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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Strategic Goal 7: Strengthening Consular and Management Capabilities

Bureau of Resource Management
November 15, 2011


Photo showing the line forming for evacuation processing of private U.S. citizens at Cairo International Airport.

The line forms for evacuation processing of private U.S. citizens at Cairo International Airport. State Magazine May 2011

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

Public Benefit

Approximately five million Americans reside abroad, and Americans make about 65 million trips overseas every year. The Department helps them prepare for crises and avoid problems abroad through our Consular Information Program, and online registration service, which more than one million Americans used in FY 2011. The Department provides services throughout the cycle of life, from certifying the birth of American citizens born abroad, to assisting families when an American dies overseas. The Department also assists Americans whose children have been wrongfully taken to or kept in foreign countries – a growing problem. The Department launched three new regional pilot programs to expand the development of its World Virtual School. The initiative permits continuity of instruction for dependent children of U.S. Government employees assigned to diplomatic and consular missions during emergency closings of the overseas schools they attend. The program supported over 500 students enrolled in Cairo American College (Kindergarten-12th grade) who were “ordered to depart” Egypt during 2011. Thirty-nine of 197 overseas schools now participate in this program.

During times of crisis, the Department adapts quickly to fluctuations in demand for our services. For example, the multiple crises in 2011 – from the toppling of regimes in the Middle East to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan – showcase the Department’s ability to respond promptly and effectively to major crises. Applying lessons learned as a result of the Haiti earthquake and other prior crises, the Department used a range of communication tools to reach out to U.S. citizens affected by the events, disseminate information, and identify immediate needs. The Department coordinated closely with other governments to evacuate U.S. citizens from Egypt, Libya, and areas of Japan, and with other U.S. Government agencies in shaping our response to Japan’s nuclear disaster. The Department evacuated more than 2,700 U.S. citizens from crisis areas in FY 2011. The Department implemented a Geographical Information System which gives emergency managers access to a wide variety of geo-coded data on the Department’s personnel and facilities and on foreign missions across the United States. It also received automatic weather updates including hurricanes, earthquakes, and provides for spatial queries and demographics information critical for bomb threats and chemical plumes. The Department continues, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, to protect America’s homeland with improved technology and efficiency at ports of entry and in visa processing, smarter screening technology for government officials, and more secure U.S. travel documents – both visas and passports.

In support of this strategic goal, the Department is pursuing a multi-year hiring program to build the talented, diverse workforce we need to handle our foreign policy priorities and strengthen diplomacy. The Department is providing rigorous training programs to further professional development, including foreign language training in priority languages such as Arabic and Mandarin. The Department’s Office of Language Services produced translations in 20 languages of country profiles in the Department’s annual Human Rights Report, the Trafficking in Persons Report, and the International Religious Freedom Report. The Department is increasingly leveraging technology to provide the translations at greater speed so U.S. diplomatic missions can post them on their websites to increase transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Our missions overseas provide the diplomatic platform for all civilian agencies of the U.S. Government. We manage the global chain, providing goods and services domestically and to all agencies at diplomatic and consular missions overseas. During this fiscal year, the Department partnered with the Department of Defense (DoD) to plan and begin the transition of DoD support services in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Department of State. To provide a viable platform for the diplomatic component of smart power, we provide and maintain energy efficient, sustainable, secure, safe, and functional facilities in the United States and overseas for both State employees and those of other agencies. In FY 2011, we made great strides in realizing domestic greening achievements in support of the Department’s sustainability goals. Our diplomatic security programs protect both people and national security information. During the past 12 months, the Department’s cyber security team detected and responded to 9,602 network security incidents. This marks a 30 percent increase in security incidents from the same 12-month period last year. Additionally, the Department experienced a 35 percent increase in spear-phishing and/or malicious email traffic compared to the previous 12-month period. This steady increase in malicious software (malware) is significant because spear-phishing emails containing malware can place “code” on Department machines which may compromise the integrity of U.S. Government networks and possibly enable the exfiltration of sensitive data.

The Department continues its commitment “to create jobs; repair and modernize domestic infrastructure crucial to the safety of American citizens; enhance energy independence and reduce global warming by ‘greening’ our facilities; and expand consular services offered to American taxpayers.” (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 External Program Plan). During FY 2011, the last two Consular Passport Agency Offices were completed in Atlanta and San Diego; the Department has reached the final stages of site selection for the Diplomatic Security Hard Skills Training Center; and the Information Resources Management data center consolidation in Lakewood, Colorado is nearing completion. More information on ARRA can be found here and at

Key Achievements

  • Three Department buildings in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Washington State received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The Department’s Regional Center Building in Charleston, South Carolina received LEED Platinum certification and is scheduled to achieve net zero energy with onsite solar and wind renewable energy generation.
  • In FY 2011, Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) completed eight major capital construction projects relocating more than 2,370 personnel into more secure, safer, and functional facilities. In addition, OBO completed nine major compound security upgrade projects.
  • The Department’s Office of Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs assisted with the successful return of or access to more than 605 children wrongfully taken to or kept in another country.
  • Worldwide visa applications increased by more than 14 percent in FY 2011. The Department provided more resources, domestic support and personnel to ensure that posts experiencing exceptional growth could maintain appropriate levels of service, in particular in Brazil and China. The Department utilized post-9/11 technical and interagency collaboration to reduce Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) backlogs to form the foundation for the development of a more secure, automated, and efficient SAO process. Since the beginning of the beginning of the Department’s Diplomacy, Development, and Defense (D3.0) initiative, the Department has increased the number of Foreign Service positions by 17 percent and the number of Civil Service positions by five percent and has been aggressively hiring Foreign and Civil Service personnel to increase staffing capacity. The Department’s efforts to staff Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have been successful with over 95 percent of positions filled. Human Resources Shared Services is working with its partners to deliver services more efficiently and effectively by automating processes and providing self-service applications and, at the time of preparing this document, the Department had 78 human resource service applications available electronically.

Summary and Analysis of Performance Trends

During FY 2011, the Department exceeded expectations for the illustrative indicator relative to Strategic Goal 7: The number of U.S. Government personnel moved into more safe, secure and functional facilities. Our embassies overseas provide the diplomatic platform for all civilian agencies of the U.S. Government and the Department is responsible for providing and maintaining secure, safe and functional facilities for U.S. Government personnel staffed at overseas posts. At the end of FY 2011, data for the total cumulative number of U.S. Government personnel moved into more secure, safe and functional facilities shows that the 23,918 personnel moved into the improved facilities. This is considerably above the target of 23,012.

Total Cumulative Number of U.S. Government Personnel Moved
into More Safe, Secure, and Functional Facilities Since 20011
  FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012
Result 18,539 20,012 21,548 23,918 N/A
Target N/A N/A 21,512 23,012 24,512

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations.

1 Indicator new in FY 2009, targets established beginning in FY 2010. (back to text)


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