oversight

Overseas Presence: Rightsizing Is Key to Considering Relocation of Regional Staff to New Frankfurt Center

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-09-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                 on National Security, Emerging Threats,
                 and International Relations, Committee
                 on Government Reform,
                 House of Representatives
September 2003
                 OVERSEAS
                 PRESENCE
                 Rightsizing Is Key to
                 Considering
                 Relocation of Regional
                 Staff to New Frankfurt
                 Center




GAO-03-1061
                 a
                                                September 2003


                                                OVERSEAS PRESENCE

                                                Rightsizing Is Key to Considering
Highlights of GAO-03-1061, a report to the      Relocation of Regional Staff to New
Chairman, Subcommittee on National
Security, Emerging Threats, and                 Frankfurt Center
International Relations, House Committee
on Government Reform




 The State Department plans to
                                                The Department of State indicated it is currently renewing earlier efforts to
 spend at least $80 million to
 purchase and renovate a                        relocate staff from outside Germany to the new Frankfurt regional center.
 multibuilding facility in Frankfurt,           State said it would pursue a rigorous rightsizing and regionalization strategy
 Germany. The facility, known as                in staffing the Frankfurt facility. State prematurely stopped its earlier efforts
 Creekbed, is scheduled to open in              to relocate regional staff from other posts in August/September 2002
 mid-2005.                                      because staffing planners interpreted space planning estimates as indicating
                                                that the regional center would be fully occupied. However, according to
 The project is a key rightsizing               GAO analysis, the facility was not full and significant additional space
 initiative under the President’s               existed. After touring the facility and studying staffing requirements and
 Management Agenda to reassess                  space allocated for specific agencies, GAO found there was space available
 and reconfigure the staffing of the            for additional staff. Successfully staffing the Frankfurt regional facility has
 U.S. overseas presence. Creekbed
                                                the potential to optimize its use and achieve broader regionalization
 is expected to achieve the
 department’s major rightsizing and
                                                objectives.
 regionalization goals. The Office of
 Management and Budget expects                  Aerial Photo of 23-Acre Regional Center in Frankfurt, Germany
 the project to serve as a model for
 developing other regional centers.

 GAO was asked to determine
 whether State fully examined the
 potential for relocating regional
 staff from outside Germany to
 Creekbed.



 GAO is not recommending
 executive action. However, State’s
 comments on a draft of this report
 are inconsistent with its rightsizing
 goals for the facility and may
 indicate a lack of commitment to
 relocating regional staff as
 originally planned. GAO believes
 that State’s actions regarding
 staffing of the facility warrant
 oversight. Accordingly, GAO is
 including a matter for
 congressional consideration that
 suggests Congress direct State to
 submit a staffing plan for Creekbed
 that specifically lists positions to
 be relocated from outside
 Germany.
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-1061.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Jess T. Ford at
(202) 512-4128 or fordj@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                                   1
              Results in Brief                                                                           2
              Background                                                                                 3
              State Indicated It Has Renewed Efforts to Identify Staff for
                Relocation from Posts Outside Germany                                                    6
              Conclusions                                                                               10
              Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                                        10
              Matter for Congressional Consideration                                                    12
              Scope and Methodology                                                                     12

Appendix I    Comments from the Office of Management and
              Budget                                                                                    14



Appendix II   Comments from the Department of State                                                     15



Figure
              Figure 1: Aerial Photo of 23-Acre Regional Center in Frankfurt,
                       Germany                                                                           4




              Abbreviations

              OBO      Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
              OMB      Office of Management and Budget


              This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
              United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further
              permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or
              other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to
              reproduce this material separately.




              Page i                       GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   September 2, 2003

                                   The Honorable Christopher Shays
                                   Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
                                    Emerging Threats, and International Relations
                                   Committee on Government Reform
                                   House of Representatives

