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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Strategic Goal 7: Strengthening Consular and Management Capabilities

Bureau of Resource Management
January 15, 2009


Assist Americans citizens to travel, conduct business and live abroad securely, and ensure a high quality workforce supported by modern, secure infrastructure and operational capabilities.

I. Public Benefit

Photo showing the newly completed U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.

Newly completed U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.
SOM Architects Photo

The Department of State commitment to and role in protecting America’s homeland, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, is reflected in a shared vision that includes: improved technology and efficiency at ports of entry and in visa processing; more secure travel documents for the 21st century; and smarter screening technology for government officials to use at home and abroad. In addition, the Department has the responsibility of protecting and providing a wide range of services for U.S. citizens while they are overseas. Approximately five million Americans reside abroad, and Americans make about 40 million trips from the United States every year. As the Department continually enhances the integrity of the U.S. passport, it also maintains the highest standards of excellence in customer service.

In strengthening management capabilities, the Department pursues human resource initiatives aimed at building, deploying, and sustaining a knowledgeable, diverse, and high-performing workforce. The Department also develops and maintains programs that enhance the professionalism of that workforce, such as training to foster foreign language proficiency, public diplomacy expertise, and improved leadership and management skills. The Department of State provides and maintains secure, safe, and functional facilities for its employees in the United States, and overseas for both State employees and those of other agencies. Its diplomatic security programs protect both people and national security information. Supporting diplomacy through efficient and effective information technology is another area of management focus, as is the provision of world-class financial services. As more and more new embassy compounds are completed overseas, the Department and USAID are taking advantage of increased opportunities for joint management platforms.

II. Summary of Performance

FY 2008 Results Achieved for Strategic Goal 7
RatingNumber of IndicatorsPercentage of Indicators
Above target 4 17%
On target15 63%
Improved over prior year, but target not met 1  4%
Below target 1  4%
Data not yet available 3 13%

Key Selected Achievements

  • 100 percent of all passport applications were processed within 25 days of receipt and a total of 16.2 million travel documents were issued.
  • The Foreign Service Institute increased the number of distance learning students by 37 percent in order to reach Department of State employees worldwide with greater resource efficiency.

III. Performance Analysis and Resources Invested

FY 2008 Budget Authority for Strategic Goal 7
(Dollars in Millions)
Strategic PrioritiesBudget
Visa Services$1,105
Passport Services$1,003
American Citizen Services$  144
Human Resources$  651
Information Technology$  529
Diplomatic Security$2,268
Planning and Accountability$  164
Administrative Services$  663
Rightsizing the U.S. Government Overseas Presence$    3

A total of 10 strategic priorities are included under Strategic Goal 7. The following are a few illustrative performance indicators. The complete set of 24 indicators can be found in the Department’s Annual Performance Report at on page 114.

1. HUMAN RESOURCES: Recruit and sustain a high performing, well trained, and diverse work force aligned with mission requirements.

Diplomacy is conducted by people and that is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Ensuring that the Department of State has the right people, with the right skills in the right places is one of the most important management challenges faced by the Department’s leadership.

Analysis: The Secretary’s vision for transformational diplomacy has meant considerable changes in the realignment of overseas positions, an initiative known as Global Diplomatic Repositioning. While all Foreign Service positions worldwide are crucial to the implementation of U.S. foreign policy, critical needs positions are often on the frontlines of policy priorities. This “Percent of Critical Needs Positions” performance indicator below measures the ability of the Department to fill positions at posts with critical personnel needs. The staffing of these positions has been a top priority, but because of staffing shortages and the civilian surge, the Department will be unable to fill all “critical needs” positions above 75 percent.

Performance Indicator Target and Results Summary for 2006-2009
Performance Indicator2006
Percent of Critical Needs Positions at Overseas Missions Staffed with Qualified Officers by the Close of Assignment Season Indicator established in 200775%75%75%Green: On target.
On target
Impact(s): The initiative to staff “Critical Needs Positions” enables the Department to respond more quickly to policy demands and priorities, increases the number of employees in full-time training for difficult languages such as Arabic and Chinese, and better supports employees and their families as the number of positions at unaccompanied and limited accompanied posts increases.
Data Source, Verification, and Validation: This indicator is calculated by HR based on assignments in a given fiscal year to vacant Foreign Service positions designated as “critical needs” positions. Critical needs positions are defined as positions at posts with 25 percent or higher hardship differential. Performance data are validated and verified using Data Quality Assessments and must meet five data quality standards of validity, integrity, precision, reliability, and timeliness. Data quality assessments revealed no significant data limitations.

2. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Develop and maintain modern, secure, and high quality information technology systems and infrastructure.

The Department of State must have secure and modern information technology to provide the information required for effective diplomacy and development. To achieve this goal, the Department has implemented a number of strategic information technology initiatives, including developing state-of-the-art information management tools, services, and repositories both internally and for e-Government partners, citizens, other U.S. Government agencies, private businesses, and nongovernmental organizations.

Analysis: The State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART) initiative highlighted in the indicator below demonstrates how the Department has made progress toward a more efficient global communications system. This user driven solution meets the Department’s messaging, collaboration, archiving and information retrieval needs, and enables rapid and secure electronic connectivity and collaboration with the Foreign Affairs Community.

Performance Indicator Target and Results Summary for 2006-2009
Performance Indicator2006
Progress Towards Implementing State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART) Messaging SystemRequirements re-validated and documentedDeployment of quick-win collaboration functionalityDeployment of full enclave functionality to additional Pilot PostsDeployment successful to 2 planned posts.Green: On target.
On target
Complete Deployment of full system functionality to 12 Pilot Posts. Initiate Worldwide Deployment.
Impact(s): The Department’s management and communication capabilities are strengthened by developing and deploying the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART). When complete, SMART will constitute a fully modernized, simple, and secure worldwide communications infrastructure.
Data Source, Verification, and Validation: Bureau of Information Resource Management reports, Steering Committee meetings, CIO briefings, and Gartner Group independent verification and validation reports. Performance data are validated and verified using Data Quality Assessments and must meet five data quality standards of validity, integrity, precision, reliability, and timeliness. Data quality assessments revealed no significant data limitations.

For a complete discussion of the following strategic priorities including performance measures, please refer to the APR.

3. DIPLOMATIC SECURITY: Safeguard personnel from physical harm and national security information from compromise.

4. FACILITIES: Provide safe, secure, and functional work facilities for overseas and domestic personnel.

5. VISA SERVICES: Safeguard U.S. borders through vigilance in adjudicating visa applications while simultaneously facilitating legitimate travel.

6. PASSPORT SERVICES: Provide American citizens with secure passports, delivered in a timely manner.

7. AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES: Offer a broad range of appropriate services to U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad, such as assistance in cases of death, illness, destitution, arrest, imprisonment, crime, and natural or human-made disasters.

8. PLANNING AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Continuously improve financial performance and integrate budgeting with strategic and performance planning.

9. ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES: Deliver customer-oriented and innovative administrative and information services, acquisitions, and assistance.

10. RIGHTSIZING THE U.S. GOVERNMENT OVERSEAS PRESENCE: In accordance with a Congressional mandate, the Department conducts rightsizing studies on all U.S. missions worldwide, and reviews and adjudicates staffing projections for all new embassy compounds.


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