printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Looking Ahead and Addressing Challenges

Bureau of Resource Management
December 16, 2009


Photo showing U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressing the employees of the Department of State in Washington, D.C. in January 2009.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton address the employees of the Department of State in Washington, D.C. in January 2009. AFP Image

The United States and the world face great perils and urgent foreign policy challenges, including ongoing wars and regional conflicts, the global economic crisis, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, worldwide poverty, food insecurity, and pandemic disease.

Multilateral institutions leverage greater global resources and complement bilateral assistance. The U.S. will invest in and encourage contributions to multilateral institutions. The U.S. is committed to working as part of a collaborative global effort centered around country-led processes to improve food security. The U.S. will work with other governments, multinational institutions, NGOs, private companies, and the poor themselves to reduce hunger sustainability, raise the incomes of the rural poor, and reduce the number of children suffering from under-nutrition.

In 2009, Secretary Clinton announced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which is both visionary and operational. The QDDR is the beginning of a longer-term process to institutionalize an ethic of review, analysis, and responsiveness within our diplomatic and development agencies. Five areas of strategic focus have been identified to address the essence of how the Department must modernize for 21st century challenges.

Illustration of the earth with grass growing over all the continents to indicate a green world.

Greening Diplomacy

The United States and other countries that have been the biggest historic emitters of greenhouse gases should shoulder the biggest burden for cleaning up the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Secretary Clinton launched the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI), a new commitment to lead by example, and improve the sustainability of the State Department’s facilities and operations. (Read more...)

The Department will be disciplined in evaluating foreign policy choices; weighing the costs and consequences of our action or inaction; gauging the probability of success; and insisting on measurable results. Senior-level experts from the Department, USAID, and outside the government have developed the scope and design of an inclusive, analytical, rigorous review process. It is a comprehensive effort aimed at identifying the impact the Department desires to achieve in the changing global environment as well as the capabilities and mechanisms required to do so. The Department is making important progress in ensuring that public diplomacy is part of a total diplomatic effort.

The Department is addressing both the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) management challenges and the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendations. According to the OIG, the Department’s greatest challenge is protecting people, facilities, and information. The Department has undertaken a vigorous program to replace overseas facilities and needs another decade or more to fully complete this program. In the interim, the Department is identifying and implementing temporary measures that can mitigate the threats to people, facilities, and information until the planned facilities can be fully secured. The Department has also made significant strides to protect personal identifiable information (PII). The Department’s Passport Information Electronic Records System contains PII on more than 210 million passports for approximately 139 million passport holders and meets federal government requirements to encrypt and safeguard PII contained on laptop computers.

Photo showing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with members of the Office of Military Cooperation Kuwait in Kuwait City, Kuwait on April 25, 2009.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with members of the Office of Military Cooperation Kuwait prior to boarding the plane from Kuwait to Iraq in Kuwait City, Kuwait on April 25, 2009. Department of State

Global Security

The new course for U.S. nuclear weapons policy that President Obama set out in his April 5, 2009, Prague address has significantly realigned the top priorities for the United States and the Department. (Read more...)

During FY 2009, GAO issued 63 reports and testimonies relating to the Department of State. In examining the role of performance at State, the GAO found that staffing and foreign language gaps compromise diplomatic readiness. The Department and America’s diplomats face major challenges in coordinating and managing foreign assistance. The Department should focus on enhancing the ability to evaluate and report on progress towards its stated goals and objectives, in particular assistance to Iraqi refugees. The process for integrating strategic planning and budgeting of foreign assistance into the strategic planning of the U.S. Government’s other foreign policy goals remains a challenge for the future.

For 2010, the Department’s critical process of analysis, review, and change will:

  • strengthen and elevate diplomacy and development as key pillars of our national security strategy;
  • make our diplomacy and development tools and institutions more agile, responsive and complementary; and
  • set institutional priorities and provide strategic guidance on the capabilities we need in the 21st century, the organizational structures best suited to our objectives, the most efficient and effective allocation of resources, and the best deployment models to maximize our impact on the range of challenges we face.

American democracy continues to inspire people worldwide, and U.S. influence is greatest when we live up to our own ideals. The Obama Administration aims to make the United States an exemplar of our own values.


Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.