Posted by: Tony Carson | 10 October, 2007

US Baghdad Embassy — not yet buying a turkey

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Sure, everything else was falling apart, but the mammoth US Embassy in Iraq was always on-time and on-budget. Remember? Ah, not so much.

The sprawling complex, whose cost is edging toward $750 million, was set to open last month but U.S. lawmakers say shoddy work by the contractor and poor oversight by the State Department have delayed it.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack rejected claims of inadequate oversight and said there was no indication how long it would be before the new embassy opened.

“Anytime you have a large construction project you have punch list items, and we shall see in, I would hope, the not-too-distant future whether or not … these delays … fall outside the norms that one might expect for this kind of project,” McCormack said.

“We’re not going to buy ourself a turkey here. We’re going to make sure that we get what we paid for,” he said.

Congress originally allocated nearly $600 million to build the biggest U.S. Embassy in the world but Waxman said the project was now $144 million over that budget.

New documents showed hundreds of violations of fire codes and other regulations and electrical problems throughout the complex.

“These problems were so severe and widespread that the inspectors concluded that none of the buildings on the new embassy compound could be approved for occupancy,” wrote Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, a staunch critic of the State Department’s oversight of its contractors in Iraq.

The full story is here: US Embassy opening in Baghdad delayed indefinitely.

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