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Matt Armstrong's blog on public diplomacy, international journalism, and the struggle against propaganda

GAO and US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy discuss evaluation tools

The subject of public diplomacy evaluation tools and methodologies has been front and center this week. Debating the difference between “measures of effectiveness” (or MOE), “measures of performance” (or MOP), and throwing spaghetti at a wall can seem like arcane stuff, understanding the value of engagement, and the ability to communicate that value, is extremely important. Measures are fundamental to discussions on what to do and why.

Of course in order to measure, one must not only know the audience (primary, secondary, tertiary as they must be categorized… or do they?), where they are (as they are less likely to be within neat geographic coordinates), and how they communicate, but also the effect, intentional and unintentional, of the activities of allies, adversaries, and neutrals on the audience. The world cannot be put into a laboratory.

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New GAO Report on Public Diplomacy is out (Updated)

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight, GAO-09-679SP, May 27, 2009. Download here (PDF, 566kb) or read online here.

Highlights:

The United States’ current national communication strategy lacks a number of desirable characteristics identified by GAO, such as a clear definition of the problem, desired results, and a delineation of agency roles and responsibilities. …

The United States’ current national communication strategy lacks a number of desirable characteristics identified by GAO, such as a clear definition of the problem, desired results, and a delineation of agency roles and responsibilities. …

State faces a number of human capital challenges that influence the effectiveness of its public diplomacy operations. …

Security concerns around the world have led to building practices and personnel policies that have limited the ability of local populations to interact with Americans inside and outside the embassy. …

[GAO] provided a draft of this report for review and comment to State, BBG, USAID, and DOD. Each agency declined to provide formal comments. State, BBG, and USAID provided technical comments, which we incorporated in the report, as appropriate.

The report includes a Strategic Communication (not “public diplomacy”) budget breakdown:

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