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Highlights

Following the 1998 embassy bombings, the Department of State (State) determined that more than 85 percent of diplomatic facilities did not meet security standards and were vulnerable to terrorist attacks. State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has undertaken a program to replace or upgrade the security of these facilities. As of 2007, OBO had constructed more than 50 new embassies and moved nearly 15,000 staff to safer facilities. However, most remaining facilities will not be replaced in the near term. To address these facilities, OBO has obligated about $140 million per year for its Compound Security Upgrade Program (CSUP). GAO was asked to (1) describe the process that OBO follows to prioritize and plan CSUP projects, including stakeholder involvement; (2) determine the extent to which CSUP projects met contracted cost and time frames and whether OBO has procedures to ensure security upgrades are installed; and (3) assess whether State's CSUP efforts have enhanced posts' abilities to comply with State's physical security standards. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed pertinent State documents, met with State officials in Washington, D.C., and overseas, and traveled to 11 posts in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. State provided written comments on a draft of this report and agreed with our findings.

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