Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) today released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study titled “Embassy Management: State Department and Other Agencies Should Further Explore Opportunities to Save Administrative Costs Overseas.”

“I requested this review to show how U.S. agencies operating abroad can effectively save resources by ending the duplication of administrative services,” said Senator Akaka.  “The report highlighted the efficiencies USAID achieved by making use of the State Department’s International Cooperative Administrative Support Services system, but noted that too many agencies are still not taking advantage of it.  I urge the Department to work closely with its federal partners to implement GAO’s recommendations.”

The International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system provides shared administrative services for U.S. Government agencies at posts abroad, however agencies are not required to participate in most ICASS services.

The GAO study revealed that:

GAO recommended that the Secretary of State, in coordination with USAID and ICASS customer agencies:

State and USAID generally agreed with the recommendations. 

GAO also asked Congress to consider requiring agencies to participate in ICASS, unless they provide a business case showing that services can be obtained outside of ICASS without increasing overall federal government costs or that agencies are unable to meet their missions using these services.

In 2004, GAO found that ICASS had not resulted in more efficient delivery of administrative support services because it had neither eliminated duplication nor led to efforts to contain costs.  Senator Akaka requested that GAO conduct this review in 2010 following the release of a report by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) finding that ICASS had put at risk USAID’s ability to support its staff and carry out its mission overseas.  GAO found that USAID personnel have concerns about ICASS, but identified limitations with AFSA’s findings.

Senator Akaka is Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

A copy of the GAO report is available HERE.