Of the total $787 billion appropriated for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, the Department received $562 million for projects and $2 million for the Office of the Inspector General. The Department is using ARRA funds to create and save jobs, repair and modernize domestic infrastructure crucial to the safety of American citizens, and expand consular services offered to American taxpayers. Details about specific projects and a complete description of the Department’s ARRA implementation plan are posted on the web at http://www.state.gov/recovery/.
Construction Projects – Through funding ($15 million), the Department expanded its network of passport agencies to address public demand for travel documents in previously underserved areas of the country. All new passport facilities are open and operational. These include Atlanta, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; El Paso, Texas; San Diego, California; and St. Albans, Vermont. New counters are now in use at the Passport Centers in Hot Springs, Arkansas and the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. At the National Foreign Affairs Training Center ($5 million), new classrooms are fully operational and new signage should be completed shortly. Construction ($120 million) on a western U.S. Enterprise Server Operations Center (ESOC) is nearing completion and is scheduled to begin operational transition in December 2011 with final turnover and acceptance for full operations in June of 2012. Environmental studies and master planning began on the site identified for the potential location of the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC). FASTC ($70 million) for Diplomatic Security will provide a centralized location that supports security-related training for Department of State and other U.S. Government staff posted at American embassies overseas; a small number of foreign security personnel will also be trained.
International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) – Funding ($220 million) accelerated the IBWC’s modernization program by 20 years, remediating risks identified by geo-physical analysis suggesting that 60% of the levee system in high priority areas was deficient. The IBWC projects are raising or making structural improvements to 237 miles of the levees to ensure they provide adequate protection and meet the standards established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Construction work is on target and reported at 80% complete. All planned construction is expected to be completed by April 2012.
Information Technology and Cyber Security – Through funding ($132 million), cyber security, information technology, and advanced telecommunications equipment deployed during FY 2011 increased the integrity and resiliency of the Department’s network and its ability to counter emerging threats. The Global Information Technology Program replaced 13,245 antiquated classified and unclassified desktop computers at U.S. missions worldwide. The Department replaced obsolete telephone systems at three of its largest diplomatic missions at embassies Bangkok (Thailand), Brussels (Belgium), and Vienna (Austria). The new units replaced systems that were 13-15 years old and had been expanded to maximum capacity. The Mobile Computing program significantly expanded the Department’s unclassified Remote Access and Telework capabilities allowing access to 35,000 mobile users at a time worldwide.
Office of Inspector General – Funding ($2 million) to provide oversight of use of ARRA funds and ARRA projects by the Department expired on September 30, 2010. However, expenditure of funding obligated to OIG contracts with independent public auditing firms conducting audits of Department initiatives funded by the Recovery Act continued during FY 2011. To date, OIG has initiated 27 projects to assess Department and IBWC activities funded by ARRA funds. During FY 2011, OIG issued 13 reports assessing Department compliance with new reporting requirements to promote transparency in the award and use of Recovery Act funds.
Construction continues on the Department’s Enterprise Server Operations Center. State Magazine April 2011