                                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                                   The Department of State plans to spend at least $80 million to purchase
                                   and renovate a 23-acre, multibuilding facility in Frankfurt, Germany. This
                                   facility, called Creekbed, is scheduled to open in mid-2005 and, when
                                   completed, will be the largest U.S. diplomatic facility overseas. As stated
                                   in State’s business plan to purchase the facility, Creekbed will provide
                                   office space for staff currently working at the primary U.S. consulate
                                   building in Frankfurt, five nearby office annex buildings, and offices
                                   located at the Rhein Main Air Force Base near Frankfurt; some staff
                                   currently located at the U.S. embassy in Berlin, Germany; and a substantial
                                   number of regional staff currently assigned to other embassies who could
                                   be relocated to take advantage of the security that Creekbed will provide.
                                   The project is a key initiative under the President’s Management Agenda1
                                   to reassess and reconfigure, where appropriate, the staffing of U.S.
                                   embassies and consulates. In congressional testimony, State officials have
                                   noted that the project is expected to achieve the department’s key
                                   rightsizing and regionalization goals.2 According to the Office of
                                   Management and Budget (OMB), the project is also expected to serve as a
                                   model for future efforts to expand the use of regional centers to conduct
                                   embassy and consular operations.

                                   As you requested, this report discusses whether the Department of State is
                                   actively pursuing the potential for relocating regional staff from outside



                                   1
                                    Office of Management and Budget, President’s Management Agenda, Fiscal Year 2002
                                   (Office of Management and Budget, Washington, D.C.: Aug. 2001).
                                   2
                                    U.S. Department of State, The U.S. Presence Overseas, Testimony of the Under Secretary
                                   of State for Management, Grant S. Green, Jr., before the House Committee on Government
                                   Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations,
                                   107th Congress (Washington, D.C.: May 1, 2002).



                                   Page 1                       GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                   Germany to the new Frankfurt regional center. To perform our work, we
                   reviewed State planning documents and met with State Department
                   officials in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, the Bureau of
                   Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), and the Office of Management
                   Policy. We also visited the Creekbed facility and agencies in Frankfurt that
                   will be housed in the facility. In addition, we made brief visits to U.S.
                   embassies in Paris, Rome, Budapest, and Vienna to determine what
                   actions they had taken to identify staff who could be considered for
                   relocation to the Frankfurt facility.


                   The Department of State indicated it is currently renewing earlier efforts
Results in Brief   to relocate staff from outside Germany to the new Frankfurt regional
                   center. State said it would pursue a rigorous rightsizing and regionalization
                   strategy in staffing the Frankfurt facility. State plans to base this effort on
                   analyses of security, mission, and cost factors associated with each
                   agency’s regional operations at posts in Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and the
                   Near East. State stopped its earlier efforts to relocate regional staff from
                   other posts in August/September 2002 because staffing planners
                   interpreted space planning estimates as indicating the regional center
                   would be fully occupied. However, our analysis indicated that the facility
                   was not full and that significant additional space existed. After we toured
                   the facility and studied the staffing requirements and space allocated for
                   specific agencies, we found there was space available for additional staff.
                   In addition, we found that some agencies already in Frankfurt had
                   overestimated the number of positions they would move to the facility,
                   another factor that freed up space. Successfully staffing the Frankfurt
                   regional facility offers the potential for optimizing the use of the facility
                   and achieving broader regionalization objectives.

                   We believe that State’s comments on a draft of this report are inconsistent
                   with its stated expectations that the Frankfurt project will achieve the
                   department’s key rightsizing and regionalization goals and with its plans to
                   pursue a comprehensive approach to staffing the new Frankfurt facility.
                   The comments lead us to question whether the department seriously
                   intends to consider relocation of regional staff to the facility. For example,
                   State questioned the capacity of the facility and suggested that the facility
                   was already rightsized because our draft report did not identify specific
                   positions at locations outside Germany that could be relocated to
                   Frankfurt. There is ample space in the facility to accommodate regional
                   staff from other posts, and there are many regional staff currently working
                   at other posts in buildings with inadequate security that could be
                   considered for relocation. We believe that State’s actions regarding


                   Page 2                    GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
             staffing of the facility warrant oversight. Accordingly, we are including a
             matter for congressional consideration that suggests Congress direct State
             to submit a detailed staffing plan for the facility that specifically lists
             positions to be relocated to Frankfurt.


