Change Is Needed in Overseas Staffing Procedures To Better Assure Consistency With U.S. Program Objectives

ID-82-22: Published: Feb 25, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1982.

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A GAO review of the procedures used to select staff for U.S. Government activities at diplomatic missions identified disputes between the State Department and other agencies over State's administration of the Monitoring Overseas Direct Employment (MODE) system.

The MODE system was established to control the number of U.S. employees assigned to U.S. diplomatic missions. Disputes have occurred when the MODE staff at the Department of State has disapproved proposals of other agencies to increase overseas staffing levels. A difference of opinion regarding the authority to decide overseas staffing levels has been the fundamental basis for these disputes. MODE officials contend that ambassadors have the authority to make staffing decisions for all Government activities at their missions regardless of agency affiliation. Agency officials feel that they should also have the authority to make staffing decisions to support their goals. GAO information was used to provide an option for resolution of the interagency disputes which would change the procedures now used to assign personnel to diplomatic missions. Agency officials would send proposals for staff increases, subject to State Department comment, to a designated authority such as the Office of Management and Budget or the National Security Council since neither of these agencies has overseas staff and both are cognizant of U.S. foreign policy objectives. Whichever authority is selected should conduct a periodic examination of agency staffing to verify that staff ceilings had not been exceeded. GAO urged a timely adoption of this option which would substantially eliminate many of the disputes that have existed and which would provide greater assurance that overseas staffing decisions are consistent with U.S. program objectives.

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