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entitled 'Overseas Presence: Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are 
Needed to Demonstrate the Full Potential of Providing Embassy Support 
Remotely' which was released on May 23, 2006. 

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Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging 
Threats, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, 
House of Representatives: 

May 2006: 

Overseas Presence: 

Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed to Demonstrate the 
Full Potential of Providing Embassy Support Remotely: 

GAO-06-479: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-06-479, a report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on 
National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, 
Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The President has emphasized the importance of safety, efficiency, and 
accountability in U.S. government staffing overseas by designating the 
achievement of a rightsized overseas presence as a part of the 
President’s Management Agenda. One of the elements of rightsizing 
involves relocating certain administrative support functions from 
overseas posts to the United States or regional centers overseas, which 
can provide cheaper, safer, or more effective support. This report (1) 
reviews State’s efforts in providing administrative support from remote 
locations, (2) identifies the challenges it faces in doing so, and (3) 
outlines the potential advantages and concerns associated with 
providing support remotely. 

What GAO Found: 

State has a number of regional and domestic offices that provide some 
management support remotely to overseas posts in areas such as 
financial management and human resources. For example, State’s Bureau 
of Western Hemisphere Affairs provides support to posts in its region 
through staff based in Florida. State announced in October 2005 it 
would identify and remove additional functions that do not need to be 
performed at post and could instead be performed domestically or at 
regional centers overseas. 

State faces several challenges in trying to expand its use of remote 
support. For example, restrictions on what management functions non-
American staff can perform might limit the extent to which services can 
be provided remotely. In addition, current funding arrangements for 
various regional bureaus and posts might limit opportunities for remote 
support to be offered from one region to another, while posts’ 
reluctance to change is a further constraint. State is assessing 
whether certain regulations could be waived or changed and how 
institutional challenges might be overcome. 

There are several potential advantages to providing administrative 
support to posts from remote locations, and several concerns. For 
example, one U.S.-based officer provides financial management support 
to multiple overseas posts, eliminating the need for an American 
financial management officer at each post served, which, according to 
State, could result in cost savings. Officials at posts we visited 
reported they were generally satisfied with the level of support and 
customer service at a regional or domestic service center, though some 
noted concerns. However, at the time of our review, State had neither 
analyzed the potential cost savings associated with providing remote 
support nor systematically assessed the quality of support provided. In 
addition, many officials in Washington and overseas were unaware of the 
full breadth of support offered by regional service centers. 

Figure: The Regional Service Center in Florida and Supported Posts: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

What GAO Recommends: 

We recommend that the Secretary of State (1) identify and analyze the 
various costs associated with providing support remotely, (2) develop 
systematic performance measures and formal feedback mechanisms to 
measure the quality and customer satisfaction of support services 
provided remotely, and (3) use the cost analyses and feedback to make 
decisions on supporting embassy operations. State generally concurred 
with our report and indicated that it is taking steps to implement all 
of our recommendations. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-479]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Jess Ford at (202) 512-
4268 or fordj@gao.gov. 

[End of Section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

A Number of State Bureaus Provide Embassy Support Remotely, with More 
Efforts Planned: 

State Department Faces Challenges in Its Plans to Increase Embassy 
Support from Remote Locations: 

Providing Support Remotely Offers Potential Advantages, but Cost 
Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendixes: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of State: 

GAO Comments: 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Support Offered by Regional Service Centers: 

Table 2: Characteristics of Posts Receiving Remote Support: 

Table 3: Select Functions that Can Be Provided Remotely: 

Figure: 

Figure 1: Several Remote Support Partnerships in East Asia and the 
Pacific: 

Abbreviations: 

FAH: Foreign Affairs Handbook: 

ICASS: International Cooperative Administrative Support Services: 

OMB: Office of Management and Budget: 

PMA: President's Management Agenda: 

USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development: 

Letter: 
May 2, 2006: 

The Honorable Christopher Shays: 
Chairman: 
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International 
Relations: 
Committee on Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

Dear Mr. Chairman: 

The Department of State (State) operates more than 260 embassies, 
consulates, and other posts in about 180 countries and employs more 
than 11,000 Foreign Service officers and over 35,000 Foreign Service 
nationals. Operating under a decades-old management model, most of 
these posts are still directly responsible for carrying out the 
majority of the administrative functions, such as processing vouchers 
for payment, necessary for their day-to-day operations. The President 
has emphasized the importance of safety, efficiency, and accountability 
in U.S. government staffing overseas by designating the achievement of 
a rightsized overseas presence as part of the President's Management 
Agenda.[Footnote 1] One of the elements of rightsizing is to relocate 
certain administrative support functions from overseas posts to the 
United States or to regional service centers overseas, which can reduce 
costs, improve services, and lessen the overall U.S. government 
footprint. 

On January 18, 2006, the Secretary of State announced her vision for 
the future of the Department of State, including plans for the global 
repositioning of the United States' official overseas presence. These 
plans, which include moving hundreds of positions to critical posts in 
regions such as Africa, South and East Asia, and the Middle East, call 
for new thinking on how State conducts its overseas operations. In 
particular, State intends to increasingly provide support functions 
remotely, as is presently done through regional service centers in 
Frankfurt, Germany, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which provide 
management support to overseas posts in areas such as human resources 
and financial management. 

Over the past several years, we have provided the Subcommittee with 
reports and testimonies to assist in the oversight of staffing and 
operations at U.S. posts overseas. In order to ensure that the U.S. 
government's goals in rightsizing its overseas presence are being met, 
you requested that we review actions to expand the use of support from 
remote locations; the progress that the U.S. government is making on 
rightsizing, including activities of the Office of Rightsizing within 
State; and the implementation of measures to reduce the duplication of 
support functions between State and the U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID). This report (1) reviews State's efforts to provide 
administrative support from remote locations, (2) identifies the 
challenges it faces in doing so, and (3) outlines the potential 
advantages and concerns associated with providing support remotely. 
Later in 2006, we will report on the activities of the Office of 
Rightsizing and the implementation of measures to consolidate State and 
USAID support activities at overseas posts. 

To address our objectives, we reviewed State's documents on its 
initiatives to provide support remotely and the foreign affairs 
regulations for carrying out administrative functions overseas. We 
spoke with officials at State's regional and functional bureaus in 
Washington, D.C., and met with senior management and regional staff at 
the Florida Regional Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the 
Financial Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina. We also met 
with senior management, regional staff, and locally employed staff that 
provide remote support from the Regional Support Center in Frankfurt, 
Germany. We met with ambassadors, deputy chiefs of mission, management 
officers, and other U.S. embassy staff, including locally employed 
staff, at four posts that receive remote support. We chose the posts 
located at Belize City, Belize; Helsinki, Finland; Nassau, Bahamas; and 
Valetta, Malta, because they represent a sample of both small and 
medium-sized posts that receive remote support. We also visited Mexico 
City to talk with embassy officials about how the U.S. mission to 
Mexico has been rightsized and how the embassy provides support to 
consulates throughout the country. In addition, we met with officials 
in Paris, France, to discuss the financial support that locally 
employed staff provide to posts in Africa. Also, we conducted telephone 
interviews with management staff at 20 overseas posts regarding their 
reporting on rightsizing efforts to Washington and, when applicable, 
regarding remote support they receive. Lastly, we reviewed post 
profiles and cost data associated with the placement of American 
personnel overseas. We performed our work from June 2005 until April 
2006 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. (For a detailed discussion of our scope and methodology, see 
app. I.) 

Results in Brief: 

State has a number of regional and domestic offices that provide some 
management support remotely to overseas posts in areas such as 
financial management and human resources, and it plans to increase the 
use of remote administrative support provided to overseas posts. For 
example, State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs provides direct 
support to 16 small posts in its region through routine visits by staff 
based in a domestic regional service center in Fort Lauderdale, 
Florida, while State's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs provides 
consultative support through occasional post visits from staff on an as-
needed basis from an overseas regional center in Frankfurt, Germany. 
Moreover, the Bureau of Resource Management provides a number of 
financial services, from its location in Charleston, South Carolina, to 
posts worldwide. Additionally, in late 2005, State announced that it 
would identify and remove functions that do not need to be performed at 
post and could instead be performed by personnel based in the United 
States or at regional offices overseas from seven posts in dangerous 
locations, where it is crucial to have as few personnel as possible due 
to security concerns. State also plans to eventually remove such 
functions from other overseas posts. 

State faces several challenges in trying to expand its use of remote 
support. In particular, restrictions on what management functions non- 
American staff can perform might limit the extent to which services can 
be provided remotely, as could a regulation that requires original 
invoices for payment. In addition, current funding arrangements for the 
various regional bureaus and posts might limit opportunities for remote 
support to be offered from one region to another, while a reluctance to 
change further constrains opportunities to expand remote support. State 
is currently assessing whether or not certain regulations could be 
waived or changed and how institutional challenges might be overcome. 

