Friday, May 7, 2010

Report on the Consolidation of Diplomatic Security Training (May 2008)

My post of yesterday about the law suit that has been filed by a community group in southern Maryland, in regard to the government's plans to construct a hard-skills security training center for State Department use, mentioned a government report on the consolidation of Diplomatic Security Training.

Here is a link to that report, courtesy of the Department of State itself.

I have no direct interest in the matter of where the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center eventually gets established. However, I can see why that report interests the community groups that filed suit, because it makes clear that as of May 2008 the Department of State desired to consolidate its security training at Bill Scott Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia. That choice would make sense since the Department has been using BSR for driving and firearms training for 25 years, it is reasonably convenient to Washington DC, and the Department already has interim facilities there.

The report mentions due diligence, engineering, architectural and cost-benefit studies, as well as a Fiscal Year 2009 budget request, for acquiring and developing a 240-acre plot adjacent to BSR as a consolidated training site. It even has schematics of that plot and how it would be integrated with BSR and the existing interim facilities.

But, in late 2009, the Department announced that its best option for a consolidated training center is to create a whole new facility, for substantially more money, at a location that is farther away than BSR, and where there is no existing infrastructure to build on.

No one ever explained to the public why the Summit Point option was taken off the table during 2009.


Anonymous said...

Oooh, oooh, oooh. I know the answer -- it was to help out a vulnerable Congressman and Senator up for re-election. I guess that the State Department can't come right out and say that.

jay falstad said...

You're absolutely right, and that's why Queen Anne's Conservation Association (the organization I worked for) has filed multiple requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Not only (as it appears) would the Summit location be less costly, but apparently they already have the necessary infrastructure in place, eg. a new high school, a four lane highway near the site, etc. Queen Anne's County has none of that.

Additionally, the rationale for a consolidated facility was to combine ALL 19 training centers into one. However, at one of the public hearings at the Queen Anne's County High School, the director of Diplomatic Security is now on record saying that "the facility would only be a partial consolidation of functions and facilities." If that's true, then why the need for 2000 acres in Queen Anne's County?

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the Federal Governments answers have been utterly inconsistent, and now, their credibility has been dangerously compromised.

-Jay Falstad
Queen Anne's Conservation Association