Maximizing Impact: Priorities, Performance, and Results in U.S. Foreign Affairs

Posted by Sid Kaplan
July 27, 2010
Harry S Truman Building

About the Author: Sid Kaplan serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic and Performance Planning and the Performance Improvement Officer for the U.S. Department of State.

The United States foreign policy agenda is ambitious but our times demand nothing less. Nuclear proliferation, hunger, climate change, the global economic crisis, terrorism, pandemic disease, conflict in the Middle East, and transnational criminal networks are just some of the pressing issues we face. All of these challenges threaten global stability and progress. Out of a total world population of 6.7 billion, every day over one billion people go hungry; tuberculosis claims the lives of 1.7 million people across the globe annually; in Haiti, over 230,000 people died during last January's earthquake, and two million remain internally displaced.

To meet this multitude of challenges, we must use our resources smartly and strategically to get the best possible results for the American people while maximizing the impact of every dollar spent. Here at the Department of State, leaders, managers, and staff use strategic planning and performance evaluation to effectively focus and guide our collective efforts. The State Department's Office of Strategic and Performance Planning works with policy makers and program managers to identify the State Department's most important priorities and build them into our plans; assess and mitigate management challenges; measure and evaluate the impact of our diplomatic and development efforts; and provide factually objective information on our progress.

As part of this ongoing commitment to judiciously focus energies and resources where needed most, I am pleased to present to you the Joint Summary of Performance and Financial Information (Summary), a collaborative effort with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Summary comprehensively reviews our diplomatic and development performance in the previous fiscal year in order to inform the American public on the discharge of our duties and engage it in our work. Together with its companion, A Citizen's Guide to Foreign Affairs (Citizen's Guide), the reports offer valuable information to the U.S. public on how the State Department is performing, where we are going, and how to get there.

In the last fiscal year State and USAID:
- Trained over 92,000 people in Conflict Mitigation and Resolution skills

- Distributed over 172,000 loans worth in excess of $397 million to small and medium enterprises in Iraq

- Trained over 54,000 justice sector personnel worldwide

- Supported HIV counseling and testing for nearly 29 million people around the world

- Resumed negotiations with Russia to replace the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that culminated with a new agreement in March 2010

- Launched a global initiative to fight hunger and promote sustainable agricultural development

- Responded to 57 life-threatening disasters in 46 countries

- Led the UN Security Council to adopt a unanimous resolution to end sexual violence against women and children in conflict situations

- Overall, of 130 performance indicators State and USAID used to measure progress, 39 percent met or exceeded targets, 19 percent did not, and 42 percent had no rating because the indicators were either new or rating data was not yet available.

In the coming years, State and USAID will:
- Continue to strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan to provide service to citizens and enhance the long-term sustainability of development efforts there

- Support the establishment of at least 20 work programs to develop Low-Emission Development Strategies

- Provide training assistance to 120,000 rule of law professionals, civil society leaders, democratically elected officials, journalists, and election leaders

- Develop a short-, medium-, and long-term blueprint for U.S. diplomatic efforts through the completion of the ongoing Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review

- Continue to use smart power to pursue our foreign policy priorities by reaching out to friends and foes; elevating development as a core pillar of American power; further integrating civilian and military efforts; and leveraging U.S. economic strength and the power of our example

Both the Joint Summary and the Citizen's Guide are reflective of our commitment to responsible, results-oriented stewardship over the resources entrusted to us. We invite you to review both reports and to share with us your thoughts on our priorities, our performance, and our results. For more information or to view the reports, please click here.



United States
July 27, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Sounds like development on the cheap. If the USA is looking to be a big player in the global scheme of things it seems like they need a comprehensive, wrap around, not piece meal plan to achieve these goals otherwise, other global players will step in to meet these challenges. The USA needs to decide what it wants to be otherwise it seems its just piecemeal development and another waste of taxpayer money. Do it or don't do it but don't sit straddling a fence wasting precious money, resources and time.

California, USA
July 27, 2010

Normita in California writes:

Dear Secretary Clinton,

Thank you for sharing the strategic plans. As in any plan of this magnitude it is imperative that expectations, timelines and results be highlighted. It is also important that the dollars associated with each of these plans be shown and justified before the American people.

In this time of difficulty, economically and politically, fiscal responsibility is called for and widely expected.

Thank you for your service to the American people. Your staff is to be commended for their dedication to a job well done. God bless you.


Pamela G.
West Virginia, USA
July 28, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

It makes me proud as an American to see how far reaching our public diplomacy is.


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