There are several potential advantages to providing administrative 
support to posts from remote locations--including cost savings, 
enhanced security for American personnel, and improved quality of 
administrative support--as well as several outstanding concerns, 
according to officials whom we spoke with both in Washington and 
overseas. For example, one officer located in the United States 
currently provides financial management support to multiple posts in 
the Western Hemisphere, thereby eliminating the need for an American 
financial management officer at each individual post served. Officials 
said that eliminating the need for American officers overseas could 
result in cost savings. In addition, according to State officials, 
potential cost benefits and other efficiencies might result from making 
greater use of regional service centers overseas and by empowering 
locally employed staff to perform support functions traditionally 
carried out by U.S. officers overseas. Officials at the posts we 
visited said they were generally satisfied with the level of support 
and customer service received from a regional or domestic service 
center. However, they expressed some concerns relating to the quality 
of remote support, particularly regarding the timeliness of regional 
officers' responses to post issues. State has not conducted analyses of 
the potential cost savings associated with providing remote support and 
has not used systematic performance measures and customer feedback 
mechanisms to assess the quality of support provided. In addition, many 
officials both in Washington and overseas are unaware of the full 
breadth of support offered by regional service centers and said they 
would be more willing to use them if the cost and quality of available 
services was documented. State officials in Washington agreed that 
tools, such as customer service feedback, would be useful in marketing 
remote support; and, during the course of our work, one regional bureau 
has begun to develop them. 

As State implements its plan for expanding remote support, it would be 
useful for State to concurrently assess the advantages and address the 
concerns of providing embassy support from remote locations, including 
the potential impacts on cost, service delivery, and security for 
American personnel. Therefore, we recommend that the Secretary of State 
take the following three actions: 

* Identify and analyze the various costs associated with providing 
support at individual posts versus at regional service centers in the 
United States or overseas; 

* Develop systematic performance measures and feedback mechanisms to 
measure the quality and customer satisfaction of support services 
provided remotely; and: 

* Use the cost analyses and feedback on quality and customer 
satisfaction to: 

* inform post management of which services could be offered remotely, 
the various costs involved, and the quality of services offered; 

* consider ways to improve the quality of remote support, when 
necessary; and: 

* determine whether additional posts, including posts that are 
requesting new U.S. officer positions in management functions, might be 
logical candidates for receiving remote support. 

We also encourage State to continue reviewing challenges to providing 
support remotely and finding ways to overcome them. 

We provided a draft of this report to the Department of State for 
comment. State generally concurred with the report's substance and 
findings and indicated that it is taking steps to implement all of our 
recommendations. State also provided technical comments, which have 
been incorporated throughout the report, where appropriate. 

Background: 

Following the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es 
Salaam, Tanzania, a number of reviews called for the reassessment of 
overseas staffing levels and suggested a series of actions to adjust 
the overseas presence, including relocating some functions to the 
United States and to regional centers, where feasible.[Footnote 2] The 
White House, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and 
GAO have emphasized rightsizing as vital to ensuring that the overseas 
presence is at an optimal and efficient level to carry out foreign 
policy objectives.[Footnote 3] GAO's rightsizing framework, which has 
been adopted by OMB and State, consists of three factors--mission, 
security, and cost--that should be weighed when making rightsizing 
decisions. In addition, the President's Management Agenda (PMA) has 
identified rightsizing as one of the administration's priorities. One 
way to provide efficient administrative support to overseas posts is by 
consolidating and centralizing service delivery within a geographic 
area through regional service centers located overseas and within the 
United States.[Footnote 4] Two objectives of regional service centers, 
which address the three factors of the rightsizing framework, are to 
improve administrative support to overseas posts (mission) and to 
reduce staffing overseas whenever possible (cost and security). 

Within the State Department a number of bureaus and offices are 
responsible for the administration and oversight of regional operations 
overseas. The Under Secretary for Management is responsible for 
implementing the PMA initiatives and, in particular, working with the 
White House and OMB on the initiative focused on rightsizing the U.S. 
government's overseas presence. The congressionally mandated Office of 
Rightsizing[Footnote 5] leads State's efforts to develop mechanisms to 
better coordinate, rationalize, and manage the deployment of U.S. 
government personnel overseas. In addition, the Office of Global 
Support Services and Innovation in the Bureau of Administration 
coordinates State's efforts to improve the delivery of support services 
to all overseas posts. This office partners with service providers at 
posts and State's various regional[Footnote 6] and functional bureaus 
to move support work to safer and lower-cost regional and central 
locations. 

The operation of U.S. embassies and consulates overseas requires basic 
administrative support services for overseas personnel, such as 
financial management and personnel services. At the post level, the 
management section, which is normally headed by a management counselor 
or management officer, is responsible for carrying out the 
administrative functions at a post. The typical management section of 
an embassy consists of several U.S. Foreign Service officers who are in 
charge of financial management, human resources, information 
management, and general services. They are assisted by locally employed 
staff[Footnote 7] who serve as voucher examiners, cashiers, and 
financial and personnel assistants and specialists. Smaller posts have 
not historically had full management sections with trained, experienced 
U.S. citizen officers filling each of the management positions, such as 
a financial management officer or human resources officer.[Footnote 8] 
Therefore, many times these posts rely on remote support from the 
United States or a regional service center to obtain administrative 
support. 

A Number of State Bureaus Provide Embassy Support Remotely, with More 
Efforts Planned: 

State has a number of overseas regional bureaus that provide management 
support remotely in a variety of ways. State's functional bureaus also 
provide remote support. As a part of its rightsizing efforts, State 
developed plans to regionalize support by identifying all nonlocation- 
specific functions[Footnote 9] and removing them from overseas posts, 
starting with critical danger posts, where it is crucial to have as few 
personnel as possible due to security concerns. 

State's Regional Bureaus Offer Remote Support in a Variety of Ways: 

Two regional bureaus provide remote support from a regional service 
center staffed with a cadre of management staff assigned to various 
posts. Other regional bureaus assign management staff at larger posts 
to assist neighboring posts that lack the management staff necessary to 
carry out all of the post's administrative functions. 

Two Regional Bureaus Have Regional Service Centers: 

State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the Bureau of European 
and Eurasian Affairs offer a variety of personnel and other 
administrative support services remotely to their posts through 
regional service centers. Both regional service centers--the Florida 
Regional Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the Regional Support 
Center in Frankfurt, Germany--have a director who oversees operations 
and reports to the executive director of each respective regional 
bureau in Washington, D.C. Both centers' buildings also house various 
other regional support activities that are managed by the respective 
functional bureaus, such as a regional procurement office that provides 
purchasing and contracting services to posts. 

* The Florida Regional Center provides financial management and human 
resources support to about 16 posts located in Latin America and the 
Caribbean. The posts that receive remote support in these functions do 
not have a full-time, American financial management officer or human 
resources officer; rather, the U.S. post management officer at these 
posts serves multiple roles[Footnote 10] and spends a certain 
percentage of his or her time on various management activities, 
including the certification of vouchers and some personnel functions, 
with assistance from locally employed staff. However, the management 
officers might not be able to provide enough personnel or financial 
support due to their lack of experience or training in the function as 
well as time constraints, according to officials at the posts we 
visited. To compensate for these limitations, a regional human 
resources or financial management officer, based in Fort Lauderdale, 
visits each post for which he or she is responsible on an agreed 
schedule that is outlined in a memorandum of agreement between the post 
and the Florida center. For example, during a typical visit, a regional 
human resources officer ensures that the post is in compliance with 
local labor laws and regulations, evaluates post personnel operations 
and practices, addresses employee morale issues, conducts salary and 
benefits surveys, provides guidance on post training needs, and 
performs a host of other higher level human resources duties, as 
necessary. A regional financial management officer's responsibilities 
include reviewing post management practices to prevent waste, fraud, 
and mismanagement; conducting spot reviews of vouchers, purchase 
orders, and petty cash transactions; and providing assistance in post 
budget and financial plans. The Florida center also has one regional 
information management officer involved in a pilot program to provide 
support to two posts that do not have a permanent information 
management officers assigned, as well as three information management 
specialists and two office management specialists that provide 
additional support to posts throughout the region, when necessary. 

* The Regional Support Center in Frankfurt, Germany, provides 
management assistance in financial management and human resources to 
about 40 posts throughout Europe and Eurasia; however, it does this on 
a more consultative, as-needed basis than the Florida center. The 
Frankfurt center's focus is to promote self-reliance in the full range 
of financial and personnel activities at European and Eurasian posts. 
It provides management oversight to posts and assists staff in 
developing various managerial skills through oversight visits and 
training. Many of the posts the center serves do not have full-time 
human resources officers or financial management officers, and a number 
of them are staffed by junior or first-tour management officers who 
need occasional assistance or training in core management functions. 
Regional support is provided through occasional post visits from 
regional officers and senior, locally employed staff located at the 
Frankfurt office, as well as through training provided at the Frankfurt 
center. 

Table 1 provides a breakdown of the number of regional management 
staff, the number of posts they cover, and the types of support they 
provide from Fort Lauderdale and Frankfurt. 

Table 1: Support Offered by Regional Service Centers: 

Florida Regional Center, Fort Lauderdale: Type of support provided by 
regional managers; 
Number of regional officers/Number of posts supported by function: 
Primary service provider for the function at post; 
post visits six times per year; 
Regional Support Center, Frankfurt, Germany: Type of support provided 
by regional managers; 
Number of regional officers/Number of posts supported by function: 
Consultative support, training, guidance, and oversight; 
post visits once or twice per year depending on post needs. 
 

