Experts and Consultants:

Weaknesses in Hiring Process at State's Office of Inspector General

GGD-91-60: Published: Jun 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined whether the Department of State's Office of Inspector General (OIG): (1) omitted references to itself in an annual oversight report to Congress in a deliberate attempt to conceal internal problems; and (2) inappropriately hired and paid experts and consultants.

GAO found that: (1) OIG reasons for deleting the expert appointment references stemmed from concerns about premature reporting and misunderstandings among OIG staff; (2) the evidence did not indicate that OIG omitted the reference to deliberately conceal internal problems; (3) in the future, OIG plans to not include an assessment of its own operations when auditing State; (4) State's Bureau of Personnel approved the appointments of 24 experts without a clear explanation from OIG as to the experts' duties; (5) some of the experts' duties did not appear to require an expert, and only 5 of the 24 appointees were qualified to be appointed as experts; (6) State does not perform periodic personnel management evaluation; (7) State's OIG and its Office of Acquisitions improperly awarded all 12 consulting contracts since they failed to follow federal contracting regulations and did not award the contracts on the basis of full and open competition; and (8) in recognition of possible problems, the Inspector General suspended further procurement of consulting services in March 1990, and as of February 1991, the prohibition was still in effect.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State OIG rewrote and reviewed position descriptions and evaluation statements for OIG positions. A classifier (reemployed Civil Service annuitant) has been hired to continuously reevaluate written descriptions.

    Recommendation: The Inspector General, Department of State, should ensure that all OIG positions are accurately described in official position statements.

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

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State agreed to include the Bureau of Personnel in its evaluations and conducted the first of such evaluations in the winter of 1991.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that periodic personnel management evaluations are made of the Bureau of Personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State personnel and finance offices have co-developed a monthly report to track salaries and annuities paid to retired Foreign Service officers reemployed by State. The report combines payroll and retirement data and compares this to annuitants' maximum yearly compensation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct responsible offices to develop an effective system to ensure that the statutory limit on compensation received by retired Foreign Service officers reappointed by State is followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM offered to match databases and State said it would be too expensive. No alternative action was cited. State's Bureau of Personnel developed a form other federal agencies must complete and return when they employ retired Foreign Service officers. However, this report will not match salary to maximum compensation limits.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct appropriate officials to work with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish an effective system for monitoring payments made to Foreign Service annuitants reemployed by other federal agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM did a personnel management evaluation of the Department of State in May 1991.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should ensure that a comprehensive personnel management evaluation of the State Department's Bureau of Personnel be done as scheduled in 1991.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM has offered to assist State in matching the Foreign Service retirement annuity rolls against the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF). State has not accepted such assistance. State is responsible for administration of the Foreign Service Retirement System and it is State's position that matching its annuity rolls against CPDF is too expensive.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should work with State to establish an effective system for monitoring payments made to Foreign Service annuitants rehired by federal agencies other than State.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State OIG has ceased awarding contracts directly and has stated that it will exclusively use the services of the Office of Acquisitions.

    Recommendation: The Inspector General, Department of State, should refrain from awarding consulting contracts directly until contract expertise is developed and available within OIG. Until that time, OIG should use the services of the Office of Acquisitions.

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

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Acquisitions has established system and has checked to ensure that identified problems have been corrected.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should follow up to ensure the actions taken by the Office of Acquisitions improve contracting correct the problems GAO identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A panel comprised of individuals representing the Offices of Financial Management Policy, Acquisitions, and Personnel has been formed. The panel is currently drafting its charter.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should, in conjunction with the Inspector General, designate an appropriate group to review annually OIG expert and consultant activities. The results of that review should be provided directly to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Contract files have been revised as of fiscal year 1991. Files are now maintained by contract number specific to the original obligation and comply with recommended GAO and GSA procedures. These procedures are designed to ensure proper handling of and access to contract files.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Office of Financial Operations to improve documentation of contract vouchers to ensure complete and proper support for payments made.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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