Office of Inspections

Sandra Lewis
Assistant Inspector General for Inspections  

Mission

The Office of Inspections provides the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors with systematic and independent assessments of mission leadership, policy implementation, resource management, and management controls. Inspections assess the effectiveness of programs; identify potential efficiencies and cost-saving measures; encourage self-evaluation and correction; and identify problems and recommend solutions.  The office’s work encompasses both overseas and domestic operations.

Inspections cover three broad areas as set forth in the Foreign Service Act of 1980:

  • Policy Implementation: whether policy goals and objectives are effectively achieved; whether U.S. interests are accurately and effectively represented; and whether all elements of an office or mission are adequately coordinated.
  • Resource Management: whether resources are managed with maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and economy and whether financial transactions and accounts are properly conducted, maintained, and reported.
  • Management Controls: whether the administration of activities and operations meets the requirements of applicable laws and regulations; whether internal management controls have been instituted to ensure quality performance and reduce the likelihood of mismanagement; whether instances of fraud, waste, or abuse exist; and whether adequate steps for detection, correction, and prevention have been taken.

The Office of Inspections also conducts thematic reviews of programs and operations such as foreign assistance oversight, U.S. embassy security, consular affairs management, and efforts to counter terrorism, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other crisis and post-conflict areas.  

The Office of Inspections conducts compliance follow-up reviews on selected embassies, offices, and bureaus. These reviews occur 6 to 18 months after a full inspection and are designed to revisit key issues to ensure implementation of recommendations.

The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires that an inspection of each Foreign Service post and each domestic bureau be conducted at least once every 5 years, although this requirement is routinely waived every year by Congress.  OIG’s methodology for investing its resources includes a risk management approach to prioritize projects and to ensure that our discretionary inspections address high-cost programs, key management challenges, and vital operations. The OIG retains a quick-reaction capability to address requests made on short notice by Congress or senior Department officials. Inspections staff also conduct extensive outreach activities, briefing attendees of Foreign Service Institute courses as well as numerous officers, including ambassadors, before they depart for post.

 

OIG Overview video - ISP (text)

I’m Sandra Lewis, the Assistant IG for Inspections. The Office of Inspections conducts independent assessments of mission leadership, policy implementation, resource management, and management controls. Our inspections cover three broad areas, consistent with the requirements of the Foreign Service Act of 1980. These areas include: (1) Policy Implementation - whether policy goals and objectives are effectively achieved; (2) Resource Management - whether resources are managed with maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and economy and whether financial transactions and accounts are properly executed, maintained, and reported; and (3) Management Controls - whether the administration of activities and operations comply with applicable laws and regulations. Within these three broad categories, we assess the effectiveness of programs; identify potential efficiencies and cost-saving measures; encourage self-evaluation and correction; and identify problems and recommend solutions. The office’s work encompasses both overseas and domestic operations. Inspections also conducts targeted reviews of programs and operations, such as foreign assistance oversight, U.S. embassy security, emergency preparedness, and consular affairs management. The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires us to inspect each Foreign Service post and each domestic bureau at least once every 5 years, although this requirement is routinely waived every year by Congress. To make the best use of our limited resources, OIG uses a risk management approach to prioritize projects. Like the Office of Audits, the Office of Inspections conducts exit conferences and provides recommendations to the Department and BBG. When we identify something that works especially well, we highlight it in our report as a ‘Spotlight on Success’ so that others throughout the Department can learn from it.”.  We have also published on our website a list of best practices for Chiefs of Mission. 

(Voiceover) Both the Office of Audits and the Office of Inspections have distinct divisions that track Department and BBG compliance with OIG recommendations. The Audit Compliance and Follow-up Division tracks the status of recommendations from audit reports and verifies that corrective actions have been taken to implement agreed-upon findings and recommendations. It assists in determining an acceptable resolution, and coordinates follow-up reviews and evaluations, as needed. Inspections conducts compliance follow-up reviews on selected embassies, offices, and bureaus within 6 to 18 months of a full inspection. These follow-ups are designed to revisit key issues to ensure implementation of recommendations. Additionally both the Offices of Audit and Inspections are subject to an independent peer review to ensure that they comply with applicable federal standards.