08.07.15

Senator David Perdue Requests Additional Information on State Department Training Facility Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations State Department and USAID Management Subcommittee, this week requested detailed cost-estimates and internal recommendations pertaining to the State Department proposal to construct the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FAST-C) in Virginia, instead of augmenting the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia, which would save taxpayers millions of dollars. 

Senator Perdue sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asking for the staff-level recommendation that chose FLETC over FAST-C, before the decision was deferred to the State Department. The recommendation, which OMB staff have confirmed exists, is purported to show OMB concluded FLETC should be the site for the new diplomatic security training facility.

“I am concerned this new site was selected without a complete, independent analysis of options, including augmenting an existing facility—an option I believe would achieve significant cost savings,” writes Senator Perdue in the letter to OMB. “As Chairman of the State Department Management Subcommittee, I want to improve diplomatic security training efforts in a cost-effective, timely manner. As such, I respectfully request that you share the staff-level recommendation that concluded FLETC should be the site for the new diplomatic security training facility. I also request all documents, communications, and analyses conducted by the Office of Management and Budget concerning FAST-C and any alternative facilities, including, but not limited to, FLETC for use by the U.S. Department of State, from January 1, 2012 to present.” 

Senator Perdue also sent a letter to the State Department requesting a description of what was eliminated to significantly reduce the cost of the original FAST-C master plan and how this impacts per diem and hotel costs associated with constructing and operating the facility. In the letter, Senator Perdue asked for detailed information on Ft. Pickett expenditures and funds obligated, but not initiated, for the site as well.

“I have concerns that this scaled down version leaves critical infrastructure needs, such as boarding, medical, dining, and recreational facilities unaddressed,” writes Senator Perdue in the letter to the State Department. “I am also concerned that costs would likely increase significantly after the initial groundbreaking to address these gaps in infrastructure, and potentially additional training needs. To fully understand the current proposal, I request that the State Department provide a description of what was lost or sacrificed in order to take the FAST-C master plan from an estimated cost of $950 million down to the most recent estimate of $413 million.” 

Background:  

In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted a proposal to OMB to service State’s training needs by augmenting FLETC, in Brunswick, Ga., which provides security training for DHS and 95 federal partner organizations, including the State Department, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies. In its 2013 proposal to OMB, DHS included the construction of new buildings, weapons ranges, and driving tracks to meet the requirements of the State’s original FAST-C master plan. FLETC estimated that this new construction would cost $272 million. By leveraging its existing facilities to meet the State’s training needs, FLETC estimates its proposal could also achieve significant cost savings over the long term.

In April 2014, the Administration confirmed that it planned to adopt the State Department’s proposal to build FAST-C in Blackstone, Va.  However, in a meeting with Senate staff in May 2015, OMB explained that the State Department never provided the necessary information to OMB, or to FLETC, to allow for an accurate comparison of the two options despite OMB making the specific request that it do so. In that same meeting, OMB stated that the State Department has “artificially constrained the analysis” of the FAST-C proposal, and that OMB ultimately chose to simply defer the decisions to the State Department. It appears therefore that OMB failed to conduct a sufficiently rigorous analysis, in significant part due to a lack of cooperation by the State Department.