             The Creekbed facility was built in 1937 as a German air force hospital. The
Background   U.S. military acquired it at the conclusion of World War II and used it as a
             hospital until the late 1990s. The facility was slated to revert to the German
             government in 2000. From 2000 to 2001, State conducted discussions with
             the German government to acquire the property. In July 2002, Creekbed
             was officially transferred from the German government to the State
             Department for a cost of $30.3 million. Since July 2002, OBO has been
             determining which renovations, including security and safety
             enhancements, will be necessary to prepare the facility to house the U.S.
             government’s Consulate General in Frankfurt. The design and renovation
             cost for the facility is estimated at $49.8 million, bringing total project
             costs to an estimated $80.1 million. State estimates that, if Creekbed had
             not been available, acquiring a site and building a comparable facility to
             meet U.S. government needs in Frankfurt would have cost roughly $260
             million.

             The facility consists of 13 major interconnected buildings that will provide
             325,000 square feet of usable office space. In addition, an 85,000-square-
             foot warehouse will be built on the property. The site also contains
             significant areas of land that can be used for construction and future
             expansion of operations if necessary. OBO stressed that the renovation
             will focus on building a perimeter wall, warehouse, and access controls;
             and performing basic renovation, such as painting and installing upgraded
             wiring. OBO does not plan to tear down walls, install air conditioning, or
             do other extensive work. Renovation of the facility is scheduled from
             September 2003 to March 2005. State projects that by mid-2005, Creekbed
             will be fully operational.




             Page 3                   GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
Figure 1: Aerial Photo of 23-Acre Regional Center in Frankfurt, Germany




According to State’s business plan to purchase the facility, the Creekbed
project had four fundamental objectives. First, the renovated facility
would provide secure office space that is a vast improvement over security
afforded by existing facilities in Frankfurt. Second, Creekbed would
provide space for operations currently located at the Rhein Main Air Force
Base, which the U.S. government has agreed to vacate in 2005 and return
to the German government. Third, Creekbed would provide office space
for staff currently working at the U.S. embassy in Berlin who will not have
space in the new U.S. embassy building that is scheduled for construction.
Finally, Creekbed has space to accommodate a number of regional staff
from outside Germany who are assigned to embassies and consulates with
security vulnerabilities. In its business plan, State identified several
agencies from outside Germany that would be considered for relocation to



Page 4                     GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
Frankfurt. According to State, the Consul General in Frankfurt, and
officials at each of the agencies in Frankfurt that we visited, Frankfurt is
considered a good location as a regional hub because of its location and
transportation links. They also noted that many of the offices currently
assigned to the U.S. consulate have regional responsibilities.

Developing the Frankfurt facility as a regional center is consistent with
recommendations of the Overseas Presence Advisory Panel3 calling for use
of regional centers and relocation of personnel to reduce security
vulnerabilities at overseas posts. It is also consistent with a rightsizing
framework we developed to support decision-making on overseas staffing.
The framework encourages decisions to be based on a full consideration
of the security, mission, and cost factors associated with each agency’s
presence and outlines rightsizing options, including regionalization of
operations.4

OMB also cited this project as allowing U.S. agencies to put in one central
location appropriate administrative functions now performed in multiple
posts around Europe and beyond. Furthermore, the House Conference
Report for the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution 20035 stated that
the conferees support “the Department [of State]’s effort to initiate a
consolidation, streamlining and regionalization of country and multi-
regional staffing in Frankfurt, Germany.” The report also said, “The
success of this initiative will be measured largely by the staffing
reductions made possible at less secure locations throughout Germany,
Europe, Eurasia, Africa and the Near East.”




3
 Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright established the panel following the 1998
embassy bombings in Africa to consider the reorganization of embassies and consulates.
Department of State, America’s Overseas Presence in the 21st Century, The Report of the
Overseas Presence Advisory Panel (Department of State, Washington, D.C.: Nov. 1999).
4
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Overseas Presence: Framework for Assessing Embassy
Staff Levels Can Support Rightsizing Initiatives, GAO-02-780 (Washington, D.C.: July 26,
2002).
5
 House of Representatives, Report 108-10: Making Further Continuing Appropriations
For The Fiscal Year 2003, And Other Purposes, Conference Report to Accompany H.J.
Res. 2 (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.: Feb. 13, 2003).




