GAO discussed the Department of State's management of its overseas
embassies, focusing on existing problems and the status of
corrective actions. GAO noted that: (1) some embassies are not
implementing recommended procedures for optimizing maintenance
resources and most embassies have not prepared annual inspection
summary reports; (2) embassies are not fully meeting overseas
housing standards; (3) significant personal property management
deficiencies continue at many embassies despite some improvement;
(4) State continues to have weak internal controls over cashiering,
travel advances, accounts receivable, and recoverable medical
payments; (5) State's financial management systems are inadequate
and corrective actions will not be fully implemented until 1999;
(6) embassies rely on and use their own unofficial financial data
which have different formats and methodologies due to financial
system weaknesses; (7) State's overseas contracting and procurement
system continues to have internal control weaknesses although State
has made progress in improving its overseas procurement practices;
(8) overseas embassies do not consistently follow State security
standards for unclassified automated information systems; (9) staff
responsible for key administrative functions have not received
necessary training; (10) staffing gaps in management positions have
reduced the embassies' ability to exercise controls; and (11) some
embassies have planned or taken steps to improve its personal
property management, but each embassy needs to adopt a formal
management improvement program.
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