Role of the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs

Gao ID: 121733 June 22, 1983

Testimony was given concerning the roles and functions of the Office of the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and the status of a GAO review of the State Department's monitoring and auditing of the refugee reception and placement program. GAO has identified problems related to the operations of the Coordinator's Office which could adversely affect program management and coordination and stated that, for the Office to be more effective, its mandate and authority should be clarified. Although coordination throughout the refugee field has improved over the last 3 years, a Federal refugee focal point is still needed. GAO stated that meetings conducted by the Office over the past year to promote coordination should be continued; however, their planning could be improved. In addition, GAO found that unclear and overlapping operational responsibilities of the Office and the Bureau of Refugee Programs continues to affect their working relationships. Respective operational roles, including the extent to which each office represents and negotiates with international organizations and foreign governments, should be clarified. Furthermore, Coordinator involvement in the budget formulation process and oversight of agency regulations and procedures has not improved. GAO has found that the Refugee Bureau has taken some steps to strengthen its management program by requesting and evaluating voluntary agency program proposals, clarifying services to be provided, and conducting field monitoring and preparing internal reports on voluntary agency performance. However, GAO believes that standards are needed to determine which voluntary agency proposals are appropriate and which monitoring activities could be improved and that agency responses should be documented and include planned corrective actions.

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