Page 5                       GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                          State indicated it has renewed its efforts to identify staff from posts
State Indicated It Has    outside Germany who could be relocated to the new Frankfurt regional
Renewed Efforts to        center. According to State, this process will consider rightsizing factors
                          such as security, mission requirements, and costs as well as possible
Identify Staff for        changes in functions that would make operations more efficient. State’s
Relocation from Posts     earlier efforts were prematurely halted in August/September 2002 because
                          staffing planners mistakenly interpreted space planning estimates as
Outside Germany           indicating the regional center would be fully occupied. However, in May
                          2003, we analyzed State’s staffing requirements for Creekbed in relation to
                          the facility’s capacity and found additional space was available. We briefed
                          both State and OMB officials on the capacity issue. OMB urged State to
                          reopen the staffing process and to consider relocating more regional staff
                          to Frankfurt.


State’s Renewed Process   In May 2003, State announced that it had restarted a process to identify
for Staffing Creekbed     staff from posts outside Germany who could be relocated to take
                          advantage of Creekbed’s available office space and enhanced security.
                          State is reassessing the facility’s space plans and staffing projections for
                          all agencies and is focusing on identifying which additional regional
                          activities might be moved to the Frankfurt center, especially where this
                          action would improve security for U.S. government personnel. State also
                          indicated that it would pursue a rigorous rightsizing and regionalization
                          strategy in staffing the Frankfurt facility. State has said that under its new
                          effort, it will analyze security, mission, and cost factors associated with
                          each agency’s regional operations at posts in Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and
                          the Near East. On June 12, 2003, State sent formal guidance to the
                          ambassadors at each post, directing them to identify staff who might
                          transfer to the regional center in Frankfurt. To help the posts identify
                          positions for relocation, State plans to conduct a detailed, Web-based
                          survey based on our rightsizing framework. State plans to have revised
                          staffing estimates for Frankfurt at the end of 2003.

                          The Frankfurt facility will have a capacity of about 1,100 desk positions.6
                          The facility will have sufficient space to consolidate existing diplomatic
                          operations in Frankfurt as well as bring in significant numbers of
                          personnel from posts outside Germany to expand regional operations.
                          Positions currently in Germany envisioned to relocate to the Frankfurt



                          6
                           There will be additional personnel working at the facility who do not require desks, such
                          as security guards and maintenance personnel.




                          Page 6                        GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                             regional center include a total of about 900 personnel from the current
                             Frankfurt consulate, offices at the Rhein Main Air Force Base, and the
                             embassy in Berlin. Based on current capacity estimates, there is also desk
                             space for about 200 staff who could be relocated from other posts.

                             To help address staffing decisions, State also plans to undertake what it
                             characterizes as a “think outside the box” exercise by asking embassies to
                             examine whether any functions in Europe or elsewhere can be
                             reengineered to be more effective. Our rightsizing framework encourages
                             decision makers to consider reengineering actions such as competitively
                             sourcing support functions, regionalizing contract activities, and
                             centralizing warehouse operations.7 This kind of reengineering, which
                             could help reduce costs of support functions and staffing requirements for
                             embassies, should be weighed along with the options for relocating staff to
                             regional centers.

                             Although State has renewed its process for staffing Creekbed, its
                             comments on a draft of this report lead us to question State’s commitment
                             to the process. State’s comments and our evaluation of them are
                             discussed in more detail on page 10.


Resistance from Some         Although substantial space exists for relocating staff from other posts,
Agencies Is Expected         State documents indicate that the department may encounter some
                             resistance among agencies identified to relocate. While some agencies and
                             offices agree that relocation would improve their security, State
                             anticipates that they will raise concerns about their relative ability to
                             effectively carry out their mission from Frankfurt, the cost of relocating
                             staff from other locations, the convenience of airline connections, and
                             costs related to living and operating out of Germany. These issues indicate
                             that State and other agencies will have to carefully weigh the security,
                             mission, and cost trade-offs associated with staffing relocation decisions.
                             In some cases, security issues may be so compelling that some staff will
                             have to be relocated.


State’s Earlier Effort Was   From September 2001 to August 2002, State tried to identify positions with
Halted Prematurely           regional responsibilities that could be relocated to Creekbed. Although




                             7
                             GAO-02-780.




                             Page 7                  GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                           State initially identified potential positions, State halted its efforts in
                           August/September 2002.

                           In September 2001, State initiated discussions with key agencies operating
                           at its European posts and asked them to consider relocating to Frankfurt if
                           it would be substantially more secure than their current facilities. This
                           process was more formally articulated in a March 2002 State cable to 48
                           European and Eurasian posts having regional coverage, asking
                           ambassadors to review their staffing with an eye toward relocating to
                           Frankfurt staff whose primary responsibilities were regional. Although
                           many of the posts were slow to respond, some listed possible candidates
                           for relocation. For example, one post identified three agencies with a
                           combined total of more than 50 staff members whom the ambassador
                           believed should be considered for relocation.

