State of play

Amidst the predictable froth about ‘strategic plans’, ‘program evaluations’, ‘senior reviews’ and ‘departmental performance plans’ in the US State Dept‘s 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, there are a few small gems.

One of the more eyebrow-raising is the table starting on page 71 that sets out State’s own evaluation of how it’s doing on a range of key objectives. Across a lengthy range of indicators, there are just three where State judges itself to be ‘above target’ or ‘significantly above target’. One of them – ready for this? – is “stable political and economic conditions that prevent terrorism from flourishing in fragile and failing states”.

More informative is the table on page 70 that sets out how many people, and how many dollars, are allocated to each of the Department’s 12 strategic goals. This is valuable data – and it’s notable that although the UK Foreign Office does publish programme spending levels against its Strategic Priorities in its Departmental Report, it doesn’t set out the staff allocations or admin budgets, which would be much more interesting.

It’s unlikely to astonish many people that out of 19,887 State Dept staff, just 287 are dedicated to “social and environmental issues”; more intriguing is the revelation that no less than 2,275 are working on “public diplomacy and public affairs”. What are they all doing?