Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State

The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security failed to properly maintain its fleet of armored vehicles, according to a new report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The Armored Vehicle Program provides about 4,500 sedans, trucks, vans, and SUVs from several manufacturers to enhance protection for employees and enhance security for U.S. dignitaries visiting countries that require higher protection levels. Armored vehicles cost an average of $150,000 per unit.

Through the program, the bureau's Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division (DEAV) is in charge of purchasing, armoring, and shipping vehicles. According to the audit, the program was improperly administered because the DEAV's program plan does not clearly define roles or responsibilities besides naming itself as the entity in charge of coordinating it. It also noted that the program manager did not have the fleet experience necessary to manage such a program.

There were also vulnerabilities in the program. Because posts were left in charge of their own fleet, vehicles were not taken care of. Many posts were over- or under-stocked due to a lack of control from the DEAV. In a separate investigation, the OIG found evidence that suggested an individual within the division misappropriated at least 15 vehicles worth more than $500,000. Five domestically held vehicles could not be located, either. 

Key recommendations include:

  • restructuring the program with detailed roles and responsibilities
  • employing a program manager with fleet experience
  • implementing a fleet management information system for domestically held vehicles
  • conducting physical inventory and fleet assessments at every post annually
  • creating a methodology for determining how many vehicles a post needs based on the number of employees stationed and threat level
  • establishing preventive maintenance (PM) procedures for all posts to follow
  • ensuring vehicles are disposed of properly and reimbursement is received when vehicles are transferred to other agencies.

Then-Director of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr agreed with some recommendations, but disagreed that the program was not effectively administered since lives were still saved. Starr resigned on January 20 with the change of administration.