In the News: Restructuring Public Diplomacy Operations and Administration in the State Department

USC's Center on Public Diplomacy would like to call your attention to a recent exchange about public diplomacy among some distinguished practitioners.

The two commentaries which follow address fundamental issues: the need to improve public diplomacy field operations and the need to restructure public diplomacy administration within the State Department. These articles underscore the systemic weaknesses in U.S. public diplomacy today, weaknesses that can be repaired if the political will to do so can be summoned.

For those in the State Department, the White House, Congress, and elsewhere who profess commitment to a more effective American public diplomacy, the suggestions in these articles deserve serious consideration and prompt action.

Philip Seib


Enabling Public Diplomacy Field Officers to Do their Jobs
Ambassador(ret.) William A. Rugh, Ph.D

The many studies recommending public diplomacy reform have paid little attention to how public diplomacy is carried out at field posts around the world. The USIA-State merger has hampered public diplomacy field operation effectiveness because assumptions behind the merger over-emphasized the similarities between traditional diplomacy and public diplomacy which is a specialized profession requiring a separate set of skills. Those skills are learned primarily through on the job training, and proficiency grows with experience. While every Foreign Service Officer should understand public diplomacy and support it that does not mean every FSO needs a PD assignment. Public diplomacy positions at embassies above entry level should be filled by PD cone officers to ensure effectiveness at post. Moreover, PAOs at every embassy need more local authority to manage their programs. They also need a more efficient backup system in Washington, and that can best be provided by creating a new Bureau for Public Diplomacy Field Operations staffed by experienced PD professionals. This restructuring proposal is fairly simple because it could be accomplished within the State Department...

[The complete article can be found at the following link:]




Comment on: Ambassador (ret.) William Rugh's commentary "Enabling Public Diplomacy Field Officers to do Their Jobs"
"Public Diplomacy Is Trying To Reach And Influence The World But State Department Structure Has Problems"

Thomas K. Pickering, former Ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan; former Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State

Henry E. Catto, former Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), former Ambassador to the United Kingdom
David I. Hitchcock, 35 years with USIA, Senior FSO, Senior Associate with Center for Strategic and International Studies

Stanley M. Silverman, 47 years with USIA, former Comptroller of the Agency and State-USIA Merger Advisor

Fred A. Coffey Jr., 37 years with USIA, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Professor at the National War College

Ten years ago on October 1, the US Information Agency was folded into the Department of State. Everyone hoped that our public diplomacy outreach would benefit from integration of efforts to inform and relate to the rest of the world, with our often more sensitive, traditional diplomacy. There is a consensus, however, that the present arrangement has not worked well...

What is needed most is an integrated public diplomacy structure, with clear authority and supervision from the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, who should be the "director" of all public diplomacy budgets, personnel and operations, and should participate in assignments, training and officer evaluations...

[The complete response can be found at the following link:]

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