4
STH Expertise at U.S. Embassies and Missions

OVERVIEW

It is in U.S. embassies and missions to international organizations that much of the melding of the requirements of diplomacy and the contributions of experts takes place. To this end, the assignment of specialized STH personnel to embassies and missions has been an established pattern since 1950. In general, these specialists have been particularly active in five areas:

  1. Alerting embassy and Department officials to emerging problems and opportunities associated with new STH developments in the United States and abroad: Such anticipatory activities frequently prevent the escalation of problems to crisis levels while identifying opportunities to use STH capabilities to further U.S. interests.

  2. Providing an informed technical perspective during internal embassy deliberations on issues involving significant STH considerations: STH-related issues vary widely from post to post and frequently dominate embassy agendas, particularly in large and important countries. (Box 4-1 lists some of the topics that are currently important in a number of countries and regions.)

  3. Assisting U.S. departments and agencies during the development and negotiation of bilateral STH agreements and programs and facilitating the implementation of these arrangements: This responsibility is especially significant



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State 4 STH Expertise at U.S. Embassies and Missions OVERVIEW It is in U.S. embassies and missions to international organizations that much of the melding of the requirements of diplomacy and the contributions of experts takes place. To this end, the assignment of specialized STH personnel to embassies and missions has been an established pattern since 1950. In general, these specialists have been particularly active in five areas: Alerting embassy and Department officials to emerging problems and opportunities associated with new STH developments in the United States and abroad: Such anticipatory activities frequently prevent the escalation of problems to crisis levels while identifying opportunities to use STH capabilities to further U.S. interests. Providing an informed technical perspective during internal embassy deliberations on issues involving significant STH considerations: STH-related issues vary widely from post to post and frequently dominate embassy agendas, particularly in large and important countries. (Box 4-1 lists some of the topics that are currently important in a number of countries and regions.) Assisting U.S. departments and agencies during the development and negotiation of bilateral STH agreements and programs and facilitating the implementation of these arrangements: This responsibility is especially significant

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State in countries where broad bilateral umbrella agreements provide frameworks for large numbers of programs (e.g., Japan, South Africa, Egypt). Obtaining and disseminating information concerning (1) changes and other developments in the STH policies of the host government, (2) local STH achievements that are noteworthy, and (3) international STH activities supported by the host government of relevance to U.S. interests: Such information is particularly useful in countries that retain close control over information sources (e.g., China, Russia). Providing an informed point of contact for local officials and specialists interested in STH policies, organizations, and technical achievements in the United States: Countries with growing and vibrant STH communities repeatedly look to the United States for contacts and guidance in STH endeavors (e.g., Israel, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil). For several decades, many Science Counselors and a number of more junior Science Officers at the embassies were scientists and engineers with advanced STH degrees.1 Some had extensive laboratory experience, and almost all were well informed about the STH communities in the United States and knowledgeable about the interests of U.S. departments and agencies. They knew where to obtain technical support expeditiously when an issue required specialized expertise that was not available within the embassy. After a peak of 22 in the 1980s, the number of Science Counselor positions has declined steadily to 10 in 1999,2 while the number of full-time Science Officer positions (including Science Counselors and environmental hub officers) has increased to 57. Despite this increase, the number of Department officials in embassy and mission Science Officer positions with degrees in science or engineering has shrunk in the past 15 years from more than 25 to about 15.3 The current distribution of full-time and part-time Science Officers assigned to embassies, totaling more than 200 U.S. diplomats, is set forth in Table 4-1. This large number of 1    Over the years the terminology used for specialists assigned by the Department to the embassies has varied—Science and Technology Counselors; Environmental, Science, and Technology Counselors; Science Attachés; Science Officers; and Environmental Officers, for example. For this report the titles Science Counselors and Science Officers are used to include positions with slightly different names as well. 2    The estimate of 22 was provided by a former Department official knowledgeable about their activities. More precise information is not readily available from the Department. 3    The Department provided the committee with partial information suggesting that perhaps 20 percent of these full-time incumbents have undergraduate or graduate degrees in science or engineering (not including political science and other social sciences).