Number of regional officers/Number of posts supported by function: 
Financial management; 
Florida Regional Center, Fort Lauderdale: Two officers/6 Posts; 
Regional Support Center, Frankfurt, Germany: Six officers[A] /30 Posts. 

Number of regional officers/Number of posts supported by function: 
Human resources; 
Florida Regional Center, Fort Lauderdale: Four officers/16 Posts; 
Regional Support Center, Frankfurt, Germany: Three officers[B] /32 
Posts. 

Number of regional officers/Number of posts supported by function: 
Information management; 
Florida Regional Center, Fort Lauderdale: One officer/2 Posts; 
Regional Support Center, Frankfurt, Germany: Zero officers/0 Posts. 

Source: Department of State. 

[A] Three American direct hire and three locally employed staff. 

[B] Two American direct hire and one locally employed staff. 

[End of table] 

Table 2 provides data on the four posts that we visited that receive 
financial and personnel support from a regional service center in Fort 
Lauderdale or Frankfurt and the various characteristics of those posts, 
including the total number of staff, the number of local staff that 
carry out financial and personnel functions, the posts' budgets, and 
the number of annual visits received from a regional manager. Fort 
Lauderdale and Frankfurt currently provide administrative support 
remotely to small and medium-sized posts, which in some instances 
removes the need for an American officer to carry out those support 
functions at post. 

Table 2: Characteristics of Posts Receiving Remote Support: 

Staffing at post; 

Total staff at post (all agencies); 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 121; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 236; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 134; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 99. 

Americans; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 33; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 177; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 58; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 32. 

Locals, Non-Americans; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 88; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 59; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 76; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 67. 

American officers in functions at posts; 

Human resources; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 0; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 0; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 0; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 0. 

Financial management; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 0; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 0; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 0; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 0. 

Locally employed staff at functions in posts; 

Human resources; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 2; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 2; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 2; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 1. 

Financial management; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 4; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 6; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 4; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 3. 

Post administration; 

Total budget size of post, 2006; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: $3.7 million; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: $16.4 million; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: $9.3 million; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: $3.8 million. 

Number of vouchers processed, 2005; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Belize City, Belize: Staffing at post: 3,200; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 4,305; 
Staffing at post: [Empty]; 
Helsinki, Finland: Staffing at post: 5,000; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 1,550. 

Regional support; 

Overseas post: Regional service center. 

Visits in financial management/year; 
Fort Lauderdale: Staffing at post: 6; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 6; 
Frankfurt: Staffing at post: 1; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 1. 

Visits in human resources/year; 
Fort Lauderdale: Staffing at post: 6; 
Nassau, Bahamas: Staffing at post: 6;  
Frankfurt: Staffing at post: 1; 
Valletta, Malta: Staffing at post: 1. 

Source: Department of State, as of March 2006. 

[End of table] 

Some Regional Bureaus Use Other Methods of Remote Support: 

State's other regional bureaus use mechanisms other than regional 
centers to support posts' administrative needs remotely. In particular, 
the Bureaus of African Affairs, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Near 
Eastern Affairs, Western Hemisphere Affairs, and South and Central 
Asian Affairs use partnering arrangements to provide remote support 
from larger posts or embassies to small or medium-sized posts that do 
not have resident American human resources or financial management 
officers. For example, because Embassy Phnom Penh does not have a 
resident human resources officer, the management staff at Embassy 
Bangkok provides support by reviewing human resources operations and 
providing ad hoc advisory assistance at least twice per year. In 
Mexico, the Embassy in Mexico City provides financial management 
support to about nine consulates throughout the country that do not 
have resident financial management officers. In addition, the Bureau of 
African Affairs employs staff in Paris to provide financial support to 
posts in Africa. Some posts have a support agreement that outlines how 
many visits will be made and what functions will be carried out under 
such partnering arrangements. 

Officials from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 
Washington said that posts in Asia use partnering because geographic 
distances and language and cultural differences between posts in some 
areas make it difficult to devise a regional service center that, like 
those in Frankfurt and Fort Lauderdale, meets all posts needs. 
Furthermore, officials said the regional bureau currently lacks the 
funding to establish a regional service center with a new building and 
additional management staff. See figure 1 for a map of several remote 
support partnerships in East Asia and the Pacific. 

Figure 1: Several Remote Support Partnerships in East Asia and the 
Pacific: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

In addition, the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs has embarked on an 
effort to make extensive use of remote support provided from the United 
States due to the extreme security threat faced at new embassies, 
particularly in Baghdad, Iraq.[Footnote 11] For example, an official 
from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs told us that State plans to 
provide increased financial management support to the embassy in 
Baghdad from centralized operations in Charleston, South Carolina, 
rather than performing all financial management operations at post. 
However, he pointed out that it would take significant time and money 
before the bureau could remove all nonlocation-specific functions from 
critical danger posts, as outlined in State's 2006 operational plan. 

State's Functional Bureaus Also Provide Remote Support: 

Several functional bureaus within State provide remote support in 
financial management, information management, procurement, security, 
courier, medical, and other functions. Some of these operations are 
offered centrally from locations within the United States and others at 
overseas locations such as the regional center in Frankfurt. One 
example of a domestic support operation is the Global Financial 
Services Center within the Bureau of Resource Management, which has a 
central location in Charleston, South Carolina, and receives support 
from offices in Bangkok, Thailand, and Paris, France. The center is 
responsible for disbursement, payroll, accounting, cashier monitoring 
and training, customer support, and other financial management support 
for posts around the world. Additional examples of remote support from 
functional bureaus include the following: 

* The Bureau for Information and Resource Management sponsors Regional 
Information Management Centers, which provide telecommunications, 
network, systems, engineering, installation, and maintenance support to 
overseas posts from a number of locations. 

* The Bureau of Administration operates the Regional Procurement 
Support Office, which provides contract and procurement services and 
provides goods and services to posts throughout the world, for a 
certain fee. 

* State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security provides regional engineering 
support and diplomatic courier operations to posts overseas. 

* State also has various regional medical offices throughout the world 
that are administered by the Office of Medical Services. 

State Developed an Operational Plan for Rightsizing: 

State's fiscal year 2006 operational plan, Organizing for 
Transformational Diplomacy: Rightsizing and Regionalization,[Footnote 
12] identifies post functions that can be performed remotely. The plan 
focuses on first removing nonlocation-specific functions--or functions 
that could potentially be removed from posts and carried out either 
from the U.S. or a regional center--from critical danger 
missions,[Footnote 13] where State officials said it is crucial to have 
as few personnel at posts as possible due to security concerns. The 
plan envisions eventually removing those functions from all overseas 
posts. Officials from the Office of Global Support Services and 
Innovation identified 78 nonlocation-specific functions and, in 
December 2005, State selected 16 of these functions that it planned to 
provide to critical danger posts from remote locations, according to 
officials. For a list of some of the nonlocation-specific functions 
that can be provided remotely, see table 3. 

Table 3: Select Functions that Can Be Provided Remotely: 

Nonlocation-specific function: Human resources management services; 
Activity: Orientation and in-processing. 
Activity: Local staff job evaluations. 

Nonlocation-specific function: Training; 
Activity: Distance learning applications. 

Nonlocation-specific function: Procurement services; 
Activity: Purchase order processing. 
Activity: Contracting. 

Nonlocation-specific function: Financial management services; 
Activity: Voucher examination and certification. 
Activity: Budget submissions and report preparation. 

Nonlocation-specific function: Travel Services; 
Activity: Travel request processing. 
Activity: Travel order preparation. 

Source: Department of State. 

[End of table] 

State's operational plan includes goals and timelines for action. As of 
April 2006, State indicated that a number of initiatives to remove 
nonlocation-specific functions were under way in a number of posts; 
however, it is too early to asses State's progress in implementing the 
plan. 

In December 2005, State's Office of the Inspector General (IG) 
recognized State's operational plan as a good start and recommended 
that the Under Secretary for Management produce a Departmentwide master 
plan for formally accrediting regional centers. This recommended plan 
would include long-term capital construction requirements for housing 
and office space, standardized service expectations, and management 
structures that ensure accountability to serviced bureaus and 
posts.[Footnote 14] As of March 2006, officials from the Office of 
Rightsizing and the Bureau of Administration said they were beginning 
to address the IG's findings. 

While officials from the executive offices of some of the regional 
bureaus told us that State's operational plan is on the right track, 
they cautioned that the implementation of the plan must take into 
consideration the various realities faced by posts in different regions 
of the world. For example, an official of the Bureau of African Affairs 
told us that many posts in Africa lack the technological capabilities 
to be able to utilize remote support, which requires more processes to 
be done electronically. He cautioned that certain posts would need to 
obtain better bandwidth connectivity to handle online financial 
management transactions. In addition, officials from the bureau did not 
believe that the three African posts identified as critical danger 
posts would meet the strategy's March 2006 timeline to receive 
nonlocation-specific services remotely. Officials from the Bureaus of 
Near Eastern Affairs, South and Central Asian Affairs, Western 
Hemisphere Affairs, and East Asia and Pacific Affairs agreed that there 
is not a one-size-fits-all approach to providing support remotely. An 
official from the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs added that if 
more nonlocation-specific functions are moved from posts to remote 
locations, regional bureaus would have to release or shift many local 
staff that currently carry out those functions at posts and hire 
additional Americans in the United States or staff at regional service 
centers overseas. 

