Strategic Planning in US Department of State
The Department of State is the main US agency responsible for the conduct of foreign policy of the state. It is its head (the secretary of state) that has priority in the hierarchy of replacing the presidency of the country in case of his death or inability to fulfill his constitutional functions. In this regard, the study of the mechanism of strategic planning of the State Department is of considerable interest.
In its activities, this department uses a flexible system that combines elements of long-term, medium-term and short-term planning. The 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review proposed improving strategic planning by creating a single mechanism for planning, funding and performance management. It contains the following basic requirements:
- the presence of feedback in the process of strategic planning;
- the formation of the budget in accordance with the tasks facing the diplomatic missions, in order to develop a budget request at the level of departments of the State Department;
- regular analysis of the results of the work carried out;
- the application of a uniform policy for the entire department in the field of assessing both its own activities and the international situation, in order to improve the quality of analysis and use of the data obtained in the decision-making process by the military and political leadership of the United States.
Strategic planning includes four stages closed in a single cycle: assessment, planning, budgeting and implementation of relevant foreign policy programs.
Every year, based on the results of an assessment of the international situation, the Department of State develops an Annual Performance Plan. It defines goals, sets appropriate objectives, provides forms and methods for achieving them, and the procedure for documenting the results.
On its basis, an annual budget plan is drawn up (Annual Budget Plan), which is approved by the head of the Administration and Budget Office of the US White House. In addition, diplomatic missions and embassies are developing similar action plans, based on which each department of the State Department prepares its own document.
However, their preparation is not related to the process of annual formation of the federal budget, which makes the department’s strategic planning system more flexible.
During the assessment phase, the Department of State, together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), evaluates challenges, achievements and performance, sets goals and objectives, which are reflected in its annual reports.
At this stage, the necessary information comes from the following sources: own structures of the State Department or USAID; partner countries and allies of Washington; third party suppliers (nongovernmental, research, expert and other organizations).
The relevant departments and foreign representative offices of the department have access to the sources and tools for collecting data, which allows them to check the quality of the information received from partner countries for compliance with the criteria of reliability, accuracy and relevance. The verification procedure involves the use of a special questionnaire developed for these purposes.
In turn, planning can be long-term, medium-term and short-term. The first type is the International Affairs Strategic Plan. It defines the main goals and objectives of the foreign policy activities of the Department of State and diplomatic missions abroad, and is also the basis for medium and short term planning.
Tags: strategic planning, united states