Diplomatic Security: State Department Should Better Manage Risks to Residences and Other Soft Targets Overseas
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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Since the 1998 East Africa bombings, U.S. diplomatic personnel working overseas have faced increasing threats to their safety and security. State has built many new embassies and consulates since 1998 and enhanced security measures at others. Increased security at such facilities has raised concerns that residences, schools, and other places where U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families congregate may be viewed by terrorists as more attractive soft targets. GAO was asked to review the security of residences and other soft targets overseas. GAO evaluated 1 how State assesses risks to U.S. diplomatic residences overseas 2 the timeliness, clarity, and consistency of residential security standards 3 how State addresses security vulnerabilities at residences and 4 how State manages risks to other soft targets. GAO reviewed agency documents met with officials in Washington, D.C. and conducted fieldwork at a judgmental sample of seven higher-threat, higher-risk posts in four of State s six geographic regions. This is the public version of a sensitive but unclassified report issued in June 2015. GAO recommends that State, among other things, institute procedures to ensure residential security surveys are completed as required, clarify its standards and security-related guidance for residences, develop procedures to ensure residences either meet standards or have exceptions on file, and take steps to ensure posts are aware of existing guidance and tools regarding the security of schools and other soft targets. State concurred with all of GAO s recommendations.
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