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State TABLE 4-1 Environment, Science, and Technology (EST) Positions at U.S. Embassies and Missions Post Science Counselora Science Officer Part-Time Officer Environmental Hub Abu Dhabi     1   Abidjan       1 Abuja     1   Accra     1   Adana     1   Addis Ababa       1 AIT/Kaohsiun     1   AIT/Taipei   1 1   Algiers     1   Almaty     1   Amman       1 Ankara       1 Antananarivo     1   Apia     1   Asuncion     1   Athens     1   Auckland     1   Bamako     1   Bandar SB     1   Bangkok       1 Beijing   4     Beirut     1   Bern     1   Bissau     1   Bogota     1   Bonn   1 6   Brasilia       1 Bratislava     1   Bridgetown     1   Brussels-US   1 1   Brussels-NATO 1   1   Bucharest     1   Budapest   1     Buenos Aires 1 1     Bujumbura     1   Cairo     2   Calcutta     1   Calgary     1   Canberra     1   Cape Town     1   Caracas     2   Casablanca     1   Chengdu     1   Chennai     1   Chiang Mai     1   Colombo     1  

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Post Science Counselora Science Officer Part-Time Officer Environmental Hub Conakry     1   Copenhagen       1 Cotonou     1   Dakar     1   Damascus     1   Dar Es Salaam     1   Dhaka     1   Dubai     1   Dublin     1   Fukuoka     2   Gaborone     1   Geneva-USMIS   1     Georgetown     1   Guangzhou     1   Guatemala City     1   Guayaquil     1   Hanoi   1     Harare     1   Helsinki     1   Hermosillo     1   Hong Kong     2   Islamabad     1   Istanbul     1   Jakarta   1     Jeddah     1   Jerusalem     1   Kampala     1   Karachi     1   Kathmandu       1 Kiev     1   Kingston     1   Kinshasa     1   Kolonia     1   Koror     1   Kuala Lumpur     1   Kuwait     1   La Paz     1   Lagos     1   Lahore     1   Lilongwe     1   Lima     1   Lisbon     1   Ljubljana     1   Lome     1   London   1     Luanda     1  

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Post Science Counselora Science Officer Part-Time Officer Environmental Hub Lusaka     1   Madrid   1     Majuro     1   Managua     1   Manila     1   Marseille     1   Maputo     1   Mbabane     1   Melbourne     1   Merida     1   Mexico City 1 3     Monrovia     1   Monterrey     1   Montevideo     1   Montreal     1   Moscow 1 4     Mumbai     1   Muscat     1   Nagoya     1   Naha     1   Nairobi     1   Naples     1   Nassau     1   N'djamena     1   New Delhi     1   Niamey     1   Nicosia     1   Nouakchott     1   Osaka Kobe     1   Oslo     1   Ottawa 1 1     Ouagadougou     1   Panama     1   Paris 1 2     Paris - OECD 1       Perth     1   Peshawar     1   Phnom Penh     1   Ponta Delgada     1   Port-of-Spain     1   Port Moresby     1   Prague   1     Pretoria   1   1 Pusan     1   Quito     1   Rabat     1  

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Post Science Counselora Science Officer Part-Time Officer Environmental Hub Rangoon     1   Reykjavik     1   Rio de Janeiro     1   Riyadh     1   Rome   1     San Jose       1 San Salvador     1   Sanaa     1   Santiago     1   Santo Domingo     1   Sapporo     1   Sarajevo     1   Seoul 1   1   Shanghai     1   Shenyang     1   Singapore     1   Sofia     1   St. Petersburg     1   Stockholm     1   Surabaya     1   Suva     1   Sydney     1   Tashkent       1 Tegucigalpa     1   Tel Aviv   1     The Hague     1   Thessaloniki     1   Tokyo 1 4   1 Toronto     1   Tunis   1     Ulaanbaatar     1   UNVIE Vienna 1 2     UN New York     2   Valletta     1   Vancouver     1   Vienna     1   Vientiane     1   Vladivostok     1   Warsaw     1   Wellington     1   Yaounde     1   Zagreb     1   a Science Counselor category includes three people with the title "Minister-Counselor." SOURCE: Department of State, OES, July 14, 1999.

