Hurricane David Hits the State Department

I get several press releases each day from various sources. Over the past two days I received two releases in particular that caught my attention more than others.

Georgia Senator David Perdue has been in the Senate for six months. He quickly rose to the position of Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, Internal Operations, and Bilateral International Development.

On Monday he introduced a bi-partisan bill, “Improving Department of State Oversight Act” which gives strength to the Office of Inspector General and Congressional oversight for the department. “Conducting Congressional oversight is critical to making Washington more accountable, and a good place to start is at the scandal-ridden State Department,” said Senator Perdue.

Then, on Tuesday, he called for an independent analysis of site location for the State Department training facility. The current facility is located in Brunswick, Georgia at the long standing Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).

The Office of Management and Budget originally determined that the most cost effective approach was to build on the existing location at FLETC. The infrastructure is in place. The organization is in place. The operations are in place. It is more cost effective and makes sense.

Someone in the State Department wanted to build a new center from the ground up in Blackstone, Virginia. The initial cost was estimated at 950 million dollars to build in Virginia. Somehow, after hearing the cost savings of locating at FLETC, the State Department came up with a new estimate of 413 million to justify their decision.

Senator Perdue’s official response expressed the frustration of seeing these major swings in projected costs.

“The American people are frustrated with Washington because it never seems to give a straight answer when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Here, we have multiple federal agencies giving different cost assessments with no justification…. We need an honest cost-benefit analysis of these facilities, rather than an apples to. oranges comparison that hides how much it could cost taxpayers down the road. This provision ensures that Congress will see all documents associated with both the OMB and State analysis in a timely fashion.”

Someone at the State Department probably got the more concise version from Senator Perdue – “That dog won’t hunt.”

For years those who have been immersed in Washington-speak got away with making statements with an air of authority but without a shred of factual support. Some of those got a rude awakening this week when their air of authority got blown away by Hurricane David.

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Signature of Donald Cole


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