The Diplomad offers advice to the next Secretary of State:
We won’t deal with policy issues here. … Our concern is the Department as an institution and what can be done to rescue it from itself and make it an effective agency, and by that we mean effective at representing and promoting America’s interests abroad. We all know that the new Secretary is not going to spend time fixing this broken institution. … We hope that … at a minimum a fierce, Neanderthal-like brute will be appointed Undersecretary for Management. It is to this person that we direct ourselves with hope in our hearts and pleading in our eyes.
Slash and burn. … It can take a year or more to assign someone to a posting. Absurd. Reduce the size of the personnel (HR) operation. Put an end to the little empires that exist in HR, empires established by bureaucrats who “homestead” themselves in the HR system, spending years there accumulating power, establishing networks to reward themselves and friends and to punish “enemies.” It is tempting to rely on these persons’ “expertise,” but resist it; rotate them out. Make them stand in a visa line in Mexico City. Get them out of Washington on a regular basis. It’s the Foreign Service. They don’t want to go? They can go work for the DMV.
Until you reform the assignment process, have the Secretary not assume that a person who is, for example, working on Arab-Israeli affairs, actually knows something about Arab-Israeli affairs or that what he knows is actually right or worth knowing. That person could have gotten the job thanks to some complex deal having nothing to do with substance.
Take a hard look at the size and number of embassies abroad. Do we really need an embassy in every African and European country? Do we need them so big?