The State Dept. is pushing forward with its embassy construction program, expecting to award contracts this year to build four new facilities and renovate two others. It also is seeking a cadre of design teams for a range of tasks on unspecified future projects. But the program’s 2018 funding won’t be determined for months.

State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) told attendees at the annual meeting of its industry advisory group, held on April 5 in Washington, D.C., that it plans to award contracts for new embassies in Erbil, Iraq, and Mexico City and annexes in Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi. Also on tap are awards for renovations in Athens and Montevideo, Uruguay. They follow several other contract awards since late 2016.

Also on April 5, State issued a solicitation seeking to award at least eight indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for architect and engineering firm-led teams. It applies to new construction and renovations. Responses to the notice are due by May 10.

Task orders under the contracts will be a minimum of $50,000, with an expected maximum of $50 million. Task orders will cover a wide range of jobs, such as studies, master-planning, conceptual and schematic designs, and life-cycle cost analysis.

Embassy work tends to be specialized. Beyond the usual requirements for federal work, firms and their personnel must meet strict security requirements. The American Institute of Architects feels that it is also important to draw “new firms and new talent” into State’s and other federal building programs by partnering with established firms or working on small projects, says Andrew Goldberg, AIA managing director for  government relations.

OBO’s solicitation does say that large firms must submit a small-business subcontracting plan before contract award.

But embassy construction’s fiscal 2018 funding is unclear. In its March 16 budget outline, the Trump administration included $2.2 billion for embassy maintenance and construction, which is about the same as 2016’s level.

Steve Hall, American Council of Engineering Companies vice president for government affairs, says, “It’s our hope [that] this president, being a builder himself, will appreciate the need for upgrades for new facilities, the kind of things that OBO does around the globe.”