July 28, 2002 - GAO Report on Volunteer Safety and Security

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: July 28, 2002 - GAO Report on Volunteer Safety and Security
The GAO Report on Volunteer Safety and Security

The GAO issued it's long awaited report on Peace Corps Safety and Security on July 25. The report said that assaults against Peace Corps volunteers around the world have doubled in the past decade, that Peace Corps' efforts to safeguard volunteers are not consistent, that Peace Corps needs to address the implications of staff turnover if it is to effectively implement its new initiatives, and recommends that the Peace Corps consider proposals to Congress to change the law concerning the 5-year limit on employment of U.S. direct hire staff.

Read the GAO Report and Peace Corps Response

Read the GAO Report and Peace Corps Response here 25 July 2002

Summary of the GAO Report 26 July 2002

What Others Say

Boston Globe - GAO cites weak Peace Corps Security 14 July 2002

AP - Peace Corps needs to better protect volunteers 26 July 2002

A RPCV responds to the GAO Report 28 July 2002


Peace Corps Online's Files on other stories related to PCV Safety and Security

Leave your opinion below:

By alexandre remnek on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 - 12:54 am: Edit Post

Lets see...they first do not allow Volunteers to drive motor vehicles and then the incidence of assult increases. Coincindence? I think not.

By Aviva Meyer on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 - 1:03 pm: Edit Post

As a PCV in Cameroon in the mid '90s it was clear to me that staff turnover led to reinvention of the wheel every five years. There was no one around to explain why the provincial houses were important, so they were let go, but then recreated with only slight changes two years later. I understand the desire to keep Peace Corps young, but I think even a ten year limit would not allow people to become entrenched.

By Gary D. Robinson on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 - 6:55 pm: Edit Post

Change is one of the most important ingredients in any organization. The five year rule has helped bring new ideas and new approaches to the Peace Corps and has prevented it from being a bureaucracy that is not susceptable to change through having the same people at the helm. The idealism of the Peace Corps is that it is a mission not a position. We join the Peace Corps because we want to contribute something and not seek a profession.

By nancy farley on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 10:45 am: Edit Post

please abolish the 5-yr limit!! people can work for >5 yrs at a job & be very effective. even aftr 15 yrs at my job, i manage to be functional, efficient, & humane! help debunk the 'gov't entrenchment' myth. we're a [once]new generation that can keep itself honest. peace corps staff should be able to work as long as they do their jobs well. good luck to us all.

By Michael A. Lanigan on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 2:10 pm: Edit Post

I am in complete agreement with extending the time a person can remain on Peace Corps staff. As complicated as the world is today it takes time to "learn the ropes", so to speak. A person is just hitting their stride after five years. To lose all this talent and knowledge to a forty-year old policy is not good policy. Add two or three more years to the maximum term and reap the rewards. Too many rookies re-invent too many wheels!
Michael A. Lanigan
Colombia I (61-63)

By John Carter on Friday, August 02, 2002 - 2:30 pm: Edit Post

Why not give the Peace Corps Director authority to extend Peace corps staff contracts so that a 5 year average is maintained in the field. Some staff would leave early, others could have their contacts extended indefinitely as long as a 5 year average was maintained.

By Doug on Monday, August 05, 2002 - 10:50 am: Edit Post

The "five year rule" is ridiculous. A relic of from the era of free love, LSD, and Woodstock. I can't believe they still have it. Maybe PC staff should be rotated within the organization on a five-year basis, but as an upper limit on the length of employee service it makes for a terrible and continuous drain of institutional memory.

By Doug on Monday, August 05, 2002 - 10:51 am: Edit Post


Does anyone see a grammatical error in this:

The GAO issued it's long awaited report on Peace Corps Safety

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) on Monday, August 05, 2002 - 11:13 am: Edit Post

Dear Doug, You're sharp eye for grammerical detail marks you as a staff "mole"! This is what I don't understand about the dicussion on the five year rule:
Why does the "institutional" memory reside with the staff and not the collected, recorded and archieved experiences of the actual volunteers?*
And, absent the five year "rule", how would people who actually served as PCVs ever have a chance to work in the agency? Or is that the point?

*Those PCV experiences, opinions and suggestions were carefully and systematically recorded, weren't they?

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, August 05, 2002 - 11:57 am: Edit Post

It's my mistake.

Best Regards,


By Former PCV and staff on Monday, August 05, 2002 - 3:15 pm: Edit Post

I'm all for modifying the 5 year rule but, please, don't abolish it. Sometimes the wrong person gets hired for a job or sometimes someone gets too burned out. Given the difficulty in firing federal employees, time limited appointments seem the only way to dislodge people who are not positively contributing to the mission of Peace Corps. Although some institutional memory may be lost, it keeps the agency fresh.

