World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Remarks by Colin Powell January 25, 2001

Remarks by Colin Powell January 25, 2001

The Dean Acheson Auditorium, U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen, for that very warm welcome and a special welcome to those who are in the overflow conference rooms and a very, very special greeting and hello to the men and women of the State Department who are watching this at embassies all across the world. And I wanted to let them know here and now how much I appreciate, and President Bush appreciates, all that they are doing in the service of our nation, taking America's values and America's interests around the world. They truly are the leaders of the State Department, and our job here is of course to make sure that they get everything they need to do their job so very, very well.

I have always had a bias in my military life that the commanders in the field are always right. (Laughter and applause.) Cheers are breaking out at embassies all across the world. (Laughter.) But my bias has always been, the people in the field are closest to the problem, closest to the situation, therefore that is where real wisdom is, and those of us back here exist not only to support the President, but to support the President's representatives, those ambassadors out there, the missions out there that are doing the work.

And so for those of you at those embassies right now, you can be sure that that is always my bias. You are right, and those of us back here at C Street generally are wrong. (Laughter.) However, if I find you are wrong, and you are picking on my staff back here, then I will come after you, Mr. Ambassador, Madame Ambassador.

But it is all one big team that we have here, a great team, and we all exist for one purpose, and that is to present to the world the foreign policy of the American people as manifested and directed by the President of the United States. We all serve the President, and through the President we serve the American people, and through the American people we are true to our Constitution.

And that is really the way I see this all the time: doing what is best for the American people to advance our values, to advance our interests, to help make the world a better place, to make the world a freer place, because freedom is what works. The President and I were having a conversation the other morning, and he and I were talking about this with Condee Rice, our new National Security Advisor, and a great professional who is going to be a dear friend of the State Department. But we were all in the Oval Office chatting, and we were talking about democracy. And the President made the point, let's really talk about not just democracy, but let's talk about freedom. Democracy can be interpreted in so many different ways; even the old Soviet Union used to call itself a great democracy. They could never really say they were free. So let's talk about freedom, let's talk about advancing freedom throughout the world.

This is such an exciting time to take this message to the world. I have to pinch myself sometimes at the things that I have seen come about just in the last 10 years or 12 years since I left my office as National Security Advisor and then went into the Pentagon and then came out and have been in private life for the last seven years. And it is as if my whole life was divided into two very distinct segments that I used to love to talk to audiences about when I was on the circuit.

The first phase of my adult life was the period of the Cold War, when the whole world was divided into that red and blue side of the map with the Iron Curtain separating it all. We had such clear rules as to how we would behave, clear rules that come with primary colors like red and blue. And it defined everything we did, it defined how we related with respect to trade and economic policy and monetary policy and travel and cultural exchanges and religion. Everything else was defined by the primary colors of the red and blue sides of the map. And then it all kind of came unstuck on us.

And it came unstuck on me particularly on a day when I was in Moscow with Secretary of State George Shultz, a great friend and great American. And we went to see Gorbachev, which was 1988 at the height of the period of glasnost and perestroika and we were trying to understand this all. And Mr. Shultz and I went to see President Gorbachev.

This was just before the summit in 1988, where Ronald Reagan was going to the "Evil Empire" for the first time. And George and I were there clearing the way for the hater of the Evil Empire to come visit the Evil Empire. (Laughter.)

And so Mr. Shultz and I were in the Hall of St. Catherine, a place known to many of you, and we were sitting across the table from Gorbachev and he was mad. He had just been attacked again by the Russian press and the Russian apparatchiks for moving toward the West so aggressively; and he was also being attacked by the western press and by the Republican Party for not moving fast enough. So he was frustrated by all of this. And he was pounding away at us and shouting across the table at us, "What's wrong with you?" "Why don't you give me more cooperation, so I can show that there is change coming about." "It's going to be revolutionary and you attack me rather than supporting me at every opportunity."

And he looked at that passive face that George Shultz had, that most of you know so well. (Laughter.) George, he just sat there with that Dutchman look on his face, staring right back.

And then after he had tried to make that point to George that, "I'm telling you, the Cold War is over. I'm ending it, don't you understand?" And then he looked at me to get my reaction. And this old soldier was just looking back. (Laughter.) I ain't buying this. And then finally, Gorbachev looked to me and thought a little bit and I can almost see him to this day, sort of looking upward and reflecting on who this national security advisor was who was also a general, not a diplomat, not a politician, not a foreign policy expert, but a general. Ah hah, I know how to talk to him.

And he looked back down and he turned to me again and he leaned forward and a smile came on his face and he said, "Ah hah, General, I'm very, very sorry. You'll have to find a new enemy." (Laughter and applause.)

And I thought to myself, I don't want to. (Laughter.) I like this enemy very, very much. (Laughter.) We've got six percent of the gross national product, I've got 3 million people working for me, everything's nice, we understand it, you've got your place, I've got my place, they've got a great army along the intra-German border. Just because you're having a bad year, I don't want to change. (Laughter.)

But change we did. Within a year after that conversation, I watched this soldier with all these -- I spent so much of my career ready to fight this enemy and, suddenly, it was gone. We watched the Iron Curtain come down; we watched as Germany unified itself almost overnight; we watched as all those Eastern European nations were told pursue your own destinies; and we watched as the Soviet Union ended. The world we knew just fundamentally went away at that point, and became a mosaic with changing bits and pieces every day -- almost a kaleidoscope. And we come in here to C Street every day, you twist that kaleidoscope and all the pieces change.

