Remarks At Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for SA-5

Hillary Rodham Clinton
   Secretary of State
Judith A. McHale
   Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs 
Annex Building
Washington, DC
December 16, 2009

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: Good morning. I’m delighted to be here with all of you today to welcome our special guest, and I have to say it is so terrific to have you all so close just across the street in terms of working together. And to all our colleagues, it’s been really great having you here. I want to just take one quick minute to thank all the team who did such a great job of bringing everyone over here and getting you all moved in and settled in, but with that, I’m going to turn it over to our guest speaker.

And thank you very much, Secretary Clinton, for being with us here today, and over to you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Judith. Well, it’s great to be here. (Applause.) I have been watching this building from my window and I’ve watched the end of the construction and the final touches being put on it and the moving vans pulling up, and I said I wanted to come over when everybody was finally settled in to officially welcome you here to Foggy Bottom. And I don’t know where that came from, but every time I say it – (laughter) – I stop and think.

We are so pleased, and I want to thank both Under Secretary Judith McHale and Under Secretary Pat Kennedy. I want to thank also Thomas Menighan, who is the executive vice president and CEO for APhA, who is up on the top floor in case you haven’t discovered that, as well as Roger Browning and Ann Dubas, who are part of the APhA family. I want to thank also everyone who has helped to make this move possible. Maura Pally and Jeremy Curtin, thank you for your leadership in this transition. And we now have 900-plus combined staff from ECA, IIP, R, PPR, L, PD, GSEC. I must say that when I was working on my confirmation hearings and ran into all of these alphabetical descriptions, I was thrown for a loop. Now, what R has to do with public diplomacy is something that we’ve never figured out. (Laughter.)

But what I do know is that some of the most important work that we do here at the State Department and in our posts around the world on behalf of our values and our interests and our security is really in your hands. This is absolutely one of my highest priorities – to do a better job of integrating policymaking and public diplomacy. I think telling America’s story is something that we need to do every single day. We did it quite well during the Cold War and then we dropped off because we thought, well, Cold War is over, Soviet Union has dissolved, everybody should know that democracy and human rights and individual freedom and liberty is self-evidently the way of the future.

Well, we’ve learned that we cannot rest. We have to continue to make the case. And every time we engage a foreign audience about our values or we exemplify them, we learn from their feedback, and we become more creative and more persuasive in trying to make our case. So we need you and we need you in close partnership with everyone else in our Department in order to make this process work better.

We’re housing you here in this state of the art building. You should know there’s a lot of envy on the other side of the street – (laughter) – where there are still some difficulties with information platforms and light and lots of things that actually add to the work environment. But we need to have a constant flow of information among us, because the world of public diplomacy is changing so rapidly because of digital media. You need the tools to communicate constantly in an increasingly interconnected world with 24/7 news feeds, constantly updated blogs, and of course, viral video.

So this building, as you have discovered, is equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment, faster internet connections, production software and hardware, digital video conference capabilities. And it does all this and still supports our Greening Diplomacy Initiative by reducing our carbon footprint. And so I want to thank the American Pharmacists Association for not only being wonderful neighbors, but for being committed to environmental stewardship, which has earned this building a gold rating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a gold LEED rating, and that is absolutely terrific.

Now, I know this move hasn’t been easy for all of you. Some of you have found you have a longer commute. Others have traded offices with windows for desks in common areas. But we are asking each of you to share more resources as well as to make the most effective use of this space and to give us the feedback so we can keep trying to improve it. But you’ve risen to the challenge. I’ve talked to a number of people about how things are going over here. And I’m very pleased that there seems to be a terrific sense of teamwork. We’re moving forward with our tried and true exchange programs and cultural initiatives, and we’re building new vehicles for public diplomacy. So it is – it’s exciting and it’s really gratifying for me, by the end of this year, to see all the progress that we are making together.

Now, it’s my pleasure to cut this ribbon symbolizing the formal inauguration of State Department Annex 5. Now, we have to think of a different name. (Laughter.) That does not at all reflect the creativity and the energy and the contributions of the people in this building, so we’re going to put you to work on coming up with a new designation. Now, probably in some list somewhere, it’ll always be Annex 5, but that’s not how we want to refer to it and to you, because you are part of everything we do and instrumental in our success.

As Judith McHale can tell you, one of our early conclusions after looking at the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is that we have really fallen down on the job. We were being outrun by the Taliban in getting a story out. They were using all kinds of platforms – FM radio stations on the back of motorcycles – they were getting their message out, and we weren’t. And here we are, this extraordinary, powerful society with all of the tools that are needed, and we had to do a better job. And so I think that’s just one example of why what you’re doing is literally critical to everything that the Obama Administration is attempting to accomplish.

So with that, I will take these rather giant scissors – (laughter) – and I think we’re going to be joined by some employees, perhaps, right? All right. Here we go. (Applause.)

(The ribbon was cut.)

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: Thank you all for being here today and thank you, again, Secretary Clinton, for cutting the ribbon. So thanks very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: And let me wish you all a very, very happy holiday season. Come back rejuvenated for 2010, which will be even more exciting. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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PRN: 2009/1289