State Department:

Actions Needed to Improve Embassy Management

NSIAD-96-1: Published: Mar 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1996.

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Benjamin F. Nelson
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of State's efforts to improve the management of its embassies, focusing on whether State has responded to previous recommendations concerning embassy management.

GAO found that: (1) State has not responded to the recommendation that it establish proactive management improvement programs at its overseas posts because it believes that its approach of targeting specific areas for improvement is more appropriate and achieves comparable longterm results; (2) State has initiated action on some congressional recommendations to improve its embassy management, but deficiencies continue in controls over personal property, training for U.S. and foreign service personnel, contracting and procurement practices, controls over cashiering functions and medical insurance reimbursements, and senior-level oversight; (3) the embassies in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Tunisia have initiated management practices, such as tracking accounts receivable, automating travel vouchers, strengthening internal controls, improving regulation compliance, reducing costs, and enhancing efficiency and effectiveness; and (4) embassy senior managers participate in the day to day operations of their posts and use existing reporting requirements to document administrative problems and decide on appropriate corrective actions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Rather than test management improvements at 50 posts, State has chosen to address deficiencies across the board, relying on the improvement of senior embassy management using the Mission Program Plan (MPP) as a guiding tool. Since GAO endorsed MPP as a way to institutionalize management improvement efforts, and State has made utilization of this tool a high priority, GAO has closed this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should expand operational improvements to a minimum of 50 other embassies on a test basis to help improve operations. If the test demonstrates the applicability of these improvements in a variety of posts, the practices should be further expanded until the maximum benefits are achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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