Department of State ‘Rightsizes’ its Overseas Presence
Situation Before: Prior to 2001 no one U.S. government agency could determine with any certainty the total number of U.S. government Executive Branch personnel under the authority of each ambassador and other chiefs of mission. Moreover, there was no common accounting system that captured all costs; agencies neither knew the true costs of sending staff overseas nor bore the full costs of that presence; and no one was held accountable for determining what an appropriate cost level was or managing to it.
Action Taken: As part of the President’s Management Agenda, the State Department identified the need for “a more systematic decision making process to create proper incentives and procedures to manage U.S. government staff operating overseas.” The Department identified its Post Personnel database as the designated repository of information on all U.S. government Executive Branch personnel overseas, regardless of agency, nationality, or employment mechanism. The Department’s Office of Rightsizing receives monthly reports of all positions established and abolished at all overseas posts. All missions worldwide are now required to prepare a quinquennial rightsizing report, relating resources to policy priorities; examining competitive sourcing opportunities; identifying U.S. direct-hire positions which can be converted to locally-employed staff; and identifying opportunities for regionalization. Agencies are now sharing the direct costs of stationing personnel overseas, including the security-related capital construction costs associated with space for their personnel at new embassies.
Results: In FY-06, for the first time, the number of U.S. government overseas positions abolished exceeded the number of positions established – that is, the U.S. government overseas presence declined, by approximately 3%. In FY-07, for the first time, the Department of State is able to determine with reasonable certainty the total number of U.S. government Executive Branch positions overseas under the authority of each chief of mission. Not only the Department of State, but also the U.S. government as a whole, has avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries, benefits, and construction costs as a result of rightsizing.