But there are certain realities within all of these pieces changing in front of us every day, and the realities of that. We beat them on the field of ideas -- we contained them on the field of battle but we beat them on the field of ideas -- and those ideas are as powerful today as they were when they caused the Soviet Union to say, this doesn't work; we quit; and we are going to go our separate ways; let our republics separate off. The power of freedom for people, the power of individual liberty, which causes people to want to seek their own destiny and take risks on their own behalf. These are powerful forces that reshaped that Cold War world into the world we are in now. These are powerful forces that I believe to the depth of my heart are still at work. Even in places like Iraq and Iran and elsewhere, I believe these forces are irresistible. And more and more nations will come to the conclusion that they have to move in this direction if they really want to be successful.

Because the other thing that happened with the end of the Cold War was the explosion of the information and technology revolution, where not only did you have this mosaic, this kaleidoscope, but you see it all being connected together through the power of the Internet, and fax machines, and satellites dishes, and cellular telephony, all allowing us to move information, knowledge, data, capital around the world at the speed of light. Anywhere in the world that you can get a satellite dish that can look up at a right angle, you have changed that part of the world, because knowledge and information and culture will come down. I am absolutely persuaded of the transforming nature of this new technology and what it is going to do to the world.

Out on the speaking circuit I had a chance to talk to many companies who are going through this transformation. As Chairman, I helped destroy the defense industry in the early '90's, when we downsized because the Cold War went away. And within five years, all of those industries in California and Texas and Massachusetts and elsewhere that had been part of the great defense establishment had reshaped themselves into this new world of information and technology revolution, the Silicon Valley revolution. I am absolutely convinced that this is a powerful force. And I could see it, out on the speaking circuit talking to trade associations everywhere.

One of my best clients were all these trade associations. I will never forget the day I spoke to Midas, Midas Muffler. (Laughter.) They've got an association. And I went there, and they said, "Well, it isn't Midas Muffler anymore." Well, what is it? "It is Midas International." Really? "Yes. We don't want to just focus on mufflers; we have got brakes, we've got a lot of other things." (Laughter.) I can handle that. But why Midas International? "Because we're international. We're everywhere. We just opened up our first franchise in an Eastern European country. And we just opened up another one down in Latin America. So we're going international." And I said, well, what caused you to do this? How did the markets change that suggested you should move in this direction? They said, "Well, in Eastern Europe, now that the Iron Curtain is gone and now that there is the beginning of wealth creation, and people have money, they want cars. They can't afford the new Mercedes yet, but they can afford used Mercedes." And guess what used Mercedes need? Mufflers. (Laughter.)

In Latin America, we have seen this historic change from generals running countries and dictators to the explosion of democracy. Not perfect in all cases, and only Castro's Cuba remains outside, but they said when that happened and when development began to grab hold, and people started to generate wealth, they wanted new brakes for all those '57 Chevies that used to be down there. (Laughter.)

And so you could start to see this spreading outward, the power of individual men and women pursuing their destiny, and the power of international economic and international trading system all being fueled by information and technology revolutions. This is exciting. This is transforming. It means that the "-isms" we used to fight and worry about don't really appeal to people anymore. Yes, there are Communist nations, but nobody starting out to become a Communist nation anymore. And those nations that still have Communist in their title or in their label or in their philosophy are realizing that wealth does not come from that; wealth comes from trade.

Wealth comes from becoming a part of this new international system that is emerging, and that the center of that system is the United States of America. Not as an arrogant nation telling everybody else in the world what to do, but as a nation that conveys what is possible, what is possible when you move in this direction. We're not telling you to follow us. We're telling you to take a look at what we are doing, and the kind of success we have been able to achieve. Maybe you can find something that fits your culture, your society, your history and adopt it to your uses. And by the way, you better get on it quickly, because your kids are all watching MTV. (Laughter.)

And so we convey this model to the rest of the world. But I haven't drifted off terra firma into some little funny land, dreamy land. I realize that there are dangers; I realize that there are still regimes that do not mean us well. We face new kinds of threats, transnational threats, cross-cutting threats, whether it's weapons of mass destruction, whether it's drugs, whether it's international crime, all sorts of things that are out there, regimes that haven't gotten the word. And they pursue these weapons of mass destruction as they are called, which at the end of the day will buy them nothing because they are not educating their kids while pursuing these sorts of technologies.

The unique position that we are in is that we have this value system that people are looking to and trying to figure out how to take the parts that are most relevant to them. We have these dangerous regimes that are still out there. We have these challenges. But we can approach these challenges from a position of enormous strength, the strength of our political system, our democratic system, shown once again in the past election. No tanks in the streets, great debate, a lot of disagreement.

Then last Saturday, you saw the triumph of our system, when we inaugurated a new President and the whole nation came together again for that moment. And you also saw the magic of our system when, by Monday, they were starting to argue with each other already in the Congress. (Laughter.) That's what it is supposed to be; it's a noisy system. Anyone who says it is supposed to be -- oh, it's supposed to be sweet and nonpartisan. Nonsense. That isn't what the founding fathers intended; they wanted a clash of ideas, they wanted checks and balances. So ours is a noisy system.

