We’ve told you before about the ongoing political battle over where to locate a training center for State Department foreign service personnel. Members of the Georgia delegation believe the best and least expensive option would be to locate the training facility at Brunswick’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which could be modified to serve the State Department needs for around $272 million. The other option would be to build a new facility in Virginia for around $413 million, and despite the higher cost, the Obama administration appears to favor the latter option.
In his role as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, Senator David Perdue conducted a hearing on Thursday to examine the competing proposals, and the results of a General Accounting Office report that recommended the Virginia site.
In his opening statement, Senator Perdue maintained that the issue wasn’t so much the location of the facility, but whether taxpayer money was being spent wisely.
Before we go any further. If this hearing doesn’t do anything else, it confirms that God has sense of humor. The two facilities we are now looking at as the final options are in Virginia, and our ranking member Tim Kaine represents Virginia, and in Georgia, and I represent Georgia along with my senior Senator Johnny Isakson here.
But I want to assure for the record, and everyone here, that we are all about the same objective, and that is this: we want to ensure that our personal are adequately trained to meet the challenges and dangers abroad. That is the objective function.
And, the second thing that we are here to do, as part of our oversight of the State Department, is to make sure that we spend taxpayer money appropriately. That’s it, there’s nothing parochial going on here and I applaud Senator Kaine for the way he has handled this and Senator Isakson in the past as well.
The review today though is part of a bigger process about how we spend money at the State Department, and it’s not just on training.”
As a business guy looking at this, and I know Senator Kaine with his background has looked at these things as well, overruns happen when scopes change, we all understand that, but when you see a continuous pattern it does heighten the need for oversight.
First District Congressman Buddy Carter, who represents the Brunswick training center, provided a statement to Perdue’s committee that summarized the results of a House committee investigation into the matter that alleged that State Department officials interfered with a GAO report in a way that boosted the Virginia site. In his statement, Carter said, “The bureaucrats at the State Department need to end their blockade and begin working in earnest to get this training up and running at FLETC.”
You can view Senator Perdue’s opening statement below the fold. [click to continue…]