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Transformational Diplomacy Working Group Report

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Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy:
Final report of the Transformational Diplomacy Working Group

Participating Members:

The Honorable John B. Breaux

The Honorable Jennifer Dunn

Kenneth T. Derr

Carly S. Fiorina

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

James J. Mulva


It is important and necessary to effectively communicate the way forward for Secretary Rice’s bold initiative on Transformational Diplomacy with stakeholders in Congress. To supplement this vision of transforming the Department of State and enhance the success of diplomacy, the Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy (ACTD) has determined a number of recommendations related to the institutional challenges facing the Department of State, in particular as they concern the effective structuring, leadership, and management of a global diplomacy enterprise.

The ACTD recommendations depend in large part on budgets, personnel resources and technological innovations. Key to those recommendations, and to further underscore the critical need to transform the Department of State to meet the new global challenges of the 21st Century, the Working Group on Transformational Diplomacy focused on ways for the Department to continue cultivating relationships with the authorizers and appropriators as they fulfill their oversight responsibilities in Congress.

The Working Group on Transformational Diplomacy proposes several actions and incentives to support communication. One of the first and foremost recommendations is for the Department of State to continue its discourse with oversight committees, but to also expand its dialogue to Members of Congress beyond the committees of oversight and build relationships with those Members who have an interest in foreign affairs, State Operations and Foreign Operations. In doing so, the Department would be better positioned to increase the understanding in Congress of its mission, its accomplishments, its hardships and its short range and long range needs.

The cultivation of relationships with Members of Congress should take place from the top down and on a regular basis. In addition, the Department leadership should encourage Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries as appropriate to address all Members of Congress regarding concerns as they arise and relate to foreign policy, operations and management of the Department of State.

Short Range Objectives and Recommendations

The primary objective of the Working Group on Transformational Diplomacy was to identify recommendations to enhance the Department of State’s communication with Congress. The Department should continually work to build relationships and Members of Congress should feel that they are an integrated component of the organization’s operations.

From the outset, our Working Group recommended an initiative for the Department of State to regularly host Members of Congress to in depth and informal discussions on pressing foreign affairs matters and those of growing concern with regard to our national security or the democratic community around the world. Each discussion would fall under one general topic and the objective would be to provide insight and information to Members. Senior level Department officials and issue experts would attend and provide the informational briefings. The discussions would be limited to a small group of Members and different Members would be invited to each discussion. Members of the ACTD would also be present. The Department’s overarching purpose would be to listen to the concerns and suggestions of the Members.

We are pleased that since September 2006, the Department has hosted Members of Congress to such discussions on five occasions. The response has been positive and encouraging. We strongly recommend that this initiative be continued by the Department on a regular basis.

Another early recommendation by the Working Group on Transformational Diplomacy was regarding the opportunity for Congress to reorganize the appropriations committee jurisdiction and oversight for the Department of State in the House of Representatives. Previously, the Department of State operations appropriations were part of the Commerce and Department of Justice appropriations. Foreign Operations were considered separately. We are pleased that the Congress has acted earlier this year to merge the Department of State and Foreign Operations and related programs into its own appropriations subcommittee. This action will provide for more focused oversight of foreign affairs and the Department of State operations.

Following the midterm Congressional elections of 2006, the Working Group also recommended the need to initiate prompt contact with all leaders of key oversight committees. Additionally, we recommended that Department leaders request meetings with committee chairs and ranking members to learn what are their concerns relating to foreign affairs matters and the initiatives they seek to accomplish.

Additional Short Range Recommendations

  • Focus on broad transformational issues, not incremental changes.
  • Suggest 10 potential short-term projects to support the initiative of Transformational Diplomacy and to support Secretary’s work.
  • Consult with all Members of Congress so that they feel they are an integrated component of the functions of the Department of State.
  • Encourage Members of Congress to visit USAID projects in developing nations (e.g. reduction of poverty, support of water and health, etc.)
  • Focus on intense near-term efforts over the next two years.
  • Present the case for a joint National Security Budget.
  • Establish joint secretarial initiatives to bring Department of Defense (DOD)/Department of State (DOS)/U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID)/Department of Homeland Security (DHS) together to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare and present an integrated national security budget.
  • Make the strong case for resources with Congress to meet needs for State Operations.
  • Engage the Advisory Committee in Department of State agenda before Congress.
  • Send Department of State policy drafters to Capitol Hill to explain policies and their justifications to a wider audience.

Long Range Objectives and Recommendations

The Working Group on Transformational Diplomacy feels that the Legislative Branch should be fully aware of the challenges the Department of State faces in this 21st Century as the role of diplomacy evolves to meet the global changes at hand. To this end, we recommend that Members of Congress visit and experience first hand the demands on the Department of State as it works to fulfills its mission. We encourage Members of Congress to travel to the Embassies, Consulates and USAID projects in developing nations and emerging states to learn more about the Department’s efforts spread prosperity and freedom through programs to eradicate disease, fight human trafficking, promote food production, sustain sources of potable water, among many others. Congressional Delegations (Codels) are excellent opportunities for the Department of State to establish and deepen relationships with Members.

Another long range recommendation is to begin building the foundation for a unified U.S. Government approach to national security issues. We urge leadership in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to consider providing venues for joint testimony of national security agencies and foreign affairs agencies.

The Working Group feels that the Department of State can do more to educate more Members of Congress and especially newly elected Members about its mission and the global environment of foreign affairs. We strongly recommend that the Department develop an informative and compelling briefing that provides Members of Congress with a fuller experience on the daily workings of overseas posts, the issues that confront Ambassadors and the personnel who staff the embassies and consulates.

Additional Long Range Recommendations

  • Encourage Department of State personnel to take detail assignments on Capitol Hill.
  • Help to create change in the worldview of Congressional staff that will facilitate more focus on foreign affairs by Members of Congress through --
    • a “Freshman orientation” program for new Members of Congress, and
    • an “Ambassador for a day" program at Foreign Service Institute for all Members.
    • a situational experience/practice at the Department in Operations Center
    • a stimulating half-day program at the Department or Naval War College with a series of speakers at the Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary levels
  • Reach out to Members of Congress who do not travel overseas and encourage visits to foreign posts.
  • Provide briefings for Ambassadors and a training course for embassy personnel on Congressional Delegation (Codels) visits and management.
  • Encourage USAID head of missions to participate with Department personnel throughout Codels.
  • Create a feedback mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of Codels.
  • Carefully consider authorizations legislation and review DOD legislation thoroughly to get a better sense of what areas the Department needs to address with regards to training, personnel floats, recruiting and retention.
  • Foster reform of reporting requirements to sunset obsolete reports.
  • Work for a reduction in legislative earmarks.

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