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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of State

GAO-20-485PR Published: Apr 13, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 2020.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 12 priority open recommendations for the Department of State as of April 2020.

For example, in August 2019, we recommended that State identify worthwhile unimplemented reform projects and establish a dedicated management team to implement them.

Since our previous letter in April 2019, State implemented 11 of our priority recommendations.

Priority recommendation graphic for State Department

Priority recommendation graphic for State Department

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 18 priority recommendations for the Department of State (State). Since then, State has implemented 11 of those recommendations by, among other things, developing new security procedures and guidance to improve the security and safety of diplomatic personnel and facilities overseas, and by addressing data quality concerns to improve reporting capabilities.

In April 2020, GAO identified five additional priority recommendations for State, bringing the total number to 12. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • Improving cybersecurity

  • Implementing agency reform efforts

  • Complying with Congressional reporting requirements

State's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Jason Bair at (202) 512-6881 or

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