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The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State (1999)

Chapter: 2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues

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Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

2
Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues

THE POLICY FRAMEWORK

The responsibilities for STH-related issues within the Department are spread among many bureaus and offices. The diffuse nature of these responsibilities is both inevitable, in view of the pervasiveness of the issues, and appropriate, given the importance of ensuring that STH considerations are on the agendas of decision-makers throughout the Department. At the same time, this spread of responsibilities and capabilities requires special efforts to help ensure consistency and synergism in addressing related issues that may involve many organizations at home and abroad that deal with multiple offices of the Department and different sections of embassies on such issues.

An essential first step in strengthening STH capabilities within the Department is a clear signal that the Secretary recognizes the significance of such capabilities, the importance of integrating informed STH considerations into foreign policy deliberations, and the need to strengthen STH capabilities. Also, the Secretary must demonstrate a commitment to taking steps to improve the Department's performance in carrying out its responsibilities that involve STH considerations. Thus, the first recommendation is critical and serves as the basis for the committee's further recommendations.

Recommendation: The Secretary should articulate and implement a policy that calls for greater attention to the STH dimensions of foreign policy throughout the Department and provides guidance as to

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

sources of STH expertise available to Department officials in Washington and abroad.

To be meaningful and have lasting impact, the policy statement should be but the starting point for developing an expanded vision among the Department's leadership as to how STH developments of both long-standing and emerging interest can be brought more fully into the foreign policy process. The Secretary should ensure that such a policy statement is regularly updated and widely disseminated both in Washington and to the embassies and missions abroad. The policy statement and the expanded vision should be accompanied by an action agenda that includes the steps recommended in this report, particularly those designed to enhance Department-wide STH competence in the long term. Implementation of these recommendations should proceed simultaneously on parallel but related tracks. Meanwhile, the Department should continue its efforts to incorporate the STH elements of foreign policy issues and their implications more fully into its strategic planning process, at both the Departmental and the country team levels, reaching out to governmental and nongovernmental STH communities for suggestions concerning the incorporation of STH-related goals into the planning process and proposals for achieving these goals.

STRENGTHENING THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

The Department's leadership (the "Seventh Floor") addresses STH-related issues primarily when an international crisis arises (e.g., an Ebola threat), a contentious and/or important international meeting is approaching (e.g., global climate change negotiations, meeting of a bilateral vice-presidential-level commission), or a country of concern ventures into questionable STH activities (e.g., Iranian interest in nuclear and biological technologies in Russia). There are not adequate mechanisms rooted on the Seventh Floor to accomplish the following:

  • Ensure that significant STH-content issues of near-term concern, and particularly those that cross bureau fines of responsibility such as energy issues, are receiving adequate scientific and policy attention involving all interested components of the Department.

  • Identify and analyze STH-content issues on the horizon and provide alternative policy options for addressing these issues, with special attention to issues that evolve slowly and are not directly linked to ongoing high-priority policy debates, such as the implications of demographic trends and of water shortages in ecologically sensitive areas of the world.

  • Ensure awareness within appropriate offices of significant interna-

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

tional activities of other U.S. organizations with relevance to foreign policy, including other departments and agencies, U.S.-based companies, scientific institutions, and nongovernmental organizations.

Although organizational adjustments will not in and of themselves ensure better and more timely policies, establishment of clear responsibilities can help avoid neglect and bureaucratic deadlock. Thus, the committee has developed several organizational recommendations to improve the Department's capabilities to address the foregoing concerns.

Recommendation: The Secretary should provide continuing leadership that ensures consideration within the Department of the STH aspects of issues. To this end, the Secretary should delegate to an undersecretary responsibility for ensuring consideration of STH factors in policy formulation, especially during meetings and consultations involving the Secretary and/or the Secretary's senior advisors and during day-to-day activities at all levels of the Department. The title of the selected undersecretary should be amended to include the phrase "for Scientific Affairs," reflecting the new authority and responsibilities across a broad spectrum of STH aspects of foreign policy.

The Secretary should make it clear that the oversight responsibilities of the undersecretary extend across the entire Department and involve coordinating the various clusters of STH expertise in the Department to provide an integrated approach to STH matters. The Undersecretary for Global Affairs currently has such responsibilities and should have the title of Undersecretary for Scientific and Global Affairs. Future Secretaries, however, might consider that another undersecretary is the most appropriate official for assuming oversight responsibilities for STH activities.

The undersecretary in the first instance should of course be confident that the bureaus for which he or she is responsible adequately recognize the significance of STH in foreign policy and the importance of policies that facilitate international STH activities. The undersecretary should work with other undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, including those responsible for activities within the geographic bureaus and embassies and missions abroad, to help embed needed STH capabilities and sensitivities throughout the Departmental structure. Also, the undersecretary should collaborate with the Director General of the Foreign Service and the Director of Personnel in providing appropriate career opportunities and incentives for FSOs, civil servants, and other categories of personnel who can bring STH competence to bear within the Department.

