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Presentation of Final Report of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Treaty Room, Department of State, Washington, DC
January 29, 2008

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(1:30 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, I’d like to thank you, Henrietta, not only for the introduction but for the great work that you’ve done as the Department’s representative for the Transformational Diplomatic Advisory Board.

Secretary Rice with Tom Pickering, John Engler and John Breaux at the presentation of Final Report of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy.  State Department photo by Michael GrossI want to welcome the members of the Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy and especially its Co-Chairs, John Breaux and Former Governor John Engler, both good friends, and one of the giants of the Foreign Service, Tom Pickering, who is with us, too.

John Negroponte, thank you for being here, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today it is my pleasure to receive the final report of the Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy. This is a serious and distinguished group, and I have enjoyed consulting and sharing ideas and having dinner with you once in a while over the past 18 months. The members of this bipartisan Committee have decades of experience among them, and they approach U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomacy with a diversity of experience, from diplomacy to academia, to the private sector, in the case of Senator Breaux even from the Congress. Thank you very much, John. All of this is evident in the excellent work that we have before us today.

I welcome the recommendations on how we can continue to transform the State Department to meet the challenges of the 21st century. My team and I will carefully consider each of the findings, and as we continue to reform and reshape America’s practices and institutions of diplomacy and development assistance, I hope that I can continue to call upon all of you for your counsel.

On that note, I want to thank again Henrietta and Pat Kennedy, who are helping to lead the reform efforts here at the State Department, and who, along with many other partners in this building, were instrumental in working with the Committee.

Already, we have begun acting on these recommendations. As the Committee has suggested, we have now created a Global Partnership Center. More and more in the 21st century, diplomacy, development, and strategic communications are not going to be the work of governments alone. To succeed in all these endeavors, the United States will need the active engagement of our private sector, our schools, our universities, our NGOs, and private individuals. This new Center enables the Department to build better and coordinate better the public-private partnerships that we need to be effective in the 21st century.

Let me stress that reforming and transforming the State Department is a long-term effort. It began before me, with my friend and predecessor, Colin Powell. And I'm quite confident that it will continue long into the future. This is a critical national security priority, and to succeed we will need the support of the Congress, the American people and of concerned men and women throughout the country. We will be saying more about the need of the support of the Congress in the next month as budget times approach.

So, in the months and years ahead, the men and women of American diplomacy will look to have the continued support, ideas and arguments of the nation in helping to explain their importance and in helping them to do a better job. We will look for continuing advocacy for the essential and often brave work that is being done by our Foreign Service, Civil Service and especially our Foreign Service Nationals around the world. We will look for continuing leadership in this charge, on the country's behalf, of a goal that we all share -- a confident America, engaged in the world as a capable global leader, with a bipartisan foreign policy rooted in deep national interest and rooted in our enduring ideals.

And I'm now going to invite the members of the Committee who are with us to say a few words.

MR. BREAUX: Thank you very much, Secretary Rice and Secretary Negroponte and my colleagues on our Committee, and our commission. Henrietta, thank you so very much for serving as our executive director to keep this very diverse and different organization going for the time that we have spent doing this.

You know, the world may be getting smaller every day but the problems and the challenges that we face grow every day at the same time. And therefore, I think it's very important that this report that we have prepared and are submitting today, really is an imperative request from our group to the Congress to both look at short term as well as long-term actions that can support the Secretary's vision of what this new transformational diplomacy should be all about. We have copies and I see that most of our guests in the audience have copies of the report. It will also be on various websites which are indicated in the report as well.

We started this effort back in June of 2006 and have been working on it periodically on a regular basis actually, to have several meetings, several dinners with the Secretary where she gave her personal time and commitment to helping us come up with these recommendations in this report. Members of our Committee, I think, if you look at the picture and you can see from who was on the Committee, it's really a very broad-based Committee. It was Democrats, it was Republicans, it was business, it was government. It was really across the board, coming together to talk about what we could recommend to try and bring our State Department into the 21st century not only for today and for the next several months, but really for the next several decades.

Members of our Committee, as I said, represented a very broad section. I just want to mention their names: Dr. Barry Blechman, who is chairman of the Henry Stimson Center; Steve Case, who is a chairman of Revolution, LLC; Dr. Johnnetta Cole; Mr. Kenneth Derr, who's a retired chairman of -- and CEO -- of the Chevron Corporation.

