Minutes for May 12, 2016 Official Meeting

Washington, DC
May 12, 2016


Thursday, May 12, 2016 | 10:00-11:30a.m.
Capitol Visitors’ Center, Washington, D.C.

Mr. William J. Hybl, Chairman
Mr. Sim Farar, Vice Chairman
Ambassador Penne Peacock, Member
Ms. Anne Wedner, Member

Ms. Michelle Bowen, Program Support Assistant
Dr. Katherine Brown, Executive Director
Mr. Chris Hensman, Senior Advisor


The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy met in an open session from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2016 to discuss “Presidential Priorities for Public Diplomacy.” Ms. Courtney Beale, the Senior Director of the Global Engagement Office and Special Assistant to the President at the National Security Council, shared insights into the role of public diplomacy in the Obama administration, remaining priorities for 2016, and public diplomacy issues for the next administration’s consideration. She took several questions from the audience and their details are in the below transcript. Katherine Brown, the Executive Director of ACPD, then shared the key findings from ACPD’s latest white paper, “Reimagining Public Diplomacy’s Organizational Structure at the U.S. Department of State,” which is available at //2009-2017.state.gov/pdcommission/reports. Sim Farar, Chairman of ACPD, closed the meeting by briefly discussing the Commission’s ongoing congressional mandate and announced that ACPD will meet publicly again on September 20, 2016, when they release the 2016 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting.


Sim Farar: Hello and welcome to our public meeting for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I’m Sim Farar, Chairman of the Commission. Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has been charged with appraising U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform and influence foreign publics. It also works to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities. The Commission conducts research and symposiums that provide assessments and informed discourse on public diplomacy efforts across government. Our signature product is the Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting and we released the 2015 version on September 22nd. Copies of the executive summary of that report are available on the welcoming table. Our 2016 report will be released September 21st of this year. At the end of the meeting today, we are releasing our latest white paper, Reimagining Public Diplomacy’s Operations at the U.S. Department of State, which our Executive Director, Katherine Brown, will quickly run through. Copies of the report are also available at the welcoming table.

But the focus of this meeting is Presidential Priorities for U.S. Public Diplomacy and we are thrilled to welcome Courtney Beale, who is the Senior Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council at the White House. Courtney, thank you for taking the time to be with us today. Before turning to Courtney, I’d like to introduce the Commission Members with us today: Bill Hybl, our Vice Chair, from Colorado Springs, Colorado; Ambassador Penne Peacock, from Austin, Texas; and Anne Wedner of Chicago, Illinois. Lyndon Olson from Waco, Texas and Lezlee Westine of Washington, DC unfortunately could not be with us today. The more detailed biographies for all of the Members are also available at the welcome table. I’d now like to welcome Bill Hybl to formally introduce Courtney. Bill?

Bill Hybl: Thank you Mr. Chairman. We’re honored to have Courtney Beale here with us today as our featured speaker. She is the Senior Director of the Global Engagement Office at the National Security Council, where she oversees the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts to engage and influence citizens and non-state actors in support of the nation's national security goals.

Courtney is a career public diplomacy Foreign Service officer and serves as the Senior Director of Global Engagement Office and Special Assistant to the President at the National Security Council. In that role, she oversees the U.S. government's interagency efforts to engage and influence citizens and non-state actors in support of national security goals. Before her detail to the National Security Council, she served as the Director of the Office of Strategic Planning in the Public Affairs bureau at the Department. She's had numerous assignments overseas and has certainly distinguished herself with the Department of State. Courtney graduated with Masters in public policy from Princeton University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Courtney, welcome and thank you for being here.

Courtney Beale: Thank you.

Bill Hybl: Courtney Beale. [applause]

Courtney Beale: Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address the Commission. It is an honor to be here to discuss Presidential priorities for public diplomacy. I’d like to thank Katherine for the invitation and for the Commission’s work to promote transparency and excellence in public diplomacy.

I joined the Global Engagement office a year ago. As the first Foreign Service Officer in this position, I came into the role with a deep respect and appreciation for the challenges and incredible work that PD officers do in difficult places around the world. Over the last year, I’ve seen how other agencies’ tools and resources can complement the State Department’s deep expertise in and overseas face of public diplomacy to support this President’s priorities.

So today I thought I’d share some insights into the role of public diplomacy in the Obama Administration, remaining priorities for 2016, and public diplomacy issues for the next administration’s consideration.

The Obama administration created the Global Engagement Directorate almost seven years ago to drive comprehensive engagement policies that leverage diplomacy, communications, and international development in pursuit of a host of national security objectives. So while I often simplify the office’s role by calling it “public diplomacy at the interagency” it is a bit broader. This agenda reflects the President’s own experiences, acknowledges the trends that drove the creation of the office, and is manifest in how he chooses to use his time when he travels abroad. This administration’s approach to public diplomacy is inevitably shaped by a President whose Kenyan father was an international student when he met his American mother, who spent several years of his childhood living in Indonesia, and who worked as a community organizer before joining politics. So he brings a unique and globalized worldview to how the U.S. government informs and influences audiences overseas for the purpose of promoting our national interest.

When the Obama administration came into office, they encountered a world of diffusing power, with government and institutions declining in influence and emerging groups of citizens and non-state actors using wealth, networks, and hyper-connectivity for positive and destructive purposes. This rapidly changing dynamic complicates all of our work in foreign affairs. The traditional NSC mandate of managing government-to-government relations remains crucial, but this administration also saw a need to elevate the work of public diplomacy to engage informal power centers. This required whole-of-government strategies to support new partners such as civil society, youth and entrepreneurs and address challenges by influencing non-state actors such as violent extremists and other groups that spread misinformation.

And so the Global Engagement office brings directors from State, DoD, and USAID together to integrate public diplomacy planning into the interagency policy making process – or in NSC-speak, the IPC process. In addition to running IPCs around Presidential priorities, we strive to bring the relevant public diplomacy experts from various agencies to the policy making table across a range of national security issues. And to ensure that other agencies resources – whether that is intelligence products, Commerce and SBA’s private sector contacts, or the military’s data analytics tools - are also benefiting public diplomacy practitioners.

