The American Academy of Diplomacy has released a new report, American Diplomacy at Risk, that aims to stimulate the changes necessary to prepare American diplomacy for the challenges of the 21st century.
A strong State Department, based on a strong Foreign Service and a strong Civil Service, is a critical component of America's security. But America's diplomacy—the front line of our defenses—is in trouble. Increasing politicization undermines institutional strength; almost no career officers serve in the most senior State positions, while short-term political appointees penetrate ever deeper into the system. The Foreign Service lacks the professional education and standards to meet its current heavy responsibilities and to create its necessary future senior leaders. The Civil Service is mired in an outdated system with limited coherent career mobility.
Some State Department officials seem intent on nullifying the Foreign Service Act of 1980, and its merit-based personnel system by bureaucratically seeking to blend the Foreign and Civil Services. This creates needless friction and diminishes both services. Our national interest requires our immediate recommitment to the law and to strengthening our professional Foreign and Civil Services. State needs to comprehensively review and modernize its entire system of workforce management and budgeting.