Embassy Security:

State Department Efforts To Improve Security Overseas

NSIAD-86-133: Published: Jun 12, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 1986.

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Joan M. McCabe
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed several issues relating to the Department of State's Emergency Security Supplemental funds, State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the need for additional security standards.

GAO found that: (1) since the Beirut embassy bombing in 1984, State has used its Emergency Security Supplemental funds to improve security at its overseas facilities; (2) to complete the security projects and improvements, State will need more funds than it originally estimated; (3) although State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security centralizes security matters, a number of problems and disputes remain to be resolved between State, overseas posts, and other agencies; and (4) security levels differ from one overseas post to another because State has not established standards for interim security measures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State reassessed costs to construct perimeter security improvements and provided monthly status reports on the use of the FY 1985 supplement. State developed a breakout of recurring costs for noncapital security projects for FY 1988 and hired a contractor for design/construction cost verification of security projects on April 17, 1987. The implementation of these procedures is under GAO review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that more realistic cost estimates for security and construction projects are prepared and that recurring costs for staffing and maintaining projects initially funded by security supplementals are made known to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State charted an Overseas Policy Group to develop uniform policies among overseas agencies for security. However, implementing policies is the responsibility of each agency. GAO believes that this is inadequate, yet the development of standards should reduce the frequency of disagreements. State continues to develop standards, but it does not intend to establish a mechanism to resolve disputes.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should establish a mechanism to ensure that differences concerning security requirements within the Department or between the Department and other agencies are resolved quickly.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The security handbook addressing security requirements by threat category and interim measures has been printed and is scheduled for distribution. A contract guards manual was distributed in February 1987, and a residential security manual will be distributed in June 1987.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should develop standards covering: (1) minimum physical and procedural security requirements for posts in each threat category, (2) interim security measures, and (3) hiring, training, and supervision of contract guards.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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