President Obama has prioritized public diplomacy’s role in both meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities of our rapidly changing world. That means integrating public diplomacy into U.S. government strategies to discredit misinformation and project positive alternatives in response to challenges such as violent extremist propaganda and the Kremlin’s negative influence. But his priorities also reflect the positive; as the President said at the recent State Department Chief of Mission conference “We’ve got to keep forging partnerships that empower young people, entrepreneurs, students through programs like 100,000 Strong in the Americas, or the Young Leaders of the Americas, or YALI in Africa, or YSEALI in Southeast Asia. And we have to not only focus on challenges and threats, but opportunities and hope. We have to feed what’s best in the world and not just try to address what’s worst.”

You can see the President’s commitment to feeding what’s best on his visits overseas. He frequently holds town halls with youth, convenes round tables with civil society, and engages innovators and entrepreneurs on driving economic growth. These events are always in support of our foreign policies in the country he is visiting. For example, the civil society roundtable in Ethiopia last fall – which included exchange program participants - allowed us to gather recommendations on how to better support civil society and push back against restrictions on civil society organizations in the country. And the town hall with youth from ASEAN countries supported U.S. goals of cross-border collaboration on common challenges and fostering an ASEAN identity. The President’s personal involvement in these events is part of a larger U.S. government wide strategy to create partnerships with communities beyond traditional elites in support of national security goals.

If the changing world shaped the creation of the Global Engagement office, we hope that through our work with State and other agencies, we can use public diplomacy tools to shape a changing world. I’ll hit a few highlights of our priorities for the remainder of the administration.

We see public diplomacy as a crucial tool in addressing the strategic communications challenges of misinformation and propaganda. Groups like ISIL have used the information battlefield to promote messages of violent extremism and the Kremlin sows doubt and distrust through state-sponsored falsehoods and social media trolls. We work with regional and functional directorates at the NSC to coordinate how we use public diplomacy and messaging tools against these challenges.

A specific area of focus this year is the creation of the Global Engagement Center at the Department of State, which replaced the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. The Administration’s establishment of the Global Engagement Center reflects an updated strategy to counter violent extremists like ISIL using public diplomacy, messaging, and technology in very different ways. It reflects the reality that the U.S. government is not the most effective messenger to counter extremist messaging and the need to instead amplify credible voices in the region that resonate with vulnerable communities. And the reality that the effort won’t succeed unless we work with private sector talent and tools to identify and measure innovative approaches.

After an extensive interagency process, the President signed an Executive Order tasking the Center to coordinate, integrate and synchronize messaging to foreign audiences and giving it 3161 authority to hire some of the best experts in this field from the private sector. We are fortunate to have Michael Lumpkin, who spoke at the last Advisory Commission meeting, leading the center. Through the rest of 2016, we will be focused on fully staffing the Center, getting it the resources it needs to fulfill its mandate, and drawing on data and metrics to show the impact of the Center’s partnerships and campaigns.

But ISIL isn’t the only challenge in the information space. Whether we’re looking at State-sponsored misinformation or government restrictions on the media, it is in the U.S. interest to support credible sources of accurate information. The President sees the Broadcasting Board of Governors as a tool for advancing U.S. foreign policy through independent professional journalism, and we’ve worked closely with BBG and the State Department on a reform agenda over the last few years.

It was clear the organization needed a more streamlined management structure, so we helped create the new Director position to oversee and increase coordination among the federal and grantee media networks. As a result of John Lansing’s strong leadership, the BBG is focused on aligning content and resources to U.S. foreign policy interests, such as Russian and Chinese media influence and countering violent extremism. John formed a council that brought together the leaders of the five BBG entities to meet regularly, prevent duplication of effort, and develop joint programs, particularly in these priority areas.

Another major areas of reform is meeting audiences where and how they get their news, which means an aggressive shift to digital, social and mobile platforms and increasing the curation and acquisition of quality content. The final area is looking at how we measure the BBG’s work against its mission of informing, engaging, and connecting people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.

Going forward, to support these reforms we need Congressional support to empower the BBG Director to assume greater day-to-day management from the BBG board and be able to shift resources around to respond to foreign policy priorities. We are working together to leave the next President a more modern media entity that has a measurable impact on advancing our national interest.

On the opportunity side of the public diplomacy agenda, our remaining 2016 priorities include increasing and institutionalizing partnerships with young leaders, entrepreneurs, and civil society. One of the President’s top priorities has been investing in youth in previously under resourced regions with youth bulges through the young leaders initiatives. We now have YALI in Africa, YSEALI in South East Asia and YLAI in Latin America. Each initiative was created differently to address regional foreign policy goals, but they have certain elements in common: a 4-8 week academic or professional exchange program, education and career opportunities available back in their regions, and a digital network with online training and campaigns to engage leaders throughout the region.

The open application process for the exchange program has expanded Embassies’ contact networks, and our Public Affairs Sections regularly share stories of YALI alumni that are passing legislation, creating jobs for young people, or working across borders on regional challenges. Seeing the success of these programs, the State Department’s European Bureau has recently launched their own pilot program for a Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative, or YTILI.

Through the remainder of this year, we’re working with the State Department on YALI, YSEALI and YLAI Summits that will include Town Halls with the President. But we are also thinking about how to sustain these programs beyond 2016. We hear from our Embassies that these programs are working. The young leaders alumni have become our partners and are leading change in their communities and countries in ways that support our mission’s goals. So we encourage Congress to continue to fund these programs and sustain these partnerships into the future.

Turning to entrepreneurship, we are gearing up for the President’s trip to the 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, or GES, in Silicon Valley next month. We’ve invited 800 business and social entrepreneurs from almost every country that are finding their own innovative ways to drive economic growth, solve development challenges, and create more secure communities. At GES, we’ll connect them to 300 investors and CEOs to gain skills, expand their network, and pitch their ideas. Since entrepreneurs ultimately need business friendly ecosystems to thrive, we are inviting government representatives from approximately 15 countries that are making policy commitments to support entrepreneurship.

This is truly a whole of government effort, with over 100 people from seven different agencies all working together. And for the first time, a consulting firm will be evaluating the impact of GES on the participants’ knowledge, connections, and investments. We’ve already had interest from other countries to co-host GES 2017, so we hope these Summits and American leadership on encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation will continue.

