The position of the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, or “R,” was established in 1999 under the Clinton Administration to support the activities moved into the State Department with the abolishment of the United States Information Agency in 1999. This senior leadership position is equivalent to a four-star general and supports the Secretary of State, the President, and the whole-of-government on all issues related to the Government’s engagement of global audiences through a variety of means and methods. There was one Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Clinton Administration, four in the Bush Administration, and, as of this writing, Tara Sonenshine awaits Senate confirmation as the Obama Administration’s second Under Secretary for R. Assistant Secretary Ann Stock is ably and effectively filling the role of the Under Secretary until a new Under Secretary is confirmed.
Since the first Under Secretary was sworn in, the position has been unencumbered more than 30% of the time for a total of 1,375 days, or 3.75 years. The Commission’s staff compared the stability of two other prominent Under Secretary of State positions involved with engaging global publics: the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, or “G,” and the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, or “P.” Neither positions were unfilled as often or for as long as R. The below chart displays the number of Under Secretaries that served in the respective positions and how long it took to replace the Under Secretary. The last column shows the percentage of time each position was unfilled across the same period, beginning in October 1999 when Evelyn Lieberman was sworn in as the first Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
|Under Secretary Office||# Under Secretaries since 1999||Days not filled since 1999||Average Tenure (days)||% not filled since 1999|
Based in part on this information, Commission staff suggests the following questions to guide future research. The Commission welcomes input on these findings and questions.
1. What do the long vacancies between appointments for the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs indicate about the perceived role, importance, and required skills of the position, of public diplomacy, and of the State Department in leading and coordinating Government activities that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics?
2. What is the impact on the perceived value and role of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs within the State Department, across the interagency, and in the Congress when this senior position remains unfilled so often and for long?
3. What role can the Under Secretary play in protecting and furthering the careers of public diplomacy officers considering leadership turnover and frequent and long periods when the position is unencumbered?
Incumbency Chart for the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
|Under Secretary - R||Dates||Number of Days|
|Evelyn Lieberman||Oct 1, 1999 - Jan 20, 2001||477|
|Unfilled||Jan 21, 2001 - Oct 2, 2001||254|
|Charlotte Beers||Oct 2, 2001 - Mar 28, 2003||542|
|Unfilled||Mar 29, 2003 - Dec 15, 2003||261|
|Margaret Tutwiler||Dec 16, 2003 - Jun 30, 2004||197|
|Unfilled||Jul 1, 2004 - Jul 29, 2005||393|
|Karen Hughes||Jul 29, 2005 - Dec 14, 2007||868|
|Unfilled||Dec 15, 2007 - Jun 4, 2008||172|
|James K. Glassman||Jun 5, 2008 - Jan 16, 2009||225|
|Unfilled||Jan 17, 2009 - May 25, 2009||127|
|Judith McHale||May 26, 2009 - Jun 30, 2011||765|
|Unfilled||Jul 1, 2011 - present (Dec 16, 2011)||168+|
Incumbency Chart for the Office of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
|Under Secretary - G||Dates||Number of Days|
|Frank E. Loy||Oct 26, 1998 - Jan 20, 2001||817|
|Unfilled||Jan 21, 2001 - Apr 30, 2001||99|
|Paula Dobriansky||May 1, 2011 - Jan 20, 2009||2,821|
|Unfilled||Jan 21, 2009 - Aug 10, 2009||201|
|Maria Otero||Aug 11, 2009 - present (Dec 16, 2011)||857+|
Incumbency Chart for the Office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs
|Under Secretary||Dates||Number of Days|
|Thomas Reeve Pickering||May 27, 1997 - Dec 21, 2000||1,304|
|Unfilled||Dec 22, 2001 - Mar 25, 2001||93|
|Marc Grossman||Mar 26, 2001 - Feb 25, 2005||1,432|
|Unfilled||Feb 26, 2005 - Mar 17, 2005||19|
|Nicholas Burns||Mar 18, 2005 - Feb 29, 2008||1,078|
|Unfilled||Mar 1, 2008 - May 12, 2008||72|
|William J. Burns||May 13, 2008 - Jul 27, 2011||1,170|
|Unfilled||Jul 27, 2011 - Sep 20, 2011||54|
|Wendy Ruth Sherman||Sep 21, 2011 - present (Dec 16, 2011)||86+|
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