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Commission 2015 Report Highlights PD Successes, Shortcomings

Flags in State Department lobby


27 September 2015. The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, an independent panel that reviews U.S. public diplomacy strategy and activities, notes an improvement in the conduct of public diplomacy and international broadcasting since its last report in December 2014, but still highlights the need for better structures and processes to support these activities. A summary and full text (PDF) are available for download from the commission’s Web site.

Most of the document is a review and analysis of the work carried out by public diplomacy offices in State Department bureaus and U.S. embassies overseas, along with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG. The commission points to improvements in the conduct of U.S. public diplomacy, for which it credits “reform-minded leaders at the BBG and the State Department.”

Nonetheless, says the report, the commission expresses concerns “whether or not the proper structures and processes are in place to support the strategic and long-term application of these programs.” Among its concerns, reflected in the report’s 20 recommendations, is the tiny investment — no more than 1 percent — by either State Department or BBG in audience research, analytics, and evaluations that hampers the ability to convince policy makers to invest more in these efforts.

“We believe strongly that in order to make a compelling argument to Congress and the American taxpayers for maintaining, if not increasing, investment in public diplomacy for the sake of U.S. national security,” says the commission, “State Department PD offices’ and the BBG’s communication with the Hill on both progress and setbacks must deepen and expand, as should the evidence that these activities matter.”

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