The last priority that I’d like to mention is the President’s Stand with Civil Society initiative. Our Embassies, and Public Affairs Sections in particular, partner with civil society across education, journalism, exchanges, cultural programs, CVE, and development, to name a few areas. But as civil society’s influence has grown, governments have enacted new restrictions and requirements to limit their work. Civil society holds governments accountable, so this is not surprising in many autocracies, but civic space is closing even in nominally democratic countries.

So the President launched the Stand with Civil Society initiative in 2013 to create more innovative programs and a renewed emphasis on diplomatic and multilateral tools to push back against this crackdown. A Presidential Memorandum in 2014 tasked all government agencies working overseas to consult with and support civil society in their efforts. Public Affairs Sections have been great partners in this effort – they know from on-the-ground experience that if civic space is closed, our public diplomacy and mission goals will suffer. Around the world, they identify civil society leaders for IVLP programs, Fulbright Fellowships, tech camps, and other programs.

Through the Open Government Partnership, the U.S. Presidency of the Community of Democracies, the Civil Society Innovation Initiative, and Lifeline program, we hope to leave the next administration stronger institutions and programs to support an open space for vibrant civil society partners.

Before moving on, I want to underscore that none of these programs would be possible without the collaborative work of State Department, USAID, the Defense Department, and BBG. Particularly the State Department; our regional public diplomacy bureaus, the Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy, the Bureaus of Education and Cultural Exchange, International Information Programs, and Public Affairs, and our Public Affairs Officers in the field have all worked together, creatively trying new things and seeing what works, to support these Presidential Priorities.

Working on these issues, we regularly encounter structural challenges that will require work across administrations to make progress or resolve. Challenges that we’ve identified, grappled with, and don’t yet have all the answers.

The first is the ability to fund programs that are responsive to short-, near- and long-term foreign policy goals. This requires both the overall resources and flexibility for sufficient funding. If you add up all of the funding that the State Department receives for public diplomacy programs and salaries for fiscal year 2016, it comes about to approximately $1.16 billion dollars. This is 2.3 percent of the entire international affairs budget. While State Department must be the face of public diplomacy overseas, the resourcing challenges underscore the importance of working with agencies like the Department of Defense, which have much greater resources, on addressing certain national security challenges.

Given our current resources, the State Department needs flexibility in the ECE and D&CP budgets so that public diplomacy activities can respond to our biggest foreign policy challenges. For several years we have supported a Rapid Response fund to give ECA this flexibility, but it has never been funded. If we truly want public diplomacy to respond to our public affairs sections’ needs and our regional and global priorities, resources and flexibility are key.

A second issue is how to overcome the challenges of leveraging modern tools we need to shape the narrative in a dynamic technology environment. For example, the Privacy Act put significant restrictions on how we use social media and data analytics for public diplomacy. The Privacy Act of 1974 establishes a Code of Fair Information Practice that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies. These protections for American citizens are very important. But the Act was written in 1974, before the internet existed. And it can be hard to know whether a Twitter account of a handle coming out of Syria belongs to an American citizen. Each U.S. government agency interprets the Act somewhat differently.

As a result, strict interpretations of the Act prevent public diplomacy practitioners from aggregating data analytics that could include personally identifiable information on what are believed to be foreign citizens in case an American citizen is included. The extra steps required to filter out all personally identifiable information are expensive in terms of cost and time. So we are held back form using tools that are standard in the private sector. While we have found piecemeal solutions, this issue will only become more pressing as technological tools improve.

The private sector edge also applies to the knowledge management, contact management, and technological platforms that are crucial for modern public diplomacy. This stuff is expensive, and there is nothing sexy about funding “infrastructure”. It also requires hiring mechanisms to bring in staff with evolving technological skill sets. But if we don’t figure out how to do all of this better, we are trying to shape the 21st century with 20th century tools.

The final issue to raise is the need to focus on audience research and impact evaluation of our public diplomacy efforts. Public diplomacy resources are most effectively spent when programs are designed to directly address foreign policy goals, target audiences are identified through research and data, and outcomes are measured through metrics and rigorous evaluations appropriate to the program objectives. Although a variety of program evaluations are currently in place, we have advocated for expanding long-term impact evaluations, particularly of programs with larger budgets, starting with the young leaders initiatives. We need data to help make funding decisions about what programs are having the intended impact. This requires larger research and evaluation budgets and a commitment to building in evaluations during the design phase of the program. There are encouraging signs – BBG has increased its research budget and the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has set up its own Evaluations office with a focus on impact evaluations, but this issue will need sustained support from the next administration to continue.

Public diplomacy has been crucial to meeting the challenges that have come before us, from winning the Cold War to building people-to-people ties with countries that are now our strongest allies. From my first tour in India to my most recent overseas tour in Mexico, I’ve seen firsthand how the tools and the players are changing every day. So we’ve got to be flexible, innovative, and smart stewards of public diplomacy resources. We’re working hard to finish the year off strong and leave the next administration with strategies and platforms that can support the foreign policy priorities over the next decade.

With that, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today. If there are any questions from Commission members or the audience, I’d be happy to try and answer them.

Bill Hybl: Thank you, Courtney. First, Mr. Chairman, do you have a question?

Sim Farar: No.

Bill Hybl: Anne?

Anne Wedner: Wow, that was a really great summary of what's going on at the White House. I just have a simple question. I do feel like often our discussion of public diplomacy turns into a discussion of tactics and tools, I wonder at the White House, do you guys ever sit around and ask yourselves, "What does America stand for in the global imagination?" and could you tell me that in a couple of sentences?

Courtney Beale: Yeah. That's a great question and I think something that our directorate, which includes speech writing, press, and global engagement office together do talk about. And I think there is a challenge there. I think that we stand for freedom and democracy and a place where people from around the world have been able to come and use opportunity and hard work to be successful. And a country that supports foreign policy priorities to try to bring those opportunities and peace and stability to others around the world. But I think one thing that the recent election shows you is that there's even a debate within the United States about what exactly America stands for. And so, what we have to keep doing is looking at how even in the midst of that debate, we can still keep an eye on freedom, democracy, and how to support those national security interests overseas.

