Management Challenges

FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Report
Bureau of Resource Management
December 2003

The General Accounting Office and the Department's Office of Inspector General have identified several "management challenges" that represent areas where the Department must improve operations. The table below summarizes, by strategic goal, each of the challenges, their corresponding findings, recommendations, actions being taken and expected results.

Challenge Visa Processing and Border Security
  • Since 9/11, the Department has introduced changes to strengthen the visa process, but there continues to be a divergence of opinions concerning visa policies and procedures that are appropriate given the need for heightened border security. (GAO-03-132NI)
  • The USG has no specific written policy on the use of visa revocations as an antiterrorism tool and no written procedures to guide State in notifying the relevant agencies of visa revocations on terrorism grounds. (GAO Report 03-798)
  • Appropriate units within INS and the FBI do not always receive notifications of all the revocations. (GAO Report 03-798)
  • Names were not consistently posted to the agencies' watch lists of suspected terrorists. (GAO Report 03-798)
  • Consular Affairs still has shortcomings that include: Lack of uniformity in visa processing, lack of a planning staff to develop options for consular input into border security initiatives and directions. (ISP-I-03-26)
  • Develop a clear policy on the priority attached to addressing national security concerns connected with the visa process; develop more comprehensive guidance on how posts should use the visa process to screen against potential terrorists; assess staffing requirements for visa operations; and expand consular training. (GAO-03-132NI)
  • Ensure that appropriate units within INS and the FBI receive notification of visa revocations. (ISP-I-03-26)
  • Visa process must be considered as part of a larger process of admitting and tracking visa recipients. (ISP-I-03-26)
  • Department must re-think its approach to issuing visas and devote the needed human and financial resources. (ISP-I-03-26)
Actions Being Taken
  • Issued a "visa roadmap" outlining new visa priorities and policies. Issued over 40 standard operating procedures to ensure that consular officers abroad properly review visa applications, effectively fulfill their critical national security responsibilities, and have a step-by-step, unambiguous guide for all procedures. Added staff, including a Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, and expanded consular training. (GAO-03-132NI and ISP-I-03-26)
  • Visa revocation problems were fixed. Written instructions provided in the Foreign Affairs Manual. Notice of visa revocation is provided to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Visa revocation lookout code is shared between DOS and DHS lookout systems. (GAO Report 03-798)
  • Added staff, including a Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, in the Visa Office and established 39 new overseas positions funded by visa fees and 51 new consular positions under the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative in FY 2003. Additional positions are planned for FY 2004. (OIG-1-03-26)
  • Introduced new training on interviewing techniques, with additional emphasis on ethics and terrorism and expanded Chief of Mission, DCM and Principal Officer training. In FY 2004 five days will be added to the 26-day basic consular course. (GAO-)#-132NI)
  • New leadership in the Bureau of Consular Affairs is committed to minimizing the vulnerabilities in visa processing. (OIG-I-03-26)
Expected Result
  • MOU between DHS and DOS provides a framework for better coordination of border security; integrated entry/exit/tracking systems with DHS; series of instructions specifying standard operating procedures (SOP) contributes to implementation of Visa Roadmap. Consular Management Assistance Teams will reinforce SOPs and sound management practices. Resource needs are under constant review; missions that are most impacted by post 9/11 changes in visa processing are receiving assistance.
Challenge Strategic Planning
  • Although the U.S.-backed counternarcotics program in Colombia has begun to achieve some of the results originally envisioned, Colombia and the United States must deal with financial and management challenges. Three years into Plan Colombia, the Departments of State and Defense have yet to develop estimates of future program costs, define their future roles in Colombia, identify a proposed end state, or determine how they plan to achieve it. (GAO-03-783)
  • Establish clear objectives, including developing specific performance measures, and estimate future U.S. funding requirements for the programs with the Colombian Army and the Colombian National Police. (GAO-03-783)
Actions Being Taken
  • Beginning with the FY 2005 budget cycle, the Department intends to establish clear objectives, develop performance measures and estimate future funding requirements. This is now possible due to the maturation of "Plan Colombia" over three years.
Expected Result


  • Coca and poppy cultivation drops to a lower level.
  • Colombianization of program increases as more Colombian pilots are trained and ownership of aircraft is gradually transferred.
  • Demobilization of para-military and insurgent groups lowers level of violence but there will be reintegration costs to be sustained. Estimate is not clear as of yet.


Colombian Army

  • Through increased aviation support, operations areas of three battalions expanded from Putamayo region to all regions of Colombia during 2005.
  • Expanded use of Mobile Brigade into a quick strike force against high-value narcoterrorists.