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State U.S. diplomats involved in STH activities is impressive. However, the absence of Science Counselors at many important posts is surprising, and the weak technical credentials of most of the incumbent Science Counselors is striking and indeed alarming to many members of the U.S. STH communities. There is a sharp contrast between the Department's approach and the approach of most industrialized countries (e.g., France, Sweden) and indeed many developing nations (e.g., Mexico, Korea), which staff key embassies with technically trained specialists. The current incumbents of the 10 Science Counselor positions are all FSOs, and most of the other Science Officer positions are filled with FSOs. Some have experience within the Department or at other posts in handling issues with substantial STH content. Most have had short courses in some aspect of STH at FSI. OES participates in the screening of candidates for these positions and often seeks candidates with STH experience. Overall, however, the level of STH competence of personnel assigned to U.S. embassies and the quality of their reporting on activities of interest to the U.S. STH communities have declined significantly in recent years, according to reports from Department officials, officials of other departments and agencies, and independent experts. These reports are consistent with personal observations of committee members. At a few embassies, members of the country teams, other than Department personnel, have significant backgrounds in STH. In Tokyo and Paris, for example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other agencies have specialists on site. In Moscow there are sizable staffs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) associated with the Embassy. In almost all embassies there are defense attachés, including many with formal training in STH disciplines. In a number of embassies there are specialists from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, and the Agency for International Development (USAID) with in-depth knowledge of certain types of STH-related activities being carried out in the country. Also, in many embassies there are FSNs with technical training and/or considerable experience in following STH developments in the host countries. At times, the foregoing talent may be overlooked when individual embassy officers address STH issues. Indeed, the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission may be unaware of the entire array of technical talent available to the embassies, although this is less likely at posts where a Science Counselor has a broad portfolio of responsibilities that subsumes activities managed by specialists from a variety of agencies. A full inventory of STH talent available at a post can be a valuable asset for the conduct of the business of the embassy. Also, the Department should reach agreement with other departments and agencies on how their per-

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State sonnel can most effectively assist the embassies and missions when called upon. In every region of the world there are resident U.S. technical experts who may not be affiliated with the embassies but who are willing to provide information and advice to them if called upon. An excellent example is the Office of Naval Research contingents in London and Tokyo, staffed with highly qualified specialists in several technical fields. Multinational companies and American universities have many employees living abroad who are expert in some aspects of STH, and this resident cadre of specialists is frequently supplemented with short-term visitors. In addition to this significant resource of specialists who are nearby, the Internet and other telecommunications channels have dramatically increased the amount of information available to the embassies, although there is a major problem in filtering authoritative information from less reliable reports. At the same time, departments and agencies in Washington, D.C., and U.S. private-sector institutions have greatly increased their direct communications with counterparts abroad, with significant implications for the role of Science Officers in collecting information that is not redundant but of genuine interest in Washington. FRAMEWORK FOR STAFFING STH NEEDS IN U.S. EMBASSIES Against the backdrop of existing staffing patterns and the decline in the number of Science Counselors with strong technical backgrounds, the importance of having skilled personnel assessing emerging issues, promoting activities of other departments and agencies, and interacting with senior host country STH officials has increased and will continue to grow. Indeed, as indicated in current staffing patterns, there is a need for some level of STH competence at almost every post. In assessing the need for Science Counselors and the levels of STH competence required, the specific roles that the Science Counselors can be expected to fill are important. (See Appendix H for a standard position description of a Science Counselor or Science Officer.) The assessment will vary with the importance of the country, the significance of STH-related issues in U.S. foreign policy, budgetary pressure for competing positions, and the changing interests of ambassadors and other senior embassy personnel. Table 4-2 provides an approach to assessing staffing needs. Given the wide variety of STH developments of interest throughout the world, the approach to overseas staffing should parallel the approach to filling the STH-related personnel needs of the Department in Washington. The Department should draw on a flexible mix of talent in various personnel categories, including STH specialists from industry or

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State TABLE 4-2 Embassy and Mission STH Staffing—An Illustrative Framework Type of Post or Mission STH Experience or Skills Required Posts with broad and important STH interests (London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, and others) A highly trained Science Counselor; one or more R&D agency detailees; one or more FSOs; several FSNs (mix depends on issues) Posts where a single issue dominates the STH-related agenda (IAEA) A Science Counselor specialized in the issue; one or more R&D agency detailees Posts in large and important developing countries (New Delhi, Mexico City, others) A Science Counselor, highly trained or with strong STH-related experience in development assistance; one or more FSOs; several FSNs (mix depends on issues) Missions to regional organizations with STH functions (OECD, EU, NATO, OAS) A Science Counselor with broad technical background; one or more R&D agency detailees; one or more FSOs Posts with part-time STH needs One FSO with STH training; FSNs Hubs with regional environmental responsibilities One FSO with environmental training; one or more FSNs posted in the countries served Hubs providing regional STH support for several embassiesa A Science Counselor; one or more FSNs posted in the countries served NOTE: IAEA = International Atomic Energy Agency; EU = European Union; NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization; OECD = Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; OAS = Organization of American States. a This type of post does not now exist; it is suggested as a way of providing STH expertise for a cluster of posts in a geographic region. academia, FSOs, career civil servants from the Department, and personnel borrowed from other departments and agencies. In some cases, a specialist who is already assigned overseas to represent the interests of another department or agency might serve in a ''dual-hatted" capacity as a science officer. Against this background, the case is strong for assigning highly trained specialists in STH to the position of Science Counselor at a number of important posts where STH-related issues of considerable foreign policy interest are on the agenda. Department officials currently responsible for staffing these positions argue that Science Counselors engage primarily in diplomacy and not the details of STH development, deal in