Penne Peacock: Thank you again, Courtney. It was marvelous. I am particularly interested in the YALI program and others but particularly that one because you said it comes every year to Texas University. And we have wonderful people come, and they come back, and they write letters. And as you pointed out, you're trying to leave a legacy for the next administration but how do you bridge that so that it comes a bipartisan legacy and people will pay attention to it? Although it will be probably in part of the budget, but what makes it go on, not in perpetuity because nothing does, but as long as possible?

Courtney Beale: How do you sustain it? Yeah, part of that is funding but it also comes down to how you are staffing it, how you are prioritizing it, and how you're creating cultures and institutions within an agency that go on to support it. I think what gives me hope is that because our embassies and our regional bureaus tell us that they find it useful for their goals, that they have now begun to use it as a tool within their own embassies and they're not going to want to see it go away. So, I think the funding will determine how much bigger it gets. I think how much attention the next administration puts to engaging personally with the participants will determine its visibility in the next administration. But my hope is that we've laid the groundwork through now, several years of this program and an institutionalization process that we've begun within the NSC, with the agencies, to look at what steps they can take so that the agencies are fully owning these programs, regardless of what happens with the National Security Council, that you'll still have Young Leaders Initiatives that continue into the future.

Bill Hybl: Questions from those of you in the audience? Yes, sir?

Mike Anderson: Mike Anderson. Thank you, Courtney for the excellent overview. Two questions. I don’t want you to give away anything but can you comment on these two issues. When the president came in he gave a terrific, challenging, inspiring speech in Cairo, reaching out to the Islamic world. Are there any plans to do a Cairo speech two, to wrap up the eight years of Muslim outreach and related issues? And then two, are there any remaining issues, remaining things to do in the pivot or rebalance to Asia? Which was a key Clinton and President initiative from the start of the administration, including TPP.

Courtney Beale: Yeah, I was going to answer the second question first and say that I think a lot of steps have been taken on the rebalance from the focus on building ASEAN infrastructure, having all the leaders of the ASEAN countries come to California in February. The president's about to travel out to Vietnam; I think he already committed to attending the next summit in Laos this September, so you'll see a little bit more presidential travel and emphasis on this region throughout the rest of the administration. I think one of the biggest things to still be done is finalizing TPP and that's a bedrock of the rebalance to Asia. So, I think that's probably the biggest remaining piece.

On your first question, I don’t know of an exact plan to talk about eight years later, the results of the Cairo speech, I think given how pivotal it was for this administration there will need to be someway, somehow to kind of talk about at the end of the administration, everything that's happened. But I don’t have a secret to give away, sorry. I can't give you a preview of what's to come on that one yet.

Mike Anderson: On TPP, can you comment...is the White House strategy low-key dealing with congress, hoping it will slip through for the change of the administration or will there be a more public effort to convince the American people of the importance of free trade and TPP?

Courtney Beale: Yeah, that one's a little outside of what I'm dealing with. I think right now, all of the talk in the campaigns about free trade; it's a really difficult time to have a very public strategy. We're about to go to Vietnam, where I know TPP will be an emphasis there. But as far as exactly how they hope to get it to the finish line in the United States, we're less involved in those discussions.

Bill Hybl: Other comments or questions? Yes, ma'am?

Beatrice Camp: Beatrice Camp … forgive me for getting very specific, but the Obama Administration oversaw three successful US participation in world fairs in the last eight years. The last one in Milan. The president announced our participation in the Milan world fair in Rome two years ago, which I guess makes it a presidential priority and yet, the resourcing for all of these and particularly from Milan, was absolutely [inaudible]. The next one will be in the next administration. So, I certainly understand why no decision has been made but the fact that it was a priority and there were interagency meetings, discussions with the White House, and yet the State Department and the interagency did almost nothing to take advantage of the themes of the Milan fair for security, agriculture, the 20 million visitors who came to the fair, the 6 million who came to the USA pavilion... How do we explain that? How do we make it possible for something of that size, which used to be a major part of the US information agency and remains something of the rest of the world is doing...how can we better coordinate those and make sure that the commerce department, and the United States department itself, all the bureaus, really take advantage of the public diplomacy and the commercial trade policy, opportunities of the world fair?

Courtney Beale: Thanks. I know you did a lot of work leading that up from the State Departments. So, thanks for everything you did on that. I think the financing for these world fairs is going to be - I put this in the long-term challenge, structural bucket - and I don’t know all of the ins and outs. But not being allowed to use US government resources to fund world fairs, because of congressional restrictions, means from everything I understand that everything has to be raised with the private sector. And the State Department has been the lead for those. I think that's a challenge because it's hard to commit to something far in advance that we don’t know exactly how much and how is going to be funded. I'm not sure that I'd say that there wasn't a coordination or kind of, high-profile use of those fairs. We had the First Lady go out and talk about these themes on her trip. I believe the Secretary of Agriculture also went out. So, I think there was a fair amount of high profile, visible support and messaging around the themes of the fair. But certainly take your point that we could be doing a better job and if we are going to go through all the work to work with the private sector, and raise all the money needed for these then completely agree that we need to be coordinating throughout the US government on how best to leverage millions of people who come through those.

Bill Hybl: Yes, there in the back.

Lynn Weil: My name is Lynn Weil and I work on Capitol Hill. I worked here some years ago but in the meantime, worked at three of the agencies you mentioned as part of the interagency process on public diplomacy and civil society outreach. With that kind of comprehensive understanding of how it all works, I'm going to ask my tough question that in your position you may not be able to answer. Given the limited amount of resources available and the authorities involved, and the difficulties of getting the interagency able to work as it should... What do you need from congress to ensure that the rest of this administration to the next one, the secretary of state, through the Under Secretary of public diplomacy and public affairs, is able to take on the coordinating role that she is supposed to or he is supposed to underlie?

Courtney Beale: And so you mean what does congress need to do to better support the Secretary of State's role coordinating public diplomacy programs?

Lynn Weil: Across the agency. I know it's been through the NSC process that there's been some lubrication with the new system...but the law gives that job to the secretary of state.

