One year ago the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development released the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). The QDDR is a blueprint for the next generation of American diplomacy and expresses Secretary Kerry’s vision of a strategic, dynamic, and agile Department of State and USAID. Over the past year the State Department and USAID have taken concrete steps to move forward the more than 100 recommendations to advance the effectiveness, agility, and innovative spirit of U.S. diplomacy and development.
To transform the QDDR’s recommendations into reality, implementation teams were created throughout State and USAID comprised of representatives from a wide range of bureaus and offices, as well as the Foreign Service Institute. Dozens of QDDR recommendations have already been implemented and progress is continuing to ensure that the Review’s reforms and changes are put into effect. Here are a few of the State Department’s QDDR-related implementation successes to date:
- Preventing and Mitigating Conflict and Violent Extremism. The QDDR called on the State Department to strengthen its messaging to counter violent extremism. Earlier this year we launched the new Global Engagement Center to better communicate messaging to foreign publics abroad by coordinating, synchronizing, and integrating our policy across the interagency and with other nations that face violent extremist threats.
- Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change. The creation of a QDDR Climate Capacity Task Force is improving our institutional effectiveness and integrating climate-risk considerations and resilience into all our diplomacy and development efforts. Reforms emerging from the task force are increasing our expertise and strengthening State Department capacities.
- Managing Risk. In March 2015, the Department formalized a risk management policy to establish the foundation for how the Department supports employees in managing the various kinds of risk we face in our work, and set expectations for how employees should approach those risks. Although it is not possible to eliminate every risk, it is incumbent upon each of us to identify, analyze, mitigate and monitor the substantial risks within our scope of duties.
- Agility Review. Deputy Secretary Blinken is leading an examination of how the Department and USAID can better operate in highly complex, dangerous environments. The Task Force, comprised of bureaus from the Department and USAID, is identifying innovations and best practices from posts and bureaus to support the effective execution of policies and programs and will endeavor to make those tools more widely available.
- Investing in an Agile, Skilled Workforce. To encourage a healthy and productive balance between our employees’ work and personal life, the State Department established a Work-Life Wellness Senior Leadership Council. Supported by the Council, we launched a voluntary leave bank, increased telework agreements, and enabled more employees to work domestically while living overseas. Efforts are also underway to increase diversity through investments in targeted recruitment programs, such as paid internships, and new initiatives in mentoring to help retain our diverse talent.
- Streamlining Eligible Family Member Employment. The Department is launching a Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps in 2016 that will improve efficiency in the hiring process for many family members overseas. This is a big step in making more efficient use of the skills and talents of family members as they move from assignment to assignment.
These are just a sample of the many initiatives being undertaken by the QDDR implementation teams. This coming year, we look forward to building on our successes and continuing to strengthen the State Department and USAID’s ability to promote America’s foreign policy interests.
About the Author: Kathryn Schalow serves as Director of the Office of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review at the U.S. Department of State.
For more information:
- Read the full text of the 2015 QDDR.