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Watchdog: Accountability

IG finds small State Department bureau has lots of problems

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Watchdog,Kelly Cohen,State Department,Inspectors General,Accountability,Foreign Policy

Few Americans have likely ever heard of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, but the State Department's inspector general has.

The less-than 200-person bureau works to "promote economic security and prosperity at home and abroad," according to its official mission statement.

But a recent IG report pointed to numerous problems within BEBA, starting with a lack of "overall strategic focus."

Individual offices were found to be doing a good job, according to the IG, but the story was different for the bureau as a whole.

The IG said BEBA must "rationalize what has become a byzantine and inefficient front office structure" as part of an effort to improve internal communications and streamline the bureau's operations.

More specifically, the IG said a costly partnership meant for "economic opportunity" between the U.S. and North Africa has been a continuous source of "friction" for the BEBA.

No evidence of "strong results or accomplishments from [EBEA's] work" on the project were evident. The partnership projects, grants and contracts given were costly, varying from from $200,000 to almost $800,000.

Many position descriptions for BEBA jobs are obsolete, the IG said, and should be reviewed "to determine their accuracy and update them as necessary."

Other BEBA issues identified by the IG report include updating its foreign affairs manual, developing an improved entrepreneurship program, increasing social media impact, reviewing the bureau's purchase card program and processing its official cell phone bills on time.

View the full report here:

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