Report: State Department lacks experienced diplomats

The growing number of vacancies and positions filled by people who don't have the requisite experience “put diplomatic readiness at risk,” according to the report. 

The GAO noted that the size of the Foreign Service has grown by 17 percent over the past two years, but the staffing gap —2,533 positions in 2011 — remained constant at 28 percent of the total for overseas postings because of increased needs and emerging priorities around the globe.

The GAO concludes that the staffing shortage is especially acute for mid-level positions. The report found that full implementation of the department's hiring plan to boost personnel by 25 percent is likely to be delayed “well beyond” its 2013 target date because of the government's fiscal constraints.