Courtney Beale: Sure. So, while I think I highlighted some of where we need congressional support for funding, I can't say that I know of any congressional restrictions that stop the State Department from doing interagency coordination. And in fact, we whole-heartedly support interagency cooperation, led by the State Department. I think one of the risks of having an NSC that helps to coordinate around global engagement is that then agencies feel like, if the NSC isn’t doing it, should they be doing it? And if this were really important then the NSC would be doing it. But I think even the Milan Fair was an example where the State Department was leading lots of interagency coordination, even outside of the role that the limited role that our office with four people can play with every initiative going on within the US government. And so, I think we support State Departments’ interagency coordination and I'll give that more thought. If I can find a congressional restriction or anything that's impacting it, we'll let you know. But at this point, don't necessarily see Congress holding State back from doing it.

Bill Hybl: Further comments or questions? Yes, ma'am?

Megan Isaac: Hi, my name is Megan Isaac. I'm the program manager at American Councils for International Education for the YES program. So, the Youth Exchange and Study program, which brings approximately 900 students from 40 different countries with predominant Muslim communities. So, I hear in the remarks that you shared both a priority from the president on Muslim communities as well in terms of countering violent extremism...as well as youth. So, I want to know how on his radar are these types of programs. Both the version that I work on, YES, as well as the out-bound version that takes US high school students to ten of these countries for an academic year?

Courtney Beale: Yeah. The YES program is incredible. I got to work with it in Pakistan and you guys are doing great work. I think that it's exactly the type of program that this administration believes is really important. I believe we have about 600 of them coming in June, if I remember correctly. And so, we kind of look for opportunities of how could we have high levels of the administration speak to them...sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. But I think that that's exactly the type of program that we think is so important. One other example that I would give is the Christopher Stevens Initiative, which uses virtual exchange with a physical exchange component to try to connect young people from primarily Muslim countries around the world. And so, I think these are really important programs and so grateful your work and the State Department's work to keep them going. And we'll keep looking for more visible ways to support them.

Bill Hybl: Yes?

Female 2: Thank you very much for your work. I wanted you to speak a bit more about the strategy transition in terms of messaging and communication, dealing with complex foreign policy concerns, but adapting to a faster paced technology, social media, and how you balance that.

Courtney Beale: So you said...you mean during an upcoming transition?

Female 2: Oh, primarily in terms of public diplomacy messaging about US foreign policy. Whether it's within the US or...

Courtney Beale: Sorry. Can you say that question one more time?

Female 2: Oh, I'm sorry. It's in regards to whether it's social media or faster technology for communication, and as you're dealing with complex issues...how do you balance the detailed response to the faster response required with this type of communication?

Courtney Beale: Got it. Okay, thanks for clarifying. I think Russia is an example that has brought all of these together because you're looking at a country where in many areas around the world we have very divergent points of view, and other areas around the world, particularly recently, there is some degree of cooperation. And so, trying to figure out how you can have counter messaging that targets particular audiences on particular policies, is a really important aspect of that. It has to be coupled with exactly how you use exchange programs and other public diplomacy and social media tools to bring people who you want to be allies, and be able to promote free and fair information, and support them through the programs. But I think the other thing I'd say is that while counter messaging is an aspect of that, we always have to keep in mind that it can't be all about counter messaging. We also have to be putting forward our own narrative. Getting back to your question Anne, about what is the United States' policy on this, what is the United States’ standpoint, how do we differentiate...for example? And I think the president does this often with his remarks, what the United States stands for versus what Russia stands for. And so, it means lots and lots of coordination. The State Department coordinating within its own bureaus, it's Under Secretary Stengel, bringing people together with the European bureau. It's the Secretary bringing everyone together, it's us trying to bring all the different agencies together, and putting out where we are on the policy and how each part can play its own role in supporting that policy.

Bill Hybl: Thank you. Yes?

Patricia Kabra: Thank you. Courtney, I don’t have a question. I just have a statement following on Lynn's suggestions. I represent the Under Secretary's office. I'm in the office of policy and planning, and resources. What we call R/PPR. And so, I just wanted to first of all, pass a message. The Under Secretary is very supportive and really thanks you for your service personally as well as the support of the President and the NSC for public diplomacy. And that also, he is looking forward to the commission's release of this report today, which he has had a preview of. I do want to thank you again for mentioning some of the priorities of the president, which we have tried to convey as much as possible to the field as well as to our various bureaus, and to put in place the structures and the tools that are needed to be able to support that. Whether it's research, which both the information programs division - which has its representatives here, is doing a lot of analytics and research on audience. We have our own research capacity; we also work with other aspects of the State Department on strategic planning. Which is another focus of the Under Secretary and evaluation, and resourcing those primarily in the right places, of the right things, with the right people. So, I truly appreciate this opportunity today and the commission offering this opportunity to us, and I thank Lynn for her suggestion that maybe there's something congress might do with all of these things. You did mention the Privacy Act. There are a lot of other things I learned about such as the Paperwork Reduction Act and other types of issues that have come up over the last couple of years that definitely have congressional support and consideration that is helpful. So, thank you.

Bill Hybl: Thank you. Let me say, that is a great segue first to thank Courtney for being with us. Great comments. Obviously you're doing a great job. [applause]

Courtney Beale: Thanks very much.

Bill Hybl: Katherine Brown, the executive director of Commission will now speak. Katherine?

Katherine Brown: Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for coming out and thank you for coming to the Capital Visitor’s Center. We know security can be kind of restricted coming in, so thank you. And thank you so much Courtney for spending time out of your busy day to be here with us. And for all that you do. I first want to make one update to Pat's question about congressional movement on different restrictions, especially when it comes to research and the State Department Authorization Bill - thank you for your question, Lynn. That was just passed on the Senate floor. There is an update that mentions a waiver that's needed for the Paperwork Reduction Act when it comes to public diplomacy research. We really are very grateful for the senate for including this and hopefully the House picks it up now and it becomes law. So, there is some progress there that Congress is making. And congratulations for passing the first State Authorization bill in 14 years. Quite an accomplishment.

I have the honor of going through some of the key findings and recommendations from our latest white paper, which we're releasing today. First, I want to thank the many people in this room who helped us with this. This was a very collaborative effort and it began with the simple question that was asked of us from several people: can the system, can the public diplomacy system and apparatus of the State Department, can it work better to serve the needs of our officers in the field and those in Washington? The commission re-instatement the last three years has had the opportunity to really look at the meta-level, the high-level view of public diplomacy, specifically in conducting the Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting. And we found that a lot of issues were recurring and that it required a systems look at the apparatus. What was working and what wasn't. We also have the honor of traveling to the field, we've gone to 16 countries in the last three years, and meeting the public affairs officers to get a sense of the challenges that they face and their communication with Washington.

