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Briefing on State Department Funding Levels

Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management
Washington, DC
November 18, 2008

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Funding Charts

MR. MCCORMACK: Good morning, everybody.

QUESTION: Good morning.

MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, good to see you back.

QUESTION: You’re back. You’re (inaudible) back.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, I know. I know, it’s good to be back. This is going to be facts and figures morning at the State Department. Yes, indeed. I’ve asked Under Secretary for Management Affairs Pat Kennedy to come down after – I want to run through a couple of things – issues, facts related to personnel here, and then Pat’s going to talk a little bit about resource issues.

The motivation here is, you know, I see a lot of news stories talking about the Secretary’s efforts regarding resources for this building. And let me just say, there’s nobody who’s fought harder for resources for this building, to make sure that our people can do the job that they’ve been tasked by her and the President to do. And she’s been successful at it. So what I – and, however, I’ve seen news stories occasionally that pop up that take a contrary view, and we see some of those same tired old quotes and mems out there. And I thought what we would do is have Pat down here to help you separate fact from myth.

But just let me start off with an interesting little factoid here in terms of summer interns. And as you know, summer interns are near and dear to the heart of the Secretary of State, as she once was a summer intern here at the State Department. I’m happy to report that we have a record number of intern applications for the summer of 2008 – 6,289[1] – and that you have seen a – we have seen a steady increase starting in the summer of 2004, when we had 3,902 applications. And we expect from these applications that in the summer of 2008 we’re going to have 1,187 students interning here at the State Department.[2] That’s up from 420 students in the summer of 2004.

And I thought I would mention that if you look at the various polls and rankings of best places to work and most sought-after places to work by young people coming out of college, the State Department’s right at the top of the list. In Business Week we’re in the top five. We’re in the company of places like Google, Disney, and Apple. And out of hundreds of employers, the Department of State ranked first as an ideal employer for liberal arts graduates.

So, as I said, this is facts and figures morning at the State Department. What I want to do is have Pat do a little presentation for you. You can ask him whatever questions you have on your mind that are generated by the presentation or otherwise. And then, I’ll step back in once he is done to answer any other questions you might have about news of the day or any other issue.

So with that, let me turn it over to Pat.

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Good morning. As Sean has said, there have been a lot of – there’s been a lot of press reporting recently about resource issues at the State Department. There has also been a lot of studies done by outside groups such as Stimson and others addressing State Department issues relating to resources. And I think one can basically say that we are in general agreement that the State Department is under-resourced, that there is a need for more resources in the State Department. If you – you know, quotes like the State Department is a thousand jobs short and they’re – lacks tools, I think those are true statements. But what they have to be done is to put into the context of what has been doing.

Can I just see the first slide for a second? If you look at – you know, and this is just the last three years, the ’07 and ’08, and then the FY ’09 budget that is now pending up on the Hill. And this is just for State Department operations, the operating accounts. I’m not talking about the foreign assistance accounts. I’m not talking about contributions to international organizations. I’m just talking about the funds that I use on behalf of the Secretary and deploy worldwide to conduct our missions.

And so you can see there – that there’s an upward trend. And that says to me that what we’re – what we’ve got here – and I’m going to use the ’09 budget, I think, as the example to talk to because that’s the one that’s pending on the Hill now, as an example of how the Secretary has pushed forward on getting us budgets, both, as you can see, in ’07 and ’08 that are growing, but also worked very closely with OMB and the White House personally to build a budget to get to the Congress for FY ’09 that reflects our needs.

We started this process out over a year ago, shortly after I came back to the Department. Lots of meetings with the Secretary going over options, going over numbers, arriving at conclusions, getting them to OMB, deploying the Secretary at OMB and at the White House to end up with the package that is now pending on the Hill.

And if you look at some of the quotations or concerns that people have raised about, for example, enhancing training capacity, in the ’09 budget that the Secretary has out – has on the Hill right now, there are over 450 new positions simply for training, 300 of them for language training, because we can see very easily, as she does in her travels, or from General Accountability Office reports, need for more people with Chinese, Japanese, Urdu, Pushtu, Arabic, et cetera. So a big chunk out there – 300 of the 450 – for language training.

Another 75 for enhanced – what we call professional training, newissues that’ll come along, whether it be, you know, climate change or new economic trends or whatever. So big chunk there. And the last 75 of the 450 are for – to send additional State Department personnel to the senior military schools: Carlisle, Montgomery, Leavenworth, Newport, ICAF, and NDU down at Fort McNair.

