The State Department is attempting to push forward with a plan to construct a new Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va., to conduct foreign affairs security training at a cost of $461 million instead of expanding and utilizing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick.
After demanding to see their findings, I have finally seen with my own eyes that the Obama Administration agrees that FLETC is the better option.
In 2013, the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) examined the proposals for training at Fort Pickett and FLETC. Since then, Congress was made aware that OMB analysts had completed a written analysis recommending that the State Department pursue its diplomatic security training at FLETC.
While Congress went to many measures to see this report and view their findings, including a subpoena, OMB stonewalled Congress and failed to provide their findings while the State Department announced they would move forward with construction at Fort Pickett without justification.
After demanding to see their findings, I was finally able to view these critical documents from OMB which justify that FLETC is the better option. The OMB report reviewed construction costs, training, location and synergies, construction schedule, life support services, and provided a final opinion.
The final opinion of OMB in this report recommends moving forward with construction at FLETC as opposed to Fort Pickett. The report also raises concerns that the estimated cost of the Fort Pickett site will rise beyond the estimated $461 million. This is not surprising as the original cost estimates of the Fort Pickett plan were over $950 million.
It is blatantly clear now why the administration has been stonewalling Congress by keeping this report under wraps. The administration clearly believed that if they kept this report a secret they would be able to move forward with a politically motivated plan that wastes hundreds of millions of precious taxpayer dollars. The truth is out now and there is no longer room for debate.
The State Department has no justification to move forward with the Fort Pickett plan and I will do everything in my power to ensure their politically motivated plan is put to a halt. The Obama Administration has found themselves that FLETC is the better option and they now need to devote their efforts and resources on training diplomatic security at FLETC rather than continuing to waste time and money with other options.
From our nation’s Capitol
Monday, Aug. 3: Goodbyes are seldom easy and certainly this weekend was no exception as we said goodbye to one of our employees in our Savannah office, Elizabeth Gooch. Elizabeth served as my intern in Atlanta last year when I was serving in the State Senate, was a volunteer on my campaign and was one of our first hires when putting together our district staff. She has been accepted into law school at the University of Georgia and starts classes in a few weeks. Although we will all miss her, especially me, we are excited and very proud of her.
I also enjoyed participating in Amerigroup Georgia’s Back to School Bash at Savannah Gardens Community Center as well as National Night Out in Richmond Hill and the annual meeting of the Satilla Riverkeeper in Raybon. This week is a district work week and today we tour the Hormel Foods, Diamond Crystal Brands operation on Tremont Road in Savannah. Hormel is the parent company of many familiar brands such as Skippy, Spam and Dinty Moore Like so many places throughout the First District, I had no idea this impressive facility was located in our area. I have passed this location thousands of times and was surprised to learn of the impressive work done here.
This packaging facility produces salt and pepper packets for many leading restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Sonic, as well as a plethora of other products and chains. The safety and precautions that are practiced here are unsurpassed.
Afterwards, I have the opportunity to tour the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, located on Oglethorpe Avenue in downtown Savannah.
After a tour of the Best Buy store in Savannah to learn of their impressive inventory and sales practices, as well as the challenges of brick and mortar retailers verses online retailers, I head back to our Savannah district office for a meeting with Hospice Savannah.
Tuesday, Aug. 4: We start off close to home this morning with a tour of Blue Force Gear in Pooler, a homegrown success story started in 2004 by Ashley Burnsed. As the makers of military gear such as weapons slings, armor carriers, belt kits and various medical items, Blue Force Gear has truly found a niche market that not only provides jobs for our area but also provides lightweight, durable products for our military.
Afterwards, we head down to Brunswick to participate in the National Association of Convenience Stores legislative experience as we visit the Parker’s Convenience store located on Torras Causeway. This store, owned by Patrick Parker of St. Simons, brother of Greg Parker of Savannah, is an impressive and very busy business.
Patrick starts out by explaining the many federal regulations pertaining to gas pumps before providing me with the businesses’ signature Hawaiian shirt in preparation for my job as a sales clerk. One cannot imagine the overwhelming regulations that a business such as this is required to follow. Food labeling, gas pump regulations and identification checks for the sale of beer and cigarettes are a few of the many responsibilities of this business model.
Following this enlightening and fun experience, I head to the Brunswick Exchange Club where I am the keynote speaker and take the opportunity to bring members up to date on the goings on in Congress.
Next, I have the opportunity to tour the Home Depot in Brunswick to meet their great sales team and learn of the exceptional success of their business model.
After meeting with area business leaders I head to the Brunswick/Golden Isles Airport where I have a tour of the impressive businesses located at the airport including Stambaugh Aviation, one of the largest independent commercial jet maintenance and repair providers in the nation, and Manning Aviation, the fixed base operator for the airport. These businesses, along with the recently expanded Gulfstream Aerospace facilities, make the Brunswick/Golden Isles Airport one of the leaders in their field.
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Keeping with an aviation theme, I am privileged to be able to tour the headquarters of Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah this morning to learn more about this world class operation. As one of the largest private employers in our state, Gulfstream is a leading provider of private, business class jets, manufacturing some of the most advanced jets in the industry.
Along with the massive warehouses, I also have the opportunity to visit their Research and Development headquarters and participate in a flight simulator program. Not only is Gulfstream a great asset to our community for the jobs they provide, they also take their responsibility to our community very serious and support many great programs within our community. Afterwards, I head to the monthly meeting of the Savannah Area Republican Women where I deliver the keynote address and bring them up to date on Congressional matters.
Afterwards, I head back to the district office where I have an interview with the Georgia Farm Bureau regarding my recent trip to Cuba and the potential impact on agriculture should the embargos be lifted. Next, I have a series of constituent meetings including representatives from New York Life Insurance regarding new fiduciary standards being proposed by the Department of Labor.
I end the day with a visit to The Gun Shop, Inc., in Savannah, to learn of the numerous rules and regulations that gun dealers must follow in their business. For businesses that follow the letter of the law, like The Gun Shop, Inc., the rules and regulations can be very demanding.
Thursday, Aug. 6: We continue today with a visit to the BASF chemical plant in Savannah. As the world’s leading chemical company, the BASF plant in Savannah is an impressive facility that produces fluid catalytic cracking catalysts used by petroleum refiners to covert crude oil into gasoline and other fuels.
After our tour, I had the opportunity to spend some time with many of the plant’s employees to bring them up to date on Washington and hear their concerns.
Next, I head to Tybee Island where I meet with Mayor Pro Tem Wanda Doyle before touring the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. Joining us at the TIMSC are representatives from the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, who provide a brief overview of this natural treasure.
The TIMSC is a great facility offering programs and exhibits to the public that are both educational and entertaining. Afterwards, I head to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in downtown Savannah to meet with Col. Marvin Griffin and other officials for an update on area projects including the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Later, I am honored to participate in a Vietnam Certificate Presentation at Armstrong State University where we recognize our Vietnam Veterans and present each veteran present with a pin and certificate.