                           Although this effort initially identified positions for possible relocation, it
                           was halted when planners in State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian
                           Affairs received a document from OBO in August 2002 stating that “the
                           facility is at 100% occupancy” based on a projected staffing level of about
                           900 desks. OBO later explained that this document meant that the facility
                           was filled to the requirements level of 900 positions but did not mean the
                           facility was filled to capacity. OBO acknowledged that the wording of the
                           document was confusing. However, State officials told us that based on
                           that document, the department concluded there would be no additional
                           room in the facility for staff beyond the 900-desk staffing level. (The 900-
                           desk projection only included staff currently in the Frankfurt consulate
                           offices, staff currently at the Rhein Main Air Force Base, newly created
                           staff positions, and staff “overflow” from the U.S. embassy in Berlin,
                           Germany.) As a consequence, in August/September 2002, State stopped its
                           efforts to relocate staff from posts outside Germany. For example, in
                           September 2002, State’s Under Secretary for Management sent a letter to
                           the U.S. Agency for International Development, one of the key agencies
                           initially identified by State as having staff potentially available for
                           relocation from outside Germany, indicating that the Frankfurt facility
                           would be fully occupied.


Analysis Showed Facility   Beginning in March 2003, we performed a detailed analysis of State’s
Has Additional Space       staffing requirements for Creekbed in relation to the facility’s capacity. We
                           found that the facility had substantial additional capacity beyond the 900-
                           desk level, affording opportunity for the relocation of personnel from
                           posts outside Germany.



                           Page 8                     GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
Before visiting the Frankfurt facility in early May 2003, we interviewed the
private contractor officials responsible for the space planning and concept
design for Creekbed, who confirmed that there was space available for
additional staff. While at the facility, we examined space allotted for two
agencies and found the space significantly exceeded the number of
positions slated to fill it. For example, one agency projected 28 office
personnel for the facility but was allotted space for about 38 offices.
Another agency also projected 28 office personnel but was allotted space
for about 50 offices.

In addition, we found that there was potentially more office space
available at Creekbed because some agencies did not conduct a rigorous
staffing process before submitting their staff projections. During our
fieldwork in Frankfurt, we reviewed the documented 2002 staffing
projections with the agencies in Frankfurt that will be moving into
Creekbed and found that some agencies disputed their earlier projections.
Some agencies had overestimated their individual staffing requirements,
which were eventually curtailed by their headquarters in Washington, D.C.
We have previously reported that U.S. agencies do not take a systematic
approach to determining long-term staffing needs for embassy buildings
scheduled for construction.8

We discussed these issues with the Consul General and the facility
manager in Frankfurt, who agreed that the facility had substantial space to
accommodate staff from other posts. When we completed our fieldwork in
May 2003, we also discussed our observations with officials in State’s
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, the Office of Management
Policy, and OBO; and with OMB. They, too, agreed that there was
additional space. State then announced that it was renewing its efforts to
regionalize operations in Frankfurt. In a May 2003 letter to OMB, State’s
Under Secretary for Management said that the department was reopening
the space plan for the facility and anticipated that Creekbed would
accommodate significant additional positions. State indicated that it took
this action because OMB urged it to do so. In a June 2003 cable to all
posts, State said that it is considering which additional activities might be
relocated to Creekbed. State emphasized that its renewed effort is part of
its overall rightsizing strategy.




8
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Embassy Construction: Process for Determining
Staffing Requirements Needs Improvement, GAO-03-411 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 7, 2003.)




