Madam Secretary. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, Pat, and I am delighted to be with all of you again this morning. On the way down the hall I saw the overflow crowd, so I want to greet them. They’re clustered around some of the TV screens out there. It’s wonderful to have this opportunity so soon in the new year to speak with you face-to-face, to have a chance to bring you up to date and also answer questions. It also an opportunity to understand the full seating capacity of the Dean Acheson Auditorium – (laughter) – and I’m afraid test the fire marshal’s patience.
Many more people than even the very large crowd gathered here and out in the hall have contributed to the work that we are doing together. There is so much to talk about. I wish I could be here for days, and we could bring in shifts of people, but there’s much work to be done of which you are essential partners. I do want to thank Kerry O’Conner and Molly Moran for their great work running the Sounding Board. (Applause.) And they’re giving everyone here in the State Department a chance to ask questions.
I’m also looking forward to going over to USAID, and I see Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg. I know Raj Shah is out of town, or we would have tried to piggyback them on the same day, Don, but we’re going to get a date very soon. Because it is appropriate for us to have this chance to kind of catch up and look forward.
And it is also so fitting that we would be meeting here in an auditorium named for Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who cautioned us – and I quote – “always remember that the future comes one day at a time.” And despite the daunting challenges and the extraordinary opportunities that we confront, it is that one day at a time, one step in front of the next that really gets us where we’re heading.
In that spirit, I want to update you on the implementation of the first QDDR, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which we launched in this room just over a year ago. Our goals remain the same: to strengthen State and USAID as we continue to strive to work better, faster, and smarter in the 21st century. During his State of the Union address this week, President Obama spoke about the essential role that America still plays in spreading peace and prosperity around the world. Well, that was music to my ears, and I hope also to yours.
The State Department and USAID are critical to maintaining and extending American leadership, and we will be, in the future, called upon to do more, in more places, more frequently, and most likely with fewer resources. The goals of the QDDR, therefore, are even more imperative in times of tight budget constraints. We must show – it’s up to us to show the American people and their representatives in Congress that every dollar given to the State Department and USAID is a wise and effective investment in advancing the values, the interests, and the security of the United States of America.
Now, over – yes, I agree with that. (Applause.) (Laughter.)
Over the past year, I have been so gratified to see how individual bureaus, missions, and posts have applied the underlying principles of the QDDR. I’m seeing more interagency cooperation, people breaking down work silos, tapping institutional capacity wherever it exists. And we’re also making great progress on the four main lines of activity that we identified in the QDDR process: adapting our diplomacy to new threats and opportunities; transforming our development to deliver results; strengthening our capacity to prevent and respond to conflict and crisis; and working smarter by improving our approaches to planning, procurement, and personnel.
And let me just briefly share with you some of the progress we’ve made in each of these areas. First, adapting our diplomacy for the 21st century. We are empowering our chiefs of mission, our ambassadors, as interagency CEOs and making sure to include their perspective whenever a decision touches their country and their responsibilities within it. Ambassadors now regularly participate in high-level interagency policy making discussions with Washington via video conference. And they help formally evaluate employees from other agencies as part of our whole of government approach.
We also created a home for all of our experts on one of the defining challenges of our time: energy. For too long, energy was the second, third, or forth priority for several different offices. Now, the new Bureau of Energy Resources is our single point of contact on all energy issues. ENR is already working in close coordination with the Department of Energy to keep energy markets stable as we implement sanctions on Iran and to lead our global strategy with the UN to achieve sustainable energy for all. And ENR taps skill sets from across the government – from Treasury, Commerce, Interior, among others – to run the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative, which is helping countries use their own energy resources transparently to actually benefit their own citizens. (Applause.)
We also reconceived the role of the under secretary for global affairs, now known as the under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights. We wanted to focus on those areas, civilian security and the other essential elements of building safe, fair, and just societies. We erased the organizational distinctions between what was once viewed as hard power and soft power, the kind of security concerns with a hard edge, in order to look more comprehensively and in depth at an integrated and ultimately more effective approach.
