State Department:

Management Weaknesses at the U.S. Embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada

NSIAD-93-190: Published: Jul 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the management problems and issues affecting personal property accountability, financial controls, contracting, and procurement systems, and other areas of management and administration at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada.

GAO found that: (1) problems in personal property management at the embassies have included lack of documentation that inventory verifications and property utilization surveys had taken place, inadequate separation of duties, and failure to fully document and follow property management procedures; (2) financial control problems and issues have included inadequate control over cashier receipt forms, inadequate documentation of consular collections, and system weaknesses to ensure timely collection of accounts receivable and liquidation of obligated funds; (3) each embassy has weaknesses in its procurement systems; (4) the amount of formal training provided foreign service national employees at the embassies in Panama and Barbados was insufficient in several functional areas and contributed to weaknesses in post management systems; and (5) inaccurate reporting by the embassies on their internal control and management systems has perpetuated some management problems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the personnel systems to address the training needs of foreign service national employees and continuing need for personal services contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the internal control assessment and reporting systems to ensure that embassy responses accurately reflect the status of management controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the competition advocacy program to ensure contracting and procurement actions are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations governing competition.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the status of unliquidated obligations to ensure timely and prompt financial action.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the cashiering operations, for example, documentation and oversight of cashier receipt forms and procedures to ensure proper verification of accounts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts. For example, State's implementation guidance to overseas posts instructs embassy managers to document how they will address material weaknesses in administrative areas. The plans have an administrative section that highlights the status of key operational areas, such as warehousing and inventory, financial management, cashiering, and procurement and also summarize the progress being made in meeting administrative goals.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should be under the direction of the deputy chief of mission or another senior post official and provide for periodic post assessments of management processes, including the personal property systems to ensure inventory losses are minimized and key controls are in place and functioning.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The State Department is now using Mission Program Plans as the main tool for strengthening embassy management and prioritizing resource allocations. This plan is the key instrument for addressing existing material weaknesses at all overseas posts.

    Recommendation: To build on current embassy initiatives and ensure continuous attention to correcting management deficiencies and improving management processes, the Secretary of State should direct the Chiefs of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Panama, Barbados, and Grenada to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The systems for management improvement should include annual post reports on the status of management processes and action plans for improvements where deficiencies are identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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