WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Critics are pointing to the planned new U.S. embassy in Mexico as the latest example of government spending gone amok where nearly $1 billion has been spent and the State Department has yet to break ground.
By the time it’s finished, it could be one of the most expensive embassies in the world.
Everyone agrees the current building in Mexico City is in desperate need of an upgrade.
In 2011, the State Department bought 15 acres of land in the city for $120 million. But there was a problem: the land the government purchased had been the home of a Colgate-Palmolive factory for decades, CBS News reports.
The site is being cleaned up by Colgate, but it is still not ready for construction.
“It’s a bit of a fiasco,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.
He went to Mexico himself, and tells CBS News he doesn’t like what he saw.
“The State Department changed the way they build these things,” he said. “They went from a Standard Embassy Design, which were coming in under budget and they were coming in swifter, and now they are now to the point where they have a new process and it’s a lot more expensive and a lot slower,”
The embassy was originally supposed to cost $577 million, but the estimate has jumped by a third, to $763 million. Add on the cost of the unique design and the land and the final cost could over $939 million.
Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management, told CBS News that costs have risen as staffing needs increased.
“We have reviewed our processes and feel very, very comfortable that our use of the design initiative gets us the security we need and the functionality we need at the best possible price,” Kennedy said.
The Mexican embassy is not the only one to become embroiled in cost increases. Cost overruns in Afghanistan are over $150 million and the new embassy in London could cost more than $1 billion.
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