Security at Overseas Posts

Gao ID: 126498 March 21, 1985

GAO discussed the Department of State's management of its embassy security program and the problems that result in delays in implementing security improvements overseas. Many existing buildings are vulnerable because of their age, location, and design and, although authorization has been provided for improvements on a few buildings, these represent only a small portion of those which will have to be replaced if security is to be substantially improved. One major factor in the effectiveness of the projects is the availability of suitable land which allows enough setback to meet the standards established by State. Emergency improvements such as wall construction, sand bagging, and trucks are being used as barriers against vehicular bomb attacks until major construction improvements can be made. However, since State categorizes each post according to threat, GAO found that the extent of physical security upgrades and the use of precautionary measures are significantly different, even among locations in the same threat category. Differences between State and other agencies at the posts and between post officials also caused delays in many security improvements that could range from several months to several years. Although State has increased its attention and work toward increased security, it is clear that a number of problems still remain.

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