Management and Control of Personal Property Is Poor and Procurement Controls Should Be Strengthened at U.S. Embassies in Latin America

ID-80-23: Published: Feb 11, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 1980.

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Earlier GAO reports identified problems in the management of nonexpendable personal property at U.S. embassies overseas. A review of current administrative practices was performed at three U.S. embassies and one U.S. consulate.

Although the State Department's Inspector General had reported deficiencies as recently as 1977, GAO found that management of personal property remained unsatisfactory. Excess property and the potential for loss of property existed at all four locations visited. It was also found that officials did not follow procurement regulations and prudent management practices to the degree necessary to protect the best interests of the United States. Key personnel with whom GAO discussed these administrative deficiencies cited several contributing factors: (1) the need for more comprehensive training for administrative personnel; (2) frequent turnover of personnel under the State Department's rotation program which inhibits problem-solving and needed continuity; (3) personnel reductions which have encouraged the use of personal service contracts and, in some cases, prevented adequate separation of duties; and (4) conditions peculiar to overseas locations such as language barriers and shortage of qualified contractors and adequate supply sources which often prevent strict compliance.

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