The US Department of State, or DOS as it is more commonly known, is the oldest and one of the most prestigious federal departments in all of America. As such, it has a long and storied history that dates back to 1789 when President George Washington signed into law its very first Secretary: Thomas Jefferson. For nearly two centuries now, DOS has been one of the main conduits through which America’s foreign policy was crafted and executed – with many great statesmen passing through its doors including John Quincy Adams (6th), Henry Kissinger (68th), and Hillary Clinton (67th).
The Department currently employs over 26 thousand people around the world who work at approximately 270 diplomatic missions plus an additional 1,000+ consulates. It also operates 66 field offices in major cities throughout the US, including New York City, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
DOS is responsible for foreign relations, diplomatic activities, and international broadcasting. It also handles consular services for citizens outside of the United States.
The Department’s foreign affairs responsibilities
The department’s foreign affairs responsibilities include bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, conducting negotiations with other nations, drafting treaties to be presented for Congressional approval. Besides that, it also handles all American foreign aid through both bilateral assistance programs and the more famous USAID (United States Agency for International Development). Aside from that DOS is also involved in regulating certain international trade and businesses and protecting and promoting American rights and interests abroad.
All of the department’s activities are guided by one fundamental foreign policy: promote peace and security, protect human rights, advance democracy & economic prosperity, prevent conflict. With such a broad mandate common foreign service workers (FSWs) must be as applicable as possible. If the department needs to draft an official letter to a foreign government then it will send someone who has training in writing & editing to do so, but if there is a need for analyzing large amounts of data then that process must be done by people with advanced statistical training.
The US Department of State accomplishments
The US Department of State is very proud of the accomplishments and awards it has received. Recently, Secretary John Kerry was awarded the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize; in 2011, then-Secretary Clinton was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama; and in 2009, former Secretary Hillary Clinton became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Award for Career Achievement which is given to an employee who has “made exceptionally outstanding contributions over an extended period” and who uses their “leadership and dedication to improve the lives of others, inspire public service and enhance America’s role in international affairs.” The department also received a Gold Medal from the US Congress for being “a bright light of hope and freedom around the world” – a particularly notable honor as there have only been five awards given out to government agencies in total.
The US Department of State is a prestigious federal department. It has been the main conduit for American foreign policy since 1789, and it employs 26 thousand people around the world to carry out its broad mandate. The DOS’s accomplishments are many, including receiving an award from Congress for being “a bright light of hope and freedom around the world.”