The Congress specified in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2009 a requirement that the President and the Defense Department submit reports on comprehensive strategies for public diplomacy and strategic communication. These “1055 reports,” so-called because of the section of the NDAA that called for them, provide an insight into the senior leader perspective on the U.S. Government bureaucracies that engage and influence foreign publics. The Administration just released their report, National Framework for Strategic Communication (2010) (720kb PDF). The Defense Department’s report was released earlier and is available here.*
The report includes four significant recommendations on “re-balancing” public diplomacy and strategic communication. The fourth of these deserves special attention:
(d) how best to expedite revitalizing and strengthening civilian department and agency capabilities, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to enable them to effectively execute these programs and activities.
The point on “quality” is important. We already know that public diplomacy personnel at the State Department are limited in their ability to conceive and execute programs based on limited resources (both personnel and money), limited incentive for the practice from a human resource perspective, lack of training, and bureaucracies more interested in themselves more than the mission. This fourth point is critical and must include addressing the challenge of attracting and supporting the best and the brightest toward a public diplomacy career, as well as elevating public diplomacy as a core function for a Department of State that must also be a Department of Non-State.
Excerpts of the report are below.
Across all of our efforts, effective strategic communications are essential to sustaining global legitimacy and supporting our policy aims. Aligning our actions with our words is a shared responsibility that must be fostered by a culture of communication throughout the government. We must also be more effective in our deliberate communication and engagement, and do a better job understanding the attitudes, opinions, grievances, and concerns of peoples — not just elites — around the world. Doing so is critical to allow us to convey credible, consistent messages, develop effective plans and to better understand how our actions will be perceived.
By “strategic communication(s)” we refer to: (a) the synchronization of words and deeds and how they will be perceived by selected audiences, as well as (b) programs and activities deliberately aimed at communicating and engaging with intended audiences, including those implemented by public affairs, public diplomacy, and information operations professionals.
The National Security Staff currently sees no need to establish a new, independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for providing independent assessment and strategic guidance on strategic communication and public diplomacy, as recommended by the Task Force on Strategic Communication of the Defense Science Board.
The ability to establish public-private partnerships is a critical issue. However, at this time, there are a number of key pending reviews, including the Presidential Study Directive on Development and the Department of State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, that are examining the issue of public-private partnerships. As a result, we do not believe this report is the correct mechanism for addressing the United States Government’s abilities to form public-private partnership.
* – the NSC distributed a 2mb version of this file that was not searchable. The version on MountainRunner.us is searchable and the images compressed to save space and improve download times.
- Defense Department’s 1055 report: DOD explains its view of and organization for strategic communication
- State Department’s Framework for Public Diplomacy: Public Diplomacy: Strengthening US Engagement with the World