The Office of Inspections provide the Department of State (Department) and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) with systematic and independent assessments of mission leadership, policy implementation, resource management, and management controls. Inspections assess the effectiveness of programs; identify potential efficiencies and cost-saving measures; encourage self-evaluation and correction; and identify problems and recommend solutions. The office’s work encompasses both overseas and domestic operations.
Inspections cover three broad areas as set forth in the Foreign Service Act of 1980:
- Policy Implementation: whether policy goals and objectives are effectively achieved; whether U.S. interests are accurately and effectively represented; and whether all elements of an office or mission are adequately coordinated.
- Resource Management: whether resources are managed with maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and economy and whether financial transactions and accounts are properly conducted, maintained, and reported.
- Management Controls: whether the administration of activities and operations meets the requirements of applicable laws and regulations; whether internal management controls have been instituted to ensure quality performance and reduce the likelihood of mismanagement; whether instances of fraud, waste, or abuse exist; and whether adequate steps for detection, correction, and prevention have been taken.
The Office of Inspections also conducts thematic reviews of programs and operations, such as foreign assistance oversight, U.S. embassy security, consular affairs management, and efforts to counter terrorism, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other crisis and post-conflict areas. The office conducts compliance follow-up reviews on selected embassies, offices, and bureaus. These reviews occur 6 to 18 months after a full inspection and are designed to revisit key issues to ensure implementation of recommendations.
The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires that an inspection of each Foreign Service post and each domestic bureau be conducted at least once every 5 years, although this requirement is routinely waived by Congress. OIG’s methodology for investing its resources includes a risk management approach to prioritize projects and to ensure that discretionary inspections address high-cost programs, key management challenges, and vital operations. OIG retains a quick-reaction capability to address requests made on short notice by Congress or senior Department officials. Inspections staff also conduct extensive outreach activities, briefing attendees of Foreign Service Institute courses and numerous officers, including ambassadors, before they depart for post.