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While the U.S. Senate, for the first time in years, has adopted a budget, it includes $1 trillion in new taxes, adding to the record deficit.

The budget also doesn’t align with a House plan that spends hundreds of billions of dollars less. Both, however, project spending more than the government receives far into the future.

But even so, frogs, Uganda and pine cone projects apparently are so important to the Obama administration that it’s worth borrowing money and paying interest to fund them.

Also, there’s high-priced construction of a new embassy in Mexico and the need to prevent crime – in El Salvador.

Despite the looming threats from overspending that has put the U.S. more than $16 trillion in debt, questionable spending priorities were found in database searches of federal documents.

Notable among recently launched initiatives is a State Department plan to design and build an embassy compound on 5.6 acres in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico – a venture that might cost close to $100 million.

“Continuing a legacy of outstanding diplomatic architecture, OBO [Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations] seeks to commission our nation’s top designers and constructors to create facilities of outstanding quality and value,” State said in a Request for Proposals, or RFP.

State likewise plans to spend up to $25 million on the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, where the consulate façade and other structural components are in need of major renovations, according to an RFP.

The department similarly will spend about $21 million on security upgrades to three separate embassy compounds in Bangkok, Thailand, where it will tear down and replace portions of perimeter walls while reinforcing other wall segments. Upgrades to adjacent roads and landscaping are included in the project.

On the opposite end of the federal spending spectrum is a U.S. Forest Service project that will hire contractors to climb to the tops of pine trees in Colville National Forest to collect cones, which will be bagged and analyzed for their seeds. The project, which seeks to gather seeds to remediate chronic rotting and destruction of such trees, could cost taxpayers up to $70,000 over the next two years.

The following list represents an additional snapshot of recent federal procurement actions. The nation-by-nation compilation is by no means comprehensive; it only aims to enlighten U.S. taxpayers about how the federal government is spending, or intends to spend, their money.

El Salvador

A $25 million award went to Washington, D.C.-based contractor Creative Associates International, which will help the government of El Salvador, on behalf of USAID, to expand its nationwide crime-prevention program.

Israel

Upwards of $100 million could be paid out to contractors by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to build underground facilities below existing Israeli military buildings in a project known as Site 81, Phase Two. Individual contracts – to be awarded in an unspecified volume over five years – would not exceed $4.9 million for each award. (Solicitation No. W912GB-13-R-0019).

The Army Corps several months ago in a separate project known as Site 911 Phase Two awarded a $63 million contract to Edison, N.J.-based Conti Federal Services Inc. (Solicitation No. W912GB-13-R-0001; Contract No. W912GB-13-C-0004) to build both underground and above-ground Israeli military facilities.

Uganda

An endeavor to create environmental graduate-degree programs and other training for the Ugandan oil industry has been reopened by USAID, which on March 22 resumed its search for contractors capable of carrying out the initiative. The agency initially will spend up to $7 million to start the USAID/Uganda Environmental Management for the Oil Sector program. WND broke the story on the project’s unveiling last November, when USAID first launched its search for contractors.

United States

A survey of frog, toad, turtle, salamander and snake populations of Ottawa National Forest in Michigan will cost $79,000 under a contract that the U.S. Forest Service awarded to Great Lakes Ecological Services. USFS said in a contract notice that the Wisconsin-based company will perform “the final field work of a multi-year concentrated effort to inventory and gather” data that may be “indicators of climate change and other environmental factors.”

Outdoor recreation cages are needed by the Bureau of Prisons for the U.S. penitentiary in Atwater, Calif. The BOP seeks to buy two steel cages, each 75 feet long and 18 feet high. The bureau issued a Request for Quotations from potential providers but did not provide an estimated cost.

Vietnam

The cost of environmental remediation of Da Nang Airport’s lingering dioxin problem continues to climb, evidenced by the $37 million contract that USAID awarded TerraTherm Inc. The agency on March 25 revealed that it awarded – nearly seven weeks earlier – a sole-source contract to TerraTherm because the Gardner, Mass.-based company holds sole, worldwide rights to unique technologies that the U.S. government prefers to use.

Due to the nature of the Da Nang cleanup, the total award under this Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee, or CPFF, contract might either fall under or rise above the $37 million figure “because uncertainties involved in contract performance do not permit costs to be estimated with a high degree of certainty or accuracy,” according to the contract award notice. Two years ago, USAID initially estimated that the Da Nang endeavor would cost about $10 million.

West Bank/Gaza

USAID’s Enhanced Palestinian Justice Program will get under way following the agency’s anticipated April 8 release of a Request for Proposals. The initiative’s overall goal “is to build a more effective and competent Palestinian justice sector that is accountable to the public and responds to citizens’ needs.”

The agency did not disclose the estimated cost of the program, which is unrelated to a separate $20.5 million USAID contract to help the Palestinian Authority “build more effective and competent public institutions that are accountable to the public and respond to citizens’ needs.”

WND just a week ago reported funding was moving forward for other projects, including a survey of the gopher tortoise, alternative energy outings to Turkey and the purchase of gold pellets.

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