United States Department of State

United States Department of State
United States
Department of State
Department of state.svg
Seal of the United States Department of State
Agency overview
Formed July 27, 1789
Headquarters Harry S. Truman Building
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

38°53′39″N 77°2′54″W / 38.89417°N 77.04833°W / 38.89417; -77.04833
Employees 11,500 Foreign Service employees
7,400 Civil Service employees
31,000 Foreign Service National employees[1]
Annual budget $27.4 billion (FY 2010)
Agency executives Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
William Joseph Burns, Deputy Secretary
Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary

The United States Department of State (often referred to as the State Department or DoS), is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries. The Department was created in 1789 and was the first executive department established.

The Department is headquartered in the Harry S. Truman Building located at 2201 C Street, NW, a few blocks from the White House in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The Department operates the diplomatic missions of the United States abroad and is responsible for implementing the foreign policy of the United States and U.S. diplomacy efforts.

The Department is led by the Secretary of State, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate and is a member of the Cabinet. The current Secretary of State is Hillary Clinton. The Secretary of State is the first Cabinet official in the order of precedence and in the presidential line of succession.



Old State Department building in Washington, D.C., c. 1865

The U.S. Constitution, drafted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787 and ratified by the states the following year, gave the President the responsibility for the conduct of the nation's foreign relations. It soon became clear, however, that an executive department was necessary to support the President in the conduct of the affairs of the new federal government.

The House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Foreign Affairs on July 21, 1789, and President Washington signed it into law on July 27, making the Department of Foreign Affairs the first Federal agency to be created under the new Constitution.[2] This legislation remains the basic law of the Department of State. In September 1789, additional legislation changed the name of the agency to the Department of State and assigned to it a variety of domestic duties.

These responsibilities grew to include management of the United States Mint, keeper of the Great Seal of the United States, and the taking of the census. President George Washington signed the new legislation on September 15. Most of these domestic duties of the Department of State were eventually turned over to various new Federal departments and agencies that were established during the 19th century. However, the Secretary of State still retains a few domestic responsibilities, such as being the keeper of the Great Seal and being the officer to whom a President or Vice-President of the United States wishing to resign must deliver an instrument in writing declaring the decision to resign.

On September 29, 1789, President Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, then Minister to France, to be the first United States Secretary of State. John Jay had been serving in as Secretary of Foreign Affairs as a holdover from the Confederation since before Washington had taken office and would continue in that capacity until Jefferson would return from Europe many months later.

Duties and responsibilities

Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters of the U.S. State Department since 1947

The Executive Branch and the U.S. Congress have constitutional responsibilities for U.S. foreign policy. Within the Executive Branch, the Department of State is the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency, and its head, the Secretary of State, is the President's principal foreign policy advisor, though other officials or individuals may have more influence on their foreign policy decisions. The Department advances U.S. objectives and interests in the world through its primary role in developing and implementing the President's foreign policy. The Department also supports the foreign affairs activities of other U.S. Government entities including the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency (specifically, the Special Activities Division), and the U.S. Agency for International Development. It also provides an array of important services to U.S. citizens and to foreigners seeking to visit or immigrate to the U.S.

All foreign affairs activities—U.S. representation abroad, foreign assistance programs, countering international crime, foreign military training programs, the services the Department provides, and more—are paid for by the foreign affairs budget, which represents little more than 1% of the total federal budget. The total Department of State budget, together with 'Other International Programs' (see below), costs about 45 cents a day ($165.90 a year) for each resident of the United States. As stated by the Department of State, its purpose includes:

  • Protecting and assisting U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad;
  • Assisting U.S. businesses in the international marketplace;
  • Coordinating and providing support for international activities of other U.S. agencies (local, state, or federal government), official visits overseas and at home, and other diplomatic efforts.
  • Keeping the public informed about U.S. foreign policy and relations with other countries and providing feedback from the public to administration officials.
  • Providing automobile registration for non-diplomatic staff vehicles and the vehicles of diplomats of foreign countries having diplomatic immunity in the United States.

The Department of State conducts these activities with a civilian workforce, and normally uses the Foreign Service personnel system for positions that require service abroad. Employees may be assigned to diplomatic missions abroad to represent America, analyze and report on political, economic, and social trends; adjudicate visas; and respond to the needs of American citizens abroad. The U.S. maintains diplomatic relations with about 180 countries and maintains relations with many international organizations, adding up to a total of more than 250 posts around the world. In the United States, about 5,000 professional, technical, and administrative employees work compiling and analyzing reports from overseas, providing logistical support to posts, communicating with the American public, formulating and overseeing the budget, issuing passports and travel warnings, and more. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Department of State works in close coordination with other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Commerce. As required by the principle of checks and balances, the Department also consults with Congress about foreign policy initiatives and policies.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Mission Statement

to: 'Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.'[3]

Core activities

The DoS promotes and protects the interests of American citizens by (1) 'Promoting peace and stability in regions of vital interest'; (2) 'Creating jobs at home by opening markets abroad'; (3) 'Helping developing nations establish investment and export opportunities'; and (4) 'Bringing nations together and forging partnerships to address global problems, such as terrorism, the spread of communicable diseases, cross-border pollution, humanitarian crises, nuclear smuggling, and narcotics trafficking'.[3]

Secretary of State

United States Secretary of State: Chief executive officer of the Department of State, member of the United States Cabinet, answers directly to the President of the United States. Secretary of State organizes and supervises the entire department and its staff.