I've had so much fun explaining our noisy system to generals around the world. And I remember my Russian colleague at one point was saying, Powell, you know, you misled us. Why? You told us we were going to like democracy. He said, but now in the Duma, we have members of our parliament who shout and scream at the generals. (Laughter.) They don't know what they're talking about and they won't give us any money. I said, sounds like the United States; welcome to democracy. (Laughter.) And you're going to love it, you're going to love it.

And so with this noise of democracy, underpinning it all, we have the strength of our political system as manifested in the recent election, as manifested last Saturday with the wonderful inauguration. We have the strength of our economic system which nobody can really explain. They really can't explain it, what's driving the ingenuity of Americans who are out there taking risks, losing money, making money, creating wealth.

We have the power of our armed forces, the best on the face of the earth, and under the leadership of President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, they will stay that way, with the support of the Congress and the support of the American people.

We also have our diplomatic strength. In this new world, where we don't have the Red Army about to come across the Fulda Gap, those front line troops who used to be on the border are no longer soldiers, they are now our colleagues at the embassies. They are now our front line troops. They are the ones who are going to help us move the world in the direction that we think it is proper for the world to move in. We're going to do it from a position of humility, we're going to do it from the position of seeing no nation out there as an enemy unless that nation chooses to be an enemy, recognizing that we are part of the world because there is no nation that is not represented in the American rainbow.

And so our diplomats, all of the men and women in our missions around the world, are now on the front line of the battle, the continuing battle to bring freedom to the world. I view it as my solemn obligation to make sure that they have and that you have all the resources you need to serve the American people. You heard me say this before this past Monday at the wonderful welcoming ceremony you provided for me, as well as in my confirmation hearing. You need the resources to do the job well, resources that will improve our facilities, resources that will provide adequate compensation, resources that will fix our infrastructure, resources that are necessary so that you can do your job well.

I want everybody in the State Department, all the wonderful parts of the State Department, whether Foreign Service, Civil Service, or our Foreign Service Nationals, to have a chance to play their role within the Department to the best of their ability, and I will fight to get those resources.

As I mentioned on Monday, I am not only a foreign policy advisor to the President. I believe that my charge is also to be the leader and the manager of the State Department. My leadership style will become known to you in due course. It is a very open, collegial kind of style. But don't mistake it. I'm still a general. (Laughter and applause.)

So you will find an open style, you will find me bouncing in, you will find me wanting to talk to desk officers; I want to hear the rough edges of all arguments. I don't want to concur things to death and coordinate things to death so I get a round pebble instead of a stone that has edges on it. I want to hear from you, I want to get all the great ideas that exist throughout the Department.

And so you will find me trying to run a very open, loose style, but with high standards and with high expectations for performance. If you perform well, we are going to get along fine. (Laughter.) If you don't, you are going to give me push-ups. (Laughter.) So it's a high- standard organization, high-performing organization.

I also believe, to the depth of my heart, that there is no job in the State Department that is unimportant. I believe that everybody has a vital role to play, and it is my job to communicate and convey down through every layer to the last person in the organization, the valuable role that they are performing and how what they do contributes to the mission. We have to be linked.

There is a management theory that was captured by a man named Rensis Likert many, many years ago called, "Linking Pin Theory." And he said in any hierarchical organization there are leaders throughout that organization who serve as "linking pins" to connect the organization. I'm at the top, and we have Assistant Secretaries, Under Secretaries, and Office Directors and Bureau Chiefs and all kinds of people; each one of them is a "link pin" that connects the organization, and the role of a "linking pin," of a leader, is to make things happen and to connect people under that person with the next level up.

So those of you who are leaders, I expect you to convey upward to me the problems in your organizations, the aspirations in your organization, the needs of your organization. I expect you to protect your people, to defend your people and fight for your people all the way up to me. And when I come back down with the answers and we have looked at all the rough edges and we have made a decision as to what we are going to do, then we are all going to move out in that decision and stick with it, with coherence and consistency over time, unless it has been proven that we should move in a different direction. Simple standards. I want everybody to be a part of it.

I was watching a Discovery Channel show not too long ago about the Empire State Building It was a wonderful one-hour special on this marvelous building. And they took you up on the top floor where the leaders of the building and the owners of the building worked and lived, and they had marvelous offices and apartments. And then they took you into various parts of the building. And in the last five minutes of this one-hour special, they took you into the basement of the Empire State Building. And they took you into a huge room that was every bit as big as this auditorium. And it was full of garbage bags, those 30-gallon black garbage bags, representing all the refuse that had come out of the building that day. And there were five guys in maintenance uniforms who were going to empty all these bags, take them out of the building and put them in trash trucks and move it all out, in the certain knowledge that when they came back tomorrow, the room would be full of bags again. Horrible, horrible thought.

And the camera focused on these five guys and went to the guy in the middle, who seemed to be the team leader, and asked him, what's your job? He said: "My job is to make sure this building shines every day, to make sure that the people from around the world come to this building, see a clean building, that they can be happy they have made the trip. That's my job." He was no trash collector. He understood that he was linked throughout that whole Empire State Building, so that he knew the mission and he knew the role that he played in the accomplishment of that mission.

You will find that as I go about my work, I will be trying to make sure that that concept of mission and linking goes throughout the organization here in Washington, and all of our facilities around the world, and especially to make sure we are linked with all of those embassies who are in the front lines.