Now, counterterrorism and police training programs work alongside those that defend human rights, promote opportunities for young people, combat trafficking-in-persons. In other words, we are bringing a 360-degree approach to people protection that addresses both the root causes of insecurity and its immediate threats. Working closely with regional bureaus, the new J family works to make sure a government’s first obligation is to its own people; that government institutions, including courts, police forces, and others that affect everyday life are rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights; that refugees are protected from persecution; that the voice of young people is heard and respected; and individuals are protected from the excesses of government.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, a country emerging from decades of conflict, the J family is working closely with the Africa Bureau to create the environment for more stability and security, working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, break the link between conflict minerals and violence, support democratic institutions that can promote lasting peace, and achieve accountability for the atrocities that have been committed against innocents.
We have also elevated the Counterterrorism Office to a full bureau that will help us build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries. The CT Bureau is undermining extremists’ attempts to find new recruits, and shrinking the space available to al-Qaida and its affiliates by increasing the capacity of our partners to combat terrorism on their own.
Now, we also launched a new center – to deal with countering violent extremism – within the State Department, and I attended the inaugural meeting just yesterday and saw the interagency in full splendor as I sat between Danny Benjamin and Ann Stock and Ambassador Richard LeBaron, and across from representatives from DOD, CIA, DNI, you name it. Because it makes no sense for us to be trying to combat violent extremism, have expertise in the CIA, expertise in DOD, expertise across our government that is siloed in ways we don’t even know what each other is doing. So we’re trying to break down those bureaucratic barriers.
We’ve also launched – (applause) – as an American initiative, along with our partners around the world, the Global Counterterrorism Forum to strengthen civilian-led counterterrorism efforts and further bridge the divide between security and development. And in addition, we’ve taken many other steps, one in particular – establishing a coordinator for cyber issues that is going to be increasingly important to us in order to respond quickly to 21st century threats.
Second, along with the great leadership of Dr. Raj Shah, we are transforming our approach to development. We’ve made a long-term commitment to rebuilding USAID as the world’s premier development agency. Under the USAID forward reform agenda, we’ve strengthened AID’s capacity to elevate development as a pillar of civilian power. We’ve built up the Policy, Planning, and Learning Bureau, and I especially liked that initiative, because we need to be constantly a learning organism – what can we do better, what can we learn from others. It is now a thought leader on development; adopting an outstanding system for monitoring and evaluating our work around the world; reinvigorating our investments in science, technology and innovation; and stepping up our focus on democracy, human rights, and governance.
We’re also consolidating our administrative services when it makes sense from a business and operations perspective. It no longer makes sense in a world of constrained resources in countries to have separate warehouses for State Department and AID. We need efficiencies. We need economies of scale. And we’re working through all of that. Pat Kennedy and his great M team is really helping. And as promised, we launched a foreign assistance dashboard at www.foreignassistance.gov. That lets anyone in the world with an internet connection to see where we are investing and how much, and I will be discussing this in greater details at the USAID town hall. (Applause.) It’s also nice to be able to refer our own inquiries that still people think we spend 20 percent of the U.S. Government’s budget on development to tell them to go to the foreignassistance.gov and actually get a little evidence-based reality going here. (Laughter.)
Third, because we recognize that it’s more important than ever to address the problems of fragile states, we are strengthening our capacity to prevent and respond to crisis. We rolled out our new Conflict and Stabilization Operations Bureau. And in the past year, CSO has deployed more than 175 Civilian Response Corps members to hotspots in more than 30 countries around the world. They come from nine different agencies and bureaus, including USAID, which has expanded its own work in this area. They’re working everywhere from Afghanistan to South Sudan to Timor-Leste, often in some of the most remote and least governed places on earth. They can be found camped alongside special forces, sleeping under mosquito nets in campsites hacked out of the jungle by machete, eating MREs, hitching rides in the back of pickups to meet with local leaders – not the common image of a diplomat. But they are among the hundreds of State and USAID employees practicing a tradecraft that now lives at the intersection of diplomacy, development, and security.
And finally – (applause) – we are doing everything we can to work smarter by improving our approaches to planning, procurement, and personnel. For example, we have overhauled the way State and USAID go about setting goals and developing long-term plans. For the first time, strategic planning and resource planning are separate and sequential processes. Now as obvious as it may seem to all of us here today, we now set our goals before we determine funding rather than doing everything all at once, and we’re simplifying those processes to relieve unnecessary burdens.