Page 9                      GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                     Successful staffing of the Frankfurt facility consistent with State’s
Conclusions          regionalization goals is a critical step in efforts to rightsize U.S. overseas
                     operations. In fact, it may be the single most visible and concrete example
                     of a rightsizing initiative by the U.S. government in the near term. We
                     believe that the revised staffing plans for Creekbed will provide State a
                     significant opportunity to work with other agencies to regionalize
                     diplomatic operations in Europe and develop a more rational, secure, and
                     cost-effective overseas presence. The facility has ample, available office
                     and other space that, when fully renovated, will provide a secure
                     alternative location to conducting regional operations at embassies and
                     consulates with physical security deficiencies. Deciding which U.S.
                     government positions will be relocated to the facility will require a careful
                     consideration of the security, mission, and cost factors associated with
                     agencies’ presence at individual posts. In some situations, State may
                     encounter agency resistance to relocation. However, security
                     considerations may be so compelling that relocation of certain staff may
                     be necessary. In other cases, State and other agencies will have to work
                     hard to reach agreement on the relative importance of the security,
                     mission, and cost factors associated with the relocation decision and how
                     the factors should be weighed. More importantly, it will require a strong
                     and continual commitment by State to the broader objective of rightsizing
                     the U.S. overseas presence.


                     OMB and the Department of State provided written comments on a draft
Agency Comments      of this report (see apps. I and II). OMB said that it is working closely with
and Our Evaluation   State to develop a plan of action to appropriately staff the new facility, to
                     assess if staff could be shifted from their current overseas location to
                     Frankfurt, and to discuss potential moves to Frankfurt with headquarters
                     staff at all agencies. OMB also expressed the hope that this facility will
                     serve as an example of a best practice for the development of other
                     regional centers around the world.

                     State said that OBO’s estimate that the facility could accommodate about
                     1,100 desk positions represented a maximum theoretical capacity and that
                     the actual capacity would probably be less. We subsequently asked OBO,
                     which is State’s expert on overseas real estate and facility issues, if it was
                     confident of its capacity estimate. OBO reiterated its estimate stating that
                     it has identified space in the facility for about 1,100 personnel. However,
                     even if the capacity of the facility were slightly less, there would still be
                     ample room to accommodate some staff currently assigned to other
                     locations outside Germany.



                     Page 10                   GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
State also noted that our report did not identify specific agencies or staff
that we believe should be relocated to Frankfurt. State said this suggested
that we do not believe that there are suitable candidates for relocation.
This is not the case. As we noted in this report, State’s business plan for
the purchase of the facility indicated it has space to accommodate regional
staff from outside Germany who are assigned to embassies with security
vulnerabilities. Moreover, State’s plan identified 73 staff from five agencies
at posts outside Germany for potential relocation. As further noted in this
report, State’s subsequent efforts at its European and Eurasian posts
identified suitable candidates for relocation, but that exercise was halted
because State mistakenly believed that the facility did not have sufficient
space. Our work at the four posts outside Germany validated the existence
of significant numbers of staff with regional responsibilities, many of
which were located in buildings with substandard security. We did not
identify specific candidates for relocation in this report because State said
that it was conducting a full assessment of staffing options for Frankfurt,
and we did not want to preempt that assessment. However, in our
briefings with State and OMB officials, we discussed our fieldwork
observations and told them that there were many staff that could be
considered for relocation. For example, there were at least 87 staff with
regional responsibilities in Vienna and Budapest that were assigned to
space with substandard security. Furthermore, we noted that in 2002, we
had identified regional positions in Paris that could be considered for
relocation to Frankfurt based on security, mission, and/or cost factors.9

State also said that it believes, based on their follow-up to the 1999
Overseas Presence Advisory Panel report, that the U.S. government’s
overseas presence is already rightsized. We have previously pointed out
the substantial weaknesses in the pilot studies which provided the basis of
State’s follow-up.10 State subsequently indicated that it intended to
reinvigorate the rightsizing process consistent with the President’s
Management Agenda, OMB’s directives, and our rightsizing framework.

In our view, State’s comments are inconsistent with its (1) stated
expectations that the Frankfurt project will achieve the department’s key
rightsizing and regionalization goals and (2) plans to conduct a full
assessment of staffing options for the Frankfurt regional center. In


9
GAO-02-780.
10
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Overseas Presence: More Work Needed on Embassy
Rightsizing, GAO-02-143 (Washington, D.C.; Nov. 27, 2001).




Page 11                    GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                addition, State’s comments lead us to question whether the department
                seriously intends to implement its business plan for the Frankfurt center
                regarding relocating regional staff, as well as its commitment to the overall
                rightsizing process. We believe that State’s actions regarding staffing of
                the facility warrant oversight.

                State also provided technical comments that we have incorporated into
                this report, as appropriate.