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

Recommendation: The Secretary should select a highly qualified STH Senior Advisor to the Secretary and to the selected undersecretary to provide expert advice, drawing on the resources of the American STH community as necessary, on current and emerging issues.

The STH Senior Advisor, with a rank and title appropriate for his or her responsibilities and an adequate staff, should be housed in the office of the undersecretary and should work with senior officials throughout the Department in identifying and addressing important policy and personnel issues and in mobilizing external STH support when necessary. The Senior Advisor should play a particularly significant role in highlighting uncertainties in current issues that should be addressed by STH experts and in identifying emerging issues with important STH dimensions. He or she should report on a day-to-day basis to the undersecretary but should also have a direct reporting relationship to the Secretary. This relationship would enable the Senior Advisor to communicate with the Secretary as appropriate and to take on assignments directly from the Secretary. The Senior Advisor should also serve as the Executive Director of the STH Advisory Committee to the Secretary discussed below.1

Operationally, the Senior Advisor should share with the under-secretary responsibilities for addressing organizational and personnel issues as well as other important aspects of developing STH competence within the Department set forth in this report. The Senior Advisor should have important liaison responsibilities with a variety of STH-related institutions both to keep them apprised of relevant developments within the Department and to ensure that their perspectives on foreign policy issues are brought to the attention of responsible Department officials. Should the Department expect the Senior Advisor to participate in international negotiations or otherwise represent it in meetings with foreign officials, he or she should be accorded the rank of Ambassador. Also, at the discretion of the Secretary, he or she might represent the Department in discussions with Congress on complex STH-related issues.

1  

 The committee is pleased to note that the GS-15 post of Science Advisor previously proposed by the Department is being replaced by a higher level, though as yet unspecified, position. The rank of the Senior Advisor should be at the highest civil service level (SES-6 or GS-18). At the outset, the staff should include a minimum of three professional positions in addition to the Senior Advisor, with the future staff size and composition depending on the evolving responsibilities of the Senior Advisor. The Department has had many dual reporting arrangements over the years with the effectiveness of such arrangements usually dependent on the competence and effectiveness in operating in a large organization of the more junior official. At present, for example, assistant secretaries have direct reporting responsibilities to the Secretary while at the same time serving under the general purview of undersecretaries.

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

The Senior Advisor should have strong STH credentials through education and/or experience and should be familiar with the governmental, industrial, and academic STH infrastructure of the nation. The Senior Advisor should also have considerable international experience and the capability to integrate STH developments and foreign policy concerns within the Department's policy process.

Recommendation: The Department should adopt the most appropriate organizational structure for the relevant bureaus and offices in order to meet its STH responsibilities. If legislation is necessary to accomplish this, the Department should seek congressional authorization.

The current structure is inadequate for the task as reflected in the unattended challenges highlighted in this report. The roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries should be the focal point of a departmental review as the first step in implementing this recommendation. Implementation of the recommendations contained in this report will require adjustments in resource allocations and procedures that probably could be addressed more effectively with a modified organizational structure at the bureau level. An important objective in considering a realignment of operational responsibilities should be the establishment of well-engrained responsibilities for a broad range of STH activities in order to protect against the vagaries of the budget, the priorities of the day, and the special interests of individual officials, which in the past have hindered program stability (e.g., the narrowing of the focus of STH resources within OES to support environmental diplomacy activities). Another objective is to ensure that issues that have not received adequate attention are brought more fully into the mainstream of foreign policy, perhaps through a bureau dedicated to such issues, and not simply considered as additional duties for assistant secretaries preoccupied with environmental or economic concerns (e.g., health, energy, and industrial competitiveness issues). In assessing the organizational options, the Department should continue to seek inputs from the STH community, particularly with regard to the current responsibilities of OES (see Appendix I).

Recommendation: The Department should establish an STH Advisory Committee to the Secretary and take other steps to further expand the roster of external experts actively engaged in advising the Department's leadership on emerging STH-related issues.