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State very general terms with a wide range of technical issues well beyond the expertise of any single individual, and therefore do not need credentials in a specific technical discipline. The conclusion is weak, particularly given the importance of the Science Counselors' constant interactions with both U.S. and local specialists who have strong technical credentials. Although no individual can speak with authority on all technical subjects that cross his or her desk, in-depth competence in one aspect of STH significantly enhances personal capabilities to understand the key elements of other complex issues. Also, a record of personal STH achievements facilitates access to and improves rapport with high-level officials of the host government who are dealing with STH issues. The committee reviewed a number of examples of how technically trained Science Counselors were able to establish personal credibility with foreign colleagues, which resulted in continuing access to important organizations and specialists beyond what would normally be available to FSOs. In rare cases, the type of STH experience and credibility that are needed might be found within the Foreign Service, and selected FSOs should be encouraged to develop the skills necessary for these assignments. In practice, however, most qualified candidates for Science Counselor posts should be brought in from outside the Department on limited-term appointments to avoid ambiguity as to their status within the Foreign Service. Of course, they must be carefully selected to ensure that, in addition to having STH credentials, they have experience and are effective in operating in a foreign policy environment. The excellent candidates attracted by the AAAS Fellows program show that there is a strong pool of interested individuals with the necessary technical backgrounds as well as foreign policy awareness. Thus, at the core of the Department's overseas STH capabilities should be a cadre of highly qualified Science Counselors assigned to important embassies and missions in accordance with the following recommendation:4 Recommendation: The Department should assign at least 25 carefully selected Science Counselors to embassies in countries where STH-related activities are of major interest to the U.S. Government and to missions to international and regional organizations that support STH programs of considerable foreign policy significance. 4    Candidate countries and missions are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, Republic of Korea, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Middle East Regional (Cairo), West Africa Regional (Lagos), Southeast Asia Regional (Bangkok), Scandinavia Regional (Stockholm), European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Organization of American States, International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and United Nations Headquarters.

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Most of these Science Counselors would fill positions that are already designated as Science Counselor or Science Officer positions. Since, however, some Science Officer positions would be upgraded to a more senior level, there would be increased costs. One proposal that should be explored is whether other departments or agencies (e.g., NSF, the National Institutes of Health [NIH], NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], the National Institute of Standards and Technology, DOE) might be willing to share some of these increased costs. At the same time, FSOs serving in a variety of capacities other than Science Counselors or Science Officers will continue to handle many STH issues within the embassies. Political officers negotiate agreements concerning access to research facilities and technical information and participate in the development of positions on nuclear, space, and other high-visibility issues. Economic officers are concerned with the protection of intellectual property and the activities of high-technology multinational companies. Visa officers must be aware of local health conditions as well as the demand for high-technology skills in the United States. Administrative officers are responsible for ensuring adequate and clean drinking. water, security barriers, and modern telecommunications within embassies and other diplomatic outposts. In short, from the Ambassador down to the lower ranks, the need for STH literacy in many types of assignments is increasing, thus reinforcing the earlier recommendation that all FSOs and other Department officials should have a basic level of STH literacy and awareness of the relevance of STH developments to foreign policy concerns. Meanwhile, the Department has begun to emphasize regional responsibilities of environmental officers stationed at embassy hubs. This concept of regional coverage might also be applied to other areas of STH, with STH hubs providing support for activities at nearby smaller embassies. Such support might include, for example, representation and reporting visits by STH specialists from the embassy hubs to selected ministries in the other countries in response to requests from the posts or the Department. Aside from the environmental hubs, at present there are no examples of regional STH responsibilities based in the embassies, although in the past some Science Counselors had regional responsibilities. Opportunities frequently arise for upgrading STH literacy at senior levels during consultations in Washington of U.S. ambassadors who are assigned abroad. OES, PM, and EB need to take greater initiative to arrange consultations for ambassadors with the departments and agencies that support significant STH activities in the countries where they are accred-

