Reimagining Public Diplomacy's Organizational Structure at the U.S. Department of State

May 12, 2016


Public diplomacy is essential to many of our current foreign policy goals and it is critical that PD professionals be part of the decision-making and strategic planning process, in addition to briefings to Congress on various issues. The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy undertook a six month project to contribute to a conversation on potential reforms within the public diplomacy apparatus, consulting more than 100 stakeholders in and outside of the State Department and Congress.

We believe there are five essential changes that can happen in the near term: move current PD operations more toward joint strategic planning for global priorities and re-emphasize the need for strategic planning for regional and bilateral issues; give the regional bureaus and posts a greater voice in planning and agenda setting; strengthen the back office support (R/PPR) that the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs gives to posts; coordinate PD financial resources to support global, regional, and bilateral strategies; and create a task force that closely examines how different informational and interpersonal engagement programs and services could potentially be co-located and consolidated for better coordination. We believe that much of this work can be led by Washington PD leadership in the remaining months of the current administration.

Summary of Recommendations:

  1. Create a Global Strategic Priorities Unit and emphasize need for regional planning
  2. Strengthen the PD administrative back office.
  3. Coordinate PD financial resources with global, regional and bilateral strategies
  4. Consider embedding regional representatives from IIP and ECA inside the regional bureaus.
  5. Create a task force to review PD services that can be co-located or consolidated.

(For full recommendations see pages 12-17)