The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of State was established 17 years ago, nearly a decade after the Inspector General Act created the first independent Inspectors General at federal agencies. Mandated to provide independent and objective oversight of Department operations, OIG has also tried, within the limits of its statutory independence, to partner proactively with the Department's leadership, managers, and employees toward a common purpose: to ensure that its programs and operations are carried out effectively, efficiently, and economically, with integrity and accountability, in a way that serves the best interests of the President, the Congress, and the American people.
OIG's work, by its very nature, is directed toward improving performance and strengthening accountability, thereby supporting the Department's achievement of positive results in its programs and operations. The impact of OIG's efforts is evidenced by the degree to which our work is reflected in this Performance and Accountability Report: our audits of Department financial statements, our identification of major management challenges, our issuance of reports and recommendations addressed by the Department. OIG audits, inspections, and other reviews are a primary means to evaluate the success of Department programs, and our reports have served as a reference in identifying issues of concern for the Deputy Secretary's Senior Policy, Performances and Resource Reviews. To reinforce our focus on promoting positive change in the Department, our strategic goals are expressed in terms of the desired effect of our work on the Department's foreign policy, security, financial management, and administrative support activities, and on the overall integrity of its operations.
The responsiveness of the Department to OIG's work and recommendations has resulted in some notable accomplishments during the past year. Passport application requirements have been changed to make it necessary for children under 14 to appear in person when applying for a passport, closing a loophole that facilitated the smuggling of children. Embassy designs have been changed to correct a security vulnerability identified by OIG that could have compromised the safety of mission employees and information. The Department has once again received a clean opinion on its financial statements and, through close coordination with OIG, again met OMB's accelerated deadline for submission of the financial statements. During FY 2003, OIG audits and investigations also resulted in nearly $13 million in potential monetary benefits, and the Department took action to recover and make better use of $14 million in questioned costs and funds put to better use identified by OIG in prior fiscal years.
I am pleased to have the contributions and results of the OIG highlighted in this report. A more detailed description of our accomplishments and success in achieving our strategic and performance goals can be found in OIG's FY 2003 Performance Report, which has been published separately in conjunction with this report.
Anne W. Patterson
Deputy Inspector General