RealNews

Agencies will help shoulder cost of new embassy construction

Federal agencies that send workers overseas to U.S. embassies will have to pony up to help pay for new embassy construction under a provision signed by President Bush last month. The $388 billion spending bill, which provides funding authority for most government agencies outside of the Homeland Security and Defense departments, authorizes the creation of a Capital Security Cost-Sharing Program. Under the program, agencies will pay fees to the State Department based on how many staffers they send to embassies abroad. The impetus for the cost-sharing program was the 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 250 people and wounded more than 4,000. After the bombings, a presidential commission inventoried overseas facilities and found most were overcrowded and did not meet current safety standards. The Bush administration endorsed the cost-sharing plan as a means of speeding new embassy construction, while also forcing agencies to right-size their overseas presence. The fees, the administration believes, will provide incentive for agencies with employees abroad to carefully consider whether those jobs could be performed in the United States. Full Story

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