I am going to start taking action as quickly as I can to make those organizational changes, and look at the various irritants that might exist in our family unit, and see what we can do to change things. I am going to be working on the personnel system, why does it take so long to get a youngster into the Foreign Service. There must be ways to cut through this very, very lengthy process. If we can get a young GI into a radar unit and trained up and deployed in nine months, I don't know why it takes 27 months from passage of the Foreign Service exam to access somebody into the Foreign Service. Surely we can do something about that.

I am going to be very interested in diversity. I am very anxious that the State Department reflect America in every sense of that term. I am also going to be very interested in security. We have had security problems in the Department. I am going to put the burden for security on the individuals in the Department. If you know the rules, you will be expected to follow the rules. If you fail to follow the rules, you can expect to receive the consequences from failing to follow the rules. That is how we get security, by each of us doing our job individually.

I don't want to, every time we have a problem or a little flap, put another layer of security on the whole building to the point where you are afraid to do your job, and security starts pulling the mission, rather than the mission pulling security. And so with Dave Carpenter, I will be reviewing a number of the things that have been done in recent months to make sure that we have put security on the backs of the people of the Department, and not so constrained our activities that it is affecting the work of the Department.

I am going to fight for you. I am going to do everything I can to make your job easier. I want you all to have fun under my leadership. I like to have fun. I am going to go home as soon as no one's looking on the Seventh Floor. (Laughter and applause.) I am 63 going on 64. I don't have to prove to anybody that I can work 16 hours a day if I can get it done in eight. (Applause.)

If I'm looking for you at 7:30 at night, 8:00 at night, and you are not in your office, I will consider you to be a very, very wise person. (Laughter.) If I need you, I will find you at home. Anybody who is logging hours to impress me, you are wasting your time. (Laughter and applause.) Do your work, get the work done, and then go home to your families, go to your soccer games. I have no intention -- unless the mission demands it-- I have no intention of being here on Saturday and Sunday. Do what you have to do to get the job done, but don't think that I am clocking anybody to see where you are on any particular hour of the day or day of the week. We are all professionals here and can take care of that. Have fun. Enjoy the work. (Applause.)

I will start traveling in due course. For the first few weeks, since I am the only confirmed official in the State Department from the new Administration, I'm afraid to leave town. Al Larson might take over or do something -- (inaudible). (Laughter.) So I am going to stick close to home until we get our sea legs, but then I will start traveling. And so for everybody watching around the world, I will be around to see you in due course. I am an easy visitor. We are going to try to make it very easy for me to visit. Just to save a lot of cable traffic, I have no food preferences, no drink preferences -- (laughter) -- a cheeseburger will be fine. I like Holiday Inns, I have no illusions. I don't want to be a burden when I come to visit. Don't do a lot of dumb things just because the Secretary is coming. Keep it easy, keep it light, keep it low. And if I find something I don't like, I'll let you know. (Laughter.)

Let me just conclude by saying that I didn't know I would be coming back into government when I left the Army seven years ago and went into private life. I enjoyed private life enormously. I didn't think I would be coming back into government. But when Governor Bush asked me to consider it, I was ready for it. I was anxious to see if I could serve again. I think I have something to contribute still. And when he specifically said, I would like you to go to the State Department, it was almost as if I had been preparing for this in one way or another for many, many years. My work in the Pentagon, my work as a Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and seven years in private life watching the world change, suggested to me this is something I should do.

I was enormously impressed by the transition period, the terrific briefings I got, and I want to thank all who participated in those briefings. Secretary Albright and I had a splendid relationship and a splendid turnover. We had three lunches and the second day after my announcement, she and I spent three hours at her home, to make sure there was a smooth handoff.

So I just want to let you know that I am proud to be your Secretary. I am proud to have been given this opportunity to serve the American people again. But, above all to serve with you. Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the plan now is to give you an opportunity to ask me a few questions. And I'm not sure I have been here long enough to know any of the answers -- (laughter) -- but that's the beauty of my job. You pick the question, I pick the answer. (Laughter.)

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. I'm Gary Galloway, Vice President of Local 1534 of AFGE and we appreciate the opportunity to speak with you again this morning. My question is one that I think many Civil Service and Foreign Service employees alike are concerned about, and it's actually two parts.

One is, what are your thoughts about how we go about valuing good management in this Department? Secondly, what are your thoughts about how we bring our information technology and information systems into the 21st century? I think that is something that interests us all.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think you value good management by rewarding people who are good managers and making it an essential element of their performance evaluation. And I am more interested in leadership than I am management. Management is easy; leadership is motivating people, turning people on, getting 110 percent out of a personal relationship. Management is a science, leadership is an art, and I will be interested in identifying those people who are leaders, who really know how to turn people on.

The only thing that accomplishes work are people. Plans don't accomplish work. Goal charts on walls don't accomplish work. Even talking papers don't accomplish work. It is people who get things done.

And so I believe the answer to your first question is to make that an essential part of our recognition systems, and I think we can do more with our recognition systems. Since I can't really -- it's a little like the military -- I can't compensate you with money. So we have to have a recognition system that rewards people and compensates people for being good managers but, especially, for being good leaders.

On information technology, I have read many reports about it and I was on the Stimson Center study a couple years ago, which also talked about information technology. I am going to be looking at this very carefully. I now have my computers all set up. They took away my Palm Pilot, though. (Laughter.)

