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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Strategic Goal 7: Strengthening Consular and Management Capabilities

Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
November 16, 2012


Photo showing from left to right, Embassy Cairo Public Diplomacy Officer Adam Lenert, Embassy Riga Chief Consul Tim Buckley, Embassy Dhaka Chief Consul Bill Hammaker, and Embassy Cairo Consular Affairs Officer Jessica Adams, posing for a photo with an American couple at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt, February 7, 2011.

From left to right, Embassy Cairo Public Diplomacy Officer Adam Lenert, Embassy Riga Chief Consul Tim Buckley, Embassy Dhaka Chief Consul Bill Hammaker, and Embassy Cairo Consular Affairs Officer Jessica Adams, pose for a photo with an American couple at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt, February 7, 2011. Department of State

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 6.3 million U.S. citizens 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 Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which more than 1.25 million U.S. citizens used in FY 2012. The Department provides services throughout the cycle of life, from certifying the birth of U.S. citizens born abroad, to assisting families when a U.S. citizen dies overseas. The Department also assists U.S. citizens whose children have been wrongfully taken to or kept in foreign countries - a growing problem. The Department expanded and continues the World Virtual School (WVS) program that permits continuity of instruction for the dependent children of U.S. Government employees assigned to diplomatic and consular missions when the schools they attended are closed during emergencies. In FY 2012, the American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) used WVS to provide continuing education programs to the 650 students - including 47 U.S. Government dependents - who were enrolled for the current school year and were evacuated when the school had to be closed during the turmoil in September 2012. ACST will continue to use WVS until it is determined that the school can reopen and U.S. Government dependent students can return to Tunis. The Damascus Community School (DCS) used the WVS program for 45 students for the entire second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. Eight students graduated from DCS, using the WVS program. Schools in other locations, such as Islamabad, also use the WVS program as needed. Currently, 74 of 197 overseas schools participate in the WVS program.

During times of crisis, the Department adapts quickly to fluctuations in demand for our services. For example, the multiple crises in 2011 and 2012 - from ongoing unrest and violence in the Middle East and Africa to natural disasters throughout the world - showcase the Department's ability to respond promptly and effectively to major crises. Applying lessons learned as a result of these and previous 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 U.S. Government agencies and with foreign governments to plan for and respond to crises. The Department is working to standardize data and software across the enterprise in an effort to give decision-makers higher-quality data to make better business decisions. The Department uses a Geographical Information System that provides 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 receives automatic weather updates that support spatial queries and demographics information critical for responding to 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 Chinese Mandarin. Training and targeted recruiting for language skills have led to a steady increase in the number of language-designated positions filled with incumbents who meet or exceed the language requirements. Between FY 2008 and FY 2011, the Department's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has supported the comprehensive training needs (orientation, consular, tradecraft, and leadership) of Diplomacy 3.0 by providing training for 5,556 new hires and by providing increased language training. FSI has also increased distance learning enrollments by 173 percent from 22,724 in FY 2008 to 61,788 in FY 2011. The Department's Office of Language Services assisted dozens of posts worldwide by translating the country profiles in the annual Human Rights Reports (HRRs), International Religious Freedom Reports (IRFs), and Trafficking in Persons Reports (TIPs) - nearly one million words into fourteen languages. For support to Diplomatic Security's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, the Office translated materials for 161 courses into 16 languages, totaling over 10 million words. Moreover, the Interpreting Division has worked to expand its global network with universities, international agencies, and governments around the world. It has done so to find qualified, professional talent in almost 100 languages at a moment's notice and to meet the constantly expanding and accelerating demands of the Department of State and the White House. The Office of Language Services is pursuing a multi-year hiring program to build the talented, diverse interpreting workforce needed to handle the Department's foreign policy priorities and strengthen diplomacy. The Department is increasingly leveraging technology to provide translations at greater speed to allow U.S. diplomatic missions to 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. The Department of Defense (DoD) concurred with the recommendation to expand the Department's household goods pilot program to manage the shipment of DoD employees' household effects to and from posts when DoD personnel are assigned under a Chief of Mission. To date, the Department has executed over 1,700 shipments to and from the 15 pilot posts, and the feedback from DoD employees and post shipping offices indicates the program is an overwhelming success. Through an inter-agency Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department, DoD, and the U.S. Coast Guard, effective October 1, 2012, locations will expand from the original 15 posts to 24. The Department successfully transitioned mail service for Chief of Mission personnel in Iraq from Army Post Office (APO) to Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) mail service managed by the Department of State, while simultaneously reducing costs from the previous mail system. The Department's Collaborative Management Initiative (CMI) is the flagship framework for continuous process improvement of management operations at overseas posts. A key part of CMI is eServices, which has processed 4 million service requests since its inception, giving customers around the world a common look and feel for requesting services, and giving performance feedback and metrics to service providers.

