Foreign Affairs Day 2012

Patrick F. Kennedy
Under Secretary for Management 
Washington, DC
May 4, 2012

Welcome ---

Welcome to Foreign Affairs Day 2012. As someone who has roamed these halls for more than a few years, I see many friends and former colleagues here today.

Foreign Affairs Day is an important outreach event, and a time to say “Thank You” for your service – past and present.

During today’s program you will hear about the Department’s current priorities and initiatives. I have been asked to update you on the Secretary’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the Greening Diplomacy Initiative.

First, QDDR implementation ---

The QDDR was conceived by Secretary Clinton to be a companion to DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review and to provide a blueprint for elevating American "civilian power."

As part of QDDR implementation over the past year and a half, we have revamped the process by which State and USAID set goals and develop long-term plans. For the first time, strategic planning and resource planning are separate and sequential processes. We are now setting our goals before we determine funding. This up-front planning has helped us to focus our resources on our highest priorities.

The Department has empowered chiefs of mission to act as interagency Chief Executive Officers. We ensure that an ambassador’s perspective is considered whenever a decision touches their country and their responsibilities. Ambassadors now regularly participate in high-level interagency policy making discussions with Washington via video conference.

To address key energy issues, we restructured an economic, energy, and environmental Under Secretariat, and created a new Bureau of Energy Resources. The Department’s first Chief Economist was appointed in March to help the Department stay ahead of emerging economic trends that have foreign policy implications.

The Department also redefined the role of the Under Secretary for Global Affairs. This is now the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights – encompassing the bureaus that deal with democracy, trafficking in persons, and refugee responsibilities, as well as, now, counterterrorism, conflict and stabilization, war crimes, and international narcotics and law enforcement. This brings together the essential elements in building safe, fair, and just societies in a holistic approach.

The QDDR recognizes that the Department has grown more accustomed to and adept at operating in unsecure environments. We now remain operational in countries where previously we would have shut down, Iraq and Afghanistan being two prime examples.

While the Department is used to taking on challenges world-wide, the pace of expeditionary diplomacy has accelerated, and the operations needed to support it have expanded and diversified. In Iraq, the Department owns and operates aircraft, both fixed wing and helicopters. We have also outfitted and are operating our own hospitals.

The QDDR states that as we expand U.S. expeditionary capacity for conflict and crisis, we need to build on the experience of innovative field officers at State and USAID who have set new standards for impact on the ground.

Another QDDR priority is Economic Tradecraft. We are examining the role of our econ officers world-wide, and how the work they do promotes U.S. economic growth.

My consular colleagues are on the leading edge in President Obama’s national strategy to make the United States the world’s top travel and tourism destination, which will create more American jobs -- you may not know that for every 65 tourist visas the Department issues, one job is created in the United States in the travel and tourism fields.

The Department of State is well on the way to meeting the President’s goals of increasing visitor visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012. I’m proud of the tremendous work that the Consular Affairs Bureau has done to cut wait times by increasing staff, expanding facilities and hours, and streamlining the visa process. Under a pilot program, the Bureau hired recruits who already speak Portuguese or Mandarin to quickly augment our consular staff with qualified professionals. They have already joined the ranks at posts in Brazil and China.

If you would like to hear more about these visa initiatives, Assistant Secretary Janice Jacobs will discuss at her break-out session today how the Bureau is managing the unprecedented visa demand today, and the challenges of the future.

With regard to consolidation of services, a joint USAID-State QDDR task force reviewed overseas administrative consolidation efforts, and determined that we must provide consolidated administrative services when it makes sense from a business and operations perspective. The Department and USAID need efficiencies and economies of scale; we must have redundancy but we cannot and should not have duplication.

State and USAID had already been working on consolidating 15 agreed-upon administrative services onto the common ICASS platform. We are now completing this consolidation and are seeking further cost savings for State and USAID in the remaining administrative services areas, including accelerating the consolidation of IT and human resources.

To guide further consolidation, a Joint Management Board was established in January 2012, as the result of recommendations adopted in the QDDR. We are consolidating services to ensure both cost reduction and needed flexibility, while seeking to maintain or even enhance service quality.

We believe that we have made much progress in executing QDDR initiatives, and will shortly begin another round of implementation. We are seeking legislation that codifies the QDDR as an exercise every four years. We have established a staff for future QDDR development and implementation.

Turning now to the Greening Diplomacy Initiative or GDI --

The GDI was launched by Secretary Clinton on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. Under GDI, the Department seeks ways to limit our environmental footprint, increase energy efficiency, and promote sustainability in our operations. We have also put environmental issues at the forefront of our foreign policy agenda.

