The 1999 report recommended an embassy-security capital program with “substantial” appropriations, of about $1.4 billion per year for approximately 10 years.
Pickering and the Benghazi panel’s vice-chairman, retired Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Dec. 19 briefing on the report that the embassy building program has declined from 10 completed new embassy facilities per year to three.
Mullen said one factor behind the decrease was “budget constraints.” Pickering said the program “needs to go back to that original  target.”
An ENR review of announcements from the State Dept.’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), which oversees embassy construction, shows that so far in calendar 2012, there have been five new embassy buildings dedicated, three project groundbreakings and contracts awarded for three new embassies and three expansions.
Among its other recommendations, the review board said the State Dept. should “seek greater flexibility” in using funds from OBO so that money can be used quickly for temporary facilities in high-risk locations.
The report noted that the Benghazi buildings were categorized as temporary residential facilities. Pickering said those buildings thus “in a sense, fell through the cracks bureaucratically.”
Although some physical security improvements were made at Benghazi earlier this year, before the attacks, Pickering said at a Dec. 19 briefing that “the compound did not have all the security features and equipment it needed.”
Story updated on Dec. 21 to include details on State Dept. funding request and correct 2012 program totals.