In the press of the budget and the incredible pressure that comes on everyone every year, and especially last year and this year, it seemed to make sense in the past that we just tried to do everything at once – how much could we get, what could we do it for. What we have found in our engagement with OMB and in our engagement with the Hill, that if we’ve done our planning first and we have the rationales behind what we are asking for, we will be more successful. We will make the case to both the OMB budgeteers and the appropriations committees on the Hill. It helps us focus our resources on highest priorities.
And we’re also investing in our most important asset, namely all of you and your colleagues. We set up new training through FSI to better prepare our staff for the demands of 21st century diplomacy. We’ve created multiple new courses designed to emphasize priorities identified in the QDDR, including training in development assistance, multilateral diplomacy, and social media best practices. We want to make sure every person at State and USAID has the skills and resources necessary to do your job.
We also want to tap all the talent and expertise of our Civil Service. (Applause.) Last year, we developed a department-wide survey of civil servants and, by popular demand, launched a pilot program for civil servants to deploy overseas. Posts will obviously benefit from having skilled civil servants fill out their team, and the participants will gain greater experience about life at posts and a new set of responsibilities. If the program proves successful, we will look to expand it to more people and more posts.
Now, these are just a handful of the steps we have taken in the last year. There are many, many more stories of the QDDR in action. We’ve been tracking them on the website qddr.state.gov. I encourage each of you to go there to check up on the progress we’ve made, to share your ideas about how to make this first-ever QDDR real in your office.
And as we look ahead at the coming year, we need to keep up this momentum. Now, I know it isn’t easy. There is just a lot to do every single day. It’s hard to be inventing a new airplane when you’re up in the air. But we are really together demonstrating how it’s done. Large bureaucracies, like large organizations anywhere, can often resist change because it’s new, it disrupts the orderly flow of the routines that have been already established, and it might be tempting to just sit and wait in the hope that a change will pass you by. But instead, so many of you have embraced the QDDR and the ideas behind it, and I want to thank each and every one of you who have been involved in the process. If you’re still working to implement the guidance, I encourage you to keep pushing forward.
Now, many of the projects we’ve already started will need follow-up actions in the coming months. So we will also be defining the next set of projects to take on. And I really invite all of you – we really welcome your ideas about how to bring these changes into reality, because implementing the QDDR should not be an extra task on top of your real day job; it should be part of that job, and it should provide transformative thinking and tools to help you work better. And aside from the big institutional changes we’re making, I want the QDDR to do something else – encourage all employees at every level to really think hard to kind of dream big about what more we can do on behalf of our country.
For more than half a century, the world has benefited from exceptional American leadership, and an international system that was designed and implemented by talented and dedicated employees here at State and USAID. The sources of America’s power are enduring and durable – our values, our global vision, our productivity, our ingenuity, our incredible demographic diversity – but none of these advantages is a birthright. Every generation of Americans has to reestablish their legitimacy and credibility and has to re-imagine how America will be going forward. So let’s nurture those values, let’s keep making the tough choices, and let’s be sure we are part of securing American leadership well into this century.
Now I will be happy to take your questions. There are two microphones already set up in the audience. We’ve received a lot of interesting questions through the Sounding Board. We’re not going to have time to answer all of them, so I’ll take a few online questions submitted from overseas posts today. I understand that we will take a few from the Sounding Board moderator, who’s merged a few of the questions, apparently, so I could respond more directly to all of you. And I promise that all the thoughtful questions that you took the time to ask, which I don’t get to right now, will be answered either on the Sounding Board or the QDDR site.
So with that, Pat, we should begin. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for being here. My name is Kathleen Corey, and I work at FSI. Many of us are very involved in working on QDDR-related projects, and we’re very excited about the document and want it to stay. So my question is: What is the Department doing to institutionalize the QDDR so that regardless of who is Secretary of State or regardless of which administration is in power, that the QDDR will remain a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, thank you for your work at FSI and for your work on implementing the QDDR. We are hoping that it will prove itself so that no matter who comes next, not only in position, but in all of the positions of leadership throughout State and AID, will see it as the tool that it is. The Defense Department has been doing this for years, and it has really advantaged them.
That’s how I first thought of it, because I served on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, and every four years, the Defense Department would come up with this really slick, well manufactured brochure and filled with pages and PowerPoints – you know how they are so good at that. (Laughter.) And it’s just – I mean, it just was daunting to see, because it just laid out, well, here’s what we want, and here’s how we’re going to get it. And we had nothing like that from State or AID. In fact, if you ask Jack Lew, who has gone from D here to OMB, now will become Chief of Staff for President Obama, he said it was always so easy because State would come in with their priorities, AID would come in with different priorities, you could set one against the other, and so the end result was that we got less than we should have gotten.
