CBS Reports Hundreds of Millions In Cost Overruns on US Embassies

The State Department has undertaken the costly construction of new embassies across the globe.

The new embassy in London is estimated to cost around $1 billion. Glass for the London build was shipped back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean for cutting and framing. The new Afghanistan embassy exceeded $150 million.

The current embassy in Mexico City is currently crumbling, unsafe, and overcrowded. The build was supposed to cost $600 million but has increased at least a third, all before the start of construction. The new site for the embassy was bought four years ago for $120 million and was in a former industry area that was once site to a Colgate Palmolive factory that left hazardous waste.

Colgate Palmolive has been in the process of cleaning site for the past three and a half years, and the land is still not ready. The cost of construction rose from $577 million to $763 million. With the cost of the land and the cost of the new embassy, the project will cost well over $939 million, making it one of the most expensive embassies in the world.

‘The State Department changed the way that they build these," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah). "They went from standard embassy designs, which were coming in under budget. They were coming in swifter. They are now to the point where they’ve got a new process and it’s much more expensive and a lot slower."

Lydia Muniz, head of the State Department embassy construction bureau, said costs had increased because of staffing changes and the U.S.’s continuing efforts with Mexican government on trade, drugs, and immigration. Muniz told CBS News that the construction contract will not be awarded in 2016.

Colgate Palmolive told CBS News that the site was cleaned up save for a small section, but Chaffetz said that the company told him that the remaining cleanup could take up to two years.