I think this goes to another point that is often talked about is, do we have enough personnel who are trained to work collegially to understand, you know, the civilian-military relationship, to understand how to work in essentially the new world, which is much more of an interagency world than it was before. And so we already have numbers of students going there, but the request has – we’ve put an additional 75. That means every year we could run 75 more State Department personnel through the military training institutions, which are absolutely fantastic in what they teach. But also the leavening that takes place that the – that our students who go there bring back after working for a year with the military students and civilians from the intelligence community, from the law enforcement community, from other civilian agencies that are also in attendance at all the military schools.

Following up on that for a second, one of the criticisms of – is that we’re not preparing ourselves for this new, you know, multiagency world, so to speak. The Secretary’s budget request also includes 50 positions to expand our cadre of what are called POLADS, political advisors, State Department personnel who are assigned to major and subordinate military commands. We are now – we now have people at all the major combatant commands and at the major domestic commands, but we need to bolster that capacity and, in fact, put two in some locations and also expand out to more subordinate commands. And the 50 additional positions in this budget request would do exactly that.

There’s also been discussion about what is our outreach: are we doing enough in the public affairs and public diplomacy world. There are 39 positions in the budget to expand public diplomacy and educational and cultural exchanges, again, focusing on what the Secretary sees is major needs in the time ahead.

Another issue that’s often addressed in a number of the reports are: Are we taking the right steps in stabilization; are we moving ahead in the right direction on being able to deploy personnel to countries coming out of turmoil or still in turmoil. And the budget, again, on the Hill right now has 350 positions to provide the permanent cadre for the Civilian Stabilization Initiative as well as the funding for deployment that goes with that. You know, I think you’ve all seen some of the material that John Herbst has put out – is putting together. This puts this on a permanent footing, also gives us the funding for the initial tranche of the 2,000 federal employees who would constitute the Ready Reserve.

So you put all of this together, this package of position requests is almost 1,100 – 1,095 new positions the Secretary has put into the budget and has gotten OMB and the White House to buy off on, and it’s now pending on the Hill for the factors that I have outlined. There – additionally, because we also are concerned about various other things, there are another 200 positions for our security services, because obviously, security remains all of our concern, and a particular one of the Secretary, and that there are an additional 448 positions as part of our Consular and Diplomatic Security services contribution to the overall border security initiative. In sum total, there are over 1,500 positions pending Hill appropriations.

And so with that – those kind of numbers, I think that we’re addressing the issues that we’ve been talking about: enhanced training capacity, interagency capability – interagency staffing capabilities, public diplomacy increase, civilian stabilization, obviously continuing the security of our personnel overseas and enabling them to get out and do the missions that they need to do, and lastly, border security. That’s the position side.

The number side, you see the curve going up. The request for 2009 is $1.5 billion over the 2008 request, which is about a 22 percent – 21.8 percent increase over the previous year’s. That money goes with the positions. Obviously, it funds the positions, but more importantly than just salaries, it gives us the resources that we need to deploy the people, to give them the communications tools, the housing, the office space, whatever they need in order to do their jobs, there’s not only the money to hire them, but then there’s the money to train and deploy them as well.

In sum, I think we’re looking at an overall growth pattern here. In FY2001, the State Department position request for Americans was about 15,000. With the request that’s pending on the Hill now, that pushes the State Department’s – so it would push the State Department’s overall staffing to almost 21,000 – 20,960. So the positions have been steadily increasing over time.

And if you can put up the second slide, please.

You can also see the numbers over the – since the beginning of this decade, a steady increase in the – from 2001 to 2008. And just one footnote about the 2009. All from 2002 through 2008, there were supplementals, and so the 2008 figure, which appears to be higher than the 2009 figure, is only that because – well, that’s both the 2008 appropriation and the 2008 supplemental. The supplemental request has not yet gone from OMB to the Congress for 2009, and so that extension, so to speak, on the top of that bar has not – is not available yet, and we are discussing with OMB exactly what that number should be.

So, in sum, I think that this reflects the appreciation that this institution and the Secretary has to find the additional resources that are needed. It reflects our identifying and, in fact, paralleling a lot of the reports that you’ve seen in the newspapers. I mean, just mentioning the Stimson study, it talks about increasing core staffing, it talks about training, it talks about increasing public diplomacy, and it talks about stabilization, and it talks about working with the military. And these are all factors that you can see we are asking for positions for in the 2009 budget. And the 2009 budget is still pending on the Hill. We think that it’s totally appropriate that the State Department is part of the national security apparatus of the United States, and what we need to do is get the 2009 budget passed so we can get on with the task at hand.

And with that, I’d be glad to take any questions you might want to – Sean, should I –

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, absolutely. Sure.

