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The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review highlights many themes prevalent in PNSR publications

March 3, 2011

“The scope and nature of the challenges facing the United States have evolved substantially over the past decade, with issues becoming more interconnected and solutions requiring ever greater cooperation.” (Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review)

Since 2006, the Project on National Security Reform has studied the issues affecting our national security, and highlighted ways in which our system could improve and better serve our nation and the American people. The simple question, “How can we do better?” has led the Project to produce numerous studies and publications, most notably the groundbreaking works, Forging a New Shield and Turning Ideas Into Action. In these reports, PNSR analyzes the problems within our current system and recommends several courses of action to affect change.

Secretary of State Clinton, too, has asked the question, “How can we do better?” driving the inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) in order to address the unique challenges of a globalized world through diplomacy and development. The QDDR presents several themes that are prevalent in PNSR verbiage as well, reinforcing the ideas that will ultimately make our nation better and more secure.  Several of these overlapping themes are highlighted below.


“…Our civilian capabilities have largely been ad hoc and poorly integrated with those of other federal agencies and partner nations.”

“…Agencies and departments have their own mandates and objectives, which makes coordination all the more important.”

“[We will] leverage the experience and expertise of other agencies with the skills to advance U.S. objectives…”

“In partnership with other agencies, we will…fundamentally change our management approach by turning to the expertise of other federal agencies where appropriate…. This will help all federal agencies build lasting relationships with foreign counterparts…”

“[We will] adopt a whole-of-government approach that integrates the skills of other federal agencies—and, where appropriate, state and local governments—in the design and implementation of security- and justice-sector assistance efforts.”

After thorough study of the U.S. national security system, PNSR concluded that one of the most prevalent problems we face is our inability to leverage and integrate all instruments of national power. We lack a single approach that can facilitate government-wide collaboration to address national issues. We must better integrate the stovepipes that continually hamper communication and cross-flow between government departments and agencies. The QDDR lays out specific goals of reaching out to other agencies in order to better address national security issues.


“[We will] embrace 21st Century Statecraft to connect the private and civic sectors with our foreign policy work by bringing new resources and partners to the table; better using connection technologies and expanding, facilitating, and streamlining our public-private partnership process.”

“To execute this vision of a unified effort…we will…draw on expertise across and outside the U.S. government…that will let us work with experts outside the U.S. government and quickly deploy them to the field.”

Going beyond improved interagency collaboration will prove vital as we address tangential asymmetric threats to our nation.  Government alone cannot solve the expanding array of issues today. Our nation must mobilize the broader range of its capabilities, including those of civil society and the private sector, to confront growing challenges.  This whole-of-nation concept is addressed in the PNSR report, The Power of the People: Building an Integrated National Security Professional System for the 21st Century.

Focus on National Missions and Outcomes

“In the past, we have judged our efforts on inputs rather than outcomes—on dollars spent rather than results delivered. The QDDR shifts this mind-set at every level. It details specific reforms in personnel, procurement, and planning that will allow us to work smarter to advance our nation’s interests and values.”

In Forging a New Shield, PNSR laid out how “we must adopt new approaches to national security system design focused on national missions and outcomes, emphasizing integrated effort, collaboration, and agility.” The QDDR also addresses the need to shift the focus from departmental strengths and goals to national missions and desired outcomes. By moving to an outcome-based model through improved interagency collaboration and whole-of-nation engagement, we will reap the rewards of a more effective and efficient system.

Aligning Strategy and Resources

“To maximize our impact, we need a planning and budgeting process that allows for sound policy decisions. The QDDR sets forth such a process. It includes the right stakeholders and allows longer-term planning that aligns priorities and resources to produce results.”

[We will]:

• “Establish a new Bureau for Energy Resources to unite our diplomatic and programmatic efforts.”

• “Improve the management of foreign assistance resources by ensuring that funding is linked to performance and strategic plans, that principles of aid effectiveness are put into practice, and that various foreign assistance funds are integrated.”

• “Establish multi-year strategic plans for State and USAID that reflect priorities and guide resource requests and decisions.”

