Transformational Diplomacy Working Group ReportPDF version
Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy:
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
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