Hierarchy of the U.S State Department. Click the image to enlarge.
  • Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs: The senior economic advisor for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on international economic policy. This position is responsible for bureaus, headed by Assistant Secretaries, dealing with trade, agriculture, aviation, and bilateral trade relations with America's economic partners:
    • Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs
  • Counselor: Ranking with the Under Secretaries, the Counselor is the Secretary's and Deputy Secretary's special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy. The Counselor provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters, conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and undertakes special assignments from time to time as directed by the Secretary.

Other agencies

Since the 1996 reorganization, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), while leading an independent agency, has also reported to the Secretary of State, as does the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (also known as the Permanent Representative).


In FY 2010 the Department of State, together with 'Other International Programs' (for example, USAID), had a combined projected discretionary budget of $51.7 billion.[6] The United States Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2010, entitled 'A New Era of Responsibility', specifically 'Imposes Transparency on the Budget' for the Department of State.[6]

The end-of-year FY 2010 DoS Agency Financial Report, approved by Secretary Clinton on 15 November 2010, showed actual total costs for the year of $27.4 billion.[7] Revenues of $6.0 billion, $2.8 billion of which were earned through the provision of consular and management services, reduced total net cost to $21.4 billion.[7]

Total program costs for 'Achieving Peace and Security' were $7.0 billion; 'Governing Justly and Democratically', $0.9 billion; 'Investing in People', $4.6 billion; 'Promoting Economic Growth and Prosperity', $1.5 billion; 'Providing Humanitarian Assistance', $1.8 billion; 'Promoting International Understanding', $2.7 billion; 'Stengthening Consular and Management Capabilities', $4.0 billion; 'Executive Direction and Other Costs Not Assigned', $4.2 billion.[7]

Audit of Expenditures

The Department of State's 'independent auditors' are Kearney & Company.[8] Since in FY 2009 Kearson qualified its audit opinion, noting material financial reporting weaknesses, the DoS restated its 2009 financial statements in 2010.[8] In its FY 2010 audit report, Kearson provided an unqualified audit opinion while noting significant deficiencies, of controls in relation to financial reporting and budgetary accounting, and of compliance with a number of laws and provisions relating to financial management and accounting requirements.[8] In response the DoS Chief Financial Officer observed that 'The Department operates in over 270 locations in 172 countries, while conducting business in 150 currencies and an even large number of languages … Despite these complexities, the Department pursues a commitment to financial integrity, transparency, and accountability that is the equal of any large multi-national corporation.'[9]

Central Foreign Policy File

Since 1973 the primary record keeping system of the Department of State is the Central Foreign Policy File. It consists of copies of official telegrams, airgrams, reports, memorandums, correspondence, diplomatic notes, and other documents related to foreign relations.[10] About 900,000 records spanning the time period from 1973 to 1976 can be accessed online from the National Archives and Records Administration.[11]


In 2009, the Department of State was the fourth most desired employer for undergraduates according to BusinessWeek.[12]

The Department's blog, started in 2007, is known as Dipnote, and a Twitter account is maintained with the same name. The internal wiki is Diplopedia. The internal suggestion blog within State is called the Sounding Board[13] and their internal professional networking software the Corridor is in beta test.[14][15]

In November 2010, it was revealed that over a quarter million diplomatic cables between the Department of State and US embassies around the world were leaked to Wikileaks, which has slowly started releasing the cables to the public. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the leak as harmful to international diplomacy.

See also

Portal icon Government of the United States portal


  1. ^ http://careers.state.gov/general/about-us.html
  2. ^ 1 United States Statutes at Large, Chapter 4, Section 1
  3. ^ a b "United States Department of State FY 2010 Agency Financial Report (vid. p. 5)". US Department of State. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/150505.pdf. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Under Secretary for Management". State.gov. http://www.state.gov/m/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  5. ^ Khalfi, Mustapha (December 2, 2005). "Leave Democracy Promotion Outside the State Department". The Daily Star. Carnegie Endowment.org. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=17770&prog=zgp&proj=zdrl,zme. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  6. ^ a b "United States Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2010 (vid. pp.88,89)". Government Printing Office. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/fy10-newera.pdf. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "United States Department of State FY 2010 Agency Financial Report (vid. pp.3,80)". US Department of State. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/150505.pdf. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "United States Department of State FY 2010 Agency Financial Report (vid. p.62ff.)". US Department of State. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/150505.pdf. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "United States Department of State FY 2010 Agency Financial Report (vid. p.76.)". US Department of State. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/150505.pdf. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "FAQ: Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State Central Foreign Policy File, 1973-1976". National Archives and Records Administration. 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  11. ^ "What's New in AAD: Central Foreign Policy Files, created, 7/1/1973 - 12/31/1976, documenting the period 7/1/1973 ? - 12/31/1976". National Archives and Records Administration. 2009. http://aad.archives.gov/aad/whats-new.jsp. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  12. ^ "The Most Desirable Employers". BusinessWeek. http://www.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/most_desirable_employers.html. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  13. ^ http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2009/02/hillary-clint-1.html
  14. ^ http://fcw.com/articles/2011/04/22/state-dept--preparing-to-launch-corridor-social-network-for-employees-only.aspx
  15. ^ http://www.businessofgovernment.org/blog/business-government/peering-down-corridor-new-social-networks-features-and-their-uses

External links

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