Below is the transcript of a July 10 town hall meeting at the State Department, held to announce the initiation of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process. Secretary Clinton noted that this important innovation is modeled on the Quadrennial Defense Review, which she found during her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee to be “an important tool for the Defense Department to not only exercise the discipline necessary to make the hard decisions, to set forth the priorities, but provided a framework that was a very convincing one to those in the Congress, that there was a plan, people knew where they were headed, and they had the priorities requested aligned with the budget…” She said the new QDDR would be “a tool to provide us with both short-term and long-term blueprints for how to advance our foreign policy objectives and our values and interests [and] help us allocate our resources more efficiently and deploy people where they will have the most impact,” as well as improve interagency coordination. The Secretary also responded to questions on a wide variety of other topics. – Ed.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: This is one of those occasions where a long introduction would be entirely inappropriate. (Laughter.) Welcome to the State Department’s Dean Acheson Auditorium, members of the State Department, the foreign affairs community, and our colleagues in the press. And it is my distinguished pleasure to introduce the Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Pat. Well, it is such a joy to see all of you. I’m sorry there aren’t enough seats, but there are a few empty ones for those of you who might still be looking. But it’s a great personal pleasure for me to have this opportunity to meet with you again and to report to you and to answer questions. And I want to thank Pat Kennedy for that introduction and for the work that he does, and sitting up on stage with Pat is Jack Lew, our Deputy for Resources and Management, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, the head of our planning program.
And I want to thank all of you for your efforts over the past six months. We’re nearly at the six-month mark, and it has been a high honor and privilege for me to work with the men and women of the State Department and USAID. Day after day, you prove your professionalism and your patriotism and your effectiveness. And I think that our country, and certainly the Obama Administration, is very lucky to have each and every one of you on the job. And I also appreciate the dedication and sacrifices that your families and your partners and loved ones make to serve our country by your side.
Now, together, we’ve been on this job for almost half a year. We’ve been working hard, and some of us have the scars to prove it. (Laughter.) And I have not been throwing sharp elbows. In fact, it was one of those slips and falls, to paraphrase President Lincoln. But we are seeing encouraging results from all of our efforts, including my physical therapy. (Laughter.)
We are repairing strained alliances. We’re cultivating new partnerships. We’re working to engage and change the behavior of adversaries. And we are prioritizing development along with diplomacy as part of our global agenda. We’re working to build a world of economic stability and prosperity, clean and affordable energy, healthcare, housing, and education for our children, an expansion of fundamental rights, tackling the threats of global extremism, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
But I guess to sum it up, we are working for a world in which more people in more places can live in freedom, can enjoy the fruits of democracy and economic opportunity and have a chance to live up to their own God-given potential. But having said that, I think it’s only fair to add we face an unprecedented set of challenges. And in the face of those challenges, the State Department and USAID are frequently having to just work overtime to try to catch up, because too often, our policy structures, our staffing patterns, our standard operating procedures are insufficient to meet the Administration’s and the country’s priorities and challenges.
We don’t have the luxury of deciding which issues to deal with. We need a framework and a vision that will allow us to address all of them; to, in effect, multitask to get the results and outcomes that we’re seeking. And we have to work simultaneously on the urgent, the important, and the long term. Now I have been fighting for the resources that we need to do our jobs. We cannot send diplomats and development experts into the field underfunded and underequipped. But unless we make better use of the talent and tools at our disposal, we’re not going to succeed. We need to align our resources with strategic priorities to direct our funds and to maximize our impact. As individuals, as an organization, we need to work better, work smarter, and work together with more partners in and beyond our government. And instead of simply trying to adjust to the way things are, we need to get in the habit of looking to the horizon and planning for how we want things to be.
To help us in that effort and to enable the Department and USAID to get ahead of emerging threats and opportunities and to make the case effectively for OMB, the Congress, and the people of our country for the resources we need, today, I’m announcing that we will, for the first time ever, conduct a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, a QDDR, if you will. I served for six years on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate. And it became very clear to me that the QDR process that the Defense Department ran was an important tool for the Defense Department to not only exercise the discipline necessary to make the hard decisions to set forth the priorities, but provided a framework that was a very convincing one to those in the Congress, that there was a plan, people knew where they were headed, and they had the priorities requested aligned with the budget, and therefore, people were often very convinced that it made good sense to do whatever the Defense Department requested.