So I don’t like that as an operating principle. So we decided to launch the first QDDR. We are expecting it to be legislated, because I think that the Congress – our authorizing committees and appropriating subcommittees – found it really useful, because they used to come into meetings and all the DOD appropriators would have their stacks of stuff from DOD, and our guys would have a little piece of paper with somebody called me and told me I needed to do this. So – (laughter) – we think it, on the merits, should be continued, and if it’s legislated, it will be continued. So that’s how we see it.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: (Inaudible) question from the field with the Sounding Board, please.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Madam Secretary. The first question from the Sounding Board comes from Michelle Nichols in Kabul. She wants to know: What will the footprint of the Department be in Afghanistan as we progress through transition?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very good question. And just about 10 days or so ago, I called our team in Afghanistan, had a conference call with many, many of the really extraordinary people serving there – not just from State and AID, but from our whole government – and we are going through that process now to evaluate as the transition continues in Afghanistan and the military footprint draws down and transitioning areas are transferred to Afghan lead. Our civilian mission will have to shift its focus from stabilization and support to the military to long-term development and building Afghan capacity.
We have over 450 civilians right now embedded in nearly 80 locations with the military, primarily U.S., but also NATO-ISAF forces. We will be gradually consolidating – our present thinking is – into four enduring State-led locations. And our staffing will be drawn down as the military draws down. We will have to be really thoughtful about how we reconfigure our mission in Kabul and around the country. That process is just beginning.
So Michelle, I would welcome your insight and input as well as those of others serving with you. Ambassador Ryan Crocker runs a great mission in Kabul, so he is and his team is very much focused on this. But it is a work in progress, because we don’t know all the details about exactly how the transition to Afghan-led security will occur. But we’re starting that work right now.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m on the board of Executive Women at State. Fewer women are applying for senior positions in the Department and women at every level are having difficulty with maternity, childcare, and eldercare issues, and some are resigning. Workplace flexibility options are inconsistent from office to office. How can Executive Women at State and other concerned affinity groups work with you to help address these problems before you leave? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is matter of great concern to me, because obviously balancing family and work responsibilities is challenging, and the challenge falls disproportionately on women in the workplace. And it’s no longer just a question of one’s children. It’s also one’s aging relatives who are often part of the care giving responsibilities that are assumed. And I really want to do more on this this year.
I think we’ve got a variety of policies in place that are trying to make the Department a more family-friendly work environment. I know some of you have raised on the Sounding Board and through your chains, here, the question about more telework. Pat and I have talked about this. We have to determine which positions are eligible and which aren’t. A lot of the classified and confidential work can’t be outsourced, so to speak, to telework. So we are looking at that, we will continue to look at it, and we will try to support as much expansion of it as is possible. But I don't want to overpromise, because there are inherent challenges.
We also have a policy that provides for alternative work schedules. We support job-sharing when it has been worked out with the office and the person willing to share the job with you. We have two daycare facilities, we’re about to have a third, one at FSI, one at SA-1, and then one at a new building that is being revamped and ready for CA. We need more capacity. Everybody knows that, and we’re exploring everything we can do. I also have been made aware of the desire for more lactation rooms. I think we’ve added numbers to that, and we are in the process of trying to develop a policy to increase the numbers.
And I think there is a lot that is practical and, again, maybe apparently small steps but which could make a big difference in an individual’s ability to balance family and work. So I hope that you will keep really stretching the envelope on this. Obviously on our – for our LGBT community, we’ve really broken through and done a lot in terms of improving family-related policies. So we’re very sensitive to this. We’ll try to do as much as we can within the confines of the kind of specific constraints that we have to work with.