Initially, we wanted to take a creative approach and ask what the system would look like if you were to realign the functions and the activities of public diplomacy with the stated mission of advancing U.S. foreign policy goals. We wanted to take together, as a foundation, all the lessons that we've learned through our research the last three years. This started as a creative imagining exercise. As we dug deeper, we found that we wanted to work towards a few near term recommendations, knowing that any kind of reorganization would take years and a lot of work. So, what could really happen in the near term?

We wanted to contribute to a conversation that we see that's bubbling up, especially in Congress, on potential structure reform for public diplomacy at the State Department and re-imagine the operation that emphasizes a lot of what Courtney was just saying, a lot of what Pat was just saying as well: strategic planning and ensuring that the resources, tools and services can more easily align to those plans and enhance how the State Department communicates more effectively with Congress. One of the reasons why the Commission was brought back three years ago was because congressional staffers had a really difficult time understanding how all public diplomacy activities fit together. They were normally briefed on tactics or certain programs, but rarely could get a sense of an integrated approach to PD. So, how does the information side work with the cultural side, how does it work with the educational side, and how does that all come together to advance foreign policy goals? This is why we have to do the comprehensive report each year. It's to try to explain what are these bureaus, what are these offices, what are they doing, and how are they using resources.

The type is quite small, but this slide explains the methodology of how we did this project. We did it over the course of six months. We used as our foundation the research we've done already, which has engaged nearly 200 public diplomacy officials in 16 countries and also those based in Washington. We held an initial design thinking exercise that was facilitated by the Strategy Lab at the State Department to imagine, if we were to start over completely, what would the apparatus look like? What would the family of bureaus look like? And we used that exercise to gauge a sense of attitudes toward reform, did people think we needed structural reform and where did they think the different PD functions should line up? That exercise was our initial launching point for this project. And then we interviewed in depth a variety of public diplomacy leaders to get a better sense of what actually was going to work and what wasn't, what was addressing peoples' main concerns and what wasn’t. We did this with a special eye to the regional bureaus and what their concerns were with connecting the resources to the field.

We interviewed in depth roughly 70 State Departments, White House, Defense Department, and Congressional stakeholders for this project. We referenced literature on mergers and acquisitions and on organizational design, knowing that a corporate structure is very different than the State Department of course. As our recommendations developed, we drilled down and tried to work as much as possible with those who still wanted to engage with us on exactly how the recommendations would resonate within the building. We worked not just with those in the public diplomacy family but also officials in Management, specifically Budget and Planning.

The goal of this project was to try to further align the various resources, functions, tools, and services to better advance US foreign policy goals on global, regional, and bilateral levels. In creating this “blue sky,” ideal vision, we wanted to create near term recommendations. We hoped to create a vision for future efforts that might take years to implement, but also give practical recommendations officials can build from. The idea was to create a vision that is quite radical and different from the current one. But then from that, identify the areas where we feel reform is needed and some near term practical steps that could happen. maybe in the remaining time of this administration. This type on the slide is fairly small but you all have books and can read this ideal structure. The dark part that's near the centerfold. Essentially, this blue sky vision is fundamentally different than what the current public diplomacy public apparatus looks like.

As many of you know since you are fairly fluent in public diplomacy structure of the State Department, there are three bureaus: Public Affairs, International Information Programs, and Educational and Cultural Affairs. There's also the Global Engagement Center, and then there's the Policy, Planning and Resources Office that is the administrative and policy planning arm for the Under Secretary. The idea here is to pull together all of the tools and services that serve the field into one large public diplomacy program services bureau. And the idea here is to make the tools more service oriented to the field, and to meet strategic planning on global, regional, and bilateral levels so that you could have a horizontal toolkit of all the informational services, cultural services, and educational services and those services could align with different needs in the field and align with the global strategies.

The idea is also that the programs be more service oriented and not goals in themselves, that they actually serve a foreign policy goal and a public diplomacy strategy that advances that goal. So, this is fundamentally different. This is essentially merging together asset of ECA, IIP, and some parts of PA. We would then pop out the spokesperson’s office since it deals with more short-term reactive activities, catering to the news media's needs. We didn’t want to get too much in the weeds on the Assistant Secretary and DAS roles. We wanted to show a vision with the point being that there needs to be strategic planning at three different levels, depending on what the issues are and that our public diplomacy tools need to serve those strategies. There needs to be a way to more easily identify tools and resources that you could pull together fairly easily depending on what the issue was.

Of course, the public diplomacy administrative back office, which is R/PPR, would help streamline the administrative and technology needs, in addition to forecasting personnel needs and working to allocate the proper resources. This is essentially what R/PPR is. We purposely do not have an organizational chart to show you the vision because we found that people were stuck on what it looked like, and would get into the weeds of saying, how many DAS’s? Or what unit is going to go away? What's going to cease to exist? Why is this here and not there? We wanted to make the point via text that the idea is for programs and services to be in more service to field needs and to meet more strategic purposes, and that we do have a core back office that works to serve the field and regional bureaus more.

From this, we have some near-term recommendations. We have five core recommendations and a lot of these are recommendations that we've said in past reports that we either are updating or adapting.

The first is that we feel that there needs to be a global strategic priorities unit for the Under Secretary. And the capacity there would be essentially to plan PD strategies to meet global foreign policy issues. So, we're talking about issues that transcend those in regional bureaus. One example is countering the Kremlin’s negative influence. That issue affects two different regional bureaus there: Europe and South and Central Asia. There needs to be a coordinating function. We're not talking about new Assistant Secretaries but Coordinators who can pull together the different people who are focusing on this issue from different angles, and to get a sense of how to coordinate a strategy.