And I am probably going to bring in some of my colleagues, not to have another study, but I am probably going to bring in some of my colleagues from that world I was in for the last seven years, Steve Case, Michael Bell, Andy Grove, a few other people like that, who really know what they're talking about -- in fact, I talked to a couple of them last night -- to come in and find out what we can do.

The trouble with technology, information technology, these days, is you can buy something today and it's gone. For years now, it's who bought that old piece of junk, because things are changing at such a rapid rate. So we have to find out a way to catch the curve but not get stuck, and then you can't invest five years from now when you need to invest.

So I will be very interested in this, I will be working with information technology people. But we should have the ability at every Embassy to e-mail and speak securely via the net with every other Embassy and every office in Washington. There should be no place in the State Department where you don't have access to the Internet. I live on the Internet. (Applause.)

I found in my own life, I had an office down town in Alexandria, but I could stay home most of the time. Between fax machines, e-mails, Internet, I really didn't have to leave "the bunker" as I call my home office. (Laughter.) And I have gotten rid of all of my encyclopedias, all of my dictionaries, everything else. It's all up there.

And for those of you who really want to see the best site -- (laughter) -- you go to http://www.refdesk.com/. And it is always running behind my opening window. You want to find a newspaper anywhere in the world, you want a thesaurus, you want an encyclopedia, you want to find zip codes, you want the atomic clock time as of that second, refdesk has it all for you. It's run by Matt Drudge's father. (Laughter.) It's a great site.

But there's a lot we can do and, in this world, you've got to have access to the Internet and you've got to be able to talk instantaneously to anybody else in the world. And AOL -- and I touched on this in my confirmation hearing -- but at AOL, when I was on the board of directors, we literally had almost 140 million people connected through ICQ, Net Center, Netscape, CompuServe and AOL. And these are 140 million people who could talk to each other instantaneously. Can you imagine, the historic dimensions of such a thing. And when you add in all of the other services as well, you get a sense of what is out there, and we should not be outside of that revolution. We have to be an essential part of this transformation of information technology. Thank you. (Applause.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, John Naland from the American Foreign Service Association.

SECRETARY POWELL: How come you two guys got --

Q: We're the Helen Thomas of this.

SECRETARY POWELL: I get it.

Q: You just spoke about global change and you mentioned a '57 Chevy that needed a new muffler. And I wanted to ask you about change at Main State which is a '57 Chevy that needed a new muffler if I ever saw one. (Laughter.)

As I am sure you appreciate more than many of us, every organization has a distinct organizational culture that shapes the work environment and mission accomplishments. Increasingly, in recent years, the State Department has been criticized both from without and from within for having an organizational culture and operational procedures that are ill suited for the conduct of 21st century diplomacy.

At your Monday welcoming ceremony -- or, shall I say, celebration -- you talked about being a leader and manager and you just spoke about it also. My question to you is, in addition to seeking more resources for this agency, do you also plan to lead the reform and revitalization of our organizational culture in operating procedures, in order to make us a more effective implementer of US diplomacy?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. (Laughter and applause.) And, as I have said in a couple of venues, I am not going to bring a bunch of wise men in or wise ladies in, all of my old friends out there in think tank land, and spend the next six months. We're going to start to do things right away. It will manifest itself. I don't want to announce a bunch of them now because I'm not trying to show off. We are just going to start doing things that will be obvious to you. And I think you will see the transformation start to take place.

I am only interested in transformations that go down to the depth of the organization. It's easy to come in and say, "Whee, we're going to reorganize." Reorganizations are something you do to somebody rather than for somebody, so you have to be careful with them. I don't want to throw all the pieces in the air, because I assume some very qualified people were here before I got here. And so I want to go from that known into new territory.

But you will start to see changes in office structures, you will start to see some experimentation with layers. You will start to see some reallocation of resources. You will start to see efforts on my part to have more centralized direction of the financial systems within the Department, more in line with patterns of management and leadership that I am familiar with.

You will start to see us identify specific problems that need to be worked on, whether it's personnel system, Foreign Buildings Office, how do we build our facilities around the world, and I hope that you will see that come about and it will not only flow from the top down, but I am looking for good ideas coming up from the bottom and we will act on them.

As President Bush loves to say all the time, I'm a decider, I'm a decider. You bring me the options, I'll pick one. Well, I can do the same thing. I will look at the options and pick things that I think are sensible to do and we will move out quickly on that.

But I hope as a result of that, the culture, the new culture will emerge. It's better if that culture sort of emerges rather than leaves you standing up here saying, well, here's my culture, you all fall in and this is it. It will emerge. And just start looking for these actions which will start in the next couple of days, a little bit at a time. Some of them are pretty simple, some of them will be a little more complex.

For example -- (laughter) -- we're going to start a pilot spouse employment program test in Mexico, because that has been an irritant. So we are going to work on that. And let's see how it works in Mexico and then we will spread it through the rest of the world. I have approved some money to do that. There is a problem with child care at the Foreign Service Institute. We are going to deal with that. There are lots of issues with respect to security. Dave and I are going over all of that and we will start to see what's the sensible thing to do. And you will see the culture grow like coral coming up out of the ocean, we hope. (Applause.)

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Let's try to have some fun.