QUESTION: Pat, understanding what you said, can you put that in the context of the current economic situation the country is in, and tell us, you know, whether the State Department would be willing, along with other agencies, to give up some of its requests to help the overall economic situation?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I mean, you’re obviously right; there is a different economic situation today than there was three months ago. I think that, though, the answer I’d have to give you is, it very much depends upon the taskings and assignments that are given to the State Department. If the requests that we have coming to the State Department, coming to the Secretary from the President, from the National Security Council, from events in the world, if they require the continued level of effort that we are – that are being levied upon us to date, it would be very, very difficult to back – for us to back down from these numbers.

The Defense Department bill did pass in – just before October 1st at the full request level for DOD, and therefore we believe that given the world situation as we see it now, the ’09 request is fully needed in order to continue advancing U.S. national interest against the taskings that we have.

QUESTION: Isn’t the point of the studies, Pat, the Stimson and I don’t know whatever else, that it’s not that things are being done and that things are moving in the right direction, but they’re not being – it’s not on a big enough scale? That it needs – that State is so woefully underfunded and undermanned, for lack of a better word, that it needs really much more of a jolt than this? And then how do you combat the idea that, oh, this is just another – you know, one more bureaucracy in this town that wants to get bigger?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Okay. I think – let me take the first point. You’re right; there is a – there is the necessity for a bump-up. But I would submit that a bump-up of either 1,000, 1,100 or 1,500 positions, whichever – whether or not you want to count the border security part of this as in the overall totals – I think that is a significant jump. If you went to the back of the Stimson report, which is the latest one, I think that they were recommending a total staffing increase in 2009 of about 318, and then ramping up to about 1,600 in 2010 and then 1,200 and then having it tail off for an overall increase of about 4,700 - 4,800. What we’ve got now, I believe, pending on the Hill is the request for a thousand, which is certainly running ahead of that ramp-up curve.

And what we have been preparing and will be discussing with OMB is a budget package that is equivalent to what DOD does. DOD puts forward a five-year budget protect – projection to OMB and then on to the Congress. I mean, you’re only asking for appropriations for the year that you’re engaged in. But DOD and several other entities as well lay out a five-year projection so that OMB, the White House and the Congress can see the direction that you feel you should go in. And I can’t talk to you today about what our 2010/2010-14 budget is going to be because it’s not finished, it’s not public yet. But at the Secretary’s direction, it reflects this growth and increase that are fully consistent with the bump-ups that the various reports, including Stimson, have recommended.

To your second question about is this just another bureaucratic increase, I guess I’m a bureaucrat so then maybe it is a bureaucratic increase. At the same time, if you look at all the taskings and missions that the State Department is being asked to engage in – the Civilian Stabilization Initiative, incredible growth in passport issuance, incredible growth in visa issuance – the number of visas issued, including student visas, is back up to where it was prior to 9/11. So workload demand is growing. There are many more issues out there whether it be avian influenza or the world economic crisis that requires State Department economic reporting from around the world.

So I would submit that as long as all – that this information or these services are needed in order to arrive at rational national security decisions, you need the State Department interventions overseas, you need the State Department’s diplomacy overseas, and therefore, you need to provide the State Department with the resources in order to make that happen.

QUESTION: So are you saying that the Stimson report didn’t take into account any of the ’09 budget request? I mean, did they just not know or what’s the deal?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, no. I think – no, I’m not criticizing the Stimson report. I’m just saying in terms of – their phasing and our phasing are very, very close. We’re just – we just started the phasing faster than they did, that it reflects the Secretary’s view that we need to grow the State Department in order to carry out its important missions. The Stimson feels that we need to grow the State Department to carry out its important missions. And so they’re in sync. I mean, they’re just sort of different – slightly different ramp-ups.

QUESTION: Did this come up yesterday in the Secretary’s meeting with the transition team leaders when she (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That – I wasn’t in that meeting so I can’t tell you that.

Yes.

QUESTION: Sir, did you increase the budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Yes, but I don’t handle the foreign assistance accounts. I handle the – all the State Department accounts. And so the answer is –

QUESTION: But it’s –

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is yes, AID’s budget is up, but it is not reflected in the numbers I have talked about and it’s not reflected in these bar charts. Their numbers of personnel are up. Their budget requests are also up. But for the details, I would have to ask Sean or Robert to bring in someone who is a little more competent than I am to address foreign assistance issues.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right.

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Okay. Thank you all very much.

MR. MCCORMACK: Thanks, Pat.
2008/964


[1] I’m happy to report that we had a record number of intern applications for the summer of 2008 – 6,289 –
[2] And from these applications in the summer of 2008 we had 1,187 students interning here at the State Department.


Released on November 18, 2008

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