A look at State Department's FY09 budget

Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, discussed the State Department's FY09 budget request today. The budget request includes 450 new positions for training. Three hundred are for language training, seventy-five are to permit a training float for professional training, and another seventy-five are for training at the military colleges - Army War College, Air University, Leavenworth, Naval War College, ICAF and NDU at Fort McNair.

There's more. The budget also add 50 to the policy advisor cadre.

And there's public diplomacy.

There's also been discussion about what is our outreach: are we doing enough in the public affairs and public diplomacy world. There are 39 positions in the budget to expand public diplomacy and educational and cultural exchanges, again, focusing on what the Secretary sees is major needs in the time ahead.

In the question period, Kennedy was asked about the Stimson report, transition planning, and USAID:

QUESTION: So are you saying that the Stimson report didn't take into account any of the '09 budget request? I mean, did they just not know or what's the deal?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, no. I think - no, I'm not criticizing the Stimson report. I'm just saying in terms of - their phasing and our phasing are very, very close. We're just - we just started the phasing faster than they did, that it reflects the Secretary's view that we need to grow the State Department in order to carry out its important missions. The Stimson feels that we need to grow the State Department to carry out its important missions. And so they're in sync. I mean, they're just sort of different - slightly different ramp-ups.

QUESTION: Did this come up yesterday in the Secretary's meeting with the transition team leaders when she (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That - I wasn't in that meeting so I can't tell you that.

Yes.

QUESTION: Sir, did you increase the budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Yes, but I don't handle the foreign assistance accounts. I handle the - all the State Department accounts. And so the answer is -

QUESTION: But it's -

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is yes, AID's budget is up, but it is not reflected in the numbers I have talked about and it's not reflected in these bar charts. Their numbers of personnel are up. Their budget requests are also up. But for the details, I would have to ask Sean or Robert to bring in someone who is a little more competent than I am to address foreign assistance issues.

Kennedy also talked about the Civilian Stabilization Initiative. It wasn't totally clear to me, but it seems the budget request does build on the appropriation in the Defense Authorization.

Another issue that's often addressed in a number of the reports are: Are we taking the right steps in stabilization; are we moving ahead in the right direction on being able to deploy personnel to countries coming out of turmoil or still in turmoil. And the budget, again, on the Hill right now has 350 positions to provide the permanent cadre for the Civilian Stabilization Initiative as well as the funding for deployment that goes with that. You know, I think you've all seen some of the material that John Herbst has put out - is putting together. This puts this on a permanent footing, also gives us the funding for the initial tranche of the 2,000 federal employees who would constitute the Ready Reserve.