Transcript: Hillary Clinton on State Department’s contracting regulations for private security at embassies & consulates

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the State Department’s contracting regulations for private security at embassies and consulates. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was held on Jan. 23, 2013:

There are only three nations where the State Department has an exemption by Congress for using different contracting rules in order to get the best value for our country. Those are Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Pakistan. So every other country in the world we are under the kind of contracting rules that I think do interfere with our capacity to get the best deal, particularly when it comes to security, that we should in these countries where the threats, unfortunately, are going to always be with us…

There was an article, I think, in one of the newspapers today that went into some detail. Basically, here’s how it started: “For more than two decades, federal law has required the State Department to
select the cheapest rather than the best contractor to provide local guard services at its embassies abroad.” And you know, there’s that old saying – “You get what you paid for.”

And this lowest price provision started off in 1990 but it has just stayed with us. I would respectfully request that this committee take a hard look at it. If you can’t do a total lifting of it for everybody, at least look at the high-threat posts, where obviously we did did it for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and the countries you’re naming [Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia] are countries that I think would fall into that category.

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