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10

MARCH 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

LETTERS

Measuring PD’s

Impact

In the Office of Policy, Plan-

ning and Resources for the

Under Secretary for Public

Diplomacy and Public Affairs,

we read with interest James

Rider’s December Speaking

Out, “Proving Public Diplo- macy Works.” Mr. Rider mad

e some

excellent observations about the chal-

lenges of evaluating the impact of public

diplomacy efforts, and the necessity of so

doing.

To further the discussion, I want to

provide information about R/PPR’s work

to help PD practitioners and policymak-

ers assess the impact of public diplomacy

programming.

PD practitioners have long known that

there is a dearth of data to analyze and

shape decision-making in public diplo-

macy, leaving practitioners to “go with

their gut,” while providing scant evidence

of effectiveness.

R/PPR is working to remedy that situa-

tion by developing a modern suite of tools

to create strategies, set objectives and

plan, track and evaluate public diplomacy

programs carried out across the world.

This initiative includes: (1) the global

rollout in FY 2016 of the Public Diplo-

macy Implementation Planning tool,

which ties planned PD programming

to the Integrated Country Strategy in a

searchable cloud-based platform; (2)

the October 2015 launch of the Mission

Activity Tracker 4.0 (MAT), with improve-

ments designed to gather information on

activities, audiences reached and notable

outcomes; and (3) the expansion of

R/PPR’s Evaluation and Measurement

Unit to coordinate PD evaluations

throughout the “R family” and prepare

research and guidance for PD practition-

ers to use in defining objectives and

evaluating programs at

the post and bureau levels.

R/PPR believes it is

essential—and possible—

to acquire greater insight

into the impact of public

diplomacy programming. We

have increased our audience

research capacity, producing

reports that provide actionable

guidance on target audiences, relevant

messages and other topics to help maxi-

mize the effectiveness of a post’s limited

PD resources.

A key component for the success of

R/PPR’s efforts is training American and

local staff on the importance of report-

ing PD activities and demonstrating how

they link to mission goals. Clarifying and

articulating objectives at the outset of a

program, initiative or policy is a core chal-

lenge that policymakers and implement-

ers must also address together.

But creating the tools is only part of the

effort. The under secretary has requested

additional resources to ensure that we

are able to undertake rigorous evalua-

tions of the impact of PD programs, and

to conduct the outreach necessary within

the PD profession to develop a culture that

understands and values evaluation.

We heartily agree with Mr. Rider’s

recommendation to shift from focusing on

the quantity of programs to their quality,

conceived strategically and evaluated for

effectiveness in cultivating the relation-

ships and conditions necessary to achieve

American foreign policy objectives.

We welcome suggestions, ideas and

comments from our colleagues and critics.

Write to us at

RPPREvaluation@state.gov

.

Elizabeth Detmeister

FSO

Acting Director, R/PPR Evaluation and

Measurement Unit

Washington, D.C.

Intangibles of

Public Diplomacy

I retired from the Foreign Service in

1986 but have remained active in AFSA

ever since, including four years on the

Governing Board.

When word came out back in 1999

that the U.S. Information Agency would

disappear, I was quite concerned. I felt

there was a significant underappreciation

(including frommany of my State col-

leagues) of what USIA was doing through-

out the world.

I began my Foreign Service career

in 1957 as a disbursing officer in Vien-

tiane, but I was able to pitch in with the

U.S. Information Service (as USIA was

known at overseas posts) during my free

time. At my next post, Paris, I lived a few

meters down the street from the often-

overflowing USIS library. (I have never

understood why those libraries were later

closed.) And I played various low-key

public diplomacy roles throughout the

rest of my career.

James Rider’s article

was very enlight-

ening and not surprising. Are our public

diplomacy programs overall doing better

in this post-USIA period?This is obviously

tricky to evaluate, as Mr. Rider notes. Yet

there can be no doubt of the importance

of such “intangibles.”

All FS personnel are, in effect, or at

least should be occasional public diplo-

macy officers, no matter their specific jobs.

PD is indeed a valuable role for all of us.

Gilbert H. Sheinbaum

FSO, retired

Vienna, Virginia

USAID and Operational

Stress

As the authors of the report titled

“Stress and Resilience Issues Affecting USAID Personnel in High Operational Stress Environments” (http://bit.ly/