My name is Kenny Harris. I am an almost 27-year member of this Agency. I have seen quite a few of your predecessors say a lot of great things. I'm a financial management analyst. I work in the Bureau of Financial Management Policy. I am also a lifetime member of Blacks in Government and every now and then I'm even the Vice Chair of the Secretary's Open Forum. So I hope to get you -- Allen and I hope to get you to one of our forums in the future and to be an active participant with that.

You touched on some things already and both the two persons who came before me asked some things I'm about to ask but I will try to get a little more specific. As far as diversity, you mentioned you were going to try to ensure that we have a State Department looking like America. Have you seen the demographics of diversity among the various grades in both services, have you seen that data?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

Q: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm familiar with the --

Q: The balances and imbalances. So I am curious to find out how, you know, you are going to try to make things a little bit better there, as well as you talked about answering the fact that we don't have at our desktops an infrastructure -- the lady here mentioned PD- 63, if I'm saying that correctly, and we don't have funding for that. So are you going to try to make sure that we get the funding and try to really improve our infrastructure? I'm just curious to see how you're going to do that.

SECRETARY POWELL: On diversity, one of the important things we have to do is to expand our outreach into the communities which are under-represented. I have very relevant experience from the Army with respect to this kind of outreach and so I want to get out into the heart of it, even more so. A lot of work has been done and Dr. Albright, just before she left, signed an important agreement with Howard University.

I want to do more and more of that. I want to get in the high schools. I want to start touching youngsters much earlier about the opportunities that are available in the State Department, either in the Foreign Service or in the Civil Service, and get them moving. If we don't do that, these kids won't know about us and you can't get into this track.

We've got to get more minorities coming into the entry level. I used to lecture my commanders, if you want a general in 20 years, you've got to bring a kid in, a second lieutenant in now. And the Foreign Service is not different from that. So I don't have any snap answers for you. And I am not going to try to blow in your ear and tell you, I know the answer, here it is. It's going to be hard work. It's hard work.

Many of our minority youngsters have so many other opportunities right now, we've got to make Foreign Service more attractive to them. I want those professionals in the Department who are minorities to get out and talk to high schools, to talk to elementary schools. We're going to bring a bunch of kids in here on groundhog job shadow day on the 2nd of February and show them what it's like to work in a place like this. I will have a kid with me all day long. I do it all the time.

I will be looking at promotion rates. I will be looking at what happens as you go up the cone, to make sure that there are no vestiges of institutional discrimination of any kind, and it's performance that counts. But I'm also not going to blink if performance isn't there but a claim is made because of diversity you have to do this. Performance is going to count. So we have to make the pool big enough in the beginning so that performance can count as you move up.

With respect to PD-63, I'm not sure what PD-63 is.

Q: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Presidential directive?

Q: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: That's not unusual or unheard of -- yes. I'll have to look at what the requirements of the PD are and see whether that's where I want to put my resource money or what I can get. I have made a fairly healthy request to the White House already and we'll see. There are a lot of other requesters in the White House at the moment.

And it isn't just a one-time shot. I will keep going back. As I can justify the request for more resources, I'll go back. And not one of the senators I have spoken to in the last three weeks has said, no, you guys have got all the money you're going to get. They all know we don't have enough, from the left to the right. Every senator I spoke to said to me, you come up and make the case, show that you're doing it efficiently and that you're transforming the State Department and we'll support you. Not one failed to give me that message. So I will take PD-63 and its requirements into account. Thank you.

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: It makes me nervous when you've got the questions written out, my brother. (Laughter.)

Q: I'm Sergeant Major Bruce, sir, of the United States Army, and I am extremely proud and honored to be part of an organization that has produced such a supreme strategist, a master humanitarian -- (laughter and applause) -- an intellectual genius -- (laughter and applause) -- and eloquent orator as yourself.

SECRETARY POWELL: What did you say your name was, my friend? (Laughter and applause.)

Q: Hopefully, sir, I speak for service members everywhere and my descendants and the future generation to come. I am significantly honored to be living during this time and working in Department of State in a time that will go down in history as perhaps the second most significant government appointment in American history, following Ms. Madeleine K. Albright, the first woman ever to be the Secretary of State, you being appointed as the first American of African descent. I am proud to be here, sir, to serve you.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, sir. (Applause.) Thank you. Another question?

Q: Sir, I have two questions and two requests. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: That's called a wind-up. (Laughter.)

Q: You have spoken about diversity, and I have been an advocate of diversity since being here in the Department. I have brainchilded two programs that recognize the contributions to this society and its mission of all its people. And I have a black history program coming in the month of February. Actually, I have several programs that I am a co-author, executioner, and implementer of. And I would like for you to perhaps speak on one of those programs in the month of February, depending upon your schedule. And on the 22nd of February, if that date is clear for you, we would like to have you. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: I will do what I can. (Laughter.)

Q: Sir, I have done my graduate's work on the Department of State's minorities being appointed to senior level positions in the State Department, and I have a lot of research that I have done, and I have passed that on to Miss Madeleine K. Albright, the Secretary previously, and also to Miss Bonnie Cohen of management. And I think I have done a pretty thorough job in documenting the incidents and the situations that have led to us having not enough minorities in the pipeline, to be promoted to the senior and middle level management. And that simply means that if one of these senior level minority would retire today, there would be no other to replace them.

So the issue here is what we are going to have to do in the future in order to get those people -- and you have already addressed that -- get those people in the pipeline. And I appreciate your initiative and your philosophy on this -- (laughter).

