The Foreign Service Journal - May 2017
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MAY 2017


Is a State Department

Reorganization in the



n March 15, the Trump administra-

tion released its proposed budget

for 2018, with deep cuts planned for the

State Department and USAID.

On March 27, Steven Mufson of The Washington Post reported the open sec


that the Trump budget has its roots in

a proposal by the Heritage Foundation,

“Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget

for 2017.”

Accordingly, one might reasonably

expect to find a hint of what’s behind

the proposed 29-percent cut at the State

Department in another Heritage Foun-

dation report, “How to Make the State Department More Effective at Imple- menting U.S. Foreign Policy,” publishe


in April 2016.

Indeed, POLITICO sussed out as much

in conversations at the State Department,

according to an April 9 article

written by

Nahal Toosi and Andrew Restuccia.

The Heritage report—written by Brett

Schaefer, the Jay Kingham Fellow in Inter-

national Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage

Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center

for Freedom—states that deficiencies in

influence, responsiveness and effective-

ness at State are not a matter of resources

but must be addressed through improved

leadership, organization and clarity of


To reestablish clear lines of author-

ity on foreign policy, the report argues,

the Secretary of State must be the chief

foreign policy adviser to the president and

the operational role of the National Secu-

rity Council must be reduced, with its

responsibilities transferred to the under

and assistant secretaries at State.

Additional recommendations include:

return the Policy Planning Staff to its

original purpose or eliminate it; remove

Cabinet rank from the U.S. ambassador to

the United Nations; curtail the use of spe-

cial envoys and special representatives;

ensure that all candidates for ambassado-

rial appointments are qualified, accord-

ing to the requirements of the Foreign

Service Act of 1980; and reinforce the

authority of U.S. ambassadors.

A series of proposals for reorganizing

the department aim to strengthen core

bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

They include establishing an under secre-

tary for multilateral affairs and changing

the position of under secretary for politi-

cal affairs to undersecretary for bilateral

affairs, shifting the responsibilities of

most functional bureaus to them.

Also proposed is to change the name

of the Bureau of Economic and Busi-

ness Affairs to the Bureau for Economic

Development and incorporate USAID,

while restricting activities for which the

U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce

Department and Treasury have primary


Other recommendations would elimi-

nate the position of under secretary for

civilian security, democracy and human

rights and shift those responsibilities

to the under secretary for multilateral

affairs, integrating democracy and

human rights offices into the regional

bureaus; eliminate the position of deputy

secretary for management and resources;

and merge complementary offices and


When POLITICO reporters caught up

with Schaefer in early April, he said he

had talked with a range of people as he

prepared the recommendations, and had


Winners and losers in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal.