Thompson Urges Albright to Improve State Department Efficiency

Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) urged new Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to “provide the leadership necessary for the State Department to meet its management challenges of the next century.”

In Senate floor remarks January 22 Thompson said that “GAO and Inspector General reports have shown that in the past top level attention has not been given (by the State Department) to the stewardship of taxpayer resources….This is because the State Department does not have adequate financial and information systems to effectively manage and prioritize its programs….A good first step in developing this information would be for the department to meet its responsibilities under the Chief Financial Officers Act and prepare an audited financial statement.”

As an example of how outdated the State Department’s financial and information management systems are, Thompson said “the State Department has obligated over $300 million annually on computer systems. Yet, (it) has had a poor history of managing these systems and, as a result, is struggling with aging computers that do not adequately meet the department’s needs.”

Thompson urged the State Department to strive for the most efficient and effective use of its limited resources. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), he said, is an effective tool to make government work better by measuring success or failure of government programs and using this to support budget decisions.

In response to questions by Thompson during her confirmation process, Secretary Albright said that the State Department would use GPRA to improve the management of U.S. foreign policy resources. The GPRA, the Chief Financial Officers Act and the Clinger-Cohen Act represent new initiatives passed by Congress to address essential government management issues designed to reduce government waste, fraud and abuse.

Thompson said “it is questionable whether these new laws will be taken seriously and fully implemented without extensive congressional oversight–there are reports that agencies do not believe Congress is serious about the effective implementation of these laws. I am hereby serving notice that they would be seriously mistaken in that belief.”