want to tell you this whole issue of building security. when i worked in the senate 30 years ago, we were talking about this. and it seems to bedevil the state department in part, because it's not their expertise. >> i think the gentleman from virginia, it is very troubling to me that when i sit on an authorizing committee and now, on an oversight committee, and probably even more difficult for me because i built the
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buildings. i've worked with architects. i know design build very well. that how do we have a set of standards, for example, let's talk about security. all of us in a bipartisan manner here, agree on security. what diplomatic security standards do we have for this design excellence component? who's weighed in on that? or are you just counting on architects and engineers? >> all of the standards are established by diplomatic security. and in law. setback and law. >> i'm not talking about the setbacks. i'm talking about the actual design part of it. the setbacks are pretty easy. we talked about that today. you have a set of standards by diplomatic security that are published that i can find today? because i couldn't find them. >> i know that some of those standards are classified.
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>> i've got security clearance. i'd be glad to go look at it. you're saying if i go in a classified setting i could find that today? make sure, you're under oath. you know, you've got some staff behind you. are you sure about that? >> let me put hit the way. we meet all of the security standards established by diplomatic security for every new consulate and embassy. diplomatic security certifies the buildings meet not only their requirements and their standards established by the ospd but also the standards set in lalaw. all of the standards established by bs and obo to the degree that we're responsible for like safety and fire standards. all of those are met. nothing will be changed with respect to those security standards going from the standard embassy design. >> what does change? >> i think the way i would explain it is that we took what
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was a fixed module, a fixed solution to building and we deconstructed it in a way that it became more of a part. >> why? >> to make it look better? >> no. to make it more efficient and cost less. to build less in environments where we don't need a warehouse and we don't need ten acres. >> but let me -- >> and these buildings are crafted to maintain low operating. >> i understand that was the goal. where do we have any example where that's actually really happened to date? >> that's a fair question but it's a relatively recent initiative. >> so the answer is yes or no? do we have any example? one? one example? >> the examples that we were early examples are in the pipeline so -- >> so do we have one completed example? yeah or no. >> no, don't. >> so how can you say
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definitively that it's costing the taxpayers less and it's secure and it meets the standard and it does all of that? are you projecting that? >> we know the designs are certified by diplomatic security. we know what the costs are because weigh set the budget and we know what the schedules are because those are the schedules that we felt to build those facilities overseas. >> why haven't we heard about in foreign affairs? >> i'd like to go back and answer that question. we have briefed this program and there have been new settings on the hill where this program has been discussed since 2011. >> yeah, so when was the major initiative briefed to -- >> the first time it was briefed to the hill was in march -- >> to foreign affairs. i sit on that committee, too. i'm not aware that you ever briefed us. when did you brief us? the major initiative? ever? >> we offered briefings. i'd have to go back to my staff
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and find -- >> they're behind you so turn around and ask them. when did you brief us? i have my calendar. i'll be glad to check. can and i'm stalking about the major initiative here. >> it's my understanding that we offered briefings when we went up and briefed in march of 2011, we offered all committees the opportunity to be briefed in this proogram. >> the house foreign affairs turned you down? >> my understanding is that, yes, they did. i'd like to go back and put together the schedule but we offered briefings to our authorizers and -- >> let me tell you that i sit on that committee. and it hadn't been authorized. you've had new budget requirements and i would suggest as part of the normal order,
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that you would go before that committee as well. don't you think? >> i would be more than happy to brief any committee that's interested in the program and to answer any of the questions. i know we invited staff to and provided materials but i would be more than happy to go to any committee and have a conversation about this. >> before you put out any more bids and award any more contracts? would you be willing to commit to that? >> no. >> i yield back. >> i recognize the gentle woman from illinois, ms. duckworth for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so i understand the tension between making sure our embassies are accessible to the host nation citizens that want to do business with the united states and as well as to allow the embassy personnel to do the jobs they need to do.
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and folks are seeing where there's not enough security but these are the same folks that voted to cut funding to the state department. i wasn't here then. i'm here now and my focus is moving forward. and in looking at the design excellence program. as i have so far, i do applaud its modularity concept. you have these components that help with security and you can put them together in different ways as appropriate to the nation, the security risk, the available land, all of those things and as opposed to the single embassy design. we don't want one single yooerm design where every one we built was the same. if i was off terrorist i just have to figure out one and then i know the weaknesses for all the embassies. but i have a concern with the design


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