At the conflict’s core is the committee’s contention that OMB actually determined that the Georgia site, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) run by the Department of Homeland Security, was more cost efficient than building a whole new site for State. But OMB would not turn over its independent review of the two projects. And Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget request included $99 million for the Virginia project.
“I am disappointed that OMB has refused to be transparent and provide the Committee its analysis so that the Congress can make informed and responsible policy decisions in this critical area,” Royce said in a statement. “The internal documents underlying this analysis should tell us the how and why OMB arrived at its decision. In light of OMB’s continued refusal, I am left no choice but to issue this subpoena.”
The subpoena (which can be seen here) was sent Wednesday. Royce wants OMB to produce all relevant documents by 5 p.m. June 2.
“OMB has been working with the committee in good faith to provide relevant material responsive to its requests and will continue to do so,” said OMB Spokesperson Melanie R. Newman.
The State Department had originally considered a nearly $1 billion facility that would combine its soft and hard skills training for the foreign service, with onsite housing and restaurants. But that plan was scaled back to only have its own specialized space for the intense “crash bang” courses that teach people going abroad various survival skills in the event of a terrorist attack or other calamities. The cost was around $460 million.
FLETC claims it can build on to its existing training center for half the cost.
But State says the cost and time to fly its employees to Georgia would undercut any potential savings on the front end. To shuttle people by bus from Washington to the Virginia site takes just under three hours.
Meanwhile, in September 2014, Royce and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), and Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Chairman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), asked the Government Accountability Office to review the two proposals. The GAO report should be out soon.
They have also sought budgetary language to restrict any more money being spent on the project pending “an independent analysis.”
But one Senate Democratic aide with knowledge of the FASTC project told the Loop that the Virginia site is universally determined to be the better choice.
“The bottom line is that all administration agencies have been fully on board with the State Department’s decision on Fort Pickett after an extensive and thorough review process,” the aide said. “Any further attempts to delay this process puts our diplomatic personnel at risk.”