Well, I want to make the same case for diplomacy and development. We will be doing this quadrennial review, which will be, we hope, a tool to provide us with both short-term and long-term blueprints for how to advance our foreign policy objectives and our values and interests. This will provide us with a comprehensive assessment for organizational reform and improvements to our policy, strategy, and planning processes. And this will help make our diplomacy and development work more agile, responsive, and complimentary. This is what we mean when we talk about smart power.
I think we need this type of bottom-up strategic review to coordinate our work and to accelerate transitions from old ideas and outmoded programs. A State Department QDDR protocol will give us the strategic guidance we need to help us allocate our resources more efficiently and deploy people where they will have the most impact. I think it’s a new way of doing business that will give us the dynamism that we should have and better equip us to deal with the accelerating rate of change that we confront.
This effort is also central to effective coordination between the State Department and USAID, and on Monday, I will be going to USAID to make the same announcement and talk with them about the implications as well as answer questions. Our development and diplomatic goals are best achieved when we’re coordinated and we’re integrated. And we need a planning process that helps ensure this happens. I’m happy to answer questions about how this QDDR will work in practice, but we’re starting this afresh. We are looking for your ideas and your guidance about how best to implement this.
The QDDR will be chaired by Deputy Secretary Lew and co-chaired by the USAID Acting Administrator and the Director of Policy and Planning. We want to learn from the processes that not only DOD, but the intelligence community, and recently, the Department of Homeland Security have employed. I think this will enhance our capacity to make our case, and that’s what I’m interested in, to make sure that development and diplomacy are right there at the table on any national security decision. It’s designed to tell us where we are, we want to be in the future, and how to bridge the gap between the two.
Now, we’re going to coordinate with the interagency process, because obviously other agencies play a role in diplomatic and development. But we’re going to lead this and we’re going to look for ways to better coordinate, whether it’s with Treasury or USDA, or DOD or the White House.
I’ve been very pleased at the response that we’ve had since we’ve began the Secretary’s Sounding Board, the online forum that I established to solicit your ideas on how to improve the Department and USAID. You’ve submitted over 300 ideas. And a lot of them, in fact, I would say a significant number – I’m not sure a majority, but pretty close – discussed ways about how to get greater access to mobile computing technology. Now, this isn’t rocket science – many organizations have been making use of these tools for years. We just haven’t kept pace.
But thanks to your input, IRM is now increasing investment in our mobile computing program and purchasing an additional 2,500 remote access FOBs that will allow more Department personnel to use computers when you’re away from the office. This will make our team more productive. It will unchain people from their desks. It will also enable some of you to actually go home – (laughter) – instead of staying in the office waiting for that communication from a time zone many miles away. This could not have happened without your input. You came up with the idea. We then worked it. We actually used stimulus dollars for it – (laughter) – because we thought it would stimulate you. (Laughter). And we’re making other changes as well that are in reaction to the ideas posted on the Sounding Board. But we need to apply this spirit of evaluation, reform, and improvement to the entire organization.
Now, in looking at how we’re going to do this, of course, we expect that there’ll be some missteps along the way. We’ve never done it before. But we need your immediate and constructive feedback, because whether its fobs for computer access or new equipment for agricultural development, we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can, and I’m going to continue to make the case, as effectively as I can, for the resources that you need to do your jobs.
Now, in exchange, I need three things from you: First, I need your patience. I know there are problems and we want to fix them. The changes may not come overnight, but they will come. And we’re working very hard on this.
Second, we do need your ideas. The QDDR process won’t work if it sits apart from the expertise within this building and at USAID. So this whole effort needs to be powered by your ideas and your experience.
And we’re going to need your support. Just speaking very bluntly for a second here. Any one of us who’s been in or around government for more than at least a year, knows that the halls and shelves of government agencies are littered with stale volumes of well-intentioned reform efforts. Too often, the reason these efforts fail is because bureaucracies have a hard time changing. People get, sort of, in a groove. I learned the other day that I’m the first Secretary of State ever to ask the art collection to actually put some modern art – (laughter) – in my offices. And apparently, that was like a big break with tradition. (Laughter.)
