In 2009, GAO recommendations mainly addressed management of DS saying the bureau's growth had been more reactive than it was strategic and needed to come up with an effective management plan.
Two years later and the concerns are somewhat the same. DS training facilities are highly decentralized and “many are substandard and have a number of inadequacies,” Ford said. Often they share facilities with other agencies who don’t share the same priorities. DS has to rotate portions of their firearms training around Marine training at a facility in Quantico, for example. Ford said that during research for the most recent GAO report, structures weren’t adequate to provide realistic training to staff. A building entry exercise took place in a facility that didn’t have walls, for example. Tape on the floor was used to simulate where a wall would be, he said.
DS was provided $136 million to build a consolidated training center, but they still haven’t found an adequate location to break ground.
Boswell noted that some improvements have been made since the last the last report. In 2009, GAO said it would be beneficial for DS to make sure more personnel were trained in the languages of countries they operated. In 2009, only 47 percent of posts had language proficient personnel. That number is now 60 percent, Boswell said.
GAO recommendations this time around include developing a process the evaluate training through participant evaluations, developing a process to track individual training requirements, and increasing the number of personnel completing Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training.
photo by isafmedia from flickr