Getting the people part right: a report on the human resources dimension of U.S. public diplomacy.

Author:Brown, John

Dozens of reports have appeared since 9/11 on the failure of U.S. public diplomacy (PD) to improve America's standing in the world. These reports, however, shed little light on the goals and status of State Department employees in the PD career track. This unfortunate gap in determining how public diplomacy practitioners can best carry out their putative task--to understand, inform and influence overseas publics in support of foreign policy objectives--has been filled by the latest report of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a bipartisan panel created by Congress in 1948.

According to the Commission, the main problem with public diplomacy from a personnel perspective is that the State Department expects PD officers to be managers rather than communicators. Their work requirement statements on employee evaluation reports (EERs), for example, underscore that they have to "plan, develop and implement programs," "oversee the operations," and "safeguard classified information." Absent from the EERs, however, are basic public diplomacy functions like "influence public discourse," "publish articles in newspapers and magazine," and "lecture at major venues."

In order to make PD practitioners more effective, the report recommends, among other matters, the following: "recruiting for the public diplomacy career track in a more focused way; testing our recruitees [sic] more thoroughly and methodically for their PD instincts, knowledge and skills; training them more intensively in the core PD skill-set of persuasive communication; and evaluating them more on communication and less on administration." The commission also argues that...

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