Friday, May 05, 2006

The GAO points out Karen Hughes's skill gap

by Ken Houghton

It's the Vision Thing

Karen Hughes's move to the State Department was a dubious idea, but you would at least have believed that her ability to sell W to the world wasn't just a one-off.

You would be wrong.
In 2003 and again in 2005, we reported that the government lacked an interagency communication strategy to guide governmentwide public diplomacy activities, and it continues to lack this strategy.

Well, maybe it's too much to ask her to strategize. How about leveraging her ability?
[P]ublic diplomacy efforts generally lack important strategic communication elements found in the private sector....These elements include having core messages, segmented target audiences, in-depth research and analysis to monitor and evaluate results, and an integrated communication plan to bring all these elements together. State officials indicate that the department has begun to develop communication plans for 15 pilot posts, but it remains to be seen whether these communication plans will contain all of these strategic elements. [emphasis mine]

Of course, the best of spinmeistersPR people will fail without a working infrastructure:
Posts throughout the world, and particularly in the Muslim world, face several challenges in implementing their public diplomacy programs, including concerns related to staff numbers and language capabilities....[W]e found that 24 percent of language-designated public diplomacy positions worldwide were filled by officers without the requisite language skills.

It appears that Kenneth Pollack has far too much company in the State Department.

Full report here (PDF).

Hat tip to Froomkin, via Atrios.
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