Officials in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs also pointed out 
that the various administrative bureaus within State, to which the 
workload related to remote support might be assigned, may not yet have 
the capacity to handle the additional work. For example, they said that 
the Bureau of Resource Management had not yet reported that it is ready 
to provide additional remote support in the area of financial 
management. However, according to the officials, the Bureau of 
Information Resource Management is an example of a functional bureau 
that is committed to maximizing the way in which it provides 
information technology services to overseas posts and it is 
standardizing its regional information management centers. 

State Department Faces Challenges in Its Plans to Increase Embassy 
Support from Remote Locations: 

State is currently looking to move forward with its fiscal year 2006 
operational plan for remote support; however, it faces several 
challenges that could hinder its further expansion of remote support 
services. In particular, limits on what management functions non- 
American staff perform might limit the extent to which services can be 
provided remotely. In addition, one regulation requires original 
invoices for payment, which could hinder additional remote support 
provided electronically. Also, current funding arrangements for the 
various regional bureaus and posts might limit opportunities for remote 
support to be offered from one region to another. Finally, a reluctance 
to change further constrains opportunities to expand remote support. 

Limits on Non-American Staff Responsibilities Might Hinder Remote 
Support: 

Officials at the posts we visited told us that empowering local staff 
could play a significant role in expanding remote support; however, 
such staff are limited in the types of support that they may provide. 
For example, while several officials stressed that there are certain 
tasks that, for reasons of national security, must be carried out 
overseas by security-cleared American citizens, some tasks, such as 
certifying vouchers, may be done by non-American staff. In fact, 
according to the Foreign Affairs Handbook (FAH), direct-hire, locally 
employed staff members who meet certain professional qualification 
criteria and have proven records of integrity and consistent superior 
performance may be designated to certify vouchers as Alternate 
Certifying Officers.[Footnote 15] Several officials at the Florida 
center said that allowing such staff to certify with oversight from a 
regional officer could remove the need for American officers at some 
posts. However, we found a lack of clarity regarding this issue at 
several posts. In particular, several officials whom we spoke with in 
Washington and overseas either were unaware that non-American staff 
could certify vouchers or said there were limitations on which types of 
vouchers or what maximum monetary value those staff may be designated 
to certify. 

Additionally, State officials told us that other tasks, such as 
procurement, could also be carried out by non-American staff with 
oversight from an American regional officer if current regulations 
limiting their authority were changed.[Footnote 16] State is exploring 
this issue through a pilot program at Embassy Brussels to implement 
contracting authority for locally engaged staff. If successful and 
expanded, the program could free up American officers for essential 
operational and management controls activities, or potentially 
eliminate some American positions at posts, according to officials in 
Washington. Officials in Washington and at posts we visited said that 
State should reexamine its policies and determine, based on a risk- 
benefit analysis, what additional powers or responsibilities could be 
given to local, non-American staff, and then communicate that to posts. 

Existing Regulation Could Hinder Use of Technologies in Providing 
Remote Support: 

State officials noted that, with the right technological applications, 
some administrative functions, such as the entire payment process, 
could be performed from a remote location with minimal involvement from 
posts. However, State faces challenges in making this transition due to 
a regulation that requires original invoices in processing 
payments.[Footnote 17] State recognizes that leveraging today's Web- 
based technologies and global business practices is essential to 
carrying out administrative functions remotely, and it reports that it 
is working aggressively with embassies and agencies to use technology 
and improved management methods to eliminate the nonessential U.S. 
government presence overseas.[Footnote 18] In addition, the Under 
Secretary for Management asked posts to move ahead with efforts to 
provide additional support remotely and to identify any legal or 
regulatory barriers, according to State officials. For example, State 
has waived the regulation requiring an original invoice in order to 
allow a pilot post being served by the regional center in Frankfurt to 
e-mail or fax vouchers, invoices, and other supporting documentation to 
Frankfurt for certification of payment and submission to the Global 
Financial Services Center for disbursement. However, this pilot is not 
yet under way due to resistance from officials who believe that there 
should be a financial management officer at every post, according to 
State officials in Washington. In addition, the pilot post--Nicosia, 
Cyprus--lacked the bandwidth capabilities necessary for the electronic 
transactions at the time of our study, according to officials. 

Funding Structures Complicate Remote Support Efforts: 

Current State bureau funding structures might limit the application of 
remote services. Since regional centers are currently funded primarily 
by their respective regional bureaus, it is commonly believed that it 
is difficult for posts to cross bureau lines to obtain regional 
services, according to officials from the regional bureaus in 
Washington. This makes it difficult, for example, for the Florida 
Regional Center to provide services to a post not covered by the Bureau 
of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Another example is the Bureau of African 
Affairs' employment of staff in Paris to provide financial support to 
posts in Africa. The bureau believes these employees are ideally suited 
for this work because of their financial management expertise, their 
French-speaking skills that are necessary to serve many African posts, 
and their access to transportation links to Africa. We asked if these 
staff could also serve some North African posts, which are even closer 
geographically to Paris and where French is also widely spoken. But we 
were told that this is not currently possible, largely because the 
posts in North Africa are not within the Africa Bureau, and funding 
structures to cross regional bureaus have not yet been established. 
State's IG recently pointed out that a Departmentwide plan clarifying 
the resources and funding structures for regional centers would add 
needed coherence to State's rightsizing efforts.[Footnote 19] 

Several examples demonstrate that State is trying to address the issues 
involved with financing remote support. For example, the International 
Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS)[Footnote 20] 
Executive Board approved a proposal to initiate the charging of 
customer agencies for regional services and to enable posts to utilize 
regional center services outside their regional bureau. Furthermore, 
remote services are already beginning to cross regional boundaries. For 
example, the Florida Regional Center recently added to its portfolio 
Hamilton, Bermuda, a post that belongs to the Bureau of European and 
Eurasian Affairs, because the Florida center is geographically closer 
to Hamilton than is the Regional Support Center in Frankfurt. This 
arrangement currently entails the Bureau of European and Eurasian 
Affairs paying for the travel of the regional manager to post. 

Reluctance to Change Hampers Remote Support Efforts: 

State officials pointed out that management officials at overseas posts 
might be reluctant to accept support remotely rather than having an 
American at post to provide the support. For example, officials at the 
Florida Regional Center have made two proposals to expand the center's 
support in financial management and human resources and have identified 
posts, with similar characteristics to those currently receiving 
support (see table 2), that would benefit from remote support. One 
proposal, which calls for the empowerment of locally employed staff, 
backed by oversight from a regional manager at the Florida center to 
certify vouchers, would free up the need for a full-time American 
financial management officer at post. However, officials in Washington 
and at some posts we visited overseas told us that most posts are 
reluctant or unwilling to give up their American management officers 
because they prefer to have direct access to them. Officials told us 
that post receptivity to such remote support proposals depends on 
management's willingness to relinquish some of its current positions, 
as well as the assurance from the regional bureaus in Washington, D.C., 
that the regional service centers would have the resources to provide 
additional support. For example, Haiti was recently identified as a 
post that could utilize financial management support from the Florida 
center but, according to officials from the Bureau of Western 
Hemisphere Affairs, senior management at the post would not relinquish 
the American staff position. 

In addition, State reports resistance to change from a number of its 
bureaus. For example, officials from the Bureau of Resource Management 
(as well as some officials overseas) believe that having fewer 
management staff at posts overseas could increase internal control 
vulnerabilities and that there should be an American financial 
management officer at all overseas posts. Additionally, in its 
technical comments on this draft, the Office of Global Support Services 
and Innovation said that, while developing the pilot programs to remove 
nonlocation-specific functions from critical danger posts, such as 
Haiti, the regional bureaus were reluctant to impose this experiment on 
posts already under such stress. This reluctance, along with State's 
desire to expand remote support to the largest possible number of 
posts, has led State to consider all posts, not just critical danger 
posts, for implementation of such pilot programs, according to the 
office. 

Providing Support Remotely Offers Potential Advantages, but Cost 
Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed: 

According to State officials, there are several potential advantages to 
providing administrative support to posts from remote locations rather 
than at individual posts, including potential cost savings, enhanced 
security for American personnel, and improved quality of administrative 
support. However, at the time of our review, State had not conducted 
analyses of the cost advantages associated with providing 
administrative support remotely rather than at posts and had no 
systematic performance measures and feedback mechanisms in place to 
assess the quality of support provided. 

