The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 25 examine every single travel voucher manually . Why? No private-sector enti- ties conduct this level of audit. They all audit small percentages. Instead make it a policy to audit the first two travel vouchers (which might contain errors if new employees do not yet understand the regulations), and afterward audit just 5 percent of vouchers at random. If mate- rial abuse is found in the voucher of one traveler, zero in and audit all vouchers for that specific traveler—no mercy. Another consideration is the amount of funds recovered. Would you pay $100 to recover $1? The State Department does. Voucher auditors should cover their salaries with the discrepancies they find that prove recoverable. If not, they should audit an increasingly smaller percentage of vouchers until the savings justify the costs. If voucher examiners recover a mil- lion dollars per year, then we need to hire more voucher examiners. If we are recovering only $1,000 per voucher examiner per year, we are spending too much on auditing and need to reduce that workforce. The department has many unfunded mandates. Continuing to prioritize manu- ally examining every single voucher over other mandates, such as the cybersecurity mandates to scan andmonitor emails and shared drives, is a questionable allocation of resources, given the potential threats and security risks associated with the department’s computer network and systems. Change the Law, Change the Department The changes I am proposing would require changing laws and regulations. And I realize that the Department of State Standardized Regulations cover the whole executive branch. But given the current environment of restructuring and fiscal austerity, now is the time to use behav- ioral economics and free market theory to our advantage. Let’s try some pilot programs and, if successful, propose changes to legislation and regulation. If ever there were a time to install some of these commonsense business practices at the State Depart- ment, that time is now. n