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Transformational Diplomacy: Report of State's Advisory Committee

The State Department on January 29 released the final report of the Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy. It is posted at: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/99903.pdf

Editor's Comment
“Transformational Diplomacy” is Secretary Rice's initiative to “transform old diplomatic institutions to serve new diplomatic purposes.” The Advisory Committee, chartered by the State Department in 2006, was charged with providing “private sector expertise related to transformational diplomacy” and developing recommendations to the Secretary that would “support her vision to transform the Department of State.”

The report is broadly consistent with many recent studies from think tanks and others indicating that the instruments of American diplomacy are in need of major restructuring and increased resources in order to meet the demands of globalization, terrorist threats, the rise of China and India, the increasing power of non-state actors, problems raised by climate change and emerging new technologies, and other twenty-first century challenges.

It's likely that the report's recommendations will guide reform and resource proposals for the State Department during the remainder of the Bush administration. Their generally non-partisan nature, moreover, makes it possible they could also help inform the next administration's thinking about re-building American diplomacy.

Following are some of the report's principal recommendations:

  • Double the number of State Department “deployable staff resources” over the next 10 years, including near-term increases of 550 training positions and 380 positions for surge capacity and interagency details.
  • Double USAID's deployable staff over the next three years.
  • Better integrate foreign affairs strategy and resources through:
    • A Presidential statement “underscoring the Department of State's role as the lead foreign affairs agency.”
    • An integrated, interagency foreign affairs plan and budget.
    • “Government-wide regional strategic plans” and a senior civilian deputy at each of the Defense Department's regional combatant commands.
  • Further integrate State and USAID offices.
  • Integrate all government public diplomacy assets “in one semi-autonomous organization reporting to the Secretary of State.”
  • Develop a “standing and reserve cadre of reconstruction and stabilization professionals.”
  • Strengthen the U.S. presence in the UN and other multinational organizations, with “the secondment of Department personnel to the staffs of these institutions for extended tours of duty.”
  • Establish a Center within the State Department to foster “results-oriented partnerships between the Department and corporations, NGOs, foundations, and academic institutions.”
  • Rationalize the Department's organizational structure to accelerate decision-making, devolving “greater authority to senior officials, driving more decision-making down into the organization,” and consolidating selected bureaus and offices.

Members of the Committee, who were appointed by Secretary Rice, include former Louisiana Senator John Breaux, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former JCS Chairman General Richard Myers, Ambassador Tom Pickering, former MIT President Charles Vest, and several senior business leaders such as National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler, Conoco-Phillips CEO James Mulva, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorino.

Committee members were assisted by several top State Department officials including Under Secretary for Management Henrietta Fore and Director General of the Foreign Service Harry Thomas.



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