But I think we have the capacity for change. Everyone in this hall has had to change. Because when I think about the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime and how the pace of change accelerated even more for my daughter and for young people, I mean, it’s just breathtaking. So we change. And the organization we’re part of, that we lead, that we work in, has to change, too. It’s a living organism. And we have to make sure it is prepared to give us the best that it possibly can.
The stakes are too high. We’ve seen in the last six months that the United States, and particularly our new President, is really expected to deliver a lot. It may not be fair, but that’s kind of the way it is. In some of the meetings that I’ve had in my travels around the world, foreign governments and foreign leaders have made very aggressive demands on our country. And on at least one occasion, I said, you know, you didn’t make those demands the last eight years. They said, “Well, we knew we would never get a response.” (Laughter.)
So a lot is expected of us. Our arms control team did an excellent job in teeing up the START framework, and we’re going to be working hard on that huge priority. But everywhere you look around the world, we don’t have the luxury of being bystanders. We’ve got to be as prepared and capable as we can be. I think that’s exciting. So reform needs to be part of our regular business plan, not just a slogan that we invoke on special occasions. And this QDDR process is likely to be put into legislation.
So it’s not going to be a one-off experience. It’s going to be expected of secretaries and departments long after I’m gone. And I want that to be an institutional part of how we do our business and how we expect so much of ourselves because we want to deliver at such a high level of professionalism.
So I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas and your questions and working with you to build a State Department and a United States Agency for International Development that are the envy of not only our government, but of governments everywhere, because of what we will prove we are fully capable of producing – real change that furthers our interests and our values, protects our security, and again, inspires millions and millions of people around the world.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
Now, I think we have two microphones, right, Pat? And we have – go ahead, will you explain?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: We have three microphones. There are two microphones in the center aisles for questions from the audience. And we also are electronically connected to the field, and one of our colleagues will, in turn, present you a question from the field. And so I would suggest we go stage left to stage right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent. Well, people can line up behind the microphones. And you are in line. And please identify yourself and where you work.
QUESTION: Hi, my name’s Tim DeVoogd. I’m a Jefferson Science Fellow in Western Hemisphere and a professor at Cornell University. And I want to make a plug for science diplomacy in particular. And more than saying nice words about it, of course, for the words to mean anything, it has to come with funding, which, in turn, means coordination between State and USAID to promote programs. And I was wondering if you could say anything about how the organization of USAID will develop to support new initiatives like this one.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with you. And I thank you for taking time out and I love Cornell, so it’s wonderful you’re here working in the State Department.
I think science diplomacy and science and technology cooperation between the United States and other countries is one of our most effective ways of influencing and assisting other nations and creating real bridges between the United States and counterparts.
We do want to put some resources behind that. Certainly, as we’re negotiating some of the strategic partnership compacts that we’re involved in, we’ll be working with a number of countries. Science and technology is one of the highest priorities for the countries with whom we are dealing. And we just have to be more creative and more focused, and we need more partners. Nina Fedoroff went to Russia and helped to create a very positive partnership between our Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences. I mean, we helped to broker that, but we really look to see other partners as well as the United States Government as stepping up.
So I can assure you that this is a priority for us, and we’re going to look for more resources and more means of trying to implement it. And if you have ideas, let us know.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Doris Southern. I’m in Overseas Buildings Operations, and I’m the china and silver lady. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m also an AFGE steward, and that’s the American Federation of Government Employees. And as you know, personnel, or human resources, is a huge issue, in any organization. And in particular, I think we have kind of a broken system. We’re supposed to have – the Civil Service is supposed to be for – was supposed to end nepotism and patronage and all that. And it seems to me from my observations that we’re going back more and more to nepotism and patronage. And people who are on the lower-level GS levels are getting picked on or bullied or mistreated, and the higher-level people are retiring and then coming back with personal services contracts. And I hope that you will be looking into that when you are doing your studies.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. We will. Thank you for raising that.
MS. GREENBERG: Okay, our first online question comes from Tyler Sparks:
Has the Department considered moving more language training to foreign training centers? Establishing foreign language training centers in Mexico City for Spanish, or Moscow for Russian, for example, would bring about many benefits. It would increase the effectiveness of language training by allowing more practical hands-on training, greatly enhance the cultural studies aspect of training, and potentially save the Department money due to the lower cost of operations.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a very interesting idea. I don’t have an opinion on it, but I will make sure we evaluate it, and I will raise it with our management. So thank you very much for that idea.
QUESTION: Thank you for holding this town hall, Secretary Clinton. My name is Emily Gow. I’m from the Office of International Religious Freedom. But my question is not about religious freedom. It’s about biking and running to work – (laughter) – and whether you would support an initiative to get us access to showers. (Laughter and applause.) First of all, it would save the government a lot of money because we wouldn’t have to get our transit subsidies. I’d much rather bike to work than take the metro. It would be green, and it would promote morale.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I love that idea. (Laughter.) Again, we will look into it. I think it’s got great – it does have a lot of positives about it. And I will see whether there’s anything we can do. I mean, look, most people would say, “Well, what does that have to do with running the State Department or USAID?” But I think that there is a real desire on the part of many people – and I’ll show my age and say particularly many young people like yourselves – to lead not only a healthier lifestyle but a greener lifestyle. And the more we can demonstrate our commitment to that, the better.
So I can’t promise anything, but we’re going to look. And maybe we can – I don’t know what portable showers look like or what the – (laughter). I don’t have any idea. But we’re going to look and see what we can find out about that, okay?
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for raising it. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. I’m Mira Piplani, and I work in the Executive Office of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. And I think that I can safely speak on behalf of the entire Foreign Service for thanking you for all of your efforts to help close the overseas pay gap. We very much appreciate it. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.) We made real progress on that in the supplemental, and we’re continuing our efforts so that it is a permanent change. It’s just unacceptable that there would be such discrimination on the basis of the locality of your assignment. So thank you.
MS. GREENBERG: Our next online question comes from Clark Frye:
Good morning, Madame Secretary. I recall several weeks ago a message on the Sounding Board regarding your Main Street concept at embassies. As several embassies and I have discussed a similar idea previously, I believe that it would be a great addition to certain foreign posts where a little slice of America would be welcomed.
Could you please expand more on this concept and your intentions on pursuing its implementation? How widespread would this concept be applied? Are there any planning stages to implement it? Thank you for your strong leadership over the last few months.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. We are trying to evaluate how we could bring what’s colloquially called Main Street America into some of our embassies and our other facilities around the world, there used to be a lot more outreach by American missions. Some of you may remember we had a lot more libraries; we had centers before the security concerns became so intense. And we do want to try to create more contact between people, and one of the biggest complaints that I’ve heard from many of you is that a lot of our new embassies, which are beautiful and very secure, really cut you off from feeling like you’re part of the community which you then get out into, but make it difficult to serve as a convening forum for people in the coast country.
So I don’t yet have anything to announce, but we are looking at that. And the questioner sounds like he or she may have some real ideas, and so I hope that whoever it is and who they’re talking to, they will convey their specific ideas to us, because we’re very interested in trying to come up with some ways of getting the linkage back between our representatives in countries and the people that we’re working with.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you for your remarks. I was hoping you might be able to share your thoughts on North Korea; in particular, the situation with the journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who are still being held there.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the two journalists and their families have expressed great remorse for this incident. And I think everyone is very sorry that it happened. What we hope for now is that these two young women would be granted amnesty through the North Korean system and be allowed to return home to their families as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Joan Margraff, and I am in the Bureau of Administration. And I volunteered on our Human Rights Report section on persons with disabilities. My question is: What is the Department doing, in light of the fact that the EEOC ranks the Department of State among cabinet agencies in last place for persons with targeted disabilities, to improve the experience of people with disabilities in the Department, and retention rates for people such as myself who feel we might have to leave due to our experiences as a person with disability? I just give this to you as – for your consideration, and thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. And I recently met with our advisory council on disabilities, and they had some very good recommendations. And we are trying to improve our treatment of and support for people with disabilities. Thank you.
MS. GREENBERG: Okay. Our next question comes from Jim Finkle:
Can you please let the staff use an alternative web browser called Firefox? I just – (applause) – I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn’t use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don’t understand why State can’t use it. It’s a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, apparently, there’s a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don’t know the answer. Pat, do you know the answer? (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is at the moment, it’s an expense question. We can –
QUESTION: It’s free. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Nothing is free. (Laughter.) It’s a question of the resources to manage multiple systems. It is something we’re looking at. And thanks to the Secretary, there is a significant increase in the 2010 budget request that’s pending for what is called the Capital Investment Fund, by which we fund our information technology operations. With the Secretary’s continuing pushing, we’re hoping to get that increase in the Capital Investment Fund. And with those additional resources, we will be able to add multiple programs to it.
Yes, you’re correct; it’s free, but it has to be administered, the patches have to be loaded. It may seem small, but when you’re running a worldwide operation and trying to push, as the Secretary rightly said, out FOBs and other devices, you’re caught in the terrible bind of triage of trying to get the most out that you can, but knowing you can’t do everything at once.
SECRETARY CLINTON: So we will try to move toward that. When the White House was putting together the stimulus package, we were able to get money that would be spent in the United States, which was the priority, for IT and upgrading our system and expanding its reach. And this is a very high priority for me, and we will continue to push the envelope on it. I mean, Pat is right that everything does come with some cost, but we will be looking to try to see if we can extend it as quickly as possible.
It raises another issue with me. If we’re spending money on things that are not productive and useful, let us know, because there are tens of thousands of people who are using systems and office supplies and all the rest of it. The more money we can save on stuff that is not cutting edge, the more resources we’ll have to shift to do things that will give us more tools. I mean, it sounds simplistic, but one of the most common suggestions on the sounding board was having better systems to utilize supplies, paper supplies – I mean, office supplies – and be more conscious of their purchasing and their using.
And it reminded me of what I occasionally sometimes do, which I call shopping in my closet, which means opening doors and seeing what I actually already have, which I really suggest to everybody, because it’s quite enlightening. (Laughter.) And so when you go to the store and you buy, let’s say, peanut butter and you don’t realize you’ve got two jars already at the back of the shelf – I mean, that sounds simplistic, but help us save money on stuff that we shouldn’t be wasting money on, and give us the chance to manage our resources to do more things like Firefox, okay?
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. I’m Shirley Miles from the Overseas Building Operation, and I’m Director of Internal Review and Operation Research. I asked you a question during Women’s History Month celebration concerning workplace bullying, and since then, you have mandated a policy be developed for addressing this systemic issue with bullying. And I want to thank you so much for being the first Secretary of State to take a stand against workplace bullying. And because of this, a committee is being formed by the Human Resource Department to develop this policy.
I have a couple of requests. Our request is that this committee also include some of the folks that have been bullied to look after the best interests of those that have been abused. Otherwise, it would be like letting a fox in the henhouse. You’ve heard that. Secondly, I request that this committee address the retaliation against those that have filed complaints, because that has been done as well. Because when they’re standing up for themselves, they are prevented from being promoted, rewarded for their work, and then being marginalized, like stuck in the corner, and then from advancing in their career.
The third thing is that it has been stated by some senior management that if you work for a bad manager or if you don’t like what you’re – how your manager is treating you, then you should look for another job. Madame Secretary, I’m certain that this would not be your statement, because bad managers make the Department dysfunctional. And as you mentioned, you need the support to move forward on your programs. And so our request would be that the bad manager be turned into good ones via training, and if they don’t change, then they have to be removed. Because when good people are still being placed under bad managers, those people are – be moved out, and then, you know, the other people who come in would be abused as well.
So I want to just thank you so much for all the good work that you’re doing in setting up this committee.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. And thank you for those excellent suggestions, too. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. My name is Brian Fabbi. I’m with the Office of International Religious Freedom. With President Obama’s Cairo speech last month and his outlining of several foreign policy goals specifically dealing with democracy, religious freedom, and human rights, what are some things that – what are some ways in which we can do more outreach and support for religious minorities, especially, say, the Copts, the religious minorities in Iraq and other places?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent question. We began the follow-up efforts to the President’s historic speech in Cairo. The Policy Planning Office, under Dr. Slaughter, is coordinating that, and we’re looking for your suggestions. We have already passed on to the White House a number of very specific ways to follow up. We don’t want the speech to be given with nothing happening and nothing changing.
So I would welcome your ideas and the ideas of the people working with you about how we could perhaps address these. I mean, you mentioned two particular concerns of mine: the treatment of the Copts, which I have raised with the Egyptian Government; and of course, you know that as part of the reaction to swine flu, all of their pigs were slaughtered, which is a real economic hardship that they are trying to recovery from.
And in Iraq, we’ve seen some glimmers of hope in the way that the Iraqi Government is treating and protecting minority religions, but there has to be a lot more to do, and that’s one of the issues that we’re discussing with the Iraqis on our agenda.
But specific ideas are very much solicited.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MS. GREENBERG: Our next online question comes from Peter Kranstover:
Could you please tell us what your plans are for restructuring the foreign assistance responsibilities of USAID and State? Will USAID have an administrator before the end of the fiscal year? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope so. (Laughter.) We are working very hard to get to the point where we can announce a nominee for the USAID Director, which we think of as an administrator, which we think of as a very critical leader in our efforts. And I hope that that will come very soon.
But part of the reason of doing this QDDR process is, rather than running separate processes, which is what we do now for budget and planning purposes, is to start from the beginning with an integrated process that USAID will be a complete partner in with State. Because I think there is so much synergy when you look at the work that we do here on population and refugees, or on democracy promotion, or some of our science outreach, our health and economic work, there is so much synergy that can be created if we’re better able to work together and integrate appropriately between State and USAID.
Now, clearly, getting a leader on board is a very high priority for me, and I’m working very hard to make that happen and I hope it certainly will be in the very near future.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: My name is Monica Geary. I’m an intern in Diplomatic Security International Programs African Division. And I’m actually very honored to be here. I attend the University of Miami and I applied online and I’m here today.
I just wanted to know what, as interns, we could do to help with the changes happening in the State Department, and also ways that they can maybe, in turn, in the future, help interns who come to D.C. and just sometimes are not paid and have to find housing and just kind of live here for two months in order to help the State Department. So if there’s any way that we can help you with these changes happening in the State Department.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much. Are you University of Miami in Miami, Florida?
SECRETARY CLINTON: So Donna Shalala is your president?
QUESTION: A dear friend. That’s a great university. I think that’s a really good point, because we – how many interns are here? (Show of hands.) See, we have a lot of interns. (Laughter.) I know, I know. (Applause.) And, see, I think that is a great tribute to the State Department, and I know there are interns over at USAID that we are looking for and wanting to utilize the talents and hard work, often free, of interns like yourselves.
So part of what I hope – and I know we run a very good intern program here, and by the hands that went up, it’s a very – it has a lot of good outreach. (Laughter.) But any of your ideas about how we could improve it, how we could utilize you more, whether there’s a way to solicit opinions from young people like yourselves about your experience and your desire and interest to work full-time for our government, particularly at State or USAID, I’m very interested in what you might have to offer us. So I think it would be useful to have an organized way to solicit the opinions and ideas of the interns who are here.
I find it also is very telling that sometimes – I mean, technology is changing so quickly that you may have some new ideas that we haven’t even thought of. And we have a very vigorous effort underway to make us more techno-friendly and to be involved in all the new technology, but we’re very much looking for ideas all the time.
So may I suggest to the interns that you can use the Sounding Board. You can make sure that the people with whom you work know any ideas or suggestions that you have. Because we generally are looking for people to make a commitment to public service, and we hope that many of you will decide you want to go into the Foreign Service or the Civil Service and be part of your country’s foreign policy.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: My name is Grant Morrill. I work in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer at USAID. This is my personal question, however. I think global – Americans are more and more conscious of global problems as they come home. Your strategy represents an unprecedented opportunity to make a clear story of how our work addresses those problems. You’ve also mentioned that this would likely be institutionalized in legislation. Our legislation does not present a clear explanation to Americans of how we take on these problems and what we do for U.S. citizens.