An advisory committee would provide important continuity as well as a wide range of expertise on emerging major issues, as the Defense

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

Science Board has done successfully over the years. The purpose of the committee is to enhance the overall capability of the Department and not simply to provide a narrowly focused advocacy forum for the STH community. To this end, the Department should ensure that the committee meets regularly with senior Department officials, including the Secretary, on issues of importance. Given the history of previous scientific advisory committees having had little impact, this new committee should have clear ground rules concerning its functions, authority, and membership. Funds for the committee's activities should be earmarked in the Department's budget. Also, the committee should prepare annual reports for the Secretary and other senior Department officials highlighting conclusions on specific issues that it has addressed. This committee should take into account the activities of other more specialized committees that exist in the national security and economic areas. Other external advisory mechanisms that also should be considered include (1) preparation of an expanded list of consultants who are kept current on STH issues of interest to the Department and who are called upon frequently and (2) tasking of U.S. organizations outside the government to mobilize expertise on selected topics as needed.

RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS

Recommendation: The Department should increase the resources available to meet the essential STH-related requirements that are recommended in this report.

The committee's interim report of September 1998 called for allocation of about a dozen new positions to expand STH-related activities in OES, S/P, and INR, and $500,000 annually to begin to support external advisory activities.2 In addition, adequate resources to support the STH Senior Advisor and a well-qualified staff are essential. Should major structural changes within the Department be required to meet future STH responsibilities, further resources will be needed.

The recommendations in the interim report together with the recommendation for a Senior Advisor and adequate staff are the committee's first priority for additional resource allocations. The second priority of the committee is the additional resources needed to support 25 Science Counselor positions in U.S. embassies and missions, with all of these

2  

 The current sizes of the units are as follows: OES, 131 staff positions plus 29 in personnel categories not counting against personnel ceilings; S/P, 16 positions; INR, approximately 260 positions, of which about 130 are analysts.

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

positions to be filled by technically trained specialists with experience in dealing with international STH activities (see Chapter 4). The committee believes that most of the Science Counselor positions could be absorbed within current allocations for overseas science positions, although a number of the existing positions would have to be elevated in rank. The committee's third priority is to provide resources to support major structural changes that might result from the Department's review of the organization of operational STH responsibilities.

Returning to the STH needs of specific offices, several activities warrant special ambassadors who have unusual skills and experience and also time to carry out protracted negotiations and to coordinate activities in Washington. At present, there are special envoys with strong STH credentials for addressing (1) nuclear and related problems in North Korea and (2) nuclear and missile-related transfers from Russia to Iran. In the past, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) also has had a special ambassador for nuclear issues, and consideration should be given to reviving this position, given the heightened concern within international agencies as well as the United States over proliferation of nuclear materials and technologies. Within OES, in either its current or future form, one or more special ambassadors designated to lead global environmental negotiations could take a great travel burden off the OES leadership while ensuring that specific topics, such as global climate change and biodiversity, receive sufficient attention on a sustained basis. In a third area, a special negotiator for chemical and biological weapons issues has been nominated with the rank of Ambassador but has not yet been approved

The Department has strong analytical capabilities in the political and economic areas but not in STH-related areas. S/P and INR should develop the capabilities to identify and include STH-related issues in their work so as to enhance the Department's overall capability to integrate STH into the policy process. However, as recommended in the interim report, each will need one or more senior specialists with technical backgrounds to identify STH issues that should receive attention and to raise questions concerning policy responses to such developments.

Two other important bureaus in the Department that are faced with major STH concerns on a daily basis are EB and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (10). IO is the Department's principal link with the United Nations and its associated agencies, many of which have significant STH responsibilities. These bureaus have developed mechanisms for supplementing their staff capabilities with expertise available from industry and other departments and agencies. In some cases they could benefit from a broader base of internal and/or external expertise

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

that would not be biased toward special interests, but in general they are relatively well equipped for carrying out their responsibilities.

THE EXTERNAL CONSTITUENCIES

Successful integration of STH developments and foreign policy objectives can provide potent arguments for mobilizing greater support for the international affairs activities of the U.S. Government, particularly from Congress. Unfortunately, in its relationships with Congress, the Department has not fully articulated the benefits for the American people from international STH activities and the critical role of the Department in supporting such activities. The significance of disease prevention, food safety, environmental protection, and nuclear security, for example, is easily understood, and Congress should be quite receptive to expanded efforts in these areas given the number of congressional committees that have international STH developments within their purviews (see Table 2-1). The Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs is in a good position to help improve public understanding on Capitol Hill and throughout the nation of the importance of the STH aspects of foreign policy issues and international programs for the well-being of American citizens.

There are many opportunities for the Department's public diplomacy and educational exchange programs (formerly under USIA) to highlight

TABLE 2-1 Selected Congressional Committees with Interests at the Intersection of Science and Technology with International Affairs

House

Senate

Agriculture

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

Appropriations

Appropriations

Armed Services

Armed Services

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Budget

Budget

Energy and Commerce

Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Foreign Affairs

Energy and Natural Resources

Intelligence

Environment and Public Works

Science

Foreign Relations

 

Intelligence

 

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

 

SOURCE: Science and Technology in U.S. International Affairs, Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, January 1992, p. 19 (modified to reflect committee name changes as of September 1999).

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

U.S. government-sponsored initiatives in fields such as AIDS prevention and biodiversity conservation. The Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy has access to many resources within and outside the Department, particularly the international networks of scientists that are well known to OES, to improve international understanding of the importance of STH-related issues for global peace and prosperity. Such efforts could readily build on the many contacts at home and abroad developed over decades by USIA, particularly linkages with nongovernmental organizations.

Thousands of American private-sector institutions have strong international STH interests: universities, research institutions, professional societies, health care providers and insurers, manufacturing companies, trading organizations, consulting firms, financial institutions, service companies, charitable groups, and other nongovernmental organizations. Some of their programs are supported financially by other departments and agencies. For others, the U.S. Government may provide introductions abroad, timely advisory services, or authoritative information. Such dependence on the government usually leads to considerable interaction between the organizations and government officials. However, many private activities have no government involvement, and often the government is not even aware that such activities are underway.

International cooperation has for decades been a way of life in most areas of scientific research. Many scientists have long been international travelers, spending time in the laboratories of foreign colleagues and hosting foreign visitors in the United States. Both personal and electronic networks of scientists from a variety of countries working on the same array of problems have become commonplace. Some networks have been established within the framework of formally organized international programs, but most are quite informal, having been initiated by individual scientists who appreciate the payoff from transnational contacts. The payoff can be substantial: for example, of the 147 Nobel Prizes awarded in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine since 1950, 60 were given as joint international awards shared by a total of 148 researchers from many countries.3

Meanwhile, private companies are expanding their international reach. As a result of international mergers, it becomes more difficult to characterize many companies as American or some other nationality. Multinational companies have moved beyond only searching for emerging markets, new sources of raw materials, and low-cost production opportunities in expanding this global reach. More U.S. companies are

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×

BOX 2-1 Examples of Foreign Policy Issues of Concern to U.S. Industry

  • Restrictions on sales of space launch technologies to China

  • Impact on commercial relations of allegations of Chinese acquisition of nuclear secrets

  • Proposed limitations on the use of global positioning system technology in certain parts of the world

  • Proposed restrictions on sales of encryption technology

  • Consequences of nuclear testing in India and Pakistan on foreign investment in those countries

  • Details of international agreements on intellectual property rights

  • Environmental impact of global climatic change and economic consequences of proposed measures to     reduce this impact

  • Implications of international corporate mergers in the petroleum, telecommunications, and automobile  industries

  • Implications for U.S. economic and security interests of growth in foreign high-tech R&D investments

SOURCE: Mary L. Good, ''Trouble at State," Speech delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Anaheim, California, January 23, 1999.

providing funding for research conducted abroad, while foreign companies are increasingly establishing laboratories in the United States. Thus, it is not surprising that U.S. industry is interested in many issues of priority concern to the Department and also in issues that, while not currently on the Department's agenda, will have significant impacts on international operations in future years.

The economic dimensions of STH developments are manifold. Many near-term consequences of STH-related foreign policy decisions are clearly recognized by U.S. industry, as indicated in Box 2-1. Also, in the longer term, for example, trade relationships can be stimulated through foreign assistance programs. International geological programs can clarify the resource potential of remote regions. Cooperation in developing better telecommunications systems can improve business opportunities throughout the world.

As the role of the private-sector continues to expand overseas, the Department needs greater outreach capabilities to learn from the insights of others, to take advantage of international contacts and international programs that have been developed by others, and to involve the ever-expanding group of stakeholders in international STH activities in formulating and implementing the foreign policy of the nation. Its effectiveness in meeting these challenges is strongly linked to the level of STH competence throughout the Department.

Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 25
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 26
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 27
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 28
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 29
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 30
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"2 Leadership Within the Department of State for Addressing STH-Related Issues." National Research Council. 1999. The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy: Imperatives for the Department of State. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9688.
×
Page 34
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Issues involving science, technology, and health (STH) have moved to the forefront of the international diplomatic agenda. Other vital issues linked to technological developments pervade longer-range foreign policy concerns. Thus, STH considerations are often central to the Department of State's bilateral and multilateral interactions with other governments. STH aspects play a large role in discussions of such critical topics as nuclear nonproliferation, use of outer space, population growth, adequate and safe food supply, climate change, infectious diseases, energy resources, and competitiveness of industrial technologies. In addressing these issues, expert STH knowledge is essential to the anticipation and resolution of problems and to the achievement of foreign policy goals. The Department, recognizing that it requires strengthened capabilities to address such an array of topics, asked for suggestions by the National Research Council as to how it could better deal with foreign policy issues with STH content.

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