The Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) was created in 2011 as an essential tool for advancing economic statecraft as a U.S. foreign policy priority. The Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review (QDDR) encouraged OCE’s creation by noting the critical need for the capacity and resources to engage effectively with our partners in a world where economic factors are central to diplomacy. As the QDDR noted, “Security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors as well as on battlefields.” OCE was therefore created to expand our diplomatic toolset in order to support that engagement.
The Chief Economist reports to the Secretary of State through the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.
Our mission in OCE has three parts: strategic advice, capacity building and outreach. Our first role is to provide expert analysis and timely advice to the Secretary and other senior leaders across the Department. For this purpose staff economists engage in several analytical tasks. OCE monitors and explains current economic and financial trends in key countries and regions. We also analyze contemporaneous, hot-button issues of high priority where economics and foreign policy intersect and Department officials need real-time understanding. Finally, we engage in deeper research into longer term, thematic global trends with economic underpinnings that promise to affect economic diplomacy in the future.
OCE is part of the “E” family of offices and bureaus in the State Department focused broadly on international economics and economic development. Our office serves as an analytical resource for the whole Department, including our embassies and consulates overseas. Our relationship with regional bureaus is especially important as we seek to integrate economic issues more closely with the Department’s strategic objectives.
OCE also promotes economic capacity building. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Foreign Service Institute on training for Department staff and advising on specialized programs. We serve as a liaison with the academic community, international organizations, and other federal agencies, both by contributing to advances in the field of international economics and by bringing cutting-edge researchers in to share their insights with Department policy experts. In short, we engage in research and outreach to ensure that the nation’s Foreign Service Officers build the networks and experiences needed to advance U.S. economic and commercial goals.
Lastly, the Office of the Chief Economist works to amplify our economic and commercial outreach through making public speeches and issuing reports and working papers of general interest. We also interact closely with students at numerous universities and colleges who are interested in analyzing key aspects of current international economic questions.