So keep the ideas coming and keep encouraging talented women to move up the ranks. We don’t want there to be any stagnation in numbers. There should be no glass ceiling or any other kind of ceiling that prevents women from going forward in so far as we can make the work environment successful for you. So we’ll keep working on that. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Doris McBryde. I am in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. As you know, even though there are some agencies that are growing, we ourselves are not the only agency that’s facing difficulty in terms of resources. You mentioned earlier, for example, the Department of Energy as well. You didn’t mention the Department of Commerce are among the agencies that we work with closely that are having resource issues. And I’m wondering what your thoughts are about that and how that affects their ability to engage in diplomacy with us overseas.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is a really good question, because we have worked hard to make the case for State and AID resources. And I’m knocking on wood, but we’ve done better than many would have ever expected because we’ve been really focused on making the Congress understand that all the things they want done, like increase the numbers of people processing visas in China and Brazil and shorten the time, takes money and takes people.
But it’s harder for us to make the interagency argument about our colleagues. We do work closely with Commerce, with Energy, with USDA. You go across our government; we now have representatives from so many different agencies in country under chief of mission authority. So we do have to help our colleagues in other parts of the government understand the role that they play in our 21st century statecraft. And that’s particularly true in E, because in order to practice what we do call economic statecraft, we want a team. We want the American team out there working for us.
And I think that it’s going to be challenging because the number of positions that Commerce is able to fund, for example, in the Arab Spring region has dropped. And so we’ve been scrambling to try to help Commerce keep personnel experts in North Africa so they can work with us in order to be able to promote economic opportunity. In a globalized world like the one we’re in, the tools of foreign policy are not just within this Department or even development just within USAID. And so we have to be smarter about how we make a broader case. And so it’s a very good question.
One of the reasons we consolidated what we did inside E was to try to get everything in one place so that we’re more effective in putting forth our positions. And then from that, I hope we can in this new alignment of economic growth, energy, and the environment be more effective in working with our colleagues across the government. But it’s a challenge, and I appreciate you for raising it.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, this next question is probably one of the most discussed topics on the Sounding Board. Todd Schwartz asks: Are there are steps that can be taken to accelerate the upgrade of Internet Explorer on Department systems? (Laughter.) (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I remember the first time I did a town hall, and I think I was asked about this. I hope you agree we’ve made progress. We continue to make progress. We know how important this is for all of you. As I recall – it seems so long ago – but three years or so ago we really didn’t – we really were not in the 21st century; let me put it that way. But under great leadership from Pat and our team, we have made progress.
So today I’m happy to announce – (laughter) – we really do read the Sounding Board – (laughter) – that Google Chrome will be deployed worldwide on February 14th – (applause) – that’s my Valentine’s present to all of you. (Laughter.) Internet Explorer 8 will be deployed on March 20th – (applause) – and for more details you can go to State cable 7330, which officially announced this January 25th.
Now, Google Chrome is intended to be an optional browser. It may not work with all the Department internet sites or applications, but we believe it will greatly improve the accessibility and performance with external sites. Internet Explorer 8 has been tested with Department enterprise applications; it’s precisely this sort of quality control testing that delays the deployment of newer versions of Explorer. Pat’s informed me that it’s the assessment of our incredible, crack information systems team that will skip Internet Explorer 9 completely and deploy Internet Explorer 10 on or before February of next year. So we’re moving, moving, moving, and we appreciate the constant prodding, prodding, prodding – (laughter) – that we get from the Sounding Board.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Virginia Benninghoff. I work in IIP in the Office of European Affairs, and I have a question on our foreign policy, if I may.
Regarding the atrocities that happened in the beginning of the 20th century that some would label the Armenian genocide, I am wondering why it is that we do not recognize it as such, and if it has to do with our classification of what a genocide is, or more to do with our relationship with Turkey. And given the recent legislation that was passed by lawmakers in France criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide, whether – what our stance is on that? My understanding is that Under Secretary Sherman was there recently, and I wondered if that came up and what our position is. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, one of our great strengths is we do not criminalize speech. People can say nearly anything they choose, and they do, in our country. (Applause.) And so other countries, including close friends and allies like France, have different standards, different histories, but we are, I hope, never going to go down that path to criminalize speech.
I think it’s fair to say that this has always been viewed, and I think properly so, as a matter of historical debate and conclusions rather than political. And I think that is the right posture for the United States Government to be in, because whatever the terrible event might be or the high emotions that it represents, to try to use government power to resolve historical issues, I think, opens a door that is a very dangerous one to go through. So the issue is a very emotional one; I recognize that and I have great sympathy for those who are just so incredibly passionate about it.
