Overseas Staffing:

U.S. Economic, Commercial, and Agricultural Staffing in Japan and Korea

NSIAD-92-162: Published: Apr 24, 1992. Publicly Released: May 14, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed staffing at U.S. embassies and their consulates in Japan and Korea, focusing on: (1) staffing levels in the economic, commercial, and agricultural sections; (2) embassies' views on their own efforts to analyze, report, and act on trade and economic issues; and (3) U.S. companies' views on embassy support in promoting U.S. exports.

GAO found that: (1) during fiscal years 1989 to 1991, authorized commercial and agricultural section staffing increased by 13 percent in Japan and Korea, and authorized economic section staffing increased by 2 positions; (2) as of October 1991, the U.S. embassy and consulates in Japan had 113 authorized and foreign national staff positions in the economic, commercial and agricultural section with 9 positions vacant; (3) in Korea, the U.S. embassy and consulate had 41 authorized American and foreign national staff with 2 positions vacant; (4) as of March 1992, one position in Japan and five positions in Korea were filled; (5) despite increases in staffing, embassy consulate staff reported that they could only perform limited analyses and reporting and could not fully address all important trade and economic issues; and (6) U.S. business representatives stated that, overall, embassies have taken a greater interest in commercial affairs and are addressing trade barriers and resolving individual company concerns, but believe that embassies need additional resources and should provide more support to U.S. companies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Foreign Agricultural Service is examining ways of reallocating resources and reviewing agricultural intelligence and reporting responsibilities. Scheduled reporting requirements for Japan are expected to be reduced, thereby freeing up staff for more analysis. However, budget constraints preclude adding extra resources to Japan and Korea at this time.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and State, as they examine staffing, should identify ways by which additional resources could be added to enable embassies in Japan and Korea and their consulates to increase their capabilities to analyze, report, and act on trade and economic issues and support U.S. companies in promoting U.S. exports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Commerce noted that it has been devoting more resources to Japan and Korea. Since 1990, US&FCS presence in Japan increased by ten positions, making it the largest US&FCS overseas operation. Staffing in Korea increased, making it the seventh largest US&FCS overseas operation. In fiscal year 1992, operating budgets for Japan and Korea increased 15 and 28 percent, respectively.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and State, as they examine staffing, should identify ways by which additional resources could be added to enable embassies in Japan and Korea and their consulates to increase their capabilities to analyze, report, and act on trade and economic issues and support U.S. companies in promoting U.S. exports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department reported, in March 1993, that it is in the process of implementing a major reorganization to, among other things, better match resources with objectives and rationalize post staffing.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and State, as they examine staffing, should identify ways by which additional resources could be added to enable embassies in Japan and Korea and their consulates to increase their capabilities to analyze, report, and act on trade and economic issues and support U.S. companies in promoting U.S. exports.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Foreign Agricultural Service said it gives its highest priority to overseas operations to Japan and a very high priority to Korea. In fiscal year 1992, total funding for Japan was $97 million and for Korea $15 million.

    Recommendation: Funding for export promotion and attention to trade and economic issues in Japan and Korea should receive a high priority within the Departments of Agriculture's, Commerce's, and State's budgets.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In FY 1992, despite an austere overseas budget and increased resource demands in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the operating budget for US&FCS operations in Japan and Korea increased 15 and 28 percent, respectively.

    Recommendation: Funding for export promotion and attention to trade and economic issues in Japan and Korea should receive a high priority within the Departments of Agriculture's, Commerce's, and State's budgets.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department reported, in March 1993, that it is in the process of implementing a major reorganization to, among other things, better match resources with objectives and rationalize post staffing.

    Recommendation: Funding for export promotion and attention to trade and economic issues in Japan and Korea should receive a high priority within the Departments of Agriculture's, Commerce's, and State's budgets.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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