State Department:

Management Weaknesses at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico

NSIAD-93-88: Published: Feb 8, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the oversight and controls over personal property, cashiering operations, contracting and procurement, residential housing, and training at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico.

GAO found that: (1) the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City does not have sufficient management controls to ensure full compliance with applicable regulations and minimize vulnerability to fraud, waste, and abuse; (2) the Embassy lost personal property valued at $120,000 in less than 2 years; (3) the Embassy could not identify how items were lost or whether employees should have been held accountable; (4) weaknesses in controls over cashiering operations have affected mission operations since the mid-1980s; (5) specific cashiering problems included failure to ensure that cashier supervisors completed training, the lack of systematic visits to consulates to ensure compliance, and inadequate control over consular collections; and (6) the Embassy has not established a formal competition advocacy program to ensure that contracts are fully competed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State said that the post: (1) has briefed management and employees on the importance of internal controls; and (2) regularly holds meetings at various levels to discuss management issues.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico, takes steps to effectively communicate the importance of management and internal controls to all mission personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: At the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, a new housing system has increased efficiency and morale. In addition, housing costs may be lowered by FBO purchasing about 15 percent of the leased housing.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico, takes steps to establish a formal, proactive system for management improvement and cost control. The system should provide for periodic post reviews and assessments of the Embassy's: (1) personal property systems to ensure that inventory losses are minimized and responsible individuals are held accountable for property losses; (2) cashiering operations, including the extent that supervisors systematically visit the consulates to monitor cashier operations, cashier supervisors have completed necessary training, and procedures ensure effective monitoring of consular collections and verification of deposits; (3) Competition Advocacy Program to ensure that contracting and procurement actions comply with applicable laws and regulations governing competition; (4) housing program to monitor progress in reducing the provision of housing units that exceed State standards; and (5) personnel system to address the training needs of U.S. and foreign service national employees and the need for employees hired under personal services contracts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State revised its property management regulations to require that overseas posts' Property Survey Board reports concerning missing property are submitted to the Department for review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that embassies continue to be required to report to the Department any significant personal property losses and the factors contributing to such losses.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State revised its property management regulations to require that overseas posts' Property Survey Board reports concerning missing property are submitted to the Department for review.

    Recommendation: To ensure comprehensive oversight of field operations, the Secretary of State should require that copies of all post property survey board reports about missing property are forwarded to the Department's Property Management Officer in Washington, D.C.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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