• “Work with the National Security Staff and our interagency partners toward a national security budgeting process that would allow policymakers and lawmakers to see the whole of our national security priorities.”

A key component in a more efficient system is the ability to align strategic goals with resources. Forging a New Shield outlines the need to link resources to goals through national security mission analysis and mission budgeting. Turning Ideas Into Action echoes this need by recommending national security planning guidance and the creation of an integrated national security budget. Linking resources to goals through national security mission-based analysis and budgeting is an important step toward more efficient government.

Chief of Mission Preparation and Empowerment

“We will give our Chiefs of Mission the tools they need to oversee the work of all U.S. government agencies working in their host country, essentially serving as the Chief Executive Officer of a multi-agency mission. We will enhance their training, empower them to contribute to the evaluation of all personnel who serve at their posts, and engage them more fully in policymaking in Washington.”

“In partnership with other agencies, we will…prioritize interagency experience and talents as criteria for choosing and training Chiefs of Mission and Deputy Chiefs of Mission. We will also expand their interagency training.”

“To achieve our goals all…must work together. That is only possible if the Chief of Mission is empowered to direct and supervise these efforts.”

“In partnership with other agencies, we will…empower and hold accountable Chiefs of Mission as Chief Executive Officers of interagency missions.”

Realizing that Chiefs of Mission are on the front lines of diplomacy in locations abroad, the QDDR rightly devotes a significant amount of attention to properly choosing, equipping, training, and empowering these diplomats. In a study completed for PNSR, Robert Oakley and Michael Casey, Jr. discussed this and other issues relating to country teams. (“The Country Team: Reconstructing America’s First Line of Engagement,” Joint Force Quarterly, 4th Quarter, 2007) PNSR has also highlighted the need for Chief of Mission empowerment, writing, “the de facto authority of the chief of mission within U.S. embassies is too limited to ensure even tactical integration.” (Forging a New Shield) In this same publication, PNSR also addresses the human capital aspect, stressing adequate preparation of diplomats and other national security professionals through alignment of “personnel incentives, personnel preparation, and organizational culture with strategic objectives.”  PNSR’s latest publication, The Power of the People, presents a comprehensive look at the government initiative to develop people with the proper skills, knowledge, and experience for working collaboratively on national security issues that cut across departments and agencies.

The QDDR – Direct Applications to Reform

Two problems currently facing our national security system (Forging a New Shield):

• The system is grossly imbalanced. It supports strong departmental capabilities at the expense of integrating mechanisms.

• Resources allocated to departments and agencies are shaped by their narrowly defined core mandates rather than broader national missions.

Building Blocks of Reform (Turning Ideas Into Action):

• New approaches based on national missions and outcomes to include a process that achieves overall integrated effort, collaboration, and agility.

• Aligned strategy and resources that link resources to goals through national security mission-based analysis and budgeting.

• Human capital aligning personnel incentives, leader development, personnel preparation, and organizational culture with strategic objectives.

Recommended Next Steps for Secretary of State (Turning Ideas Into Action):

• Adopt integrated end-to-end management of global civilian affairs as the principal role of the Department of State

• Transform the structure, processes, culture, and staff capabilities of the Department of State to enable it to perform integrated end-to-end management of global civilian affairs.

• Prescribe mandatory training, including training in team dynamics and conflict resolution, for each person to be assigned to a U.S. embassy staff.

• Include as a key performance evaluation measure the ability of a chief of mission to institutionalize an integrated whole-of-government approach by the mission.

The QDDR makes great strides in addressing improvements to our nation’s diplomatic and development structure. A renewed priority of the State Department and USAID to work in the inter-agency realm to solve problems that span across the spectrum is a positive step forward. Even before the QDDR was released, we heard Secretary Clinton expressing the need for an integrated budget that addressed national missions. Finally, the roles and authorities of the Chiefs of Mission themselves provide a unique case study in human capital and interagency teaming. PNSR is pleased to see the Department of State take a lead role in paving the way towards a better diplomatic and development component of our nation’s instruments of power.  Perhaps the greater national security system can model not only the reform mindset put forth in the QDDR, but also its imperative for change.


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