Secretary Kerry’s Priorities: Internal Reform and Greater Engagement

Victor H. Ashe (Ambassador to Poland, 2004-2009; Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors, 2009-present)


I hope there will be internal reform within the State Department in terms of assignments longer than three years. I would recommend assignments last at least four years as good officers are just reaching their potential in serving our nation on year three and must bid on new openings. The investment in terms of language training and other aspects is then lost. It is costly to rotate so often. Review of annual evaluations which extol everyone and seldom point out true areas for improvement merit revision.

The Secretary needs to participate more directly in Broadcasting Board of Governors activities, a Board on which by law he serves but no Secretary has ever attended a meeting. The Broadcasting Board of Governors and its related agencies— such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and Middle Eastern Broadcasting as well as Voice of America and Office of Cuba Broadcasting—face many issues such as low morale, union issues and expensive contracts with Gallup up to $50 million, to name a few items. High level attention can only help.

The Secretary will face daily issues which can consume his time. Hopefully, he will work out a system in his office to deal with more mundane but still important issues.