New U.S. Embassy in Kabul $150M Over Budget, Years Behind Schedule
Policy + Politics

New U.S. Embassy in Kabul $150M Over Budget, Years Behind Schedule


In 2002 the State Department began making plans to expand its U.S. Embassy in Kabul to create room for the influx of staffers expected amid the war and reconstruction efforts.

Now, more than a decade later, the project is still incomplete and more than $150 million over budget due to management and oversight issues within the State Department.

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That’s according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office that said the project’s two construction contracts from 2009 and 2010 have increased by 27 percent—from about $625 million to nearly $800 million. The auditors said that the project, which is already three years behind schedule, is likely to cost even more than their current estimates.

This year the State Department allocated $1.11 billion to cover the 2009 and 2010 contract costs as well as other expenses for constructing the facility. Once it is complete, the Embassy will have 1,487 desks and 819 beds, the auditors said.

The GAO blames the State Department for the soaring costs and schedule delays. It says that because officials didn’t follow proper contract-risk-assessment policies, the project has gone more than $150 million over budget. 

"These risks, such as delays in the sequencing of the two contracts, eventually materialized, increasing cost and extending schedule," the GAO report said. "Unless State follows its policy, it may be unable to avoid or mitigate risks to cost and schedule on future projects."

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On top of that, the auditors noted that the State Department has spent more than $100 million since 2002 on temporary facilities that were meant to be used for only five years and are still housing employees and equipment.

The temporary facilities were apparently built without meeting certain State Department security measures, so U.S. officials had to do workarounds to make the buildings secure, potentially raising the costs, the auditors said.

The GAO also slammed State for not having a plan in place to keep track of facility construction in Kabul—warning that not having a strategy will likely lead to higher costs.

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