State Department's Office of Inspector General Should Be More Independent and Effective

AFMD-83-56: Published: Jun 2, 1983. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the operations of the Department of State's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to determine how differences between its authorizing legislation, the Foreign Service Act of 1980, and the Inspector General Act affect the State OIG work.

GAO found that the Foreign Service Act included several important differences from the basic Inspector General Act, which permit the new State OIG to continue to operate like old OIG rather than functioning like the new independent statutory OIG established in other agencies. GAO believes that more independence is needed in the State OIG, because it found a number of situations in which the independence of the State Inspector General (IG) inspection, audit, and investigative functions could have been impaired. In addition to doing traditional audit functions, OIG is required to inspect and audit each foreign post and domestic unit at least once every 5 years. GAO believes that management, not OIG, should be responsible for these routine inspections. The role of the independent audit organization should be to evaluate how well agency management is carrying out its basic responsibilities, including its routine monitoring and assessment functions. In addition, GAO found that OIG has little operational control over investigations into allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse. It relies on the Office of Security to conduct these investigations. GAO believes that this constitutes an organizational impairment which has caused delays and a poorer quality of investigations. Finally, GAO found that government audit standards are not being complied with and that the quality of OIG work has suffered due to the lack of staff training and experience, severe time constraints, and the lack of documentation.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Section 150 of P.L. 99-93, August 16, 1985, placed the State IG under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as recommended by GAO.

    Matter: Congress should either repeal section 209 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and create an independent IG in State by placing State under the Inspector General Act of 1978 or conform section 209 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to the Inspector General Act of 1978.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State authorized the transfer of four positions to IG to be filled by criminal investigators under the GS system. The April 1984, IG annual report stated that IG will get a total of 10 slots, 5 by transfer from the Office of Security and 5 new ones, under Civil Service and not Foreign Service. State established an investigative capability in OIG.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State and IG should establish an investigative capability within the IG office to enable OIG to conduct its own investigations. In this regard, they should consider transferring from the Office of Security to OIG those qualified investigators assigned to the Office of Security's new General Fraud and Malfeasance Branch.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State and IG should establish an investigative capability within the IG office to enable OIG to conduct its own investigations. In this regard, they should consider transferring from the Office of Security to OIG those qualified investigators assigned to the Office of Security's new General Fraud and Malfeasance Branch.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Inspector General

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Deputy IG stated that IG is no longer an active participant in State decisionmaking processes. Although he continues to meet with such committees on an ad hoc basis, his participation is limited to an advisory role.

    Recommendation: IG should stop participating in departmental decisionmaking processes such as the Department's Priorities Policy Group and Committee on Foreign Service Posts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Inspector General

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Deputy IG stated that he still does not have the staff resources to set up an effective quality review system, but agreed that such a system is necessary to ensure compliance with audit standards. IG management is working on plans to formalize a quality review system within the IG organization.

    Recommendation: IG should establish a quality review system to ensure that the work of the office complies with government audit standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Inspector General

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: State and IG initially disagreed and planned no corrective action. The Deputy IG stated that enactment of section 150 of P.L. 99-93 gives IG no alternative but to adopt this recommendation. Plans are being made to establish a permanent staff of qualified auditors, and to curtail the extent to which IG relies on temporary staff.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State and IG should work together to establish a permanent IG staff of qualified auditors, and discontinue OIG reliance on a temporary staff whose tenure, promotions, and reassignments are decided by departmental managers.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: State and IG initially disagreed and planned no corrective action. The Deputy IG stated that enactment of section 150 of P.L. 99-93 gives IG no alternative but to adopt this recommendation. Plans are being made to establish a permanent staff of qualified auditors, and to curtail the extent to which IG relies on temporary staff.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State and IG should work together to establish a permanent IG staff of qualified auditors, and discontinue OIG reliance on a temporary staff whose tenure, promotions, and reassignments are decided by departmental managers.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Inspector General

 

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