Colombian National Police

  • Aggressive spraying campaign enters a maintenance phase with success measured by the absence of mature coca and a lowered rate of replanting. Infrastructure support allows anti-narcotics brigade to operate in remote Eastern, Southern and Western zones.

Alternative Development

  • Over 5,000 hectares of licit crop established and assistance provided to 5,000 rural families. Through mental health, income generation and urban infrastructure development, employment assistance provided to over 300,000 internally displaced persons.

Rule of Law

  • Municipal police units inserted into newly liberated municipality areas and new Carabineros squadrons dispersed as rural police.
Challenge Interagency Coordination
  • Although U.S. democracy assistance programs in Latin America have shown modest results, several management issues have hampered effectiveness. Poor coordination among the key U.S. agencies has been a long-standing management problem, and cooperation with foreign donors has been limited. (GAO-03-358)
  • The Department and other agencies should develop more comprehensive strategic plans at the regional and country level to address cooperation among agencies and other major donors.
  • Establish a strategy for evaluating projects and a mechanism to share information among U.S. agencies and project implementers. (GAO-03-358)
Actions Being Taken
  • Interagency discussions are now underway that will lead to increased USG cooperation in implementing democracy assistance programs. The immediate objectives of interagency meetings will be to share information, avoid duplication and ensure optimal use of available funds from all sources.
Expected Result
  • Freedom House and Department polling data demonstrate measurable rise in,
    • Public confidence in democratic institutions
    • Respect for human rights and the rule of law
    • Perceived transparency and accountability of government institutions.
Challenge Financial Management
  • Improvement made with respect to travel card payments by implementing procedures aimed at decreasing the number of travel card payment delinquencies in the 90-day or 120-day past due categories. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
  • Despite recent strides, insufficient internal controls to prevent/detect travel card misuse. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
  • Address delinquencies before they reach the 90-day past due category by putting into place a process to address delinquencies in the 60-day past due period. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
  • Provide program coordinators with clear written guidance and adequate formal training.
  • Improve oversight of travel card program by checking for multiple accounts and transferring/canceling travel cards when an employee leaves a bureau. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
Actions Being Taken
  • Implementing a process to deal with travel card payment delinquencies in the 90- and 120-day past due categories. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
  • Launching a preliminary effort to detect and prevent misuse of travel cards. (OIG Report AUD/FM-03-22)
Expected Result
  • Improved administrative oversight and internal controls of travel card program.
  • Increased volume-based refund from credit card provider.
Challenge Overseas Building Security
  • GAO found that the Department has done much over the past four years to improve physical security at overseas posts; however most office facilities still do not meet security standards. (GAO Report 03-557T)
  • Because of the high costs and importance of the Capital Security Construction program, GAO believes the program merits continued oversight. (GAO Report 03-557T)
Actions Being Taken
  • Constructing perimeter walls, anti-ram barriers, and access controls at many facilities. Funding the construction of new buildings and other such capital projects to improve overseas facilities. (GAO Report 03-557T)
Expected Result
  • The construction of new embassy/consulate compounds will meet current security standards.
  • Successful implementation of the proposed capital security cost-sharing (CSCS) program will accelerate completion of necessary buildings from over 20 years to 14 years and encourage rightsizing.
Challenge Knowledge Management
  • The Department has ensured senior management oversight for implementation of its knowledge management (KM) program. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • The Office of e-Diplomacy is working to develop an action plan to implement KM Department-wide having compiled ideas from extensive networking with public and private sector organizations. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • Identify business requirements, such as core diplomatic functions, as a basis for shaping KM approach. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • Implement KM through community-building, IT tools, commitment and training and identify and counteract cultural barriers to KM. (IT-A-03-08)
Actions Being Taken
  • Improving DOS intranet site to collect, integrate and share knowledge more efficiently. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • Exploitation of key technologies to improve the Department's performance worldwide. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • Greater use of IT networks for information exchange and collaboration. (OIG-IT-A-03-08)
  • The Department is developing a system to provide diplomats and managers with significantly enhanced communications and knowledge management tools.
  • In FY 2002 and FY 2003, the Department completed a Business Process Reegineering (BPR) study, determined requirements, assessed alternatives and completed and evaluated a prototype/proof of concept for elimination of the legacy cable system.
  • In FY 2004, one vendor was selected to develop a solution for a design/demonstration. The solution will be piloted involving over 4,000 users in domestic and overseas locations.
  • In FY 2005, State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART) will be deployed worldwide.
Expected Result
  • The Department's institutional knowledge is available to its own professionals and to other foreign affairs, intelligence and homeland security agencies.
  • Special expertise is easier to locate and employees are more productive.