Department of State (1 - 10 of 1,482 items)
Department of State: Foreign Language Proficiency Has Improved, but Efforts to Reduce Gaps Need Evaluation
GAO-17-318: Published: Mar 22, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 2017.
Foreign language proficiency is a key skill for U.S. diplomats. For example, it helps the State Department effectively process visa applications and address security concerns. Yet, we've found that State has persistent shortfalls in this area—23% of its overseas positions that required foreign language proficiency were filled by staff that didn't meet the requirements (as of September 2016). St...
Embassy Construction: State Needs to Better Measure Performance of Its New Approach
GAO-17-296: Published: Mar 16, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 2017.
Will State's new approach produce better embassies, and how will we know? In 2011, the State Department began to shift from using a standard design for the construction of its embassies to customizing each embassy's design. This new approach (called Excellence) was meant to improve the appearance and functionality, as well as reduce the operating costs of these embassies. However, we found that...
Immigrant Investor Program: Proposed Project Investments in Targeted Employment Areas
GAO-17-487T: Published: Mar 8, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 2017.
Congress created the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category to promote job creation and encourage capital investment in the United States by foreign investors. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program) requirements include investing $1 million in a new business that will result in the creation of at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees, or a reduced...
Foreign Assistance: Agencies Can Improve the Quality and Dissemination of Program Evaluations
GAO-17-316: Published: Mar 3, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 2017.
An estimated 73 percent of evaluations completed in fiscal year 2015 by the six U.S. agencies GAO reviewed generally or partially addressed all of the quality criteria GAO identified for evaluation design, implementation, and conclusions (see fig.). Agencies met some elements of the criteria more often than others. For example, approximately 90 percent of all evaluations addressed questions that a...
Cuba: U.S. Policy Changes Increased Engagement with Private Sector, but Agency Information Collection Is Limited
GAO-17-201: Published: Dec 15, 2016. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2017.
View Spanish version of Highlights (PDF, 1 page).What GAO FoundThe Cuban private sector has grown rapidly since 2008 but remains small compared with other economies and faces various constraints. The Cuban private sector includes (1) self-employed entrepreneurs, (2) agricultural cooperatives and other private farmers, and (3) nonagricultural cooperatives. Cuban government data indicate that the pe...
Financial Audit: Fiscal Years 2016 and 2015 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government
GAO-17-283R: Published: Jan 12, 2017. Publicly Released: Jan 12, 2017.
To operate as effectively and efficiently as possible, Congress, the administration, and federal managers must have ready access to reliable and complete financial and performance information—both for individual federal entities and for the federal government as a whole. GAO’s report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements for fiscal years 2016 and 2015 underscores that mu...
School Bus Safety: Crash Data Trends and Federal and State Requirements
GAO-17-209: Published: Jan 12, 2017. Publicly Released: Jan 12, 2017.
Based on GAO's analysis of data for 2000 to 2014, 115 fatal crashes involved a school bus on average each year—which is 0.3 percent of the 34,835 total fatal motor-vehicle crashes on average each year. The school-bus driver and school-bus vehicle (e.g., a defect) were cited as contributing factors in 27 percent and less than 1 percent of fatal school-bus crashes, respectively. Seventy-two percen...
Federal Building Management: Building Disposal Authorities Provide Varying Degrees of Flexibility and Opportunities for Use
GAO-17-123: Published: Dec 8, 2016. Publicly Released: Dec 8, 2016.
Twenty civilian federal entities reported they have at least one statutory authority that allows them to dispose of federally owned buildings under their control. Fifteen entities reported the authority to retain proceeds from building disposals. However, most of these federal entities reported limited use of their independent authorities during fiscal years 2011 through 2015. Seven entities that...
Human Trafficking: State Has Made Improvements in Its Annual Report but Does Not Explicitly Explain Certain Tier Rankings or Changes
GAO-17-56: Published: Dec 5, 2016. Publicly Released: Dec 5, 2016.
The Department of State's (State) Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (Trafficking Office) compiles information on countries' actions to combat human trafficking and recommends tier rankings for the Trafficking in Persons Report but did not post information on waivers within mandated timeframes. The figure below shows the percentage of countries by tier in the 2015 and 2016 repor...
American Samoa: Alternatives for Raising Minimum Wages to Keep Pace with the Cost of Living and Reach the Federal Level
GAO-17-83: Published: Dec 2, 2016. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 2016.
Federal legislation passed in 2007 created a schedule of periodic increases to minimum wages in American Samoa. During the previous 50 years, special industry committees had periodically recommended industry-specific minimum wages. Historically, minimum wages in the U.S. territory have generally remained below the federal minimum wage (see fig.). The current schedule of increases would raise all A...