Documents recently released by the government show that the value of hotels and local transportation contracts for the U.S. delegation to Nelson Mandela's funeral in December were considerably higher than previous estimates. On December 19, we first reported the cost at about $11 million. However, rather than two hotels and one vehicle contractor, additional contracts have been disclosed bringing the total to five hotels and two vehicle contractors.
The transportation contracts include passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, buses, pickup trucks, box trucks, and "larger capacity vehicles," but do not include the cost of travelling from the U.S. to South Africa and back. The combined total estimated cost of the two contracts is $12,521,851.
The five hotel contracts estimated a total of 10,275 "lodging room nights" spanning December 6, 2013 to January 20, 2014. The Johannesburg-area hotels include the Radison Blu Sandton, Radison Gautrain, Holiday Inn, Park Inn, and the Michaelangelo. A sixth contract for the DaVinci hotel was subsequently canceled. The total estimated cost of the remaining contracts is $6,489,627. Adding the $12.5 million in transportation contracts brings the grand total for lodging and local transportation to $19,011,478.
When asked for an explanation of the 6-week date range of December 6 to January 20 for the hotels, a State Department official replied via email:
Due to high demand during that time period, all hotels in the area had a requirement to book for a minimum of 15 nights. The date span was written into the contract to give flexibility, but we did not pay for 45 days.
When asked to explain why 45 days was written into the estimates when only a 15 day minimum was required, the official did not respond, nor was there any response to a follow up inquiry about how accurate the cost estimates turned out to be.