                In view of State’s comments on a draft of this report and the continued
Matter for      importance of rightsizing the overseas U.S. presence consistent with
Congressional   security, mission, and cost factors, the Congress may wish to direct the
                Secretary of State to submit a detailed staffing plan for the Frankfurt
Consideration   facility that specifically lists positions to be relocated to Frankfurt.


                To determine State’s process for creating staffing projections for the
Scope and       Frankfurt regional center, we reviewed documents and interviewed
Methodology     officials in State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, OBO, and
                Office of Management Policy. We visited the current consulate facilities in
                Frankfurt and spoke with the Consul General and appropriate State
                officers about the current security status of their consulate buildings as
                well as the multiple projections of staff relocating to the facility. We spoke
                to representatives from agencies that will be moving to the Creekbed
                facility. We also toured the facilities at the Rhein Main Air Force Base that
                are scheduled to be relocated by June 2005 as well as the currently empty
                Frankfurt regional center facility. In addition, we visited other posts in
                Europe—Paris, Rome, Budapest, and Vienna—to determine (1) the extent
                to which each has agencies and personnel performing regional functions
                that could be considered for relocation to Frankfurt based on the nature of
                their mission and/or their security vulnerability and (2) what actions these
                embassies had taken to identify staff who could be considered for
                relocation to the Frankfurt facility. Specifically, at these posts, we
                interviewed not only the agencies that were earlier identified by State or
                by their ambassadors as being potential relocatees, but also officials from
                other agencies with regional responsibilities. To determine the facility’s
                capacity to accommodate staff from outside Germany, we interviewed the
                private contractor officials in Albany, New York responsible for the initial
                feasibility design to discuss their space planning and concept design for
                the Frankfurt center. We also compared OBO’s capacity estimates with
                staffing requirements for the facility. In addition, during our visit to
                Creekbed, we compared the size of office space allocated to two different


                Page 12                  GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
agencies in Frankfurt with the number of people in those agencies. We
also met with officials in OMB to obtain documentation on the plans for
purchasing the facility and to discuss State’s approach to staffing it.


We conducted our work from February 2003 through August 2003 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

We are sending copies of this report to the Director of OMB and the
Secretary of State. We are also sending copies of this report to other
interested Members of Congress. Copies will be made available to others
upon request. This report will also be available at no charge on the GAO
Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact me
on (202) 512-4128. John Brummet, Janey Cohen, Lynn Moore, Ann M.
Ulrich, and Joseph Zamoyta made key contributions to this report.

Sincerely yours,




Jess T. Ford
Director, International Affairs and Trade




Page 13                  GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
              Appendix I: Comments from the Office of
Appendix I: Comments from the Office of
              Management and Budget



Management and Budget




              Page 14                      GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of State



of State




             Page 15                    GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
           Appendix II: Comments from the Department
           of State




(320555)
320555
           Page 16                    GAO-03-1061 Overseas Presence: Frankfurt Regional Center
                         The General Accounting Office, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of
GAO’s Mission            Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities
                         and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal
                         government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds;
                         evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses,
                         recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed
                         oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government
                         is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.


                         The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no cost is
Obtaining Copies of      through the Internet. GAO’s Web site (www.gao.gov) contains abstracts and full-
GAO Reports and          text files of current reports and testimony and an expanding archive of older
                         products. The Web site features a search engine to help you locate documents
Testimony                using key words and phrases. You can print these documents in their entirety,
                         including charts and other graphics.
                         Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and
                         correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as “Today’s Reports,” on its Web site
                         daily. The list contains links to the full-text document files. To have GAO e-mail
                         this list to you every afternoon, go to www.gao.gov and select “Subscribe to e-mail
                         alerts” under the “Order GAO Products” heading.


Order by Mail or Phone   The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 each. A
                         check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent of Documents.
                         GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or more copies mailed to a
                         single address are discounted 25 percent. Orders should be sent to:
                         U.S. General Accounting Office
                         441 G Street NW, Room LM
                         Washington, D.C. 20548
                         To order by Phone:     Voice:    (202) 512-6000
                                                TDD:      (202) 512-2537
                                                Fax:      (202) 512-6061


                         Contact:
To Report Fraud,
                         Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
Waste, and Abuse in      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470


                         Jeff Nelligan, Managing Director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs           U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, D.C. 20548