U. S. S. Department


United States Department of State


Seal of the Department of State
Established: July 27, 1789
Renamed: September 15, 1789
Secretary: Condoleezza Rice
Deputy Secretary: John Negroponte (nominee though not confirmed)
Budget: $35.1 billion (2007)
Employees: 30,266 (2004)

The United States Department of State, often referred to as the State Department, is the Cabinet-level foreign affairs agency of the United States Government, equivalent to foreign ministries in other countries. It is administered by the United States Secretary of State.

It is headquartered in the Harry S Truman Building a few blocks from the White House in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C..



The U.S. Constitution, drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and ratified by the states the following year, gave the President responsibility for the conduct of the nation's foreign relations. It soon became clear, however, that an executive branch 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. Furthermore, 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.

On September 29, 1789, President Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, then Minister to France, to be the first United States Secretary of State.

Duties and responsibilities

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 his 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 United States Department of Commerce 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, or about 12 cents a day for each American citizen. 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.
  • Provides 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. The Foreign Service system, which is part of the Excepted Service, is mostly used for positions requiring service abroad. Overseas, members of the Diplomatic Service, including officers, specialists, and at times Civil Service personnel serving overseas when career Foreign Service employees are unavailable to fill certain positions, represent America abroad; analyze and report on political, economic, and social trends in the host country; adjudicate visas; and respond to the needs of American citizens abroad. The U.S. maintains diplomatic relations with about 180 countries and also 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 domestic employees work alongside members of the Foreign Service 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, such as the Department of Defense. As required by the principle of checks and balances, the Department also consults with Congress about foreign policy initiatives and policies.


This chart from the U.S. Department of State website displays the hierarchy of the agency. Click the image to enlarge.
This chart from the U.S. Department of State website displays the hierarchy of the agency. Click the image to enlarge.
  • Deputy Secretary--The Deputy Secretary (with the Chief of Staff, Executive Secretariat, and the Undersecretary for Management) assists the Secretary in the overall management of the department. Reporting to the Deputy Secretary are the six undersecretaries and the counselor, along with several staff offices:
    • Chief of Staff
    • Executive Secretariat
    • Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (which produces the Patterns of Global Terrorism report)
    • National Foreign Affairs Training Center (former Foreign Service Institute)
    • Office of International Information Programs
    • Office of the Legal Adviser
    • Office of Management Policy
    • Office of Protocol
    • Office of the Science and Technology Adviser
    • Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
    • Office of War Crimes Issues
    • Bureau of Intelligence and Research
    • Bureau of Legislative Affairs
    • Bureau of Resource Management
  • Undersecretary for Political Affairs--The Undersecretary for Political Affairs is the third-ranking state department official and becomes Acting Secretary in the absence of the Secretary and Deputy. He or she is responsible for bureaus, headed by Assistant Secretaries, coordinating American diplomacy around the world:
    • Bureau of African Affairs
    • Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
    • Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
    • Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
    • Bureau of International Organization Affairs
    • Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
    • Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
    • Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Management
    • Bureau of Administration
      • Office of Allowances
      • Office of Authentication
      • Language Services
      • Office of Logistics Management
      • Office of Overseas Schools
      • Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
      • Office of Multi-Media Services
      • Office of Directives Management
      • Office of Commissary and Recreation Affairs
      • Office of the Procurement Executive
    • Bureau of Consular Affairs
    • Bureau of Diplomatic Security
      • Office of Foreign Missions
    • Bureau of Human Resources
    • Bureau of Information Resource Management
    • Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
  • Undersecretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs
    • Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs--This Undersecretary leads functions that were formerly assigned to the U.S. Information Agency but were integrated into the State Department by the 1996 reorgnization. He or she manages units that handle the department's public communications and seek to burnish the image of the United States around the world:
    • Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
    • Internet Access and Training Program
    • Bureau of Public Affairs
      • Office of The Historian
    • Bureau of International Information Programs
  • Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs--This Undersecretary coordinates the Department's role in U.S. military assistance. Since the 1996 reorganization, this Undersecretary also oversees the functions of the formerly independent U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
    • Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
    • Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
    • Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
  • Undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs--The office of Undersecretary of Global Affairs was created by the Clinton Administration to manage diplomatic efforts on emerging worldwide issues, such as the environment, that could not be addressed at the bilateral or regional level. The office was renamed Democracy and Global Affairs in 2005, reflecting an increased focus on democracy promotion in American foreign policy. [1]
    • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
    • Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
    • Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
  • Counselor--Ranking with the Undersecretaries, the Counselor is a roving diplomat and troubleshooter.

Since the 1996 reorganization, the Administrator of the U.S. Administration for International Development (AID), while leading an indepednent agency, has also reported to the Secretary of State, as does the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, or U.N. Ambassador.

See also

  • American diplomatic missions

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Sponsored Links

2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

Correspondence , American And British (1815 )

Country Reports On Terrorism 2004

Country Reports On Terrorism 2004

The All-Round Route Guide Ont. Qc. (1869 )

To Combat Terrorism

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