By bankass.com on Tuesday, August 06, 2002 - 2:43 am: Edit Post

I agree with you Gary. The 5 year rule is still a good idea. However, it was not enforced very well in the 1990's. Look at former Director Baquet, he was there in 1993 as far as I know and didn't leave until almost the end of 2000 using various mechanisms in the system to keep himself entrenched. Now, to some he was a fine guy, but to others he was very controversial. Safety issues are the most notable. Look at the former, Director of Medical services, seven years. Look at the Inspector General's office, extensions upon extensions while many volunteers lost their lives. Policy Makers at Peace Corps should be turned over. And in my opinion, not able to return for ten years after, so they have "readjusted" into society and know what it is like to be in the private sector and not on the government dole.

By Ken Rustad on Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - 11:47 pm: Edit Post

I thought the five-year rule had been extended to seven years and I know of caeses where Peace Corps staff have worked more than five years. I understood the rule applied to being in the same position for no more than five years.

The security recommendations are very bureaucratic and CYA. The better job designs should include job security as a factor. Some of the best jobs were created by the volunteers themselves and that should be left open and not discouraged.

By Kim Asner-Self on Thursday, September 05, 2002 - 5:26 pm: Edit Post

Dead-wood civil servants, turf fighters, fiefdom builders -- abolish the 5 year rule and Peace Corps will become as entrenched as any large bureaucracy with severely limited authority to fire or de-select employees. Alternatives could include:

1. Increase limits in 2.5 year increments (no more than 5 years in one post) up to a maximum of 10 years with 5 years out afterwards.
This could help to preserve institutional memory while building in enforced rotational status.

2. Have staggered rotations PCDs in on year one, new APCD-Ed and APCD-PTO in on year two, new APCD-Admin, APCD-Fish and APCD-Construction in on year three while PCD is extended 2.5 years if good, etc. Make sure that at least one rotation is in PC Washington so that PCDs and APCDs can help PC Washington respond more rapidly and compassionately to the field.

3. In PC Washington, the politics seem to get a lot more play than do the support structures the field needs. Suggest that meaningful site visits to countries occur at least once a year and should include both Country Desk Officer AND their Assistants as these are the people working directly with the field NOT the politically appointed Regional Directors. Regional Directors ought to visit with all pomp and circumstance once every year as well but to interact with diplomatic intent, not programmatic intent. Rotate Country Desk Officers and Assistants into APCD positions.

4. Instead of having Country Desk Assistants, create Co-Country Desk Officers. If this is not practical, then move people up and out into the field quicker. If you abolish the 5 year rule, you will have some countries getting everything and some losing out because of fiefdoms created through the Regional Directors and the Country Desk Officers.

Kim Asner-Self PCV Math Gabon 84-87

By Nancy E. Tongue on Sunday, January 26, 2003 - 11:25 pm: Edit Post

I contracted a Peace Corps illness while in the PC 18 years ago and I continue to fight every step of the way for ongoing medical payment. I am desperately seeking others in similar position to lobby or make this issue public. If you are in the same position or know someone please contact me (Nancy in NYC) at: Fourdirect@aol.com

By hmmm on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 1:22 pm: Edit Post

does it seem to anyone that a huge problem resulting from the five-year rule is that host country nationals (often in very corrupt countries) end up having greater control on the programs than the cd...? It seems to me the cds arrive with no language skills and in the position of being neccessarily dependant on hc nationals for knowledge of how the programs are functioning--nationals who have their own incentives to hide problems. These are highly automous programs that evaluate themselves...who knows what some hc nationals have been willing to do to maintain crumbling programs and save their jobs-the best jobs they've ever had, most likely...
high turnover is a great way to avoid accountability...

By Reba Hall (208-58-217-166.s420.tnt1.annp.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - 8:18 pm: Edit Post

Is there any local email address or phone number or address for the Peace Corps in Honduras, to which I can write to someone who possibly could check out my recent concerns regarding my daughter's safety?

By Anonymous (tulip.tpl.toronto.on.ca - on Thursday, October 09, 2003 - 11:49 am: Edit Post

Contact the US emabasy in Honduras and ask for the
consular section. This is probably handled by the Regional Security Officer (tegucrso@state.gov). Volunteers are federal employees, but are often forgotten because they end up 'local.'

By celiving (ool-4573c1b4.dyn.optonline.net - on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 2:45 pm: Edit Post

New to this website but glad to have found it. Very interesting.

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