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No vacancy at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad

By Ed O'Keefe

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad might want to hang a "No Vacancy" sign at the front door every so often, according to auditors.

As if the tight space and small staff wasn't bad enough, embassy workers are devoting a significant portion of their time to the hundreds of lawmakers and senior administration officials who visit each year, the State Department Inspector General said in a new report.

Dignitaries made almost 700 visits in fiscal year 2009, requiring the embassy to hold hundreds of planning meetings and make use of more than 300 vehicles. It also had to provide drivers, note takers and beds for all of the visitors.

The visits put a special strain on the embassy's reporting and public diplomacy officers, who have to devote time to the visits despite "Washington’s voracious reporting and outreach requirements," the report said.

The influx led embassy officials to clamp down on visits by administration officials in December, but it still permits Congressional delegations in order to maintain support for ongoing operations, auditors found.

The embassy and its three consulates in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar could also use some more space. Plans are in place to permit embassy workers living off-site to move within the safer walls of the Islamabad compound. An office building in Karachi is due to open this summer, but delays at the port might postpone completion. And efforts to locate a safe spot for the Peshawar consulate -- which auditors call arguably the most dangerous in the world -- have been unsuccessful. (Maybe because it's considered the most dangerous in the world?)

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 15, 2010; 3:52 PM ET
Categories:  Oversight, Workplace Issues  
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Does anyone know how much money these 700 trips cost? Government bureaucrats and politicians are wasting our tax dollars with these junkets. How about helping out the working people in America. I wish the post would report on the cost.

Posted by: JohnnieRoberts | July 15, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Junkets? These are important vacation trips for people who are MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 21, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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