But I think the free market of ideas, the academic community, the open architecture of communication that is even greater now than it was in the past, are the proper fora for this kind of engagement, and that’s where I hope it is worked out. And eventually, people will have their own conclusions, which needs to be respected, but we need to encourage anyone on any side of any contentious historical debate to get out into the marketplace of ideas. Muster your evidence, put forth your arguments, and be willing to engage, and that’s what I think should happen on that too. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Behar Gidani, and the last time I stood before you I was an intern, and now I’m a program analyst, so it’s quite an honor to be here before you again today. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good, good.
QUESTION: My question is regarding foreign policy, if I may. As a Kurdish American, much of my interest focuses on the current state of Iraqi political affairs. Given what’s going on or what’s happened since the American troop withdrawal, with Hashimi fleeing to the Kurdistan region, I was wondering what the role of U.S. diplomacy is right now with that situation, and what you hope you will see in the future to ensure Iraqi security and democracy and stability continue.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I’m delighted that you’ve gone from intern to full-fledged employee in such a short period of time, and we’re delighted, and that’s exactly the kind of movement of young people into our ranks that I’m thrilled to see.
Look, there is no doubt – all one has to do is follow the media – that there’s a lot of political contention in Iraq right now. The United States, led by our very able, experienced Ambassador Jim Jeffrey – I don’t know if the man has slept more than an hour or two, because he is constantly, along with his able team, reaching out, meeting with, cajoling, pushing the players, starting with Prime Minister Maliki, not to blow this opportunity. Let me just be very clear: This is an opportunity for the Iraqi people of all areas of Iraq, of all religious affiliation, of all backgrounds – this is an opportunity to have a unified Iraq, and the only way to do that is by compromising.
And one of the challenges in new democracies is that compromise is not in the vocabulary, especially in countries where people were oppressed, brutalized over many years. They believe that democracy gives them the opportunity to exercise power and, even though it’s not the specific individual – Saddam Hussein is gone – he oppressed the Shia, he terribly abused the Kurds, including chemical attacks – he’s gone, but people’s minds are not yet fully open to the potential for what this new opportunity can mean to them. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of line-drawing going on and boundary-imposing between different political factions.
So we are certainly conveying in as strong a message as we can that these political difficulties and disagreements have to be peacefully resolved for the good of all Iraqis, and that everyone has a chance to grow the pie bigger, to have more freedom, more economic prosperity by working together.
And it’s not easy. It’s unfortunately one of the challenges we face everywhere in the world right now. With the great movement toward democracy, which we welcome and applaud, it has upended a lot of the historical experiences that people have held onto, and there is a need to get moving beyond that. But it will take time. The United States will be firmly in the role of advising and mentoring and playing the go-between in every way that we possibly can. But at the end of the day, Iraq is now a democracy, but they need to act like one, and that requires compromise.
And so I’m hoping that there will be a recognition of that, and such a tremendous potential to be realized. Iraq can be such a rich country – it’s already showing that with the oil revenues starting to flow again – but problems have to be resolved. They cannot be ignored or mandated by authoritarianism; they have to be worked through the political process. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we received two very similar questions from Katherine Koehler and Eric Clayborn that ask you about your vision for us: From the most senior employee to the most junior, in an era of limited resources, what is the one thing that we can do every day in our work, in our attitude, to make sure we reflect the priorities and values of the Department and your strategic vision for smart power? Can you give us a vision of what it means to work creatively and innovatively, given the growth of issues that we must deal with and the reality of the resources that we have?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is a very important question that would probably deserves a much longer answer. But let me just say that part of the vision is in the QDDR. I mean, that is really what drove our doing the QDDR, and why we asked so many of you to participate in helping us think through what the vision was for diplomacy and development, to have an openness to change, to learn new skills, to be willing to collaborate and listen to one another, not to defend the past.
If the past is worth defending in the values and the practices that we used, then make the case for them, not a reflexive “This is the way we’ve always done it, this is how we expect to do it forever, I’m too old to change” – I relate to that. (Laughter.) So I think it’s both institutional and personal attributes that we are trying, together, to examine. And there is an opportunity – I always believed that the best change comes from the bottom up. It comes from empowered employees saying: “Look, I’ve got this great idea.” (Applause.)