Support Provided from Remote Locations Could Offer Advantages in 
Mission, Cost, and Security: 

We have identified several examples to demonstrate the potential 
advantages, in terms of financial benefits, enhanced security for 
American personnel, and improved quality of administrative support, of 
posts receiving support remotely. The first example demonstrates the 
advantages of providing remote support from a regional service center 
located in the United States. The second example depicts the advantages 
associated with providing support from a regional service center 
located overseas. Finally, the third example illustrates the advantages 
associated with locally employed staff providing remote support to 
posts. There are also several issues of concern relating to remote 
support, namely the quality of services, though these issues require 
further analysis. 

Providing Support from the United States: 

According to officials at the Florida center, assigning certain duties 
to regional officers based in the United States is one way to save 
money while retaining the expertise of a foreign service officer. 
Officials told us there are cost savings associated with having one 
regional officer perform the duties of several officers who would 
otherwise be assigned to posts. Officials told us that eliminating the 
need for American officers overseas could result in cost savings after 
factoring in offsetting costs, such as costs for travel and technology 
enhancements, to accommodate the change. For example, each overseas 
position costs approximately $400,000, according to an average computed 
by State's Bureau of Resource Management for fiscal year 2007. This 
amount includes salary, benefits, and support costs plus a number of 
costs that apply only to officials overseas, such as housing 
allowances; educational allowances for their children; and additional 
pay, such as danger pay, depending on which region of the world the 
officer is located. It also includes costs for providing a secure 
building for the officers to work in overseas. By assigning regional 
officers in the United States, State could avoid such costs, which do 
not apply to personnel stationed domestically. Although officials have 
not conducted a formal cost comparison to assess the size of the 
potential savings, they believe the potential savings could be in the 
millions of dollars. 

For example, in 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, requested a 
full-time American financial management officer at post to handle its 
financial management workload, according to the post management 
officer. To avoid the additional costs associated with posting a 
financial management officer in Nassau, officials from the Bureau of 
Western Hemisphere Affairs said the bureau instead assigned a regional 
officer from the Florida Regional Center to assist the Nassau post 
management officer who handles a variety of financial management 
responsibilities, such as certifying vouchers. The total cost for the 
Florida-based regional officer would be his salary and benefits plus 
travel costs of about $60,000, according to the center's officials, 
which includes travel to Nassau and three other posts also served by 
that officer. 

In addition to cost efficiencies, officials said the Florida Regional 
Center's model of support would enhance security, while the quality of 
support would not suffer from the change. Officials told us that U.S. 
officials, in general, are much safer living and working in the United 
State than at overseas posts. In addition, staff at both posts we 
visited said that the support the posts received from the Florida 
Regional Center was generally satisfactory and meeting post needs. One 
management officer said that the regional managers were highly 
experienced and competent in their functional areas, which led to a 
high level of quality support. 

Officials at the Florida Regional Center added that, in cases where a 
regional center is located within the United States, civil servants or 
retired employees could also be used as a cost-effective way of 
providing remote support, when feasible. Another potential advantage of 
assigning civil service or retired employees to provide remote support 
would be continuity, as they would not be required to transfer every 2 
to 3 years as foreign service officers do. 

Providing Support from an Overseas Regional Center: 

According to officials in Washington and overseas, potential advantages 
also could arise from providing support remotely from a regional 
service center overseas. For example, approximately 20 posts in Europe 
and Eurasia have requests in their Mission Performance Plans[Footnote 
21] for an American financial management officer at post, according to 
the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Financial Services. To 
eventually avoid assigning such new staff to posts overseas, State is 
piloting a project to determine whether it can remotely certify 
vouchers in Frankfurt by using scanned rather than original documents. 
Center officials said that there would be a savings in cost and space 
and gains in security at those posts where this concept of remote 
certification removes the need for an American financial management 
officer position overseas. For example, while some posts in Europe and 
Eurasia do not have facilities that meet security standards, the 
Regional Support Center in Frankfurt is located in a safe facility that 
meets security standards, including 100-foot setback between office 
facilities and uncontrolled areas, and controlled access at the 
perimeter of the compound. Also, officials said that posts could 
receive highly skilled and experienced financial oversight from the 
center. Officials acknowledged that it is costly to operate from the 
Frankfurt facility because of local wage rates and the cost of living 
allowance for U.S. staff. However, they believe that high operating 
costs would likely be outweighed by a combination of factors, including 
the potential efficiencies achieved at posts served by the regional 
facility and the eventual reduction in staff needed at posts overseas 
due to the remote support offered from Frankfurt. However, center 
officials said they had not performed cost analyses to demonstrate if 
servicing posts from Frankfurt was cost effective, and they agree that 
such analysis would be useful. 

Providing Support Using Non-American Staff Rather than Americans: 

State officials told us that using non-American staff to provide remote 
support offers several advantages. For example, State uses these staff 
in the Foreign Service National Executive Corps and Paris Rovers 
Programs. 

* The Foreign Service National Executive Corps, one method of providing 
remote support, is used by the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs 
to leverage in-house resources to benefit smaller missions throughout 
the world, according to officials at the Frankfurt center. Corps 
members are locally employed staff, from a variety of posts throughout 
the various regional bureaus, who are highly experienced in various 
administrative functions and can assist, train, and mentor staff at 
posts in areas such as facilities maintenance, financial management, 
general services (such as procurement), human resources, and 
information management. State officials told us that, by using the 
corps members to provide remote support, State has avoided the 
assignment of additional American officers overseas. 

* The Paris Rovers Program, another means of providing remote support 
by using non-American staff, is cost-efficient and effective, according 
to officials from the Bureau of African Affairs. The program operates 
with six locally employed staff--five of whom are based in Paris-- 
serving as financial management experts for about 44 posts in Africa, 
many of which either have first-tour financial management officers or 
no full-time American financial management officers. The rovers are 
experts in post budget needs and cashier problems and spend much of 
their time providing on-the-job training to staff at posts, as well as 
occasionally filling post staffing gaps. According to bureau officials, 
by educating first-tour officers in the use and management of 
appropriated funds and reviewing financial management reports, the 
Paris rovers provide needed financial management internal control 
oversight, which likely reduces financial losses to the bureau. 

In addition, bureau officials said they are committed to not sending an 
American to post when there is no need to do so, due to the security 
risk levels of many posts in Africa. Recently, several posts in Africa, 
including Bangui in the Central African Republic, have requested 
American financial management officers, according to an official from 
the Bureau for African Affairs. To avoid hiring a financial management 
officer for Bangui, the bureau added Embassy Bangui to the Paris Rovers 
Program. 

Although the bureau has not determined the full potential of the 
program, its initial data demonstrate that the operation is cost- 
effective. According to bureau officials, the total cost of the six 
employee rover program in 2005 was about $934,000, including employee 
salaries and travel costs. The Bureau of African Affairs prepared an 
estimate, at our request, of what it would cost to provide financial 
services without the Paris-based rover operation. The bureau estimated 
that it would have to spend over one million dollars to fund three 
additional U.S. officer positions and three part-time employees, 
slightly more than the cost of the Paris operation. Officials agreed 
that a more detailed cost analysis could demonstrate if the program is 
clearly cost-effective and therefore should be expanded to cover 
additional posts. 

In Addition to Advantages of Remote Support, Several Concerns Exist: 

Despite overall satisfaction with regional support, management officers 
and locally employed staff at the posts we visited mentioned a few 
issues of concern relating to the quality of remote support, including 
timeliness and the distribution of assistance. One management officer 
said that it once took 4 weeks for his regional financial management 
officer to respond to him on a certain issue, by which time the issue 
was no longer relevant. Another management officer agreed that posts 
are subject to regional officers' availability, and when an officer is 
not at a post, an issue may take too long to resolve. Officials at 
regional centers told us that the quality of partnering support was not 
as good as the service provided by a regional center. One management 
officer told us that an officer with regional responsibilities who is 
located at a post will likely prioritize the home post's issues over 
the needs of other supported posts. In addition, State's recent IG 
inspections found substandard regional support at smaller posts in 
Africa where partnering is used, and often recommended updating the 
memorandum of understanding to delineate regional support 
expectations.[Footnote 22] However, at the time of our review, State 
did not have performance data for remote support. An official from the 
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs told us that, absent 
performance measures and feedback tools to ensure costumer 
satisfaction, accountability, and adequate internal controls, customer 
service could decrease when a service provider is located outside of 
the post. 

In addition, an official from the Global Financial Services Center in 
Charleston and other officials overseas reported concerns that fewer on-
the-ground American management staff could increase internal control 
vulnerabilities. For example, some officials believe that there needs 
to be an American financial management officer at every overseas post 
to prevent fraud, waste, and mismanagement of funds. According to GAO's 
Internal Control Management Evaluation Tool,[Footnote 23] government 
agencies should formulate an approach for risk management and decide 
upon the internal control activities required to mitigate risks that 
could impede the efficient and effective achievement of objectives. The 
approach should be modified to fit the circumstances, conditions, and 
risks relevant to the situation of each agency and should also consider 
the type of mission being performed and the cost/benefit aspect of a 
particular control item. In this example, State would weigh the 
potential internal control risks of allowing non-American staff to 
certify vouchers and carry out other financial management activities 
against the costs of having an American at every post to carry out such 
functions. 

Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed: 

At the time of our review, State had not conducted analyses of the 
costs associated with providing administrative support at posts versus 
providing it remotely. In addition, State lacked systematic performance 
measures and feedback mechanisms to assess the quality of support 
provided. Further, officials whom we interviewed from several posts 
were not aware of the types of remote support that could be made 
available to them and said they would be more willing to use it if the 
cost and quality of available services was documented. 

Cost Analysis Would Be Useful in Determining Whether to Provide Support 
Remotely: 

At the time of our review, State had not conducted cost analyses to 
show potential cost efficiencies, such as those outlined in the 
examples described earlier, of providing support to overseas posts 
remotely. Officials we talked to in Washington, at the regional 
centers, and at some posts we visited said that cost analyses would be 
useful in deciding how to provide support remotely. For example, the 
Deputy Director of the Florida Regional Center told us that there had 
been no analysis on how much money has been saved by serving posts from 
the Florida center rather than having management officials at the 
posts, and he said that such a study would be useful, not only for the 
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, but also for other regional 
bureaus when they consider using regional centers to provide remote 
support. 

Cost analyses were not incorporated into State's 2006 operational plan 
for rightsizing.[Footnote 24] The plan recognizes that additional 
resources, such as facilities and staff, would be needed to implement 
the plan. However, it does not address any of the cost savings or 
efficiencies that could be achieved by providing remote support from 
regional centers or the United States and whether the savings would 
exceed the cost of additional resources. 

A cost analysis would include the various costs and alternatives 
associated with providing remote support through regional service 
centers in the United States or overseas. Such cost components would 
include the various direct and other personnel and support costs 
associated with providing support at a post. It would weigh these costs 
against costs required to facilitate remote support, such as travel 
expenses; costs for technology enhancements, such as improved bandwidth 
connectivity; costs for new or expanded facilities and other related 
expenses to accommodate increased staff at existing or new regional 
centers; costs for changes in local staffing or staffing in the United 
States; and other costs. 

Performance Measures and Feedback Mechanisms Needed: 

The concerns with remote support described earlier--particularly 
relating to quality of services--underscore what officials indicated at 
both regional centers and all four serviced posts that we visited, 
which is, that performance measures and customer feedback processes 
would be useful and beneficial in rating the current level of customer 
support and oversight.[Footnote 25] Officials also said that 
performance measures and customer feedback processes would be essential 
for making decisions about expanding remote support. Officials from 
State's Office of Rightsizing said that, before agreeing to any change, 
posts would first want proof that remote support provides the same 
level of customer service as support provided at posts. For example, 
the Executive Director of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs said that 
the bureau would be willing to use remote support from regional 
centers, such as the Regional Support Center in Frankfurt, if the cost 
was reasonable and the quality and reliability of service was 
demonstrated to be high. He said that, to convince decision-makers 
about the quality of remote support, all regional centers need to have 
standards of performance with metrics and data to demonstrate that 
offering services regionally or centrally, rather than at individual 
posts, results in adequate service and internal controls. An official 
from the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs said one performance 
metric could be the amount of time it takes for a voucher to be 
processed. One post management officer suggested that a performance 
measure, such as a required weekly telephone call to a serviced post by 
the regional officer, would be another way support could potentially be 
improved from the Florida center. 

State has recognized the need for performance measures and customer 
feedback mechanisms in its operational plan, but has not yet developed 
them. However, during our review, one regional bureau developed a 
customer service survey. Six months after our visit in June 2005, the 
Florida Regional Center sent customer satisfaction surveys to the posts 
it provides with regional financial management and human resources 
support. The survey asked management officers at posts to note the 
frequency and duration of visits by a regional officer to a post, as 
well as the frequency of communication between the officer and posts, 
and to rate the level of guidance and supervision provided by the 
officer to the local staff. At the time of our review, the Florida 
center had not yet completed an analysis of the results of the surveys; 
however, according to officials at the center, the respondents had 
favorable views of the center's services. 

Lack of Awareness of Remote Support Opportunities Limits Their Use: 

Various initiatives to provide support remotely are occurring within 
the multiple regional bureaus; however, how they are integrated and 
communicated at a Statewide level is not clear. Several management 
staff at the posts we visited and those we interviewed by telephone 
were not fully aware of all the services they could utilize from a 
remote location. For example, management officers stationed in Asia and 
Africa said they lack information on what types of support could be 
provided remotely and how to access that support. Some officials 
indicated that it would be helpful for them to know the full extent of 
remote support available, and whether it results in cost efficiencies 
and effective service, in order to make an informed decision about 
whether to utilize it. 

In addition, we found that regional centers were not always fully 
communicating the types of services and support available to posts, 
either within their region or across regional bureaus. The Executive 
Director of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs said he would consider 
using regional support from Frankfurt if he knew the full range of 
services that were offered there, the quality of customer service, and 
the potential costs of services. State officials at the Regional 
Support Center in Frankfurt agreed that while they do talk to post 
officials, particularly at management conferences, about the regional 
services that Frankfurt offers, they could do a more comprehensive job 
of documenting and marketing the full range of services and expertise 
provided by regional support center. 

State officials in Washington and overseas told us that communication 
is the key to ensuring that efforts to expand remote support are 
maximized, and that a dialogue has recently begun. In particular, the 
Office of Global Support Services and Innovation and the Office of 
Rightsizing have set up a Regional Initiatives Council to discuss 
ongoing efforts to provide remote support in each regional bureau. 
According to State officials, recent discussions at such meetings have 
centered on whether or not to set up consolidated administrative 
service centers, called Centers of Excellence, within the regional 
bureaus to provide certain management-related functions, such as human 
resources or travel administration, for posts around the world. For 
example, a dialogue already has begun regarding how to use existing 
resources to provide additional remote support from Bangkok for posts 
in East Asia and the Pacific. 

Conclusions: 

By providing administrative support remotely, State has the potential 
to reduce costs and improve customer service. However, State has not 
conducted cost analyses nor established systematic performance measures 
and feedback mechanisms to demonstrate the full potential of providing 
support remotely. Without data depicting the range of implications-- 
relating to cost, efficiency, security, and quality of services-- 
involved with providing and receiving support remotely, decision-makers 
lack the tools to make informed decisions about investing staff and 
resources at individual posts or at regional centers overseas and in 
the United States. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

As State moves forward with its plan for expanding remote support and 
attempts to overcome institutional resistance to this process, it would 
be useful to concurrently assess and promote the potential full 
advantages in providing embassy support from remote locations, 
including potential cost reductions, improved services, or enhanced 
security for foreign service officers. Therefore, we recommend that the 
Secretary of State take the following three actions: 

* Identify and analyze the various costs associated with providing 
support at individual posts versus at regional service centers in the 
United States or overseas; 

* Develop systematic performance measures and feedback mechanisms to 
measure the quality and customer satisfaction of support services 
provided remotely; and: 

* Use the cost analyses and feedback on quality and customer 
satisfaction to: 

- inform post management of which services could be offered remotely, 
the various costs involved, and the quality of services offered; 

- consider ways to improve the quality of remote support, when 
necessary; and: 

- determine whether additional posts, including posts that are 
requesting new U.S. officer positions in management functions, might be 
logical candidates for receiving remote support. 

We also encourage State to continue reviewing challenges to providing 
support remotely and finding ways to overcome them. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Department of State for 
comment. State's comments, along with our responses to them, can be 
found in appendix II. 

State generally concurred with the report's substance and findings and 
indicated that it is taking steps to implement all of our 
recommendations. State agreed that a more systematic and rigorous 
costing model would be beneficial in determining whether or not 
providing support from regional centers is cost-effective. State also 
agreed that systematic performance measures and feedback mechanisms are 
needed to measure the quality of and satisfaction with remote support, 
and State plans to strengthen its efforts in this area as part of its 
plans for providing support remotely. State added that the Office of 
Rightsizing would coordinate the development of a customer-focused 
service standard for regional centers. Lastly, State said that it plans 
to use more consistent and accurate data in making decisions to improve 
its remote support services. 

The department also provided a number of technical comments, which have 
been incorporated throughout the report, where appropriate. 

As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days 
from the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this 
report to other interested Members of Congress, the Library of 
Congress, and the Secretary of State. We will also make copies 
available to others upon request. In addition, this report will be 
available at no charge on the GAO Web site at [Hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact Jess Ford at (202) 512-4268. Other GAO contacts and staff 
acknowledgments are listed in appendix III. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

Jess T. Ford: 
Director, International Affairs and Trade: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To describe the Department of State's (State) progress in providing 
administrative support from remote locations, we reviewed documents 
from the Office of Rightsizing and the Office of Global Support 
Services and Innovation, including its operational plan for rightsizing 
and regionalization. We spoke with officials at State's various 
regional and functional bureaus in Washington, D.C., to discuss the 
efforts each bureau has taken to provide administrative support to 
overseas posts, whether from regional service centers overseas, from 
the United States, or from other posts through partnering. To assess 
regional support provided from the United States to overseas posts, we 
met with senior management and regional staff at the Florida Regional 
Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the Global Financial Services 
Center in Charleston, South Carolina. We also met with senior 
management, regional staff, and locally employed staff at the overseas 
Regional Support Center in Frankfurt, Germany, to review remote support 
provided from an overseas regional service center. We focused our 
efforts on evaluating the various ways in which financial and personnel 
support are provided by the various regional bureaus. We did not 
perform an evaluative audit of the regional support provided by 
functional bureaus, consular affairs, or the Model for Overseas 
Management initiative because those operations either have been 
recently inspected by the Office of the Inspector General or did not 
fit into the scope of our work. 

