Public diplomats: positive and grim

Quick post as I am still in DC. Didn’t go to the below Senate hearing, almost did, but opted for the Brookings event with Senator Brownback and Rep. Adam Smith instead of the below Senate hearing. That choice allowed for a follow on meeting at Jury’s over Guinness and pretzels (not with the Senator or Congressman).

GovExec.com’s Kellie Lunney reports below on a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, The Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia. The hearing was spurred by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy report earlier this year. Dirksen room 342 must have been a fun place to be (not).

"On the public diplomacy side, there is some positive news, but it's a grim picture overall," Amb. Scott DeLisi, director of career development and assignments in State's Bureau of Human Resources, said before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee. ...

The Foreign Service overall is short at least 1,000 officers "just to fill the jobs we have," DeLisi said. DeLisi, who spent most of his career in the field and assumed his current post just a year ago, called the situation "frightening." Even with those slots filled, many officers are not getting the training they need to be successful overseas, he noted, adding that the agency also would benefit from the creation of additional positions. "We need more [officers] in China, India, parts of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Indonesia," he said.

There’s more to this, of course, but it’s good to get more attention on the huge lack of resources for State. Tell me, where’s the senior leadership hammering Congress to actually commit itself to both allocating money and resources to State? Secretary Gates does not count. State’s leadership, with Congressional support, must push for not just more $$ for hiring FSO’s, but programming flexibility, hiring FSN’s, a training float (hear about this? seeking details), etc.

Prepared statements for the hearing can be found here.