SECRETARY POWELL: Have you got anything else, Sergeant Major? (Laughter.)

Q: Yes, sir.

SECRETARY POWELL: We've got to go on to someone else now. (Laughter.)

Q: Yes, sir. I realize that you are on -- (laughter). Just one more.

SECRETARY POWELL: You've got ten seconds.

Q: Yes, sir. There are three groups here in the Department, three different societies, the Foreign Service, the Civil Service and you have your contractor labor force -- and most times they are a voiceless populous. And I hope that in your negotiation, that these people are considered, that someone represents them and speaks their issues.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Sergeant Major.

Q: Thank you, sir.

(Applause.)

Q: Sir, my name is Lee Reinier. I am with the Office of Acquisition Management. I don't really have a question for you. I do have a comment, and I guess you can tell that Sergeant Major is a sergeant major. (Laughter.) I, too, am retired military, and I am sure there are many of us in here. And I would just like to thank you for stepping up to the plate.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY POWELL: We will have to be brief now, because I do have a foreign minister getting ready to come in. He can come in here and watch this if he wishes. (Laughter.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is Ted Strickler. When I am not busy handing out blue ribbons, I can be found in the Office of Foreign Missions. Traditionally we have attributed our difficulty in obtaining resources to a lack of a domestic constituency. During the last seven years, when you have been in the private sector, how do you view our ability to attract a constituency to support our programs?

SECRETARY POWELL: I found in almost all the audiences I spoke to over the years that trade audiences, corporate audiences, Fortune 500 - - and a lot of just public gatherings, a lot of universities -- the American people are not indifferent. The American people are not isolationists. But they have to be spoken to. And so I want to do a better job in our public affairs operation to get you wonderful people out speaking to the American people and explaining to them why what we do in the State Department is important, and why it really is in the forefront of the new world, rather than an afterthought. And it is a very, very receptive community out there.

Business people understand the nature of this changing world, sometimes better then political scientists do. American audiences that I have spoken to are working hard to get the skills they need to participate in this new economy, and they understand that we are not an island unto ourselves.

I think we have to do a better job of taking this message out, and it can't just be the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary. I need all of you to go out and talk to Rotary Clubs, talk everywhere you can, on the role of the State Department and the importance of foreign policy to the welfare of the nation.

(Applause.)

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. It's not actually outright pandering. I do wear it all the time. I want -- my name is Ellen Toomey, and I work in SA-44, which was formerly USIA. I would like to know if you could comment a little bit on how you see the integration of public diplomacy efforts into the overall work of the Department.

And also, I would like to say that in my almost 35 years of service, I have never heard a speech that I found more useful and on target in the Department.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: I believe also that the world has changed in terms of the way we communicate ideas and thoughts -- 24-hour news cycles; the Internet is a source of communication and information -- and that we have to take advantage of these most modern tools.

I think USIA, the old USIA now integrated in, has an important role to play. I'm looking for leaders in the public diplomacy and public affairs empire who are very much in tune with this new way of communicating with people, who understand how to take messages out in the 21st century, who understand how to "brand" things in the 21st century, because I believe it is essential for us to spread freedom, to be able to communicate it properly, and to be the example that I have spoken about, to be able to communicate that properly.

So I think even more in this new world than the old world, the kind of work you have done and your colleagues in USIA have done, will be more important and more vital to our success.

The little red wagon she is wearing -- and she says she wears it all the time; she is not pandering -- is the same as my little red wagon. For those of you who may have noticed it, this is what I did for the last three years as Chairman of America's Promise. And I took over the Chairmanship of America's Promise, really created it, because in all of the success that I saw, and all of the wonderful things that I talked about earlier, I saw lots of kids who were not sharing in that success. I saw kids who didn't believe in America. We are trying to export the American dream, and I found kids who didn't believe it here at home.

And so with America's Promise, we were creating alliances with the private sector, the public sector, the religious, educational sectors, to give to these kids hope, to provide more mentors for them. To give them safe places, more boys' and girls' clubs and expanded scouting programs to protect them from the pathologies of our society.

The third thing was to give kids the health care they deserved and needed. The fourth, make sure they were getting the skills they needed to participate in the kind of world we have been talking about. And fifth, give our kids a chance to serve, to give back. We don't draft them anymore, so let's ask them to do community service or service to community as their way of giving back. And the symbol for that effort, which I am very proud of, is this little red wagon. And we used it as an icon, really.

Everybody had a little red wagon in their life at one point or another. Whenever you see it, you have this image of childhood. Either you pulled your kid brother or kid sister around and turned him over and dumped him out -- (laughter) -- or you had a newspaper route and you delivered newspapers with the little red Radio Flyer wagon, or it was your rocket ship, or it was whatever your imagination made it that day, and to put your hopes and dreams in it. And the wheels on the wagon made the way of life a little easier for you, and it had a long black handle so that when the going got a little rough, an adult could reach down and help that wagon along the way to life.

So we use this as a symbol of what we are trying to do for youngsters. The reason I continue to wear it is because I am proud of my association, past association and continuing founder association, with America's Promise, but also it has an international component. Ontario, Canada, started their Ontario Promise program, paralleling America's Promise, with the little red wagon and everything. Taiwan has a program. We have had interest from the Organization of American States. And I also want to explain it to the people who come to see me, to show that if you are really going to be successful, you have got to look after those who are not yet touched by this wonderful revolution. And if you have started to get up on that ladder of success and wealth, you have an obligation, not just to keep going up, but to reach down and help someone else. And that ought to be part of our culture. (Applause.) It ought to be part of our culture.