To assess some of the regulatory challenges that State faces in 
expanding regional support, we reviewed foreign affairs regulations for 
carrying out administrative functions overseas. This included a review 
of regulations on what functions locally employed staff can carry out 
in the areas of procurement and payments. We also reviewed the 
regulations pertaining to the use of original documentation in 
processing payments and State's proposal to waive that regulation. 

To identify the potential advantages of providing support remotely, we 
met with ambassadors, deputy chiefs of mission, management officers, 
and other U.S. embassy staff, including locally employed staff at 
various posts that receive remote support from either the Florida 
Regional Center or the Frankfurt Regional Support Center. We chose 
Belize City, Belize, because it is a small post supported by the 
Florida center and Nassau, Bahamas, because it is the largest post 
supported by the center, pertaining to the number of staff and size of 
budget, according to an official at the Florida center. We chose 
Valetta, Malta, because it is a small post support by the Frankfurt 
center, and it recently conducted a rightsizing review, which addressed 
remote support issues. We chose Helsinki, Finland, because it 
represents a medium-sized post supported by the Frankfurt center and 
because it was originally the post chosen for the pilot project to 
certify vouchers remotely, according to officials in the Bureau of 
European and Eurasian Affairs. We also visited Mexico City to talk to 
embassy officials about how the U.S. mission to Mexico has been 
rightsized and how the embassy provides support to consulates 
throughout the country. Lastly, in order to explore the advantages of 
using locally employed staff in providing remote support, we met with 
officials in Paris, France, to discuss the financial support that 
locally employed staff provides to posts in Africa. Because our 
interviews were limited to only a few posts that received regional 
support, we did not generalize the results of our interviews to the 
universe of posts receiving regional support. We reviewed the post 
profiles of the four posts we visited to demonstrate the staffing and 
other characteristics of posts currently using regional support and 
verified the data with the post management officers. 

We also reviewed cost data from the Bureau of Resource Management and 
the various regional bureaus to estimate the average cost of placing 
one foreign service officer at an overseas post, including personnel 
and support costs, and costs that apply only to officers located 
overseas. For reporting purposes, we rounded the bureau's estimate of 
$393,000 to $400,000 for the cost of an American officer overseas. We 
conducted (1) a data reliability assessment of the data using sample 
cost data from the posts we visited; (2) interviews with officials from 
the regional bureaus and the Bureau of Resource Management; and (3) 
discussions with the Office of Rightsizing at State and the Office of 
Management and Budget, and we determined the data to be sufficiently 
reliable for the purposes of this engagement. 

In addition, we developed a structured interview instrument and 
conducted telephone interviews with management staff at overseas posts 
that have recently conducted a rightsizing report, which is required by 
Congress.[Footnote 26] We administered structured interviews between 
February and March 2006 by telephone. We primarily spoke with 
management counselors or management officers at overseas posts. In one 
case, we spoke with a deputy chief of mission at the post. We conducted 
interviews with 20 of 22 posts that were tasked to complete the 
rightsizing review in the fall 2005 cycle: Asuncion, Baku, Bandar Seri 
Begawan, Bucharest, Bujumbura, Colombo, Harare, Jakarta, Karachi, Kiev, 
Krakow, Maputo, N'djamena, Pretoria, Reykjavik, Rome, Santo Domingo, 
St. Petersburg, Taipei, and Tunis. 

The structured interview contained open-and closed-ended questions 
about guidance, timing, the review process, rightsizing considerations, 
headquarters' involvement and feedback, and the impact of the review on 
the post. The interview instrument included questions regarding whether 
or not post management staff were both aware of and using regional 
support services. We developed the interview questions based on our 
review of rightsizing documentation and discussions with post officials 
during field work in Mexico City and Valletta. We provided an early 
version of the questions to State's Office of Rightsizing and Office of 
Global Support Services and Innovation for their review and comment, 
and we also pretested the interview with three current management 
officers to ensure that the questions were clear and could be answered. 
We modified the interview questions on the basis of the pretest results 
and an internal expert technical review. We provided the management 
officers and deputy chief of mission with the interview questions in 
advance to allow them time to gather any data or information necessary 
for the interview. We also conducted follow-up discussions with posts 
as needed. The responses of the structured interviews are not intended 
to be representative of all posts. 

We performed our work from June 2005 until April 2006 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of State: 

United States Department of State: 
Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer: 
Washington, D.C. 20520: 

Ms. Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers: 
Managing Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 
Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N. W. 
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001: 

April 13, 2006: 

Dear Ms. Williams-Bridgers: 

We appreciate the opportunity to review your draft report, "OVERSEAS 
PRESENCE: Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed to 
Demonstrate the Full Potential of Providing Embassy Support Remotely," 
GAO Job Code 320409. 

The enclosed Department of State comments are provided for 
incorporation with this letter as an appendix to the final report. 

If you have any questions concerning this response, please contact 
Patrick Truhn, Director, Office of Management and Rightsizing, at (202) 
647-6518. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Bradford R. Higgins: 

cc: GAO--Andrea Miller: 
M--Henrietta Fore: 
State/OIG--Mark Duda: 

Department of State Comments on GAO Draft Report OVERSEAS PRESENCE: 
Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed to Demonstrate the 
Full Potential of Providing Embassy Support Remotely: 

(GAO-06-479, GAO Code 320409): 

Thank you for allowing the Department of State the opportunity to 
comment on the draft report "Overseas Presence," which addresses the 
need for cost analyses and performance measures for providing remote 
support to embassies. 

We appreciate the contribution this study makes, coming as it does in 
connection with a series of reports on efforts the Department is 
undertaking to modernize its overseas staffing and staffing support. 
The report recognizes the efforts the Department has made to date and 
confirms that the Department is on the right track. 

The Department agrees with the recommendation to "identify and analyze 
the various costs associated with providing support at individual posts 
versus at regional service centers in the United States or overseas." 
Some of this work has already been done, which is why several bureaus 
have found it cost-effective to create regional centers. However, the 
Department agrees that a more systematic and rigorous costing model 
would be beneficial for a number of reasons. It is in the Department's 
overall strategy to undertake this effort, if for no other reason than 
that it will be a prerequisite for the inclusion of these services in 
ICASS (International Cooperative Administrative Support Services.) 

The Department is also actively involved in working with the Agency for 
International Development to harmonize our regional support platforms, 
adopt best practices from both organizations, reduce or eliminate 
duplicative services, and improve quality. 

With respect to the recommendation to "develop systematic performance 
measures and feedback mechanisms to measure the quality and customer 
satisfaction of support services provided remotely," the Department 
already has mechanisms in place to take these measurements. The 2005 
study conducted by the Department on the Special Embassy Program (SEP 
has since been discontinued) examined the quality of remotely provided 
services. The Florida Regional Center (FRC) has also recently done a 
customer satisfaction survey of its serviced posts, in order to 
benchmark quality. As a last example, the WASS Service Center conducts 
an annual survey of customer satisfaction that informs and focuses our 
efforts. This tool includes customer reactions to locally--as well as 
regionally-provided services, although the feedback was not 
specifically analyzed along those axes. The survey of last year showed 
that all services provided were at a satisfactory level. However, the 
Department identified the lowest ranked service, procurement, and 
instituted a program to improve that service from a global, regional 
and local delivery perspective. The Department's implementation plan 
for regional services includes a strong Quality Management System 
component, which will provide the necessary customer service feedback 
to the continuing efforts. The Department agrees with GAO that 
strengthening its efforts in this area is important and is central to 
its planning for success in this endeavor. 

With respect to the subsequent recommendation: 

"Use the cost analyses and feedback on quality and customer 
satisfaction to: 

* Inform post management of which services could be offered remotely, 
the various costs involved, and the quality of services offered. 

* Consider ways to improve the quality of remote support, when 
necessary. 

* Determine whether additional posts, including posts that are 
requesting new U.S. officer positions in management function, might be 
logical candidates for receiving remote support." 

As we stated at the outset, while the Department agrees with GAO 
generally, the Department observes that it has been successfully 
involved in these efforts for decades. The methodology and analysis in 
the report is incomplete without addressing support services that are 
provided to the smallest Embassies and Consulates. The Department 
already remotely supports (e.g. Human Resources, accounting, budgeting, 
vouchering) almost all Consulates, some of which are larger than some 
Embassies. For example - one Financial Management Center in Mexico 
supports nine consulates without Financial Management Officers. There 
are inefficiencies, but remote support in the Department of State is 
neither hypothetical, prospective nor ineffective. Yet, State has had a 
difficult time scaling that support model to larger embassies. The 
Department's plan to use more consistent and accurate data in this 
regard, as GAO recommends, will improve our delivery of these services. 

