Powell plans hiring, technology initiatives if budget hike approved

Secretary of State Colin Powell is asking Congress for a 14 percent increase in the State Department's operating budget next year, with much of the money targeted to fill job vacancies, buy new computer equipment and improve embassy security. The increase, a reflection of Powell's stature in the Bush administration, is on par with increases for the Education and Defense departments, which oversee two of the areas that Bush campaigned on. "Now we have need of a more sophisticated, a more efficient, a more effective foreign policy," Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. "Now is the time to provide to the principal practitioners of that foreign policy the resources they need to conduct it." State's operating budget would increase from $6.6 billion this year to $7.5 billion next year under Powell's proposal. State Department officials on Monday said that the extra money next year would be used to hire 360 new foreign service and civil service employees as well as 186 new security personnel. The State Department estimates that it needs to add 1,100 positions to its payroll in the coming years to fulfill its mission. James Millette, head of State's Office of Budget and Planning, said next year's hiring push would be the beginning of an effort to fill all those positions. Millette said some of the budget boost would also be used to train and retain existing employees. The new hires are in addition to the 700 positions a year that the State Department must fill because of normal attrition, Millette said. Department officials plan to use $273 million to put full Internet access on every State Department employee's desktop and to create a classified worldwide communications network. "At every desktop right now we have Internet email capability, but it's not the full browsing capability," Millette said. The department plans to spend $1.3 billion on security improvements and put an extra $60 million a year toward general infrastructure, which Millette described as "your meat-and-potatoes replacement of machinery and maintenance around our embassies." In comparison to the overall increase of 5.5 percent in the international affairs budget, which includes foreign assistance programs, the 14 percent operating budget sends a message to State Department employees who have long complained that poor equipment and staffing limits have made it difficult to do their jobs. Several reports in recent years have called for a bigger State Department budget and for improvements in management. On the management front, Powell told both House and Senate committees last week that he is committed to cutting management layers at the department, though he has yet to make specific plans for doing so. Powell also intends to revamp the Foreign Buildings Operation, the much-criticized office that manages State's overseas properties. Powell is proposing to remove a layer of management between himself and the head of that office. He has also appointed retired Maj. Gen. Chuck Williams to oversee the Foreign Buildings Operation and conduct a review of its property management practices. Williams served in the Army Corps of Engineers.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.