While Secretary Panetta was preparing his budget rollout at the Pentagon yesterday, across town Secretary Clinton was busy holding her own Town Hall Meeting to address the overall state of affairs at the State Department, and in particular, to provide an update on the implementation of the first QDDR:
We are doing everything we can to work smarter by improving our approaches to planning, procurement, and personnel… Now as obvious as it may seem to all of us here today, we now set our goals before we determine funding rather than doing everything all at once, and we’re simplifying those processes to relieve unnecessary burdens.
To be sure, much progress has been made in terms of strategy and budgeting. But BFAD’s original assessment—that the QDDR calls for strategic planning, but is not yet a strategic planning document—holds true. As our own Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams wrote last year:
While making strides in defining the process, the QDDR did not change the institutional arrangement that separates the strategic planning office (in the Bureau of Resource Management reporting to the Undersecretary for Management), from the Policy Planning office (reporting to S), from the budget offices. The challenge of integrating the processes remains to be dealt with in the QDDR implementation stage. A lot of effort will be needed to make it work. In addition, the budget processes remain separated, managed by three distinct offices (assistance, management overhead, and personnel) and there is not much guidance in the QDDR on how these three come together under a process guided by strategic planning.
Clinton expressed hope that Congress would help institutionalize the QDDR this year by including legislation in State’s authorization or appropriations bills that would ensure that the new strategic planning process endures beyond her tenure at the State Department. Changing legislation is a big deal, and hopefully in that effort, we can see some of the more far-reaching changes Adams and Williams called for.