And I was wondering – many thinkers point to the need for a grand compromise between the Executive and the Legislature, how Congress can feel comfortable with the supervision it has, but the Administration can have more flexibility in what it does. I’d like your ideas on your plan to move forward with that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that you make some very important points. We need a narrative. Especially in difficult economic times, we need to be able to explain to the American people who are losing their jobs, feeling more and more insecure, why spending money to send diplomats or development experts around the world to deal with problems that , in the view of a lot of the folks that I know out in our country, people should just take care of for themselves. And we need to make the linkage between not just our humanitarian and moral values, but our interests, our strategic interests in the world, and tell a story that is convincing to our fellow citizens.
So one of the reasons why I want to do this QDDR process is I think we need to update and refresh our story. I think we need to listen to each other and we need to cut down the bureaucratic barriers that sometimes get in the way of common effort in our own government and with the private sector and with NGOs, and set forth a clear sense of mission backed up by defensible requests for resources.
So we are just beginning this process. I have ideas. It sounds like you have ideas. I bet everybody here has their own ideas. And that’s why we want this to be a bottom-up process. We want to hear what you think we should be doing. But I want people to think about it in terms of telling your family members, people you go to see at a high school reunion, hard-working Americans, why what you do is in their interest and the interest of their children. If we can’t make that case, we can’t sustain the increased resources that we are obtaining. I’ve worked very hard over the last six months to make the case for greater resources, and we’ve done well. But part of the reason we did well is because I kept saying over and over again the United States cannot be a bystander; it will come back to hurt us; it will endanger the future of our children. And therefore, what we’re doing is most profoundly and fundamentally in the interest of the American people.
And we’ve got to make that case. I think we can make it without any question at all, but we need to make it. And so that’s what this process is for. So I don’t want to prejudge it and say what I believe we should do, X, Y, and Z. I want to hear from all of you, and I want to make sure that we come up with a very convincing story about who we are and what we do for the American people and for peace, progress, and prosperity around the world.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MS. GREENBERG: Our next online question comes from Tommye Grant:
Border security is a top priority, yet I am not sure how State fits into the overall plan to combat illegal trafficking in drugs, humans, and the travel of terrorists. What are we doing now, and what are our plans in the future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re doing a lot, and I would hope that – was it Tommye? I hope that Tommye would get a copy of our TIPs report, the Trafficking in Persons Report that has just come out, which is the definitive analysis of what’s happening with the trafficking of persons around the world. I think that report is a very critical part of our role in trying to raise standards and protect human rights. But I have said that next year we’re going to include ourselves. I want us to start looking at the United States for every report we do, because I happen to think we’ll end up being a Tier 1 country, but I don’t think – I think we will have more credibility if we start looking at the United States while we criticize other countries as well. (Applause.)
So on the TIPs report, there is a lot of work that the State Department does in conjunction with Homeland Security, with ICE, with the Department of Justice. We also, through INL, have a very active role in drug interdiction, counter-narcotics trafficking work. I think that many of our missions around the world house DEA agents and others who are part of the overall American presence. So the State Department and USAID are very active in our border security efforts. We don’t have the lead. That is not our mission, but we are very active participants and supporters in our country’s policy.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. My name is Lauren Nesbitt. I work in the Messaging Office of IRM. And I’m also a Stay in School student and I’m very excited to be in the program. But I was wondering if you had interest in promoting the co-op program. It’s a little bit broader and it, I think, brings in more students, especially from the area. I go to the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, and I know that a lot of students would look for an internship or something that would bring them in and be able to keep them in the federal government.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I very much support those programs. And I wanted to add to the young woman who spoke earlier about the internship program. I know that it’s a financial hardship on many students who cannot afford to do unpaid work. I don’t know what the legal constraints are, but it might be possible to provide some minimal subsidy for people who have financial needs. We’ll look at that.
