Friday, May 15, 2009

Grading Condi: Is this a C+ or a D ?

The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is a nonpartisan umbrella group of 11 organizations concerned about U.S. diplomatic readiness ( It has just released its Task Force Report “Managing Secretary Rice’s State Department: An Independent Assessment, May 2009.” Only the FAC analyses Secretaries as institutional managers. Its report says that their objective is to focus Secretaries of State on resource and management issues by analyzing achievements as well as problems in this dimension of their responsibilities.

Some excerpts below from the report. Read the whole thing here.

As this report documents, Secretary Rice’s performance was central to the failure in achieving adequate resources. On the other hand, she played a key role in successful efforts to better coordinate economic development and start to build a reconstruction and stabilization surge capacity. […] [D]espite dramatic increases in staffing needs worldwide during her tenure in office, Secretary Rice managed to secure only eight new positions for the Foreign Service in her first three annual budget requests (excluding positions funded from special sources for consular and security personnel). During these three years Secretary Rice did not commit her personal efforts in the struggles with OMB and Congress. Instead, as noted above, it was only in the Bush Administration's final budget request that she sought a significant number of new positions.

Secretary Rice does not, of course, bear full responsibility for the current personnel gaps. Secretary James Baker decided that embassies in the 13 new states emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union would be staffed within existing resources. During Secretary Warren Christopher’s tenure the intake of junior officers was all but suspended for several years. Secretary Albright did little to increase resources when Yugoslavia disintegrated into seven new countries and public diplomacy and USAID lost significant human and financial resources as the “peace dividend” was cashed. Only Secretary Colin Powell fought the good fight with OMB and the Congress and gained about 1,200 new positions in his “Diplomatic Readiness Initiative.” Unfortunately, these new positions were quickly absorbed by the civilian surges in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. […] In summary, Secretary Rice’s initial three years of virtual inaction on the staffing front left our foreign affairs agencies hobbled by a human capital crisis. Despite her clear responsibility to lead and manage the foreign affairs agencies under the 150 account of the national budget, Secretary Rice fell short when it came to properly maintaining the platform upon which diplomacy and development assistance are conducted.

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