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State ited. The operation of a satellite tracking station, a visit by an oceanographic ship, an investigation of an unknown virus, and an exchange of medical isotopes are examples of STH programs that can be of high political visibility and can provide the ambassadors with important political assets. Also, FSOs scheduled to assume duties as Science Officers, including environmental hub officers, can benefit greatly from specially designed STH training programs of at least four weeks' duration prior to assuming overseas duties. FSI has experience with this type of training, which emphasizes a customized set of consultations with government agencies that support programs in the countries of assignments. SUPPORTING FIELD OPERATIONS Reporting from the Field The regional bureaus regularly provide embassies with guidance on their reporting interests. This guidance sometimes includes topics that have considerable STH content, although the topics may be categorized as security, trade, or economic issues. Occasionally, other offices of the Department issue guidelines on their program plans, which also assist the embassies in setting priorities for their activities. Appendix I, for example, highlights the goals and objectives set forth by OES as of August 1999. As can be seen, OES focuses to a significant degree on environmental and ocean issues but at the same time seems to neglect other important STH topics that have been identified in this report and that should be on the agenda of both OES and the embassies. Embassies and missions should be aware of issues of interest to other departments and agencies. The STH Senior Advisor should assist in ensuring that the Department develops reporting requirements that cover a broader range of interagency interests than is reflected in Appendix I. The involvement of the departments and agencies in articulating reporting requirements is important not only to highlight information of interest to them but also to avoid requesting information from embassies and missions that the departments and agencies can more easily obtain through their direct contacts with counterpart organizations abroad. Many embassies now have web sites where they post information about recent developments in the country of interest. In some cases, the Science Officers have their own home pages. A particularly impressive home page is maintained by the Environment, Science, and Technology Section of the Embassy in Beijing (http://www.usembassy-china.gov/english/sandt/index.html), which has received favorable comments from a number of users in the United States.

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State FSI has initiated an important program to acquaint FSNs working in the STH area with developments in Washington and to arrange for them to meet with key personnel in other departments and agencies. FSNs shoulder much of the routine STH loads at the embassies, particularly in preparing unclassified reports for wide dissemination, and they have become indispensable fixtures at many posts. Thus, FSI efforts to familiarize them with their constituencies in Washington should be expanded. In terms of requests from the embassies for STH-related information, the Department's emphasis should be on linking the embassies directly with information sources, which are often outside the Department. Once modern communications links are in place between the embassies and information sources, there is usually not a need for the Department offices to be in the middle of requests for technical information. Integration of State and USAID Field Capabilities USAID has had stronger field capabilities than the embassies in some areas such as agriculture, population, environment, and health. Frequently, although not always, embassy officers have been able to rely on USAID to provide information and expert assessment in these areas. As USAID downsizes, however, it is fast losing many competent scientific personnel, with a degradation of its STH presence in many countries. This in turn reduces its capability to support the Department's efforts overseas. A joint State/USAID study of the direct and indirect foreign policy, as well as the programmatic, impacts of USAID's reduction of technical staff would be useful in assessing the Department's needs for additional STH capabilities abroad. At the same time, USAID is becoming increasingly integrated into the Department, and greater attention should be given to the utilization of USAID's staff capability as a part of an enhanced STH foreign policy workforce. Also of concern, the Department has established environmental hubs in some areas of the world where USAID has long had environmental programs. Although the role of the hubs is to report on developments and to consult with host governments on global environmental issues, some hubs would be greatly strengthened if they also took advantage of USAID's programmatic base, particularly long-standing agriculture and health expertise. In some regions the financial dimensions of environmental issues of interest to USAID are sufficiently important to open many doors to discuss policy issues.

OCR for page 48
The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State Embassy Interactions with U.S. Government Visitors In many countries, hundreds of U.S. government travelers visit counterparts every month. Although these visitors occasionally may burden embassy staffs with their administrative and logistical assistance requests, they nevertheless constitute an invaluable resource for the embassies since they usually have excellent access to important STH leaders and bring with them a wealth of knowledge about important international programs and related STH developments around the world. Some government visitors regularly consult with the embassies, whereas others are unaware of the ways in which the embassies could be helpful to them or they to the embassies. Moreover, a number of agency specialists have successfully served as Science Counselors and as representatives of their departments and agencies abroad. Thus, they are quite familiar with the needs of the embassies and can be helpful to the embassies in staying abreast of the interests in Washington.