Overseas Security: State Department Has Not Fully Implemented Key Measures to Protect U.S. Officials from Terrorist Attacks Outside of Embassies Page: 4 of 14
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State has a number of programs and activities to protect U.S. officials and
their families outside the embassy, including security briefings, protection
at schools and residences, and surveillance detection. However, State has
not developed a comprehensive strategy that clearly identifies safety and
security requirements and resources needed to protect U.S. officials and
their families abroad from terrorist threats outside the embassy. State
officials raised a number of legal, management, and resources challenges
related to developing and implementing such a strategy, but agreed a
strategy was needed. The department is now in the process of developing
a soft target strategy.
State has not fully implemented one of the most important safeguards
against terrorist attacks while traveling to and from work-
counterterrorism training. Three State-initiated investigations into terrorist
attacks against U.S. officials outside of embassies found officials lacked
the necessary training that could have saved their lives, including
surveillance detection and avoidance and defensive and evasive driving
techniques. The investigations recommended that State provide hands-on
counterterrorism training and implement accountability measures to
ensure compliance with personal security procedures. However, we found
that State has not fully implemented these recommendations. For
example, State's hands-on counterterrorism training course is still not
required, and ambassadors, deputy chiefs of mission, and regional security
officers are not trained to implement State's counterterrorism procedures.
In addition, the accountability procedures, monitoring, and checklists
developed in 2003 designed to promote personal security were not being
followed at any of the five posts we visited.
In response to congressional directives, State instituted a program in 2003
designed to improve the protection of U.S. officials and their families at
schools and some off-compound employee associations from terrorist
threats. The multiphase program provides basic security hardware, such
as shatter-resistant window film, alarms, and radios, and additional
protective measures based on threat levels and vulnerabilities. The first
two phases are focused on department-sponsored schools that have
previously received grant funding from the State Department. The third
and fourth phases, which are similar to the first and second phases, focus
on the nondepartment-sponsored schools with American students.3 During
3Department-sponsored schools receive direct financial grants from State's Office of
Overseas Schools. There are over 185 department-sponsored schools worldwide.
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Overseas Security: State Department Has Not Fully Implemented Key Measures to Protect U.S. Officials from Terrorist Attacks Outside of Embassies, text, May 10, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294600/m1/4/: accessed June 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.