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 2012, we made great strides in support of the Department's sustainability goals. The Department implemented a Fleet Management Information System (FMIS) that is currently being deployed to DOS facilities worldwide. The program includes dispatch services with a robust system for electronic reservations and utilization tracking, among other metrics. State also coordinated with the Department of Defense to refuel with alternative fuels available at military installations in the Washington, D.C. region.

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 an ever-increasing volume of network security incidents. For example, in 2011, the Department received over 19,000 spear phishing e-mails. In 2012, the Department received over 27,000 which represents a 42 percent increase in spear-phishing and/or malicious e-mail traffic compared to the previous 12-month period. This steady increase in malicious software (malware) is significant because spear-phishing e-mails 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 enhance energy independence and reduce global warming by greening our facilities. At of the end of FY 2012, 44 percent of the entire domestic real estate portfolio has been certified by independent parties (e.g., LEED, Green Globes, Energy Star) as sustainable and/or energy efficient, more than twice the goal established for the Department by the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Environmental Quality. The Department is also exploring the feasibility of regional renewable energy farms to support our facilities around the world. The Department's Commercial Services Management (A/CSM) Office re-engineered the business processes of the Authentications Office, which provides signed certificates of authenticity for a variety of documents to individuals, institutions, and government agencies. Documents that might require authentication for use abroad, include company bylaws, powers of attorney, trademarks, diplomas, treaties, warrants, extraditions, agreements, certificates of good standing, and courier letters. The improved processes resulted in a reduction of this backlog to a stable range of 5 to 10 days from a backlog of 45 days in August 2011, significantly improving service to customers. The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs is expanding consular services offered to American taxpayers and looking forward to opening a satellite passport office in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2013 to better serve U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and throughout the Caribbean. When fully operational, the satellite office will employ 28 workers, 13 direct-hire government workers, and 15 contractors, most of whom will be hired locally. 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.