We want this unit to be nimble, to flex and surge whenever there’s a major foreign policy crisis or issue. Whether it be a health crisis, or it be environmental issue. If the issue's no longer relevant, then that position goes away. So, the idea is that this is not another heavy office with multiple full-time employees, that Coordinators can be identified from the existing staff throughout the public diplomacy enterprise to take on these issues. The idea also is that they focus mainly on issues with a global scope for the Under Secretary. We do believe that short-term priorities can often take up the vast majority of public diplomacy capacity and that leaves us little time to get ahead of issues, and really plan ahead for multi-year efforts. So, this is part of what this unit would be created to do – short and long-term planning depending on the issue. It would also work very closely of course, with the department's larger operations and be representative there.

That’s the global level. And then of course are PD leaders at the regional level. The Deputy Assistant Secretaries should have the lead for strategic planning on regional issues. That's already their job. At the bilateral level, you have Public Affairs Officers who are already doing this with integrated country strategies that they must do every five years and show how public diplomacy advances the mission. So, that is happening. Essentially we want to emphasize that regional bureaus need to identify their priorities and strategies and then communicate them up to the global priorities unit because we realize that not every global priority makes sense in every local context. These are issues that you have to think about very carefully and we feel like it should be someone's specific job to do that at a global level. We go into more detail in the paper and there's a table that shows you the different levels of strategic planning and how they would all fit together. But we feel that this global unit needs to be established separately from the administrative function of R/PPR, but very connected to it.

The second part is strengthening the administrative back office. We started this with a fairly imaginative exercise. We originally tried not using specific office names but this is essentially R/PPR. We believe there needs to be seven core functions. We have a table in the paper that shows the ones that exist and ones that we advised in past reports that should exist as well. We believe that R/PPR is essential to defining policy, strengthening and allocating financial resources, streamlining administrative processes, developing technology platforms and databases, forecasting needs for professional development, clearly articulating internal communications to public diplomacy professionals worldwide, and also producing audience segmentation research and process and impact evaluations. This is very consistent with what Courtney was saying and what we hope continues -- and is very consistent with the Commission’s 2014 Data Driven Public Diplomacy report. We're very happy to see that R/PPR is already doing much of this. And it's definitely developing the research capacity and definitely looking identifying a technology director. Again, giving the current fiscal environment, this recommendation isn't meant to add on more staff. But it's meant to reorganize and streamline the functions of R/PPR so that there is that core that is looking at shared services.

The third recommendation is to coordinate public diplomacy financial resources with global, regional, bilateral strategies. This something that the Commission’s been saying for quite some time. There are two different budgets with two very different authorities for public diplomacy. There's the Educational and cultural Exchange (ECE) budget and there is the Diplomatic and Consular Programs Budget, which, finances a variety of different activities within the State Department and public diplomacy is one. They both have different authorities but we feel it is imperative that these two budgets work together because they inevitably impact one another. They need to be better coordinated so that public diplomacy leadership has a very transparent look across the funds and manage resources between Washington and public affairs sections.

We realize that PD funds from D&CP (.7) fund the salaries for public affairs sections’ locally employed staff, who manage educational and cultural activities funded from the ECE budget. We are not recommending that Congress create one protected PD budget, which has been advocated for in the past. But we do think Congress needs to more clearly articulate to the State Department that they expect these two budgets to work together. We hope that there is a joint spending plan that the Under Secretary can create to understand how these two budgets affect one another and how they can meet our different global strategies, and also serve the needs of our officers in the field.

Recommendations four and five are more about the tweaking of some of the current workflow processes in the three bureaus. Again, we understand that any reorganization would probably take some time.

We advise that leadership considers embedding the regional desks, the people in policy units in IIP and ECA, into the regional bureaus. They would still work for IIP and ECA and identify tools and services for information, cultural, and educational campaigns. But they would work more closely with the Deputy Assistant Secretaries and their staffs in the regional bureaus to get a better understanding of what exactly their needs are and why they're asking for these services. They could also work to educate them on what services may or may not work and to increase communications and dialogue between the two. This is an idea that can be tested out to embed them for either the whole workweek, or maybe twice a week. But the important point is to increase the dialogue between the PD functional bureaus and the regional bureaus. One of the things that we hear quite frequently at post is that what they would like to have a menu of options for different tools and services that resonate with their local audiences. So, this is an effort to address that issue.

The fifth recommendation is for the Under Secretary to create a task force of career PD professionals who, in conjunction with their cohorts in the Management cone who have experience with shared services, would start looking at what PD production services can be co-located or consolidated. There is some perceived overlap between IIP and PA production units, and within ECA as well. The three bureaus have different functions overall. Public Affairs’ is to be responsive to the news media; IIP’s is to influence foreign audiences through informational campaigns; Educational and Cultural Affairs is to focus on interpersonal engagement. But there's a lot of shared services that they have. There's websites, digital platforms, translation services, broadcast services, and what would happen if you start looking at co-locating them and the idea that they are more service oriented.

For instance, a video service professional would work for both IIP and PA, the person who creates the video would have a clear idea of what the purpose for that video was and when it was due. Currently, the two bureaus sometimes try to share services, but their professionals are pre-oriented toward taking their time with videos or having short fuses. We realize that such a colocation is going to take a very intensive effort. This is why we think there should be a career officer task force to take a look at it and figure out how we can share resources and potentially cut down on costs, since there are often competing contracts. Those are the five recommendations moving forward.

We have three final thoughts about all of this and this really drives at why we did this project.

We absolutely agree with everything Courtney said earlier about public diplomacy being absolutely essential to our foreign policy and we feel as if supporting our officers in the field and professionals here in Washington is critical. We wanted to make sure that these professionals are part of the decision-making, strategic planning and implementation processes. It’s really critical that if you're a public affairs officer in the field, you participate in the country team meetings to weigh in with your expertise about foreign publics and how that affects the mission. The same should happen in regional bureaus of course and we believe that should happen at the global level as well. We want to make sure that public diplomacy is increasingly having a voice in foreign policy, which was one of the stated reasons for the merger between USIA and the State Department.

We also realize that change takes concerted leadership and commitment. We encourage the incoming Under Secretary to serve a full presidential term. One of the Commission’s last reports it did in 2011 was on the 30 percent vacancy rate for the Under Secretary. That’s changed because Under Secretary Stengel will soon be the longest serving Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy. But there still needs to be a commitment of an incoming Under Secretary for a full term. We also think that he or she should focus on management issues and make sure that the enterprise is working better together and working towards this integrated campaign approach.

