Morrison, James, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The State Department is in a "state of serious disrepair," suffering from "long-term mismanagement, antiquated equipment and dilapidated and insecure facilities," according to a new report by a blue-ribbon commission.
The report by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies urges President Bush to treat the crisis at the State Department as a threat to national security.
The State Department yesterday said it welcomed the report and does not consider it "accusatory," said spokesman Richard Boucher.
"We have been talking about the need for funding and resources, especially for security, for technology, for adequate personnel, so that we can have time for training. And we've recognized the need for reform of many things in this building itself and started to look at issues of hiring, of retention," he said.
The commission, chaired by former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, called on Mr. Bush to issue a presidential directive to set forth an action plan for reform. The directive should make clear that Secretary of State Colin Powell is in charge of reforming the department.
A "presidential mandate" is necessary to "force change upon resistant bureaucracies," the report said.
It called for Mr. Bush to form a partnership with Congress in order to get a larger budget to make the costly repairs identified in the report.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright has warned that the $15 billion foreign-operations bill is too little to cover personnel costs and construction repairs that were identified during the Clinton administration.
The Carlucci report urges Mr. Bush to propose a "resources-for-reform" plan to lawmakers.
"Congress could expect from you the fundamental changes that it has tried to promote, particularly: improved and sustained consultations with the executive branch on all matters of foreign policy; a tighter integration of the policies and budgets that constitute U.S. foreign policy; and a centralization of management and budgetary authority within the Department of State," the report states.
Currently, the department has "dysfunctional human-resource policies" that are causing problems in recruiting career diplomats. …