"As of September 2016, 23 percent of overseas language-designated positions (LDP) were filled by Foreign Service officers (FSO) who did not meet the positions’ language proficiency requirements," the report stated.
The State Department has developed a strategic plan to address this issue, and it has implemented a number of actions in its plan. However, it has not yet evaluated if these efforts are effective at improving its foreign language capabilities, the GAO pointed out.
"Regionally, the greatest gaps were in the Near East (37 percent), Africa (34 percent), and South and Central Asia (31 percent)," the report said.
Foreign Service officers told the GAO that language proficiency gaps had affected the State Department’s ability to properly assess visa applications; effectively communicate with foreign audiences; address security concerns; and perform other critical diplomatic duties.