State Department to expand use of overseas workforce planning tool

The State Department will expand its use of a year-old framework to determine appropriate staff levels at embassies around the world, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

Officials from the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget generally agreed that all embassies, including smaller ones in developing countries, would benefit from using a "rightsizing" tool designed last year by GAO to assess how many employees are needed at certain posts. GAO's framework includes questions for embassy officials on physical and technical security at their facilities, mission priorities and costs of operations.

"The GAO rightsizing questions provide a good foundation for State to proceed to work with OMB and other agencies to improve the process for determining overseas staffing levels," said the State Department's written response to GAO's report.

The State Department launched its overseas rightsizing effort after the 1998 terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Determining the proper deployment of federal employees overseas is also one of 10 issue-area initiatives in President Bush's management agenda.

When GAO proposed its personnel assessment framework for U.S. posts abroad in July 2002, officials from the State Department and OMB doubted whether the framework could be applied uniformly at all overseas posts. GAO developed its methodology based on a study of the U.S. embassy in Paris.

In the new report (GAO-03-396), GAO looked at three embassies in West Africa to determine whether the framework would be useful to officials working at smaller posts in countries with varying political and economic circumstances. According to GAO, the specific questions on security, mission priorities and administrative costs helped officials at the facilities included in the study identify vulnerabilities and determine how many employees would be necessary to strengthen key weaknesses.

For example, the report said "significant" limitations on building security and office space at the embassy in Dakar, Senegal would likely limit the number of employees who could be posted there.

State Department officials said the most important criterion in evaluating overseas posts is the overall foreign policy mission of the United States. "The first question that must be answered before all others is whether the United States has a compelling reason to be in a particular location," said State's written response to GAO.

The State Department also said its own overseas staffing model, completed in 1996, provides an "objective, flexible tool to measure what resources are needed to meet the president's and the secretary's foreign policy priorities and objectives."

OMB suggested that agencies with employees overseas also consider workload requirements, information technology options and competitive sourcing opportunities when assessing staffing levels.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.