Overseas Presence:

Rightsizing Is Key to Considering Relocation of Regional Staff to New Frankfurt Center

GAO-03-1061: Published: Sep 2, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 2, 2003.

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The State Department plans to spend at least $80 million to purchase and renovate a multibuilding facility in Frankfurt, Germany. The facility, known as Creekbed, is scheduled to open in mid-2005. The project is a key rightsizing initiative under the President's Management Agenda to reassess and reconfigure the staffing of the U.S. overseas presence. Creekbed is expected to achieve the department's major rightsizing and regionalization goals. The Office of Management and Budget expects the project to serve as a model for developing other regional centers. GAO was asked to determine whether State fully examined the potential for relocating regional staff from outside Germany to Creekbed.

The Department of State indicated it is currently renewing earlier efforts to relocate staff from outside Germany to the new Frankfurt regional center. State said it would pursue a rigorous rightsizing and regionalization strategy in staffing the Frankfurt facility. State prematurely stopped its earlier efforts to relocate regional staff from other posts in August/September 2002 because staffing planners interpreted space planning estimates as indicating that the regional center would be fully occupied. However, according to GAO analysis, the facility was not full and significant additional space existed. After touring the facility and studying staffing requirements and space allocated for specific agencies, GAO found there was space available for additional staff. Successfully staffing the Frankfurt regional facility has the potential to optimize its use and achieve broader regionalization objectives.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 2003, GAO reported that the State Department comments on a draft of our report, OVERSEAS PRESENCE: Rightsizing is Key to Considering Relocation of Regional Staff to New Frankfurt Center (GAO-03-1061), were inconsistent with its stated expectations that the Frankfurt project would achieve the Department's key rightsizing and regionalization goals and with its plans to pursue a comprehensive approach to staffing the new Frankfurt facility. The comments led GAO to question whether the Department seriously intended to consider relocation of regional staff to the facility. Thus, GAO recommended that Congress may wish to direct State to submit a detailed staffing plan for the facility that specifically listed positions to be relocated to Frankfurt. In the House Appropriations Committee Report (H.R. 108-221), the Committee referenced GAO's report and stated that it strongly supported "the Department's effort to initiate a consolidation, streamlining, and regionalization of country and multi-regional staffing in Frankfurt, Germany." The report further stated that the "success of this initiative will be measured largely by the streamlining reductions made possible at less secure locations throughout Germany, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and the Near East." In March 2004, State Department officials testified that, as part of the Frankfurt Creekbed facility project, the Department and the Office of Management and Budget conducted a review of about 400 overseas regional offices to determine which might return to the United States or move to Creekbed when that facility opened. In a fiscal year 2006 performance summary report, State reported that it had completed an assessment of all staff currently in and planning to move to the U.S. Consulate Frankfurt facility. The Frankfurt facility has 960 committed permanent tenants and 198 training desks. It is anticipated that additional commitments will bring the total permanent tenancy to over 1,100. In addition, the Office of Rightsizing the U.S. Overseas Presence has reported that, with respect to the programmatic positions requested by agencies, the Office takes a proactive stance when these positions are expressly regional in nature. In particular, in Europe, and to a lesser extent in Africa and the Middle East, the Office requires that agencies locate their regional positions in the new Frankfurt Consulate General facility, and asks Chiefs of Mission not to approve any positions that are more appropriately handled from regional platforms.

    Matter: In view of State's comments on a draft of this report and the continued importance of rightsizing the overseas U.S. presence consistent with security, mission, and cost factors, the Congress may wish to direct the Secretary of State to submit a detailed staffing plan for the Frankfurt facility that specifically lists positions to be relocated to Frankfurt.

 

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