Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quickie: The Report That Won't Die Quietly

The American Academy of Diplomacy and William J. Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, hosted its annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the U.S. Department of State. The AAD press release states that “the Academy will highlight its ground-breaking "Foreign Affairs Budget of the Future" report, which finds that the State Department, USAID, and related organizations lack the tools to meet today's complex diplomatic challenges. It provides a budget blueprint for the incoming administration to properly fund and staff the State Department. It calls for 50% more diplomats to rebuild America's foreign affairs capability. The Academy will undertake a prolonged outreach effort throughout 2009 to promote the report's findings within Congress, the transition team, and key districts across the U.S.”

At the same day’s Daily Press Briefing, the Deputy Spokesman was left to defend once more the resource gathering for the agency:

QUESTION: Today they’re releasing the Academy of Diplomacy report that makes some pretty damning statements about the condition of the Foreign Service. One of the points was significant portions of the nation’s foreign affairs business simply are not accomplished, because of staffing difficulties and other measures. Do you agree with this and to what extent does –

MR. WOOD: Well, Charley, I haven’t seen the report. But as you know, Secretary Rice has been trying to do everything she can to increase the number of positions of the Foreign Service, to increase the level of funding for the State Department, and she continually works on that. You know, we have to work with Congress. Congress provides our funding. And it’s something that she will continue to work on until, you know, she departs from the Department. But it is a problem. We need more funding for the Foreign Service, for the State Department, in general. But it’s something she’s committed to trying to do.

QUESTION: I think this report’s has been out for some months now. I think they may be re-launching it today.

MR. WOOD: Oh, re-launching. I haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: Unless it’s a new one. I may be mistaken.

MR. WOOD: No, I haven’t seen it.

Yawn ... I think I'll go have my dream now...

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