Need for State Department To Implement Section 121 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act

ID-80-37: Published: May 13, 1980. Publicly Released: May 13, 1980.

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GAO was asked to conduct a study of the State Department's implementation of section 121 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. Section 121 states that State Department officials should not participate or assist in the negotiation of contracts, or disseminate information about contracts that exclude some Americans from participation on the basis of religion, race, sex, or national origin. However, as of April 1, 1980, the responsibility for commercial affairs activities at 65 posts was transferred from the State Department to the Commerce Department. Therefore, the scope of the study included both agencies.

In response to the review by GAO of the progress of policy implementation of section 121, Department of Commerce officials stated that Commerce has had a policy of domestic nondissemination of trade opportunities containing boycott conditions that seek to foster restrictive trade practices or include contract provisions that discriminate against U.S. citizens on the basis of sex, race, or religion. Thus, they will issue implementing instructions to all commercial officers to comply with the provisions of section 121. However, State Department officials stated that it would be impossible to ascertain whether and how many women, Jews, and other minorities have been excluded from contract opportunities. Moreover, State Department officials have issued no specific instructions to implement section 121, but admitted that failure to do so constituted an oversight. Consequently, they agreed to issue a message to all posts that fully satisfies the intent of the section's provisions. Additionally, GAO believes that Congress may wish to propose revised legislation to include all U.S. agencies and to consider the relationship of the antiboycott provision to the Export Administration Act of 1979.

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