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United States Department of State
The United States Department of Dept. of State
State, or State Department for
short, is the Cabinet-level [Seal of the Department of State]
foreign affairs agency of the Larger version
United States government. It is Established: July 27, 1789
administered by the United States Renamed: September 15, 1789
Secretary of State.
Secretary: Colin Powell
Deputy Secretary: Richard L. Armitage
Budget: $11.0 billion (2003)
7,656 Civil Service
Employees: 20,588 Foreign Service
The United States 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
President Washington in the conduct of the affairs of the new Federal Government.
The House 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. 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
Duties and Responsibilities
The Executive Branch and the 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 adviser, 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:
* Promoting peace and stability in regions of vital interest;
* Opening markets abroad;
* Helping developing nations establish stable economic environments that
provide investment and export opportunities;
* Bringing nations together to address global problems such as
cross-border pollution, the spread of communicable diseases, terrorism,
nuclear smuggling, and humanitarian crises.
As the lead foreign affairs agency, the Department of State has the primary
* Leading interagency coordination in developing and implementing foreign
* Managing the foreign affairs budget and other foreign affairs
* Leading and coordinating U.S. representation abroad, conveying U.S.
foreign policy to foreign governments and international organizations
through U.S. embassies and consulates in foreign countries and
diplomatic missions to international organizations;
* Conducting negotiations and concluding agreements and treaties on
issues ranging from trade to nuclear weapons;
* Coordinating and supporting international activities of other U.S.
agencies and officials.
The services the Department provides include:
* 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
The Department of State conducts all of these activities with a small
workforce comprised of Civil Service and Foreign Service employees. In fact,
the Department employs fewer people than do many local governments -- for
example, in Memphis, Tennessee or Baltimore, Maryland. Overseas, Foreign
Service officers represent America; analyze and report on political,
economic, and social trends in the host country; 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 Civil Service employees work alongside Foreign Service
officers serving a stateside tour, compiling and analyzing reports from
overseas, providing logistical support to posts, consulting with and keeping
the Congress informed about foreign policy initiatives and policies,
communicating with the American public, formulating and overseeing the
budget, issuing passports and travel warnings, and more.