Posted: 3:01 am EDT
On May 28, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), issued a subpoena (pdf) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The subpoena compels OMB to provide the Committee with critical information he said HFAC has sought for nearly a year concerning the State Department’s plan to construct a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FAST-C) in Virginia.
The State Department plans to construct the FAST-C facility in Virginia at a cost of $413 million. However, the project’s initial estimate of $950 million suggests the likelihood of considerable cost escalation over the construction period. At either amount, the State Department proposal appears far more costly than the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to expand its Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia to provide State Department diplomatic security training, as is currently taking place.
Chairman Royce said: “In an increasingly dangerous world, the security of U.S. diplomats abroad is paramount. We must ensure that our diplomats receive improved security training, and a big part of providing that training effectively is making the most of our limited resources. That is why for nearly a year, I’ve been asking OMB to provide the Committee with its analysis, which according to OMB officials’ statements to Committee staff, recommended using an existing facility — a course that the Administration has apparently chosen to ignore. I’d like to know the factors considered in this important decision.”
In late 2013, OMB examined the two proposals to determine whether State’s request for funding for FAST-C was justified. Chairman Royce encouraged OMB to determine which proposal best addresses the State Department’s vital training needs in a fiscally responsible way. He also requested that the Government Accountability Office perform an independent analysis of the proposals in September 2014.
The Committee is aware that OMB analysts had completed a written analysis recommending that the State Department pursue its diplomatic security training at the DHS’s FLETC facility.
On May 19, 2014, Chairman Royce requested that then-OMB Director Sylvia Burwell provide the Committee with a copy of OMB’s analysis. On May 1, 2015, Chairman Royce reiterated his request to current OMB-Director Shaun Donovan, expanding it to include all “documents and communications” pertaining to the FASTC and FLETC facilities during OMB’s review period. OMB has given no indication it will comply fully with these requests.
Chairman Royce said: “I am disappointed that OMB hasn’t provided the Committee its analysis so that the Congress can make informed and responsible policy decisions in this critical area. The internal documents underlying this analysis should tell us how and why OMB arrived at its decision. In light of OMB’s continued refusal, I am left with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”
- Chairman Royce’s January 9, 2014 letter to then-OMB Director Sylvia M. Burwell encouraging an independent OMB analysis is available here.
- Royce’s May 19, 2014 letter requesting OMB’s analysis is available here.
- Royce’s May 1, 2015 letter threatening to compel production of the analysis is available here.
- In September 2014, Chairman Royce, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Chairman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) requested an independent Government Accountability Office review of the State and DHS proposals. That review is ongoing.
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