Key Achievements

  • The Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS), the Department's global platform for integrating post logistics operations with Washington headquarters and Regional Centers, became fully deployed domestically and overseas at 260+ posts. Critical to ensuring diplomatic personnel around the world can provide the goods and services that are essential to support the Department's mission, ILMS was recognized by the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) through two prestigious awards. ILMS was selected from thirty finalists and six categories across all of Government by ACT-IAC's Overall Winner for Top Government Programs and the winner for Excellence in Enterprise Efficiencies.
  • The Department won the 2012 Archivist's Achievement Award for innovative and cost-effective use of technology for a records management tool that will be adopted as a best practice in the U.S. Government. The Department leveraged the technology with a dynamic website that received over 3,000 online Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, posted nearly 3,500 declassified documents, and hosted over 1,000 visitors daily (over 350,000 annually). State declassified nearly 3 million pages of permanent historical records covering U.S. foreign policy, and declassified and released over 100,000 pages in response to FOIA requests.
  • The Denver Resident Office and Miami Field Office received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.
  • As part of the Department's effort to build a 21st Century workforce and strengthen diplomacy, the Foreign Service and Civil Service position baselines increased by 21 and about 9 percent, respectively, since 2008. In FY 2012, the Department also worked with Consular Affairs to fill a consular staffing gap in China and Brazil with 44 Limited Non-Career Appointments.
  • Staffing top priority posts, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, continues to be a main concern for the Department. In FY 2012, the Department filled over 95 percent of these positions for the 2013 assignments cycle. The Department met or exceeded OPM's goals for hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities since the President signed the November 2009 and July 2010 Executive Orders mandating increased recruitment of qualified individuals among these groups, and the Department is on track to meet OPM's goals this year.
  • In FY 2012, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) completed eight major capital construction projects relocating more than 2,278 personnel into more secure, safer, and functional facilities. Currently, 38 projects are under design and construction. In addition, OBO completed nine major compound security upgrade projects. This year, the Department instituted a new program of Maintenance Cost Sharing whereby all agencies contribute to the maintenance of shared buildings overseas. This will help address the backlog of deferred maintenance. The Department also started a new program of Design Excellence. Implementing this new program will enhance our ability to provide outstanding facilities representing American values and the best of American talent, innovation, and technology. Additionally, one of the guiding principles of Design Excellence is to advance sustainability features and energy conservation.
  • Roughly 97 percent of the agreed-upon administrative services under the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) have been consolidated. ICASS is the principal means by which the U.S. Government provides and shares the cost of common administrative support at its more than 250 diplomatic and consular posts overseas.
  • In FY 2012, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) led the International Security Events Group and successfully supported the President's mandate under National Security Presidential Directive 46 to provide the greatest possible security for U.S. citizens, athletes, and other interests participating and attending the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympics. DS Olympic Security Coordinators liaised with host-country law enforcement, security, intelligence services, and organizing officials to ensure the safety and security of Team USA. A U.S. Government interagency Joint Operations Center provided expertise, resources, and support from across the U.S. Government to respond to potential crises impacting American interests.
  • The Department has pre-positioned medical materials at more than 250 U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions. These materials include medical equipment and supplies to provide alternate medical functionality in case of a terrorist attack. Nearly 100 percent of these newly updated Reserve Medical Unit Kits have been deployed to designated areas overseas as of May 2012.
  • The White House issued an Executive Order establishing visa and foreign visitor processing goals, which stated that more than 80 percent of all applicants worldwide should have their visa interview within three weeks of receiving their application. Currently, the Department is exceeding this goal.
  • Passport Services issued over 13.1 million passports in FY 2012, a 4 percent increase from FY 2011; further demand increases are projected for FY 2013. Processing times for issuing a passport averaged 8.3 days for routine service and 3.3 days for expedited request. During the busy season (February through June), Passport Service's processing times remained responsive at 8.9 days for routine and 3.4 days for expedited requests.
  • The Department marked the first time that all Department costs, related to consular activity, would be funded from fees, significantly reducing the Department's reliance on appropriated funds. This completed a 4-year consular realignment initiative that shifted $441.4 million in consular-related costs from appropriated dollars to funds generated from visas, passports, and other consular activities. This allowed the Department to fund consular staff and facilities from fees.
  • Green Computing: The Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) made advances in implementing green information technology, lowering the agency carbon footprint and costs, and improving efficiency and sustainability. We implemented a new printing policy to transition the Department from desktop printers to network printing. We also deployed an Enterprise Desktop Power Management solution that automatically "powers down" workstations after hours. Finally, the Department has been providing access to its servers via virtual environments to optimize resources to reduce the physical footprint of hardware, while minimizing power and cooling requirements.
  • Global OpenNet: IRM successfully deployed its modernized remote access solution, Global OpenNet (GO). GO provides more user-desktop functionality to remote end users, making staff more productive when teleworking. IRM also increased the capability to support more simultaneous connections to GO. The Department is on track to provide up to 35,000 users GO access.
  • Data Center Consolidation: The Department continues to successfully execute our Data Center Consolidation efforts as detailed in the Department's Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative Plan. Consolidating data centers into the Enterprise Server Operations Centers (ESOC) has resulted in improved security, continuity of operations, efficiencies through access to virtual environments, and significant cost avoidance that can be redirected to other priority projects across the Department. The domestic ESOC is now fully operational and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified. The Department is on track to complete consolidating the major data centers down to four facilities by the end of FY 2015, pending available future resources.

