Mission and Organization
American diplomacy in the 21st century is based on fundamental beliefs: our freedom is best protected by ensuring that others are free; our prosperity depends on the prosperity of others; and our security relies on a global effort to secure the rights of all. The history of the American people is the chronicle of our efforts to live up to our ideals. In this moment in history, we recognize that the United States has an immense responsibility to use its power constructively to advance security, democracy, and prosperity around the globe.
Diplomacy is an instrument of power. It is essential for maintaining effective and international relationships, and a principal means by which the United States defends its interests, responds to crises and achieves its foreign policy goals. The Department of State is the lead institution for the conduct of American diplomacy; its mission is based on the Secretary of State's role as the President's principal foreign policy advisor.
Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit
Established in 1789 to advise the President on formulating and conducting foreign relations, the Department is the oldest and most senior cabinet agency. The Secretary of State heads the Department and serves as the President's principal advisor on the conduct of foreign relations. The Deputy Secretary and six Under Secretaries aid the Secretary of State, serving as the Department's board of directors on foreign policy (Appendix A). Each specializes in one of the following areas: political affairs; economic, business and agricultural affairs; arms control and international security; global affairs; public diplomacy and public affairs; and management.
Organizational Structure in Washington, DC
At its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Department's mission is carried out through six regional bureaus, each of which are responsible for a specific geographic region of the world. The regional bureaus and the overseas posts are supported by functional bureaus and management bureaus which provide policy guidance, program management and administrative expertise in matters such as economics, intelligence, human rights, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance, and consular services.
Organizational Structure at Embassies
In each Embassy, the Chief of Mission (usually an Ambassador) is responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy goals and coordinating and managing all U.S. Government functions in the host country. The President appoints each Ambassador, whom the Senate confirms. Chiefs of Mission report directly to the President through the Secretary. The Diplomatic Mission is also the primary U.S. Government contact for Americans overseas and foreign nationals of the host country. The Mission serves the needs of Americans traveling and working abroad, and supports Presidential and Congressional delegations visiting the country. The Department operates more than 260 embassies, consulates and other posts worldwide.
Other Key Locations and Offices
The Department also operates national passport centers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Charleston, South Carolina; national visa centers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Williamsburg, Kentucky; two foreign press centers; one reception center; 13 passport agencies; five offices that provide logistics support for overseas operations; 22 security offices; and two financial service centers.
Composition and Number
The Department's workforce consists of more than 28,000 employees in the Civil Service and Foreign Service, and Foreign Service Nationals in the 162 countries where the United States is represented. The pie charts below show the distribution of the workforce among these three categories and show what proportion of the workforce is located overseas.
|Service Type||Percentage of Workforce|
|Foreign Service National||35%|
|Location||Percentage of Workforce|
Since FY 1996, the total number of employees at the Department has increased by 33% with the greatest increase manifested in the Department's civil service staff which has increased by 54%. Over the past year, the increases in staff reflect the Department's increased emphasis in the areas of security, public diplomacy and counterterrorism.
Where We Are Located
As shown in Appendix A, the Department's embassies, consulates, and passport/visa centers are located throughout the world in support of America's foreign policy goals and to assist Americans traveling abroad.