Lack of embassy e-mail 'laughable'
- By Bryant Jordan
- Jul 20, 2000
What would it take to bring American embassies overseas into the Internet
Peanuts, according to one congressman.
That's how Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) characterized the estimated $200
million price for equipping all State Department embassies with Internet
access and e-mail.
Mica's comments came during a meeting Wednesday of a House Government
Reform Committee subcommittee looking at State security issues.
Mica pointed out that embassies are not able to communicate with each
other because they lack information technology resources. Some do not even
have e-mail capability within their own facilities, he said.
"I am absolutely appalled. It's almost laughable," Mica said. He argued
that risks to American interests were too great not to wire the overseas
Rep. Christopher Shays (D-Conn.) spoke of one embassy where staff members
took turns using a single computer.
State Department officials explained that resources are stretched because
State also supports so-called tenant agencies at embassies, according to
testimony provided by David Carpenter, assistant secretary for diplomatic
security, and Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, State's inspector general. Tenants
are officials from other federal agencies who promote U.S. government or
commercial interests in the host country.
One problem has been that tenants have disagreed over what platform
to use, according to Carpenter, who also is director of the Office of Foreign
Mica said he found that frustrating. "It appears the inmates are running
the asylum," he said.
Recently, State announced that it would use its facilities in Mexico
City and New Delhi, India, as test sites for a program to put all U.S. diplomatic
missions worldwide in touch with one another and with all other federal
agencies that have an overseas presence.