A Federal agency within the Department of State, OFM claims three basic missions: 1) to provide services for foreign diplomats living in the United States, 2) to monitor the activities of these foreign diplomats so that they do not abuse their immunity status, and 3) to treat foreign diplomats in such a way that their countries will treat U.S. diplomats stationed overseas in the same manner. OFM is authorized to impose restrictions of services on a foreign government and its diplomats if that government imposes them on the U.S. OFM is also authorized to enter into negotiations with that country to remove those restrictions once secure, fair treatment is given American officials in the other country.
OFM was established by Congress as an advocate for U.S. diplomatic treatment abroad, pursuant to the Foreign Missions Act of 1982. That Act gave the United States government jurisdiction over the operation of foreign diplomatic and consular missions and their personnel in the U.S., including responsibility for regulating various activities of the foreign personnel and dependents, as well as facilitating the benefits they are to receive in reciprocation for providing similar privileges to American diplomats in their countries. Those privileges are defined by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which cover four functional areas: the acquisition, ownership, and sale of real property; customs duty-free entry; tax exemption; and travel. A Diplomatic Motor Vehicles Program was established in 1984, through which OFM is also to supply a full range of motor vehicle services for the foreign mission community.