But anything which expands our pool of potential interns and fellows and others who are coming into the Department is something I’m in favor of.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. My name’s Brittany Boudens. I’m actually another intern. I work for Western European Affairs. Just not to make this into an intern central town hall thing, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here working at State, and I’d like to encourage everybody here to stay in touch with interns even after the internship is over. I think that is a particularly important time where we could find out information about possible job opportunities, or just staying in touch with each other, you know, building on future career paths. So I would encourage everybody here to keep in touch with your interns.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do we have any kind of website for interns? Do we? We do. What’s it called?
PARTICIPANT: Intern Connect.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Intern Connect.
PARTICIPANT: Yes, if you go to careers.state.gov website and you search for Intern Connect (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s great.
PARTICIPANT: And it’s a great place for you all (inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’d like – I think that’s great to have the interns themselves connecting, but then I think that the people who have worked with and mentored interns should stay in touch because there’s a lot of evidence that interns become the best pool of recruits. If people have a good intern experience, they are much more likely to want to come to work. And so I think the more we can nurture those career ambitions, the better. So thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. My name is Nina Behrens and I serve on the Arabic Diplomatic Interpreting and Translating Team.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good.
QUESTION: We are very proud and very happy to see you. For us who serve under you and who served under former Secretary Rice, to see women in leadership. You are a source of inspiration for us.
Now, quick two points. The first one, we definitely are very thankful for our leaders at the Department when they encourage things like work-life balance. For the lady who spoke about, you know, showers and things like that, this makes a big difference, because if you have a healthy mind, you can have a healthy, very productive workforce, if they feel at ease with – you know, with themselves, families, and everything. So we are thankful for that.
One more point about a location of assets – human assets. If you think about the cooperation, for instance, in the private sector, they can see an asset and how they can tap into it for different multi-purposes, if you will. Is it possible to have at our Department a database where, for instance, you have particular – a contingent that is serving in particular project or, you know, positions? But then if you need them, for instance, to go and help or assist or be on temporary women’s issues or engagement with the Muslim world and things like that, perhaps they can bring something to the team, to the overall team and you can call on them on particular project. And then just email or particular initiatives and stuff like that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: They can have an input, if you will.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: So thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you for that. That’s an interesting idea.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Madame Secretary, this will have to be the last one.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, good morning. My name is Alexander Edelman. I’m a contracted employee under IRM at the moment. As a former soldier, I noted during my time in the Army, that many of our field commanders have extensive diplomatic relations with their local counterparts. I was wondering if it was possible that there’s initiative to actually draw on that experience from the State Department point of view. And then also, possibly, to exchange it by sending Foreign Service subject matter experts and regional experts to deployment units or to pre-deployment units and to help brief them and get them ready for the challenges of non-kinetic warfare and their operations.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent. Thank you for your service. I think – we are trying to do more of that. You will not be surprised that a lot of military officers have been increasingly responsible for what we would consider diplomacy and development in conflict zones. And we’re working closely with the Defense Department and the Congress to try to get some more balance into that, so that we can have more of our diplomats and development experts working with the military, and that we can learn from the military experience.
One of the things that the military did, which made diplomatic and development work possible for them, was to create something called the Commander Emergency Response funds, the CERP funds, starting back in 2002 and ‘03.
When I went to Iraq and Afghanistan several times, and particularly in Iraq, I met young captains and majors, and lieutenant colonels who had a sum of money that they were able to disburse without any real accountability. It was what they thought was best. And it was an important tool. Now, we don’t have that on the diplomatic and development side. It’s a very cumbersome process. So lots of what was going on was – and a lot of military officers told me this, is that they were relying on diplomats and USAID personnel to tell them how to spend the money which they had.
So we’re working to try to get a better balance again between defense, diplomacy, and development. And I think it’s important that we do try to learn from each other. If you take what we’re trying to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, both General Petraeus and Ambassador Holbrooke are working very closely together. They’ve had a lot of joint meetings together. There’s an almost a mind meld around some of what we’re trying to achieve there. So we’re learning.
But any thoughts or ideas you have based on your experience, we would be very happy to see, because we need to get better at that.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. (Applause.)