That brings us to the last point. As a Congressionally-authorized Commission, we serve Congress as well and we try to help them have a better understanding of why public diplomacy matters. What we found over the years is that there's some frustration with how public diplomacy is presented to the Hill, and that's where we started. They want to see an integrated PD approach and know how all the tools and resources are aligning for strategy and how that's moving foreign policy issues forward. We hope that the approach to Hill briefings will increasingly change. We hope that different PD functional bureaus will brief together talking about the value of public diplomacy for certain foreign policy issues. But also we feel it's critical that the public diplomacy DAS’s for the regional bureaus be present at briefings on political or economic issues and join their regional bureau colleagues to talk about the PD dimension of foreign policy. Those are our final thoughts.

You have the paper. I think we only have a couple minutes left. I’m happy to take some questions. This has been a very fascinating process to work on for all of us with the building and we're very grateful for all the time and attention that went into this from the very different bureaus that cooperated. So, thank you very much. [applause]

Anne Wedner: Katherine, I hope everyone out there knows how much courage it takes to take this on. I don’t know how many of you have taken on a bureaucracy. I don’t think that we're taking it on but rather, just trying to give some ideas about how institutions need to be reformed and move forward. So, Katherine took a lot of arrows on this project and I hope that everyone in this room can support the idea of thinking and rethinking how we conduct public diplomacy. Because I think these are really sort of basic, common sense reforms. Thank you, Katherine.

Katherine Brown: Yes?

Mike Anderson: Have you considered the issue of the morale within the public diplomacy cone as you visit overseas? What is your assessment of the morale? And then two, did you discuss at all the idea of how important it might be if the Under Secretary of PD were a professional person for a change rather than another political appointee?

Katherine Brown: Yeah, those are great questions.

Mike Anderson: Can you discuss those two issues?

Katherine Brown: Yeah, those are great questions. First of all, morale. I think that drives the point that so much of this is contextual. Public diplomacy is so contextual. It depends on local audiences and many times what we find in public affairs section is that it depends on the chief of mission, it depends on how they value public diplomacy, it depends on whether or not they want the public diplomat to have a voice with the team and be influential in strategy. And so, it really depends.

We've seen a variety of different attitudes over the years and maybe the Commission Members can speak more to that. I think for us what we really felt, and we've had many conversations about this, is that what we consistently hear from public affairs officers that they want this menu of options. Sometimes they're told to do information campaigns that don't make any sense for their local audience. We heard that in Brazil and South Africa. Sometimes they don’t need a certain exchange program but they're given a slot and they don’t want to give it up, so they work through the motions to fill it, even though it doesn't make sense for their local context. I just heard that in Kazakhstan where there's such a large effort by the government to send Kazakh students over to universities and at the undergrad level, so the Fulbright foreign student program doesn’t make sense for them. Essentially, since context matters so much, they want to feel that they have a greater voice in the tools and services that they're offered. This is something we thought was really important to do and try to identify ways that weren't dramatic and didn't require a lot of structural change, but different tweaks that could potentially emerge over the next couple years so that the Department is being more responsive to the field.

I think Courtney's point too, about the need for more flexibility in the budget, especially the ECE budget, is extremely important. ECA can be more responsive to field needs or global priority needs and that's something we put in the paper as well that I didn’t address in the PowerPoint. Morale is very contextual.

We did a report last year called Getting the People Part Right II, and I think one of the things that we found was that the merger has brought the public diplomacy coned officers closer to foreign policy making. They can rise to the rank of ambassador and I think that we have Ambassador Jean Manes and soon-to-be Ambassador Kelly Keiderling. It's very, very exciting, seeing a rise in the ranks among PD coned officers. So I think morale's getting better there in Washington as well.

Anne Wedner: Regarding whether or not an FSO should be Under Secretary, we were asked about that as we went through the process. I think in an ideal world we could have a strong recommendation or a push on something like that. But the reality is that people who serve in those positions are really fulfilling the goals and missions of the President in a lot of ways, and certainly the Secretary of State. So finding the right person that suits what they're doing is also important because they have to have the ear of that person. It’s hard to throw out absolutes and give more straightjacketing of what people are supposed to do with positions. I think if it happens to be a career public diplomacy officer that would be awesome. But why put parameters on what is our executive decisions? We want the right person, someone who will be committed to four years and someone who has courage to make important managerial decisions and changes. But it doesn’t have to be a failed position just because you're from the outside. I don’t think that has to be so. I guess we're trying to create an open mind on it.

Patricia Kabra: Again, the comment from the Under Secretary's office and from all of us at R/PPR. I’m going to use a word that maybe people shy away from and that is passion. First of all, I'd like to thank the Commission Members for their passionate support of public diplomacy and hearing about it so much. Katherine and Chris, for really passionately caring enough that they did the effort to do this report and for all the public diplomacy professionals who are sitting here today, working and waiting to see the outcome of this study. There is a lot of food for thought and the Under Secretary is looking at the recommendations as he's looked at previous recommendations and other reports. And I think what is good about having someone like the Under Secretary is that he has an open mind in the sense that he’s come from the private sector, and can ask, Why we don’t do it this way? Sometimes when we're within the system for so long, we can't see things. So, thank you very much and there is a lot of food for thought and debate for all of us, to see what can be and should be implemented. But most importantly, what process should be taken to discuss so that we can come up with solutions that work for all, that make it more effective. So, thank you.

Katherine Brown: Thank you, Pat. Anyone else?

Sim Farar: We’d like to again thank Courtney Beale, and all of you, for being here. We’re as always grateful for BBG and PD leadership to be present at these meetings and all of you in the audience for your participation. We will not convene again until September 20, when we release the 2016 version of the Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting. We are working on the report throughout the summer. This year it will focus on the South and Central Asia region and the Western Hemisphere, and we are visiting our embassies in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Chile. We were also able to make an official visit last month to the United Arab Emirates. The report will also focus on our efforts to improve the capacity of research and evaluation of PD and broadcasting activities at the State Department and the BBG, and looking at the other presidential priorities that Courtney discussed

We remain open to convening discussions and completing analysis on topics that may be of importance to all of you. So please stay in touch with us and we look forward to seeing you again in September. Have a wonderful summer. [applause]