One of our former colleagues who left us far too soon, the Honorable Jennifer Dunn, who served with me in Congress and was a great contributor is going to be sorely missed. A colleague who you're going to hear from in a minute, the former Governor John Engler. Carly Fiorina, who was a major contributor, comes from the business world and did a terrific job for us. Mr. Yousif Ghafari, who is soon to be, I think, Ambassador Ghafari, hopefully. The Honorable Newt Gingrich made major contributions, Mel Lagomasino as well and Terry* McGraw who's chairman and president and CEO of the McGraw Hill Companies. General Richard Myers, obviously coming from the military, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our good friend Tom Pickering. Pamela Thomas-Graham, who's the senior vice president of Liz Claiborne, Inc., and Dr. Charlie Vest, who's National Academy of Engineering and former president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT.

We're also very fortunate to have a number of very important contributions from within the State Department itself. I want to mention we had working group partners who I'd like to also thank -- Assistant Secretary Jeff Bergner. Jeff, thank you very much for your work. Foreign Service Institute Director Ruth Whiteside, Director General Harry Thomas and his predecessor, Director General George Staples, Assistant Secretary Brad Higgins, Assistant Secretary Chellaraj, CIO Jim Van Derhoff, Deputy Assistant Secretary Sid Kaplan, and Deputy CIO Susan Swart and their support staff. All of these helped us and made recommendations and interacted with our Committee to produce the report that we have here today.

We formed five working groups. That was the way we, under Henrietta’s direction, decided the best way to approach this and each working group had their own meetings and had input from different sources within each working group dealing with the workforce, with IT capabilities, and development of our private sector partnerships, and also, very importantly, the relationships between the State Department and the members of Congress and how that can be improved, which I think is critically important to have them involved in the decisions that we make over here, also looking into the future and what we’re going to be doing down the road.

Again, let me just conclude by thanking Henrietta again for your tireless service in this area and Madame Secretary, for your direction and leadership, without which none of this would have been possible. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. ENGLER: Thank you much, Senator Breaux. I’m delighted to join my co-chairmen, Senator Breaux, Ambassador Pickering and to speak on behalf of the members of this Advisory Committee because we certainly enjoyed this challenge and it was, indeed, a challenge. Secretary Rice said – sort of at the beginning, she spoke of the extraordinary times like those of today, where the very terrain of history is shifting beneath our feet. We must transform old diplomatic institutions to serve new diplomatic purposes.

Well, that’s a pretty sweeping challenge to a small committee of volunteers, but we went to work and I think that we can all be very proud of the report that you have today. And Madame Secretary, I hope that you and your team, which has been so instrumental in providing us with the resources and the information and answering seemingly an unending stream of questions, will have success during the coming year, the remaining – what is it, 356 days, and then that we leave this report with the implementation underway, with the challenge for those who come after to continue the progress of this transformation.

And I want to join my co-chair, Senator Breaux, in saying so many people in the Department who provided the information, who came and testified, who came and answered questions, who explained their programs, who endured the probing and the prodding of the Committee members. You really impressed us and, I think, deserve a great deal of credit for the recommendations that we have here today.

In the call for action, there are a number of key points. The role that – the subcommittee that I worked on was the private-public partnerships and it’s interesting -- in the nearly $120 billion of aid or so, roughly that amount in 2005, the last year that we had all the data, we had some – 95 billion of that came from private philanthropic foundations, NGOs, others that played a role in terms of the U.S. aid. So the private sector activities, and those are just nicely underway – much has been said of the sovereign wealth funds and what impact they’re going to have. It’s the family wealth funds in some of these individual corporations today. It’s the philanthropic work not just of a Bill Gates, someone as prominent and well-known as he, but literally hundreds, thousands of other – I guess as a former president might call them -- points of light out there that are really working around the world to try to improve conditions.

And we think that the opportunity to partner up – not to try to dictate or direct but to be aware and to increase the transfer of knowledge – it’s something all of these groups, in talking with them and when they were talking with us, they worry about this. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. They don’t want to redo something that was already proven to be a failed strategy. What they want to do is leverage and increase what works.

And Madame Secretary, the selection of Henrietta to go over to AID, it sort of came at a fortuitous time because she really does have the opportunity then to get a leg up on some of the most important opportunities that are there.

