A Review of the State Department Reauthorization Bill for FY 2018 and the State Department Reorganization Plans

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
Testimony on FY 2018 State Department Reauthorization Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
July 17, 2017

Thank you Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin for having me back today. We had a fruitful discussion last week in this Committee about the Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, released last month. We are grateful for your support and attention to this, and many other State Department matters. And I am always glad for the opportunity to engage with the Committee.

I certainly recognize and appreciate the Committee’s success last year in passing authorization legislation. In passing the bill, you sent a clear, unmistakable message: that Congress is committed to American diplomacy and to the many patriots of the Department who volunteer to work long hours, serve the American people, and advance our interests abroad. Thank you, Members of the Committee, for your commitment to the Department and for your dedication to our mutual goal of serving and representing the people of the United States.

We look forward to working with you on this year’s authorization effort, and appreciate the opportunity to engage, discuss, and coordinate with you throughout this process. From my initial review of the draft FY 2018 State Department Authorization Bill, it is clear that the Committee and the Department share many of the same goals – advancing America’s national security and economic interests, the judicious expenditure of resources, and the protection of our personnel and interests around the world.

In the 21st century, the United States faces many evolving threats to our national security. As the Committee knows well, the State Department – with a workforce of more than 75,000 – must respond to these challenges with the necessary speed and the appropriate resources. In other words, the nature of our work at the State Department demands flexibility and adaptability to an ever-changing world. We ask that the Committee keep this in mind as you continue to evaluate proposals for the Authorization Bill.

We also appreciate the great interest and support the Committee has shown to the Department’s efforts to make our programs and organizations more efficient and effective. The cornerstone of this redesign effort has been the input and feedback received from State Department employees.

We recently completed a listening survey made available to every one of our State and USAID colleagues. The response was outstanding and well-received. Over 35,000 employees completed the survey and hundreds took part in face-to-face interviews. Now that we have the initial feedback, and have posted the results of the survey, the Secretary has asked me to lead Phase II of the redesign efforts, which began last week. I share the Secretary’s approach to making our Department more efficient and effective, without preconceived ideas about the final result.

Phase II includes a Steering Committee to provide oversight; working groups to address the main themes that came out of the listening tour: foreign assistance, overseas alignment and approach, human capital planning, IT platforms, and management support; and an online portal so that every employee can continue to provide input throughout the process.

To ensure a thorough and comprehensive review, we are drawing on the expertise of every Bureau in the Department, with participation from Washington and posts overseas.

This redesign is part of a larger agency review, as directed by President Trump. To meet the President’s goals, we expect our review to be completed and a report submitted by September 15th.

We welcome your input as we move forward, and know your feedback will be integral to making the Secretary’s organizational redesign a success.

Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss the State Department Authorization Bill. We look forward to working with you and your staff so that Congress can exercise its oversight role, and the State Department can carry out its mission to serve American interests abroad.

I look forward to answering any questions you may have.