Sunday, October 25, 2009

State Department IG Says ECA Program Requires More Oversight

The New York Times reports that the State Department IG's office has concluded that the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) failed to properly oversee student exchange programs. See The fact that the well being of children from foreign countries was at issue presumably made the IG take complaints about the foreign exchange program quite seriously.

Some time ago, the ACCG, IAPN and PNG asked the State Department IG to review the practices of the ECA's Cultural Heritage Center. The Bush Administration State Department IG (who later resigned under pressure over an appearance of conflict related to the Iraq reconstruction effort (see simply punted the request back to ECA, which shortly thereafter departed from existing precedent and the Cultural Property Advisory Committee's recommendations before imposing import restrictions on coins of Cypriot type. See

Of course, having been rebuffed by the Department of State IG (and perhaps having been retaliated against for even bringing up concerns about process), the ACCG, IAPN and PNG had no recourse but to litigation.

Hopefully, the Obama Administration State Department will take the concerns about how ECA handles requests for import restrictions on cultural goods more seriously than did the Bush Administration's State Department. So far, the jury is still out. While ECA has reconsidered its initial decision to disallow public comments on the interim review of the Italian MOU (see, it has also refused to reconsider the Bush Administration's extensive FOIA withholdings of documents relevant to the decisions to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot and Chinese type-- this despite a directive from the Obama Justice Department to reevaluate such issues. See

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