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Bureau of Resource Management
May 10, 2010


Department of State

Smart Power

Smart power is a concept championed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Obama Administration recognizes that the United States and the world face great peril 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. Military force may sometimes be necessary to protect our people and our interests. But diplomacy and development are equally important in creating conditions for a peaceful, stable and prosperous world. Smart power requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries, bolstering old alliances and forging new ones.

Smart power for the Department of State and USAID translates into specific policy approaches in five areas. First, the Department of State and USAID will update and create vehicles for cooperation with our partners; second, both agencies will pursue principled engagement with those who disagree with us; third, both agencies will elevate development as a core pillar of American power; fourth, the Department of State and USAID will integrate civilian and military action in conflict areas; and fifth, the Department of State along with USAID will leverage key sources of American power, including our economic strength and the power of our example.

The Department, established by Congress in 1789, is the oldest and most senior executive agency of the U.S. Federal Government. Headquartered in Washington, DC, it operates the diplomatic missions of the United States in 180 countries and is responsible for implementing the nation’s foreign policy. The Department of State is the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency within the Executive Branch, and its head, the Secretary of State, is the President’s principal foreign policy advisor.

The Department promotes and protects the interests of American citizens by:

  • Promoting peace and stability.
  • Creating jobs at home by opening markets abroad.
  • Facilitating external travel and regulating internal immigration.
  • Helping developing nations establish investment and export opportunities.
  • Bringing nations together to address global problems such as cross-border pollution, the spread of communicable diseases, terrorism, nuclear smuggling, and humanitarian crises.

The Department operates more than 260 Embassies, consulates, and other posts worldwide staffed by 12,000 Foreign Service Officers and a 9,000 member Civil Service corps. In each Embassy, the Chief of Mission (usually an Ambassador) is responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy goals and coordinating and managing all U.S. Government (USG) functions in the host country. The President appoints each Ambassador, who is then confirmed by the Senate. Chiefs of Mission report directly to the President through the Secretary. The U.S. Mission is also the primary USG point of contact for Americans overseas and foreign nationals of the host country. The Mission serves the needs of Americans traveling, working, and studying abroad, and supports Presidential and Congressional delegations visiting the country.

At headquarters in Washington, DC, the Department’s mission is carried out through six regional bureaus, each of which is responsible for a specific geographic region of the world, the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and numerous functional and management bureaus. These bureaus provide policy guidance, program management, administrative support, and in-depth expertise in matters such as law enforcement, economics, the environment, intelligence, arms control, human rights, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, public diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, security, nonproliferation, consular services, and other areas.

In carrying out these responsibilities, the Department of State consults with Congress about foreign policy initiatives and programs, and works in close coordination with other Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, USAID, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Commerce, among others.


A Whole-of-Government Approach to Assisting Highly Vulnerable Children

Public Law 109-95, the Assistance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005, was signed into law four years ago to respond to the global orphans and vulnerable children crisis. The act calls for the USG response to be comprehensive, coordinated, and effective. Seven Federal departments and agencies – Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, State, Peace Corps, and USAID – provided approximately $5 billion to assist vulnerable children and their families in FY 20081. PL109-95 supports a whole-of-government approach through collaboration across multiple USG agencies and offices to make the impact on children of our collective effort greater than the sum of its individual parts.

An interactive database has been developed to facilitate interagency strategic planning and coordination. The database currently includes information on intervention areas, target groups, recipient organizations and budgets for 2,044 projects in 113 countries.

Some of the programs already in place include:

  • Providing humanitarian and emergency assistance to children in dire need of immediate help due to natural disasters or conflict, including children who are refugees or internally displaced, and children associated with armed groups/forces.
  • Assisting children outside family care, including many orphans and street children.
  • Responding to children who are involved in or vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.
  • Providing care, support, and treatment to children affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • Strengthening families and their protective capacities and thus prevent children from being abandoned, abused, exploited, and otherwise highly vulnerable.
  • Enabling families to care for disabled children and decrease the risk of abandonment.
  • Preventing child marriage.
  • Building child welfare capacity to a critical mass and thus enable countries to identify and respond to highly vulnerable children.

For more information on the implementation of PL109-95, please consult U.S. Government and Partners: Working Together on a Comprehensive, Coordinated and Effective Response to Highly Vulnerable Children.

1 FY 2009 data not yet available. (back to text)

In 1961, the U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act to create an agency to administer long-range economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries. Two months after passage of the act, President John F. Kennedy established the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID unified pre-existing U.S. assistance programs and today continues to be the U.S. Government’s lead agency in providing assistance to the developing world.

USAID is an independent Federal agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. With its headquarters in Washington, DC and 88 missions worldwide, the Agency provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. USAID accelerates human progress in developing countries by reducing poverty, advancing democracy, building market economies, promoting security, responding to crises, and improving quality of life. Working with governments, institutions, and civil society, the Agency assists individuals to build their own futures by mobilizing the full range of America’s public and private resources through U.S. expert presence overseas.

In FY 2008 and FY 2009, USAID embarked on an aggressive effort to increase and revitalize its workforce. The Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) strengthened USAID’s overseas workforce, substantially increasing Foreign Service staff to address critical development and humanitarian assistance issues. At the end of FY 2009, the total number of USAID employees was 7,904, including 1,580 Foreign Service Officers, 1,222 Direct Hire Civil Service Officers, 4,235 Foreign Service Nationals and 867 other non-direct hire employees. In all, 2,193 USAID employees are based in Washington and 5,711 overseas.

USAID plans its development and humanitarian assistance programs in cooperation with the Department of State, and collaborates with a variety of other Federal agencies, multilateral and bilateral organizations, private companies, academic institutions, and nongovernmental organizations.


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