I just got off a conference call with Sen. Robert Casey, D-Penn., about his meeting today with Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton. Casey, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will consider Clinton’s nomination Jan. 13, said he is very pleased with the direction Clinton wants to take State and expects she’ll be easily confirmed.
Most of today’s meeting dealt with State’s management, budget and personnel issues, Casey said, which will be among Clinton’s primary concerns. And one of Clinton’s first actions at State will be to elevate management issues to the deputy secretary level.
Eight years ago, Congress created a deputy secretary for management and resources position at State, but it was never officially filled and the job got busted down to undersecretary for management. Casey is glad to see Clinton restore clout to the management position, and said her selection of former Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew is the right move to make sure State’s initiatives succeed. “You can have all the right policies and goals, but if you can’t manage and don’t have someone whose expertise is in the world of budgets and dollars, you won’t be successful,” Casey said.
Casey said Clinton is also concerned that the Foreign Service is understaffed and could hire more, though he said Clinton did not say how many she’d like to hire. Casey also said State should improve its training of Foreign Service officers to keep their skills sharp when they are between assignments.