The Department's Undersecretary for Management has encouraged and 
empowered the Regional Bureaus to innovate and try a variety of methods 
to provide remote support in order to assist posts, which themselves 
have widely varying abilities and requirements. The Regional Bureaus 
are now determining which techniques and methods work best, and as they 
find out, are looking for ways to expand those capabilities and 
programs to include additional posts. Partnering with the "M Family" 
offices, the Regionals have established a Regional Initiatives Council 
to discuss and vet these initiatives, and those members meet routinely 
with the Undersecretary for Management. 

Because these programs are first steps to use newly expanded or 
available bandwidth and other capabilities, it isn't surprising that 
all posts aren't aware of all developments, or that performance 
measures are still being devised to determine their costs and benefits. 
Based on the initial findings, Bureaus expect to see savings and 
improvements in the quality of services at post as these programs 
mature. 

In an effort to coordinate better the level and delivery of regional 
support, personnel from the officially designated regional support 
centers in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Frankfurt, Germany, as well as 
Embassy Bangkok, which has increasingly assumed the role of a de facto 
regional service provider, are meeting in April in Frankfurt. At the 
request of one of the regional centers, the Office of Rightsizing will 
also be coordinating development of a customer-focused service standard 
for regional centers. 

Once again, we appreciate the opportunity to comment on the draft 
provided to us.  

The following are GAO's comments on the Department of State's letter 
dated April 13, 2006. 

GAO Comments: 

1. We are conducting a separate review of the consolidation of State 
and USAID support activities at overseas posts. We plan to issue a 
report on our findings later in 2006. 

2. We recognized the efforts of the Florida Regional Center to measure 
customer service satisfaction with a survey and state this in our final 
report. We also acknowledged that State has recognized the need for 
performance measures and customer feedback mechanisms in its 
operational plan but has not yet developed them. We encourage State to 
develop performance measures and customer feedback mechanisms in its 
operational plan for all posts providing and receiving remote support, 
and not only for selected posts, such as those that receive support 
from the Florida Regional Center. We encourage State to use tools such 
as the ICASS Service Center annual survey to compare local support with 
remote support and identify areas where remote support could be 
improved. 

3. We agree that the support the embassy in Mexico City provides to 
nine consulates throughout Mexico is a good example of providing 
support remotely, and we added this example in our final report. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

John Brummet (202) 512-5260: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the person named above, Joseph Carney, Lyric Clark, 
Martin De Alteriis, Ernie Jackson, Andrea Miller, Deborah Owolabi, José 
M. Peña III, and Michelle Richman made key contributions to this 
report. 

(320409): 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Office of Management and Budget, President's Management Agenda, 
Fiscal Year 2002 (Washington, D.C.: August 2001). The President's 
Management Agenda is a set of management initiatives designed to make 
government more citizen-centered, effective, and efficient. Rightsizing 
is a concept that refers to having the right amount of staff at 
overseas posts with the necessary resources and expertise to accomplish 
U.S. policy objectives. 

[2] These reviews include, Department of State, America's Overseas 
Presence in the 21ST Century, the Report of the Overseas Presence 
Advisory Panel (Washington, D.C.: November 1999) and Department of 
State, Report of the Accountability Review Boards: Bombings of the U.S. 
Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Washington, 
D.C.: January 1999). 

[3] We have defined rightsizing as aligning the number and location of 
staff assigned overseas with foreign policy priorities and security and 
other constraints. It may result in the addition or reduction of staff, 
or a change in the mix of staff at a given embassy or consulate 
overseas. A number of our reports have focused on rightsizing and 
include GAO, Overseas Presence: More Work Needed on Embassy 
Rightsizing, GAO-02-143 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 27, 2001); GAO, 
Overseas Presence: Framework for Assessing Embassy Staff Levels Can 
Support Rightsizing Initiatives, GAO-02-780 (Washington, D.C.: July 26, 
2002); and GAO, Overseas Presence: Rightsizing Framework Can Be Applied 
at U.S. Diplomatic Posts in Developing Countries, GAO-03-396 
(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 7, 2003). 

[4] Providing administrative support to overseas posts by consolidating 
and centralizing service delivery within a geographic area through 
regional service centers is also referred to as regionalization. 

[5] In the fiscal year 2004 appropriations act (P.L. 108-199), Congress 
mandated the establishment of an Office on Rightsizing the U.S. 
Government Overseas Presence to be established within the Department of 
State. The office was directed to lead State's effort to develop 
internal and interagency mechanisms to better coordinate, rationalize, 
and manage the deployment of U.S. government personnel overseas, under 
Chief of Mission authority. 

[6] State has six regional bureaus, each of which is responsible for 
working with posts in a specific geographic region of the world. 
State's regional bureaus include the Bureaus of African Affairs, East 
Asian and Pacific Affairs, European and Eurasian Affairs, Near Eastern 
Affairs, South and Central Asian Affairs, and Western Hemisphere 
Affairs. 

[7] Locally employed staff includes any staff hired by the embassy on 
the host country's local economy. Foreign service nationals are 
considered locally employed staff. 

[8] A financial management officer acts as a certifying officer for 
U.S. government agencies and provides a full range of financial 
services, including development of budgets and financial plans, control 
of obligations and expenditures, and preparation and audit of payment 
vouchers. A human resources officer supervises post human resources 
staff and ensures effective post operations in several functions, 
including labor relations, recruitment and staffing, compensation and 
benefits, performance management and appraisal, training, policy 
development, job classification, and career counseling. 

[9] Nonlocation-specific functions are management functions that can be 
performed from a regional center or at a central location within the 
United States rather than at an overseas post. 

[10] A management officer in small overseas posts may be designated 
with a wider variety of responsibilities than a management officer at a 
larger post. For example, the management officer in Belize City is 
partially responsible for the post's budget and fiscal, consular, human 
resources, medical, and other services. 

[11] In addition, State created the Model for Overseas Management 
Support within the Bureau of Administration to ease the burden of 
administrative support on overseas posts in dangerous environments. The 
model was initially designed to meet the challenges of supporting the 
numerous demands for establishing and maintaining support services to 
Embassy Baghdad, and State plans to expand the model concept to other 
dangerous posts in the Middle East. 

[12] Department of State, Organizing for Transformation Diplomacy: 
Rightsizing and Regionalization FY 2006 Operational Plan (Washington, 
D.C.: Oct. 6, 2005). 

[13] State Department has identified Afghanistan, Burundi, Haiti, 
Liberia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan as the most critical danger 
posts that will be initially affected by State's operational plan 
focusing on nonlocation-specific functions. However, plans for 
operations in Iraq, also considered a critical danger post, are 
proceeding separately. 

[14] Department of State, Memorandum Report, Rightsizing the U.S. 
Government Presence Overseas: A Progress Report, (ISP-I-06-11, 
Washington, D.C.: December 2005). 

[15] 4 FAH-3 H-065.2-2. 

[16] Department of State Acquisition Regulation at 601.603-3 (c) 
provides that only U.S. government direct-hire employees who are U.S. 
citizens shall be appointed as contracting officers. The regulation 
specifically provides that personal services contractors, foreign 
service nationals, and third country nationals are not eligible for 
appointment as State contracting officers. See 6 Foreign Affairs 
Manual, appendix E. 

[17] 4 FAH-3 H-422.6 requires that payment be made on original invoices 
only. 

[18] Quarterly Report by the Office of Rightsizing the U.S. Government 
Presence Overseas (2005/III). 

[19] ISP-I-06-11, December 2005. 

[20] ICASS was implemented in 1998 and is a shared administrative 
support system through which government entities at overseas posts 
obtain and share costs of essential services. ICASS is governed by a 14-
member board, composed of assistant-secretary level representatives of 
the largest customer U.S. government agencies. 

[21] A Mission Performance Plan is one of State's planning tools. These 
plans require, among other things, every chief of mission to outline 
current rightsizing objectives and accomplishments, including plans to 
use regionalized services and programs when practicable. 

[22] State OIG Memorandum Report, "Rightsizing the U.S. Government 
Presence Overseas: A Progress Report." (ISP-I-06-11, December 2005). 

[23] GAO, Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, GAO-01-1008G 
(Washington, D.C.: August 2001). 

[24] The Office of Rightsizing commissioned a consulting firm to study 
remote support efforts. RGS Associates, Inc., conducted a review of 
State's efforts to provide support remotely and indicated the need for 
more efficient and standardized remote support efforts. The study 
included cost analyses and recommended the standardization of remote 
support efforts based on a corporate model, according to officials from 
that office. However, an official from the office told us the study was 
met with resistance by State officials because it was a business model 
and did not reflect an accurate depiction of State operations. 

[25] At the time of our visits to the centers, the Florida Regional 
Center and the Regional Support Center in Frankfurt measured customer 
service informally using mechanisms such as trip reports and post 
management input into the regional manager's employment reviews. In 
addition, regional bureaus that use partnering had only informal 
mechanisms to show whether or not the support provided to serviced 
posts was satisfactory, according to officials. 

[26] The Office of Rightsizing is expected by Congress to oversee the 
process by which Chiefs of Mission conduct 5-year reviews on the 
staffing of their missions. 

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