The State Department has processes to prepare overseas posts for crises and evacuations but there are “significant gaps” in execution, GAO has said.
The plans include requiring posts to prepare emergency action plans and conduct drills on situations including bomb threats, emergency destruction of sensitive material, evacuation, and informing American citizens in a foreign country of a dangerous situation, GAO said. But in a review it found that only slightly more than half of posts had conducted required annual drills.
Also over that time almost a quarter of posts were late in their annual updates of their emergency action plans, and of 20 posts GAO reviewed, only two had updated all key sections of that plan. Further, those plans “are viewed as lengthy and cumbersome documents that are not readily usable in emergency situations.”
GAO said that over 2013-2016, State evacuated staff and their families from 23 overseas posts in response to threats such as terrorism, civil unrest and natural disasters, mostly in Africa, the Middle East or Southwest Asia.