State Department:

Overseas Staffing Process Not Linked to Policy Priorities

NSIAD-94-228: Published: Sep 20, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 1994.

Additional Materials:


Benjamin F. Nelson
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of State's staffing at overseas posts, focusing on: (1) the process used by State to determine how many of its U.S. diplomatic personnel are needed at each location; (2) State's efforts to improve this process; and (3) the process State used to identify the 17 posts closed in 1993 and 1994.

GAO found that: (1) State does not use an objective, quantifiable methodology based on U.S. foreign policy priorities for determining the number of personnel needed at overseas posts; (2) using a rank ordering of posts could ensure that lower-ranked posts do not have more staff than needed; (3) senior State officials have acknowledged that the personnel management and allocation process does not adequately link personnel resources with policy priorities; (4) State officials are working to develop a resource management strategy to meet priority goals; (5) since 1991, State has been developing a methodology to establish staffing level benchmarks for individual countries based on their importance to U.S. interests; and (6) State did not base its post closure decisions on agencywide policy priorities, but rather on geographic bureau objectives and priorities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State completed its staffing model and used it in fiscal year (FY) 1999 to request 40 new overseas positions. In FY 2000, overseas posts will be required to use the staffing model in the mission program planning process to link resources to performance goals.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should fully integrate an objective, quantifiable staffing methodology into State's overseas budgeting and staffing processes to help ensure a sound basis for allocating personnel resources in line with U.S. interests overseas. A revised version of the baseline staffing methodology, which State has been developing for the past 4 years, could be used.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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