Below from the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) are excerpts from U. S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony on the FY 2003 Budget request before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Secretary delivered similar testimony before the House International Relations Committee on Wednesday, February 6.
Opening Statement - Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell at Budget Hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"As many of you will recall, at my first budget testimony last March I said I was going to break the mold and instead of talking exclusively about foreign affairs, I was going to focus on the financial condition of the departmentboth in terms of State Department operations and in terms of foreign operations. I did that because the resources challenge for the Department of State had become a serious impediment to the conduct of the nation's foreign policy. And you heard my testimony and you responded, and we are grateful."
"Because of your understanding and generosity, we have already made significant progress and in the remainder of FY 2002 we will make more. In new hires for the Foreign Service, we have made great strides. For example, we doubled the number of candidates for the Foreign Service Written Examination - and this year we will give the exam twice instead of just once. Moreover, our new recruits better reflect the diversity of our country with nearly 17% of those who passed last September's written exam being members of minority groups. We have also improved Civil Service recruitment by creating new web-based recruiting tools. And once we identify the best people we bring them on more quickly. For Foreign Service recruits, for instance, we have reduced the time from written exam to entry into service from 27 months to less than a year. We are also working with OMB to create extensive new performance measures to ensure that we are hiring the very best people."
"I am also pleased that we have been able to improve the morale of our State Department families. We are especially proud of our interim childcare center at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center. It opened on September 4 and can handle a full complement of 30 infants and toddlers."
"The idea of family and the quality of life that must always nourish that idea even in the remotest station is uppermost in our minds at the Department. While we concentrate on the nation's foreign affairs we must also focus on caring about those Americans who conduct it, as well as the many thousands of Foreign Service Nationals who help us across the globe. For example, our sixty Afghan employees in Kabul worked diligently to maintain and protect our facilities throughout the 13 years the Embassy was closed. They worked at considerable personal risk and often went months without getting paid. They even repaired the chancery roof when it was damaged by a rocket attack. This is the sort of diligence and loyalty that is typical of our outstanding Foreign Service Nationals."
"*Continue initiatives to recruit, hire, train, and deploy the right work force. The budget request includes $100 million for the next step in the hiring process we began last year. With these dollars, we will be able to bring on board 399 more foreign affairs professionals and be well on our way to repairing the large gap created in our personnel structure and, thus, the strain put on our people by almost a decade of too few hires, an inability to train properly, and hundreds of unfilled positions. In FY 2004, if we are able to hire the final 399 personnel, we will have completed our three-year effort with respect to overseas staffing - to include establishing the training pool I described to you last year that is so important if we are to allow our people to complete the training we feel is needed for them to do their jobs. Soon, I will be back up here briefing you on the results of our domestic staffing review."
"*Continue to upgrade the security of our overseas facilities. The budget request includes over $1.3 billion to improve physical security, correct serious deficiencies that still exist, and provide for security-driven construction of new facilities at high-risk posts around the world."
"Mr. Chairman, all of these State Department and Related Agencies programs and initiatives are critical to the conduct of America's foreign policy. Some of you know my feelings about the importance to the success of any enterprise of having the right people in the right places. If I had to put one of these priorities at the very pinnacle of our efforts, it would be our people. We must sustain the strong recruiting program we began last year. At the same time, we will continue measuring our progress not simply on numbers hired but on how our new hire's enhance the Department's mission. We want to get to a point where our people can undergo training without seriously jeopardizing their missions or offices; where our men and women don't have to fill two or three positions at once; and where people have a chance to breathe occasionally. Morale at the Department has taken a definite swing upward and we want it to continue to rise and to stay as high as possible. As a soldier, I can tell you that such high morale, combined with superb training and adequate resources, is the key to a first-class offenseand that is what our men and women are, the first line of offense for America."
The full text of Secretary Powell's testimony is available at:
February 11, 2002