I chair the Greening Council, which is the senior-level group responsible for overseeing the implementation of GDI and other greening activities. Comprised of Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries from a diverse cross-section of the Department’s bureaus, the Council provides strategic direction and guidance to establish a Department-wide “greening roadmap.”

I am pleased to say that the Department has embraced greening both domestically and overseas, both agency-wide and on an individual level.

For our domestic operations, mandates in Federal law and Executive Orders require State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced when we operate our facilities or vehicles. Our target was a 20% reduction by FY2020, using FY2008 as the baseline. We are, in fact, on track to exceed this goal and will reduce greenhouse gases by 35% as of December 2012. This reduction is the result of using new renewable energy farms that support our Washington and Maryland facilities -- we are using a wind farm in Pennsylvania, and a solar farm in New Jersey.

We also monitor another type of greenhouse gas emission produced by a third-party on behalf of the Department – such as an airline during travel. This is a more challenging issue, because Department travel has increased commensurate with staffing increases. Travel is essential for the Department to fulfill its mission, but we are looking for ways to reduce travel when we can, including replacing large in-person conferences with web-based and digital video conference events. We did this recently for Human Resource Officers and Information Resource Management.

Construction of our new facilities is LEED certified – LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The Department’s Regional Center Building in Charleston, where we process payroll and other financial transactions, was completed and awarded LEED Platinum, the highest level attainable. It is expected to achieve net zero energy with onsite solar and wind renewable energy generation.

Our overseas facilities are also constructed to LEED standards by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. Since 1999, under a major construction program to replace old, unsecure buildings, OBO has completed 89 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 43 projects in design and construction. The program has successfully moved more than 27,000 USG staff into safer, more secure and functional facilities.

Of these new facilities 10 are LEED certified, with another 30 preparing for certification. There are only 7 LEED buildings in all of Africa – 5 of them are our diplomatic facilities: Antananarivo, Johannesburg, Brazzaville, Ouagadougou, and Lusaka.

Our new diplomatic facilities employ air-cooled chillers to save water, along with native and drought tolerant plantings. Energy conservation strategies are incorporated into the construction, such as sun shading; solar hot water; and highly reflective roofing materials to reduce heat absorption.

In addition to new construction, OBO also implements green projects at existing facilities. OBO installed a photovoltaic array that covers the parking garage at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and solar panels that convert the African sun into emissions-free electricity at the embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. OBO also produced a “Green Guide for Embassy and Consulate Operations,” that provides an overview of global environmental challenges, as well as mission-specific tips for lighting systems, irrigation, and fleet management.

Outreach & Diplomacy

  • The Department has also worked GDI into our outreach and diplomatic efforts. Here in Washington, we are part of the DC Greening Embassies Forum, which allows us to exchange best practices with foreign missions located in DC.
  • Overseas, the Department’s League of Green Embassies is one of many groups within the Department offering leadership and resources to promote environmentally sound policies. Originally an EUR group, it has expanded and now includes members from other geographic bureaus, to share best practices and highlight the valuable public diplomacy aspect of greening our overseas government facilities.

In 2011, the Department created a GDI award to encourage and recognize efforts to integrate sustainability in operations and diplomacy.

As part of this year’s Earth Day celebrations, the Greening Council awarded the 2012 GDI award to Embassy Kathmandu. For the first time this year, Department employees were allowed to vote for a winner – and they also collectively chose Kathmandu as number one.

More than 85 offices and posts submitted greening success stories for the GDI Award, and about 23,000 employee votes were cast. Embassy Kathmandu’s greening efforts were found to embody the GDI's principles of engagement and leadership. The Embassy invested in a zero-emission fleet; invested in solar water heaters for residences and the Chancery to take advantage of the 240-plus days of sunshine; planted a garden for the cafeteria and the community as an alternate food source; implemented a compost site to reduce waste and produce soil for the garden; and partnered with several local NGOs that were able to re-use the embassy's recycled materials to make briquettes to cook meals for over 300 people at a rehabilitation center on a weekly basis.

Runner-up Embassy Canberra harvested rain water, planted trees in the community, went paperless, and created its own Greening Initiative for a strong greening awareness program at the embassy and on the diplomatic front.

The Department’s employees are engaged in GDI, as can be seen from the 23,000 votes cast during the GDI award process. The employee “Sounding Board,” another innovation of Secretary Clinton, is a visible platform for employee ideas and management response. On the greening front, the work force has advanced innovative practices and highlighted their concerns. For example, Sounding Board suggestions from State’s bicycling community have resulted in showers for those who bike to work, and a monthly stipend for bike repairs and maintenance in lieu of the Government Metro Check subsidy.

As you can see, we’ve been busy during this past year. We continue to build on the foundation that you helped to lay. Thank you once again for your service.

PRN: 2011/407