@StateDept Dedicates New $181M U.S. Embassy Mauritania in the “Place of the Winds

Posted: 2:58 am ET
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According to the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (State/OBO), the new U.S. Embassy compound in Nouakchott, Mauritania is situated on a 10.5-acre site in the Tevragh Zeina district of the capital city.  The new embassy compound includes a chancery, support buildings and facilities for the embassy community.

  • Known as the “Place of the Winds,” the capital city of Nouakchott is located on the west coast of Mauritania where the Sahara Desert meets the Atlantic Ocean. With its unique location, the city is susceptible to seasonal winds from the Harmattan – battering it with harsh Sahara sand – and winds from the Atlantic Ocean – bringing in salty and humid air.
  • The design for the new Embassy draws inspiration from Islamic architecture, including Chinguetti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in central Mauritania. More than half of the entire façade of the new Chancery features a perforated latticework copper, resembling a modern interpretation of a traditional mashrabiya – an element of Arabic architecture dating back to the Middle Ages that provides screening and shading from the harsh desert sun.
  • Copper represents a natural choice as it is one of Mauritania’s leading exports and it is a proven material that can withstand Noukachott’s environmental challenges.
  • A gallery space provides a place for large gatherings, events, lounge areas, and cafeteria seating.
  • Visitors to the Embassy will be invited through a gateway plaza with integrated site lighting, artwork,and plantings. Walkway patterns and stones are based on local textile methods and materials.
  • Construction began in June 2014 and was completed in early 2017.
  • An estimated 600 workers were involved in the construction of the new Embassy.

According to OBO, the new embassy is built for sustainability, and this is well and good, but we often wonder what kind of problems does post get in locating service personnel/contractors for maintenance of these buildings, the wind-powered turbine or even a wastewater treatment plant in country?

  • The new Embassy design is targeting Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Emissions-free power is produced from a 185 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic array, as well as a 50 kW wind turbine – the Department’s first major wind-powered turbine for an American Embassy.
  • The new embassy is projected to reduce energy costs by 30% through light-emitting diode (LED) site lighting; dedicated heat recovery chillers; electric traction elevators; and variable frequency drives from pumps, fans, and motors.
  • Water from an on-site wastewater treatment plant will be reused to irrigate site plantings, which are carefully selected to reduce the required amount of irrigation.

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Ambassador Larry Edward André Jr. — From Mauritania to Djibouti

Posted: 4:38 am ET
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On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate the current U.S. Embassy Nouakchott Chief of Mission Larry Edward André Jr.  to be the next Ambassador to Djibouti. The WH released the following brief bio:

Larry Edward André Jr. of Texas to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti. Mr. André, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1990. He is currently the United States Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Previously a two-time Deputy Chief of Mission with appointments to nine American missions abroad, mostly in Africa, Mr. André has held senior policy positions at the State Department in Washington. His excellent leadership skills and experience working closely with the U.S. military provide him expertise on the challenges and opportunities of the Horn-of-Africa region and deep understanding of the context of United States policy goals there. Mr. André earned a B.A. at Claremont McKenna College and an M.B.A. at American Graduate School of International Management.

On November 3, 2014, Ambassador Larry André presented his credentials to His Excellency President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (US Embassy Mauritania/FB)

The US Embassy in Mauritania has a more detailed official bio:

Larry André, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, arrived in Mauritania on 25 September 2014.

He has served overseas as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2008 – 2010); Political Counselor at U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya (2006 – 2008); Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Freetown, Sierra Leone (2002 – 2004); Regional Environment Officer for East Africa covering 14 countries from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2000 – 2002); and as Management Officer at U.S. Embassy Conakry, Guinea (1998 – 2000). He also served at U.S. Missions to Iraq (July – August 2005), Bangladesh (1994 – 1998), Cameroon (1992 – 1994), and Nigeria (1990 – 1992).

He has served domestically as the Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan (2011 – 2013), Deputy Director of the African Affairs Bureau’s Executive Office (2010 – 2011), and as the Deputy Director of the Office of West African Affairs (2004 – 2006).

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. André worked in Chad on a refugee resettlement project (1988 – 1990) and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal (1983 – 1985).

He holds an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management (1988) and a B.A. in Political Science from Claremont McKenna College (1983). Mr. André speaks French fluently.

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State/OIG Semi-Annual Report to Congress (Apri 1-September 30, 2013)

— Domani Spero

State/OIG submitted its last semi-annual report to Congress signed by Harold Geisel in September. Steve A. Linick took charge of the OIG on September 30, 2013.  The report was not published online until late December.

Via State/OIG

Via State/OIG

Under Oversight Review, State/OIG tells Congress it is conducting an in-depth review of Diplomatic Security’s investigative process.  This is in connection with last year’s allegations that several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. (See CBS News: Possible State Dept Cover-Ups on Sex, Drugs, Hookers — Why the “Missing Firewall” Was a Big Deal):

The Office of Investigations (INV) is conducting an independent oversight review of certain investigations conducted by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Investigations and Counterintelligence, Special Investigations Division (DS/ICI/SID). This is an in-depth review of the DS/ICI/SID investigations to assess the adequacy of the investigative process.

State/OIG also informs Congress that it audited seven posts under the purview of AF that had threat levels ranging from medium to critical. The audit was conducted “to determine to what extent the selected embassies in Africa complied with current physical security standards, and whether management officials at these posts used available authorities to effectively implement the posts’ security programs.” The audit identified physical security deficiencies at Embassy N’Djamena, Chad; Embassy Monrovia, Liberia; Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania and Embassy Dakar, Senegal.  A brief summary of the audit is posted here but the reports are not publicly available.

The semi-annual report includes an item about the non-compliance of the local guard contractor for Embassy Lilongwe, Malawi, who was required to pay local guards $100 per month supplemental pay in addition to the guards’ regular wages and benefits, based on a provision in the contract. OIG estimated that the amount invoiced by the contractor and not paid to the local guards as of June 2013 could be as much as $1,489,200.

Other items of note:

  • OIG conducted an investigation after receiving allegations of improper activities being committed by a major contractor that provides survey services to the Department and other agencies. The investigation determined that the contractor provided false pricing information to the Department during negotiations for a 5-year, sole source contract worth $25,000,000. OIG led a multi-agency investigation which resulted in the contractor agreeing to pay a $10.5-million civil settlement for improperly inflating Department and U.S. Mint contract prices and engaging in prohibited employment negotiations with a Federal Emergency Management Agency official.
  • OIG conducted a joint investigation with the OIG for USAID into allegations that two foreign real estate companies paid bribes to two LE staff members at the local embassy in order secure U.S. Embassy lease agreements. During the investigation, the company presidents admitted to paying the bribes and both employees were terminated from employment at the embassy. On May 9, 2013, the Office of the Procurement Executive issued six contracting debarments for a period of 3 years in connection with the case, two for each former employee, two for the two firms, and two for the presidents of each firm.
  • OIG conducted an investigation of an assistant regional security officer who submitted a false reimbursement voucher in connection with an extended hotel stay. The investigation determined that the officer knowingly submitted two fraudulent vouchers for reimbursement to the Department and received $14,630.83 to which he was not entitled. On March 11, 2012, The Department of Justice declined criminal prosecution of the officer. On March 28, 2012, the Bureau of Resource Management initiated a collection action against the officer for the full amount of the false claims, and on April 23, 2013, the Bureau of Human Resources issued a 10 day suspension to the officer.

See more Semiannual Report to the Congress April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013  [1990 Kb]  | Posted on December 30, 2013.

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