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State Department Challenges Highlight Need for Oversight

John Kerry

As Secretary of State John Kerry takes office, we’d like you to join us in congratulating him on his new job. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to look far for help catching up on some of the challenges he faces.

An investigation we published last month raised serious concerns about security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, an issue that will need to be one of Secretary Kerry’s top priorities.

We think that report underscores the need for a permanent inspector general at the Department of State, a presidential appointment that Secretary Kerry will have a great amount of influence over. The State Department has gone more than five years without a permanent inspector general.

Tell Secretary Kerry to Strengthen Oversight at the State Department

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Dear Mr. Secretary,

Congratulations on your appointment to be our nation’s 68th Secretary of State.

As you take office, you will be faced with a number of pressing challenges and opportunities. As a supporter of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), I urge you to make the appointment of a strong, permanent inspector general one of your top priorities. As you know, the Department of State’s Office of Inspector General has not had a permanent leader in more than five years.

POGO joins others, including the chairs and ranking members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as every member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, in calling on President Obama to nominate a State Department IG.

I would also urge you to re-evaluate the use of private security contractors at our diplomatic missions. For years, POGO has warned about the dangers of the U.S. government's over-reliance on security contractors and its inability to manage them effectively, especially in war zones. This includes the June 18, 2010 testimony of POGO's Executive Director Danielle Brian to the Commission on Wartime Contracting (Ms. Brian's testimony can be found here: http://www.pogo.org/our-work/testimony/2010/co-gp-20100618.html).

We know that you are facing many other pressing issues of global importance that will require your time and attention. However, we hope that the appointment of a permanent inspector general and improving embassy security will be among your top priorities.

Sincerely,

The Project On Government Oversight and our undersigned supporters

Image by Flickr user MarkGregory007