The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 7

arly summertime lulls us with
expectations of a more relaxed,
contemplative period ahead.
But summer is also a time for
preparations of all kinds. In the spirit of
preparing for policy reforms, let’s talk
about the 2014 Quadrennial Diplomacy
and Development Review.
Are you still conscious and focused?
I, too, used to feel a certain ennui about
the State Department’s strategic planning
exercises. Too often they lacked opera-
tional relevance for those of us in the
field or in line offices in Washington.
The 2010 QDDR created some new
senior positions in Washington and
moved existing offices under new boxes
on the organizational chart, thus add-
ing to the top-heavy nature of the State
The 2010 QDDR process elevated the
priority of “engaging beyond the state,”
expanding our relations with civil society
and local publics.
This was a good idea, but again was
not translated into much of practical
value to the career staff.
The new QDDR process, launched this
spring, offers hope. First, the new team in
charge has many years of experience in
the federal government and
NGO community, so it knows
how to link grand strategic
objectives to programs and
budgets. Second, the time con-
straint it faces in implementing
a QDDR in the last two years of
an administration will help it
focus on concrete measures in
discrete areas of our work.
So AFSA decided to fully engage.
Please read the seven papers drafted
by working groups of AFSA members
and given to the QDDR team at State
(and posted at
. The
papers include a few controversial rec-
If you feel strongly about any of the
issues addressed, my advice is to form
a working group of like-minded AFSA
members and write a new paper. AFSA’s
Governing Board will review it and decide
whether to pass it to State and publicize it.
The main intent of the AFSA papers
is to elicit interest in the new QDDR as
a vehicle for reform, and to help focus
the QDDR team on concrete reforms of
concern to our members.
Several common themes emerge in
the papers. One is a desire to push down
the policy process at State to the action
offices in the regional and functional
bureaus, which entails paring back the
number of seventh-floor envoys and
other positions.
Another is to empower our folks in the
field by improving and expand-
ing FSI training needed to equip
them and by protecting their
ability to make security deci-
Here are some teasers from
the papers:
It is time to
fundamentally rethink our relationship to
IT platforms and personnel and focus on
IT personnel as enablers and multipliers
rather than just as the ‘computer, pouch,
or radio’ people of the Foreign Service.
Public Diplomacy:
The practice
of staffing R family leadership posi-
tions with political appointees, with
their shorter time horizons and focus
on domestic effects, has not fostered
long-term strategic planning and has
delayed innovation. Program priorities
for overseas posts should derive from
each mission’s plans, not from generic
Washington mandates. Ambassadors
and country teams are best positioned to
integrate public diplomacy priorities into
their overall mission objectives.
Economic Prosperity and Devel-
Economic and development
policy should be used to advance
other foreign policy goals; economic
policy must be an integral part of policy
decision-making in all bureaus. State
economic and USAID officers should
have career tracks that allow them to
progress to senior leadership posi-
tions in Washington and ambassadorial
positions abroad, which will season the
policy process with influence from those
with senior field experience.
Be well, stay safe and keep in touch,
Robert J. Silverman is the president of the American Foreign Service Association.
The NewQDDR Offers Hope
“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
—Thomas Edison
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