State Department Reorganization Advances

By Boese, Wade | Arms Control Today, September 2005 | Go to article overview

State Department Reorganization Advances


Boese, Wade, Arms Control Today


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced July 29 that she plans to reconfigure how her department is organized to better reduce and limit the spread of arms worldwide. But lawmakers have held up implementation of the changes while they review them.

Rice said that she intends to consolidate the Department of State's Bureaus of Arms Control and Nonproliferation into a single new Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. She also said some of the personnel and duties of the bureaus being merged would be shifted to the verification and compliance bureau, which, in the process, would be transformed into the Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. In addition, some personnel would be reassigned to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. All the bureaus would report to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph.

Rice asserted changing times and new threats necessitate combining the two bureaus. Now that the arms race with the Soviet Union is over, Rice said, the department has to place greater emphasis on denying terrorists and hostile regimes the arms they desire. "Today, protecting America from weapons of mass destruction [WMD] requires more than deterrence and arms control treaties. We must also go on the offensive against outlaw scientists, black market arms dealers, and rogue state proliferators," she stated.

As currently configured, the Bureau of Arms Control is largely responsible for negotiating new treaties and implementing past accords on limiting, reducing, or eliminating existing arms stockpiles. Over the past several years, much of the bureau's time has been devoted to overseeing past treaties since the Bush administration has shown little inclination to conclude new ones. Indeed, President George W. Bush initially resisted seeking codified nuclear reductions with Russia, but he eventually relented to prodding from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two sides negotiated the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. (See ACT, June 2002.)

Alternatively, the Bureau of Nonproliferation, which is charged with stemming the global spread of weapons, has found itself increasingly busy during Bush's tenure. Among other non treaty-based initiatives, the bureau is entrusted with advancing the president's voluntary May 2003 Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict shipments of unconventional weapons and related materials in transit at sea, on land, and in the air. (See ACT, July/ August 2003.)

A 2004 evaluation of the two bureaus by the State Department's inspector general's office assessed that the nonproliferation bureau had too much work to do, while the arms control bureau had too little, according to sources familiar with the report. Although the assessment has not been publicly released, the inspector general's office noted in a June summary that the performance of the two bureaus, along with that of the verification and compliance bureau, was hindered by "unclear lines of authority, uneven workload, and unproductive competition."

Although the inspector general recommended trimming and redefining the Bureau of Verification and Compliance, it will grow under Rice's plan. Tasked with assessing whether countries are complying with their treaty commitments, the bureau will inherit additional responsibility for implementing existing strategic nuclear arms reduction agreements and conventional arms control treaties.

The most dramatic changes will occur with the creation of the new Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. Rice's plan would trim the number of senior personnel, establish some new offices, and merge two offices that some U. …

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