Summary and Analysis of Performance Trends

During FY 2012, the Department and USAID began reporting its results quarterly for the goal to strengthen diplomacy and development by leading through civilian power. The following two Illustrative Indicators for Strategic Goal 7 show quarterly data for staffing priority for language designated positions and positions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan (AIP).

The language-designated position (LDP) fill rate is the percent of all language-designated positions filled by incumbents meeting or exceeding the language requirement for the position. A vacant LDP does not have an incumbent, but we include vacant LDPs in our calculation because vacant LDPs could be an indication of a shortage of qualified officers and/or a need for more language-trained employees.

Since FY 2010, the Department has experienced a steady increase in the LDP fill rate because of Diplomacy 3.0, the Department's multi-year hiring program that began in 2009. The goals of Diplomacy 3.0 have been to mitigate extended vacancies caused by increased commitments at priority posts such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (AIP); eliminate the mid-level staffing deficit; build in a training component; and strengthen the service with the right mix of entry-level, mid-level and senior employees. Under the Diplomacy 3.0 umbrella are various recruitment and training initiatives. For example, the Department has recruited individuals with language skills (Chinese Mandarin and Portuguese) for limited non-career consular positions at posts with high volumes of visa adjudication, such as posts in Brazil and China. Additionally, with an increase in training, the Department has been able to provide more opportunities for short- and long-term foreign language training in priority languages such as Arabic and Chinese Mandarin, which take two years of training to become proficient.

With guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, the Department revised its FY 2012 and FY 2013 LDP fill rate targets based on FY 2012 funding, and the assumption that future funding levels might be less than funding requests. If resources remain at lower than requested levels, our improvement trend in the LDP fill rate may begin to plateau. The Department will continue to allocate staff to the highest global priorities and to maximize the number of LDPs that are filled to requirements, using available resources.

Illustrative Indicator 7: High performance/Agency Priority Goals increase
the LDP fill rate with qualified incumbents
  FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012
  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Result 68 67 67 68 70 72 72 73 73 74 74 N/A
Target 65 66 67 68 70 72 74 76 73 74 73 73

Source: Department of State, HR/RMA Position Data.

The Staffing High Priority Posts metric is a measure of the percentage of AIP positions filled for the current assignment cycle, which begins one full year in advance of the rotation dates. This is not a real time metric of AIP staffing rates.

The targets for this metric illustrate the nature of the AIP assignment cycle in Illustrative Indicator 8. The AIP assignment cycle begins in the second/third quarter, about three months before the regular summer assignment cycle, and ends in the second quarter of the following fiscal year. Accordingly, the target is at its maximum value in the second quarter when the assignment cycle ends, and the target is at lowest value in the third quarter when the new assignment cycle begins.

Current AIP fill rates for the 2013 summer (third quarter) assignment cycle, which we began tracking in the third quarter of 2012, are on par with previous assignment cycles. Staffing AIP posts continues to be a priority for the Department. Using a variety of recruitment strategies, which includes robust incentives packages, the Department has consistently met staffing requirements in those posts with volunteers, bypassing the need for direct assignments. The Department will continue to review long-term and short-term staffing requirements at the three embassies and constituent posts, which will inform future recruitment strategies and policies.

Illustrative Indicator 8: Agency Priority Goals Priority post (AIP) staffing
  FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013
  Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Result 52 83 90 95 64 82 90 95 67 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Target N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 90 95 50 80 90 100 50

Source: Department of State, HR/RMA Position Data.

Where to apply for a U.S. Passport?

Visit to get up-to-date information regarding the process to apply for a passport. Passport Services, a division of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, is responsible for issuing passports to U.S. citizens. In addition to a network of more than 9,000 public government offices across the U.S. designated by Passport Services to accept passport applications, the Department serves American citizens at these passport service locations:

Photo showing two United States passports.

Hot Springs, AR; Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Aurora, CO; Stamford, CT; Dallas, TX; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Honolulu, HI; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Portsmouth, NH; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Albans, VT; Tucson, AZ; Washington, D.C.


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