Report examines embassy management

A January 2012 report released by the Government Accountability Office examines current administrative service costs incurred by the State Department’s overseas embassies. The report, GAO-12-317, appraised the cost of support services, including building maintenance and vehicle operations, necessary for the 250+ diplomatic and consular posts located overseas. The report also assessed changes to the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS), an interagency system for distributing the cost of administrative services overseas, and whether those changes had eliminated duplication of support services.

The report addressed two issues: (1) how changes in ICASS participation have affected the duplication and cost of support services; and (2) customer satisfaction with the quality of ICASS services.

The report concludes that the State Department and other agencies continue to provide potentially duplicative administrative services despite increases in ICASS participation. Also, while the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reduced duplicative administrative operations by increasing its participation in ICASS, many agencies opted out of ICASS. Many of these agencies believed that they could reduce costs by procuring services on their own, but in fact the opposite was true. GAO-12-317 suggests that Congress consider requiring agencies to participate in ICASS, only allowing agencies to opt out if the agency is able to show that they can obtain the necessary services outside of ICASS without increasing the overall cost.

For more information about GAO-12-317, please follow the link below.
GAO-12-317, Embassy Management: State Department and Other Agencies Should Further Explore Opportunities to Save Administrative Costs Overseas

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