State Department:

Efforts Under Way to Enhance Management of Overseas Real Property

NSIAD-91-277: Published: Sep 5, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the State Department's actions to address long-standing management and accountability problems with overseas real property.

GAO found that: (1) although until May 1991, area managers were expected to visit all posts at least once a year, available information indicated that managers had not visited 15 percent of the posts in the last 3 years and visited 37 percent only once; (2) area managers were reluctant to monitor post activities, since they did not want to give the impression they did not trust post management and they had not been trained to perform monitoring activities; (3) as a result of insufficient oversight, posts took real estate actions without Office of Foreign Buildings Operations (FBO) knowledge or approval; (4) although FBO has enhanced its automated information systems used to monitor real estate programs at overseas posts, it will still be unable to determine the total costs associated with its properties and the feasibility of retaining them; (5) FBO has not adequately linked current programs with State's long-range foreign policy plans through comprehensive master planning; and (6) State initiatives to improve program management and oversight of overseas property include enhancing maintenance assistance to posts, requiring yearly maintenance inspections, and establishing oversight and planning policies.