Office of Language Services

General Information

The Department of State's Office of Language Services is responsible for providing foreign language interpreting (spoken) and translating (written) support for the State Department, the White House and other federal agencies. Our interpreters and translators serve as the ears, voice and words in foreign languages of the President, the First Lady, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and other Cabinet officials.

The Office ("LS") carries on a tradition of language support for the conduct of foreign policy that dates back to 1789, when it was founded by Thomas Jefferson, the first Secretary of State of the United States of America. Today, we are home to approximately 16 direct-hire diplomatic/conference interpreters working in ten languages and 19 direct-hire diplomatic translators who work in about 15 different language pairs. These professionals work with staff project managers and hundreds of carefully tested and vetted independent contract interpreters and translators to ensure support in every language required by the White House, the State Department, and our other federal clients. We support the conduct of diplomacy and foreign affairs as well as foreign assistance and exchanges programs. Our State Department clients include the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau's (ECA) International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) and the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATAP).

The Foreign Affairs Manual states that interpreting, translating, and other language services are provided by the Office of Language Services (A/OPR/LS) for the White House and for the Department of State, including commissions and entities under their jurisdiction, and international events or conferences in which they participate. By special written agreement, language services may be provided to other agencies on a reimbursable basis. (6 FAM 1510)