And we also took note of and were highly complimentary of the redeployment that’s already underway, recognizing – and part of this report talks as this new diplomatic era that we’re in, where are the peoples of the world that we must be engaged with, and where are there nations of, say, a billion or more people where we have to have a different level of engagement today and where the economic challenges are very much different today.

I think that this report serves as a basis for so much. It’s very exciting to talk about it. But what got me very excited is when I heard from veterans like Tom Pickering, who have been here, who have been successful, but look at what these recommendations do, and they put them in perspective for us.

So I think, let the experts come forward and I’ll stop talking. Thank you very much for the cooperation, Madame Secretary, from you and everyone in the Department. Thank you.

MR. PICKERING: Madame Secretary and Chairman Breaux and Engler, John and Henrietta, it’s a special pleasure and indeed a high honor for me both to have been asked to join the Committee but also to come here today to say a very few words.

I, in a sense, I think, in the wonderful coterie that John Breaux described to you of individuals on the Committee, am the only ringer. It weighs heavily on my mind. (Laughter.) I see out there many old and new partners in crime here in the State Department.

Pat, it’s a delight to have you join Henrietta in moving this ahead, and I think of no two people who are better equipped to do so. In light of those remarks, please address all of your complaining e-mails to me and all your complimentary ones to the two Chairmen. (Laughter.)

Madame Secretary, we were acutely conscious of the huge burdens you carry, and indeed the tremendous challenges that are out there before the Department, and we worked hard not only to describe the immediate needs – and we hope to bring, and I think we have, much of our experience from the private sector as well as our experience in government and Congress, to the, I hope, creative ideas which we have put before you.

The burden you carry is already enormous, but you will know that the report now gives you four separate hats. We believe that you are the Secretary of State for diplomacy, as we normally understand it. You’re the Secretary of State for foreign assistance. You’re the Secretary of State for public diplomacy. And you’re the Secretary of State for reconstruction and stabilization. At least, that’s what we believe.

And we have tried to help empower you, the Department and all of your colleagues here with some challenging new ideas about how, and in what way, you can be equipped to work this particular set of issues with more efficiency, with more funding, with the people necessary to do that, with all those critical requirements that are out there to meet the task.

And as both John Engler and John Breaux have said, we enjoyed and indeed we profited from the information imparted to us by most of the people sitting in this room about what they believed would be useful to you and the Department to make this move ahead. In that sense, I hope that you will find that the report will move ahead, in this Administration and beyond, to set a path for a period of regular, continuing transformation to face up to all of those difficult and important challenges.

I hope, too, that the new budget – and I have some inkling that it will – will begin the first step of moving ahead and that all of us who have been engaged in the report are pleased and proud of that news.

Finally, I understand that the rumor around this town is that you like baseball. So thank you, Madame Secretary, for stepping up to the plate on this report. We appreciate it immensely. It will mean the difference, I believe, between another report on the shelf

and one that is a living document that goes on from strength to strength.

Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Madame Secretary, co-chairs, friends, John Breaux and John Engler and colleague Tom Pickering. We’ve known each other in this and many previous incarnations, Henrietta. Just delighted to associate myself with this effort. Look forward to partnering with Henrietta Fore and Pat Kennedy in trying to implement what we can in the immediate, with respect to this report. But looking more to the future, I think these are really very crucial recommendations in terms of both the human and material resources that we’re going to need to carry out our diplomacy in the decades ahead, as well as the innovative ideas that you have brought to us for how we can go best about carrying out these four major tasks that were just outlined by Ambassador Pickering. So this is just the beginning of a process, as the Secretary said, and something that we look forward to, influencing and guiding this Department for many years to come. And in the Deputy Secretary of State, you have a very enthusiastic and grateful supporter. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me thank you again, all of you, for coming. Let me thank the members of the Committee and especially the co-chairs. But I just want to say that the only reason that I think I might have a chance of being all four secretaries of state – and remember, I’m an only child, so that’s a bit daunting – is because we do have an outstanding team. And I especially want to just say to John Negroponte who is the Deputy Secretary of State, that John is such an extraordinary person with such extraordinary experience and has also helped to lead this department very well. So John, as we undertake the implementations of these recommendations, I just wanted everyone to know what an extraordinary honor and privilege it is to work with you every day. Thank you. (Applause.)


Released on January 29, 2008

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