Okay, last question.

Q: Thank you for addressing us and these wonderful comments you are making back to us really helps to encourage us. I am Lorraine Flora, I am in SA-44 in the Exchange Visitor Program, and I came down because I like to see the full picture. And where do some of us go to, and in a sense, sign up, get contact with individuals who might be able to use our talents openly?

SECRETARY POWELL: In America's Promise, or anything?

Q: Well, that and even -- I work with congressionals and other paperwork, which we put faces on it and match with needs, and things are timely, and I would like to help streamline and assist in whatever way from a clerical support capacity that I might.

SECRETARY POWELL: If you are interested in America's Promise, it is AmericasPromise.org, and a great website. Terrific website. If you want to do something that would help me to take the message out --

Q: Through the Department and assisting you --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, Bill Smullen, my Chief of Staff, is here, and he is up in my office, and just give Colonel Smullen a call.

Q: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: We've got lots of colonels around here now, you may have noticed. (Laughter.)

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. My name is Paula McClinton, and I, too, work in the Bureau of Finance Management and Policy, and I just appreciate the fact that you do have an open-door policy. And I also want to bring to you some of the troubles that are in FMP.

One thing that strikes my mind on top is the fact that we are slated to go to Charleston, South Carolina. Most of us don't want to go to South Carolina, so I'm going to ask you, in your travels, and visiting the different homes, that you do come to FMP and talk with the employees to get a better insight as to how we feel about the Department, its move, and other issues.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I think -- I'm afraid -- let me just take these last two. I'm sorry, my dear. No, I can't do that to a lady. (Laughter.) I'll be very brief, I swear I'll be brief.

Q: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I'm a consular officer, and my question relates to overseas security. As you know, no private American citizens were killed in the bombings in Kenya and Nairobi.

My question is, do you think that the people in OMB, the new people in OMB, and the people on the Hill, understand that security overseas is something for all the American people, not just its public servants?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think they understand that. It is difficult, sometimes, however to provide full security for all Americans who might be overseas in an Embassy situation, or just in other situations. But I think there is an understanding that it is a risk for all Americans, and not just those who happen to be in an embassy. So if we are strengthening embassies and making it secure, we have got to understand there are a lot of people outside that embassy who may not be secure. I think that is understood.

Q: But there are also private Americans inside the embassy.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. Yes, understood.

Q: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is Bob Dubose. I am a retired Foreign Service Officer. And there are quite a few of us around the country, quite a few of us actually are almost as old as you are. (Laughter.) Of course, I can't speak for my colleagues, but in general, let us say we all believe that we can run this place better than all these young people. (Laughter.)

But my question, sir, is we do recognize that you have a tremendous job ahead of you. We are very, very enthusiastic about your appointment, and as a retiree, I can speak for some of us, we stand ready to help you, and if you have any jobs for us, let us know. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. (Applause.) Well, thank you. That's an important statement, because it touches on something I should have mentioned in my remarks, that the retired population is every bit an important component of our family as is the active part of our population, and I will be reaching out, wanting to be aware of your interests and your concerns, and doing everything I can to make sure you know that you and your colleagues are a part of the family, and welcome at all times.

And are you looking for a job? (Laughter.) Call Bill. (Laughter.)

Q: Of course, I must add we can't get in the building, as you probably know. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: That's what I thought you were going to ask. (Applause.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, I am honored to have heard you speak, and to be able to speak to you. My name is Carolina Walkin. I work in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. I found many of the things that you had to say very inspiring, and I thank you for that, for all of those comments.

Two things in particular struck me. One of them was that you felt that that everyone in the State Department should feel that they are making a contribution to the whole. And another comment that you made was that a lot of -- there are a lot of fixes, sometimes patchwork fixes, that are placed on fixing things that just sort of -- that are convenient for the moment.

I am a Civil Service employee, and one of the things that -- one of the joys that I have had is to be able to participate in the Hard to Fill Program, opening up the Hard to Fill Program in the Foreign Service for Civil Service employees. And to be able to switch fields, to work in another area, and to work with other Foreign Service officers in the same kind of position. For Civil Service professionals in this building, as well as Civil Service clerical staff, it is very difficult for us to move around, to move to different positions, for the clerical staff to move up, and for professionals to move across different fields.

Those opportunities do exist, as they should, in the Foreign Service, but the Civil Service in this building also works with the Foreign Service, and we were accustomed to change and to movement. And I think a lot of us would like the same kind of opportunities.

I was just wondering what your thoughts are on just how some of this can be streamlined so that maybe all of the professionals in the State Department would have the same opportunities?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I am familiar with this problem you are identifying, and I am very familiar in how it manifested itself recently in a very difficult situation. And I have had some conversations with Mark Grossman already, and other Human Resource people as to how we can do a better job. I don't have an answer for you today, but I am very taken with the problem, the frustrations that you are reflecting on the part of your colleagues, and I will do everything I can to see if we can deal with those frustrations. But this is an area that I need to get a lot smarter on, and understand the history and the traditions and the other circumstances that existed before I got here. But it is on my agenda.

Q: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you all very, very much.

(Applause.)

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>

ALSO:

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news