So to everyone, feel that empowerment. And then to supervisors, managers, et cetera, be open to those ideas. Not every idea is a good one. That is to be – you have to say that. (Laughter.) Because even if you believe it and you’ve spent a long time working on it, doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry the day. But how do you know unless you ask, unless you deliver, and not just stand to one side and say, “Well, if they only did what I would have them do,” or “Why are they doing that,” well, that’s not helpful to anybody. And I am sure that we’ll find it increases stress levels and all kinds of health problems. So come forward with ideas, and then I want to encourage everyone at the supervisor level to be open to listen – doesn’t mean you’re going to agree or accept, but to have that give and take. And that is what we’re looking for.
When you think about 21st century diplomacy, we’re asking our director general, we’re asking FSI, to envision what is the training, what are the new modes of thinking that we have to equip you with. Because you’re not your mother’s or your father’s diplomat or Foreign Service officer or Civil Service expert; you’re coming with a new set of challenges. So how can we help equip you, but then how can you help prepare yourself to be ready?
So I think if you look at the QDDR and kind of go through that and imagine how this will lead to the vision of our role in the world, how we can be more effective, more impactful, how we can go further on less, because there is no guarantee in these austere times that we’re going to have what we would ideally like – that starts a conversation. And in kind of the office groupings, the subject matter groupings, the affinity groupings, have that conversation and then come with ideas either through the Sounding Board or directly to people in positions of responsibility. And let’s see where it leads and we’ll do our best. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: My name is Leon Galanos.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you get just a little closer to the microphone?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: My name is Leon Galanos. I am with the Management Office of Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation. I work for Under Secretary Kennedy.
In your opening letter in the QDDR, you ask the question, “How do we do better?” I’d like to say that in order to meet the program goals of the QDDR, we need that strong management platform in the Department and USAID. And an important component of that management platform is how we manage data, information. I just want you to know that we have a inter-bureau working group which started in June 2011 that is working to getting all those silos together to share data, to access data better, so that you get that information you need quicker and more accurately. And we would be keen on meeting with your staff, debriefing them on our success and the work yet to be done.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we will do that, because you’re a hundred percent right. In today’s world, you can either manage data or be drowned by it. And it is – that’s the choice. And if you start being drowned, the natural human inclination is just to ignore. So the smarter we can be about managing and presenting and utilizing data – so we’ll follow through on that, Pat, okay?
QUESTION: Not a question. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s okay. A shameless but very important plug. (Laughter and applause.)
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name’s Michelle Lakomy. I’m a member of the Civilian Response Corps. I wanted to know what your vision for the Civilian Response Corps and the interagency is and their role in the implementation of the QDDR in the next few years.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great question. Is Rick Barton here? There he is. Rick’s right in front of me. We were so fortunate to recruit Rick to be the first leader of the CSO. And I think his vision and what all of you are thinking through will answer that question.
I want us to be able to deploy expertise in the form of Americans, both from the government, from the outside if appropriate but part of our network, to be on the ground, as I said in my remarks, doing what is necessary to protect us, promote our values, and further our interests. And that’s why this is so exciting, because I can’t, standing here today, tell you exactly all of the different roles and functions that CSO will perform. It will – it already does have a very tight partnership with counterparts in AID. We need to increase the flow of information and cooperation but then, going beyond that, into the rest of the government.
But I do know this: This was absolutely one of the most important decisions that came out of the QDDR. We entered into it with a question like, “Well, do we need this?” I mean, is this – because we’d had some efforts that were really quite important but never were given the support, the resources, the attention and time that they deserved. So it was a natural question to say, “Do we need this?” And the answer was resoundingly yes, but it has to be done the right way.
So I’m hoping that as we go through the startup and the consolidation of the CSO, you’ll be coming to me to say, “Well, here’s what we need to do, what we think we should be doing,” and I will be as responsive as I can.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Madam Secretary, another question from the field (inaudible) Sounding Board.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, this question comes from Noah Donadieu from Istanbul and it relates to staffing and career development. He says: With the recent hiring surge, many mid-level Foreign Service positions were ceded to entry level in order to provide positions for those newly minted FSOs. Now that hiring has slowed and the first wave of these hires are approaching mid-level bidding, how does the Department plan to return these positions to the mid level? Is there a timeline for this process?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can tell you and everyone who’s worried about this that HR is developing a plan to move positions where they’re needed, when they’re needed, because we are aware of this problem. This will be done in close consultation with the bureaus, because we obviously don’t want anyone who came in at an entry level to feel like there’s nowhere for them to go. So we’re going to be taking a hard look at this.
