State Department:

Professional Development of Foreign Service Employees

NSIAD-89-149: Published: Jul 26, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of State's implementation of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, which required it to establish professional development programs for all Foreign Service members.

GAO found that State responded to the act, which highlighted the need for foreign service personnel training, by developing new courses and updating other courses, subsequently prompting an overall increase in training. GAO also found that: (1) enrollment in foreign service training programs increased from 11,761 in 1980 to 15,664 in fiscal year 1983, and remained fairly stable through 1987; (2) the amount of training time declined from 1.5 million hours in 1983 to 1.2 million hours in 1987; (3) political training attendance was significantly less than administrative, consular, and economic training, although more foreign service employees were involved in political activities than in the other three areas; (4) State developed shorter, assignment-related functional training courses to replace a 20-week senior managerial training course; (5) State did not require managerial training when promoting foreign service personnel; (6) foreign service language training provided both intensive and part-time training in over 40 languages; (7) language-qualified staff filled 67 percent of the 1,784 language-designated positions in 1988; and (8) State had difficulty in making ideal training assignments, since it had to balance travel costs, employee preferences, leave availability, organizational needs, and job performance requirements.

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