State to count heads at embassies

Who knew that the Interior Department had 17 people posted overseas? Or that NASA had staff members in Paris? Nobody, it seems.

As a result, the administration is launching a project to count the number of federal employees overseas and how much it costs to keep them there, according to the president's fiscal 2003 budget request.

The State Department project will refine performance measures that can be used at all posts and by agencies with operations overseas. It will incorporate uniform performance measures for every position and agency at each post. And it will charge part of the construction costs to each government agency planning to staff a new embassy.

That is a big step for the department that didn't know how many Americans were employed at its embassies and posts around the world representing more than 30 agencies.

"In the wake of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa and the heightened level of threat after Sept. 11, 2001, there is an urgency to understanding appropriate staffing patterns," the budget said.

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