I mean, it was one of the good problems we had, like how were we going to quickly incorporate, integrate our new entry-level hires because we had so many of them. And that was our goal – to begin to refill our ranks. But now we have to take a look at what changes have to be made to kind of keep the momentum going for these young – not all young, but many young – entry-level people. So thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Susan Johnson. I’m the president of AFSA. And first of all, I’d like to thank you for that excellent and exciting update and overview of QDDR implementation and for your really inspiring advocacy for all of us to embrace change, participate in it, and see what we can do to make our agencies more effective in advancing and protecting U.S. interests. So thank you very much. AFSA really welcomes this. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, President Obama led his State of the Union Address with the remarks, and I’ll quote, “Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought and several thousand gave their lives.” The President continued, “For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.”
Madam Secretary, you know that all of us salute the accomplishments and sacrifices of our military colleagues, and in fact, many in our community are former veterans of the Armed Services. My question is: What are your ideas and thoughts on what the State Department can do to ensure that the American people remember and better appreciate that we all – the men and women of the State Department and our other foreign affairs agencies – are still there, are still in harm’s way, are still taking care of business and advancing the interests of the United States? And the related question: How can AFSA help? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very fair question, and we are obviously trying to talk about it, trying to raise the visibility of it. This is the largest post-conflict operation the State Department has ever tried to lead and manage. It’s hard. Many of you have spent time trying to help us with this transition. But I think when I see the President tomorrow, I will mention to him the importance of also having presidential attention to our members of the civilian side of the ledger who are still in Iraq and who are still facing a lot of threats and dangers.
And he is very mindful of that, very grateful for it, and I think will look for an opportunity to try to raise it to a higher visibility. So I thank you very much. And of course, AFSA has been a good partner in all of this work, and we continue to appreciate your support and your constructive criticism. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we have another synthesis of two similar questions from Elizabeth Williams and Adam Kaufman about the future of the State Department and you in 2013. The State Department has been very fortunate to have an experienced, intelligent, productive, and passionate Secretary these past few years. With the election season – (applause) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Can we put that first part of the question in writing – (laughter) – so I can put it in front of me when it gets really, really hard? (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: We’ll put it on your EER. (Laughter.) With the election season fast approaching, can you offer any predictions for the State Department after the elections in November? Specifically, are you considering staying on or not? This is the synthesis: What could we do to persuade you to run for Vice President? (Laughter.) After your tenure here comes to an end, what will you do, and what will become of us? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my goodness. Well, first of all, it’s one of the most extraordinary, wonderful experiences being able to work with all of you, which I am always telling people everywhere, how privileged I am. I think I have made it clear that I will certainly stay on until the President nominates someone and that transition can occur, but I think after 20 years – and it will be 20 years – of being on the high wire of American politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would be a – probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am. (Laughter.) Everyone always says that when they leave these jobs.
But I have no reason to have any concerns about the future of this Department and USAID so long as we continue to do what we are doing to really make the case to a broad base of the American public about who we are, what we stand for, the work we do, why it’s important.
And I am looking forward to this year. I don’t want to think about what might come next, because I don’t want me or any of us to divert our attention. I think the best case we can make is to do the work we’re doing every day at the highest possible standards and trying to achieve the best outcomes for our country.
And then the election is going to, I’m sure, suck up a lot of the attention from following areas that we think are so important – trying to resolve frozen conflicts, trying to bring food and healthcare and education to desperately poor people, trying to build up America’s reputation and reality in so many places in the world. But the good news is maybe we can even get more done if they’re not paying attention. (Laughter.) So just factor that in.
And I think from my perspective, I will just work as hard as I can to the last minute I have the honor of being Secretary and certainly do everything, no matter what I do, which I have no idea what it will be, to support all of you. And I am happy to work with Vice President Biden, who does an excellent job and who is a huge advocate and supporter for this Department and for USAID. So it’s a little odd for me to be totally out of an election season since, as Secretary of State, I cannot participate. But I didn’t watch any of those debates. (Laughter and applause.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Unfortunately for us, that will have to be last question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Because you have another engagement.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you all very, very much. Let’s keep going. (Applause.)
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