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U.S. Department of State

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Department of State
Secretary:John Kerry
Deputy Secretary:William J. Burns
Annual budget:$51.6 billion (2013)
Total employed:24,000
Year created:1789
Official website:http://www.state.gov/


Executive Departments of the United States

Executive Departments
Department of DefenseDepartment of StateDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeDepartment of CommerceDepartment of EducationDepartment of the TreasuryDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of EnergyDepartment of LaborDepartment of TransportationDepartment of the InteriorDepartment of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Veterans AffairsDepartment of Housing and Urban Development

Department Secretaries
Ashton CarterJohn KerryJeh JohnsonLoretta LynchPenny PritzkerArne DuncanJack LewTom VilsackErnest MonizTom PerezAnthony FoxxSally JewellSylvia Mathews BurwellRobert McDonaldJulian Castro
The Department of State is a United States executive department formed in 1789 to assist the president in foreign and domestic diplomatic affairs. The current secretary of state is John Kerry, who was confirmed by the Senate on January 29, 2013.[1]


Thomas Jefferson was the first person appointed to the office of secretary of state. He was appointed by President George Washington to the position in 1790. Jefferson and President Washington lobbied Congress for funding to establish overseas consulates and diplomatic missions. As a result, 16 consulates and five diplomatic missions were started outside of the United States by 1792. The missions were established as the official diplomatic representatives of the United States. They sent regular news reports on political and economic developments in their base countries back to the United States and carried out directives sent from the American government. The consulates were established to assist U.S. citizens abroad as well as to resolve commercial issues. Jefferson's staff included six people working in the United States: a chief clerk who wrote all of the office's correspondence, three more clerks, one translator and one messenger. Overseas diplomats were paid small amounts and often spent their personal fortunes in order to attain higher status in their stationed countries.[2]

During the early 1800s, purchases made by the Department of State brought significant changes to the geography of the United States. It conducted the Louisiana Purchase and obtained both Florida and land bordering Canada on the 49th parallel west of the Rocky Mountains. President James Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams established the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which stated that the United States would use force against nations that attempt to further colonize the Western Hemisphere.[2]



The United States Department of State building

The official department mission statement is as follows:

Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.[3]

—State Department[4]


The secretary of state is the top adviser to the president on foreign policy. The duties of the secretary of state include:

  • Advising the president on diplomatic representatives
  • Negotiating, interpreting and terminating treaties and international agreements
  • Providing information to U.S. citizens and Congress on relations and welfare of foreign countries
  • Representing the U.S. in international conferences, organizations and agencies
  • Administering the Department of State
  • Issuing passports to U.S. citizens and foreign diplomatic representatives
Recent Secretaries of State
Secretary of State Years in office Nominated by Confirmation vote
Madeleine Albright 1997-2001 Bill Clinton 95-0
Colin Powell 2001-2005 George W. Bush Unanimous voice vote
Condoleezza Rice 2005-2009 George W. Bush 85-13
Hillary Rodham Clinton 2009-2013 Barack Obama 94-2
John Kerry 2013-Present Barack Obama 94-3

Note: Votes marked "N/A" represent voice votes or unrecorded votes. Missing votes will be filled as they are researched.

Organizational chart

U.S. Department of State Organizational Chart


Obama administration

Chinese military hacking charges

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

On May 19, 2014, the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military of hacking into the systems of U.S. companies and a union. U.S. Steel Corp., Allegheny Technologies, Inc., Westinghouse Electric Co., Alcoa, Inc., Solar World Industries American, Inc. and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) were the alleged targets of the hacking operation aimed at uncovering trade secrets. The indictment, based on the judgement of a grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania named five individuals for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse. They were Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui.[5]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang disputed the claims, stating, "The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd."[6] The Chinese government demanded that the charges be withdrawn and announced their intention to suspend their involvement in the U.S.-China Cyber Working Group. The group was formed in 2013 by Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to address the accusations of hacking between the two countries.[5]


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

On October 15, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed responsibility for the security of the diplomatic mission to Libya that was attacked on September 11, 2012. The attack left four Americans dead, including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.[7] A State Department employee, Eric Nordstrom, claimed at a congressional hearing on October 11, that his request for more security to be present in Libya was denied by his superiors prior to the attack.[8] Clinton was also under fire because of the initial classification of the attack by then-United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice as a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video instead of a planned terrorist attack.[7] On December 19, the State Department announced the forced leave of four officials after an independent report was produced suggesting the officials "showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi's security issues."[9] Clinton was summoned before congressional committees on January 23 to testify on her knowledge of the attack. During the heated testimony, Clinton said of the requests for more security, "I didn't see those requests. They didn't come to me."[10]

On August 20, 2013, the State Department announced the reassignment of the four officials placed on leave. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) responded by stating, "Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll."[11] Following the conclusion of a State Department investigation into Benghazi on September 16, Issa was not satisfied with the findings and stated, "We can certainly have Mrs. Clinton back; our view is that we need to get to the facts."[12]

In January 2014, Clinton called the attack her biggest regret. She said, "It was a terrible tragedy losing four Americans -- two diplomats and now it is public so I can say two C.I.A. operatives. You make these choices based on imperfect information. But that doesn't mean that there's not going to be unforeseen consequences, unpredictable twists and turns."[13]

New document

On May 2, 2014, newly released documents from the White House led Issa to accuse the president of withholding the documents about the talking points used by Rice, stating, "It’s disturbing, and perhaps criminal, that these documents were kept from the public. It comes in a week in which the American people have learned that you cannot believe what the White House says…and you cannot believe what the president says."[14] The document, an email from deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes went to, among others in the administration, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The email was meant to prep Rice for a media appearance, urging her "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy," as well as instructing her "to reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."[15] Carney disputed that the statements originated with the administration, claiming, "The only thing that refers to Benghazi is a cut-and-paste which, much to your disappointment and your boss’ disappointment, turned out to be produced by the CIA."[14]

Republican members of Congress fired back in response to Carney's dismissal of the email. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) stated, "[T]his White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to mislead, obstruct, and obscure what actually took place…this White House been callously dismissive of our efforts to get answers."[14] Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also spoke out about Carney, saying, "He has destroyed his own reputation by that statement that clearly was the talking points, which had nothing to do but Benghazi, saying it had nothing to do with Benghazi. That, to me, is an all-time low for a presidential spokesperson."[16]

Gowdy committee

On May 8, 2014, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was chosen to lead a special committee investigating the attack in Benghazi and the administration's actions regarding the attack. The committee includes seven Republicans and five Democrats.[17] When asked if the State Department would comply with the committee's requests, Kerry stated, "We’ll respond because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever and I look forward to complying with whatever responsibilities we have."[18]

The 12 members named to the Gowdy committee were:[19][20]



Obama administration


U.S. Department of State[21] Annual Budget
YearBudget (in billions)% Difference from previous year
  • Note: The 2014 figure is the department's budget request, not an enacted budget.


The following chart shows the number of employees, both permanent and temporary, for the Department of State as calculated in September of the year listed.[22]

Department of State Employment numbers
Year Number employed
2012 41,438
2011 40,611
2010 39,016
2009 37,464

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government is a website that tracks workforce trends in federal agencies. According to their analysis, the Department of State added an average of 94 jobs per year from 2005 to 2011. The gender breakdown among Department of State employees is 44 percent male to 56 percent female. 60 percent of Department of State employees are white, 28.2 percent are black, 5.6 percent are Asian, 4.5 percent are Hispanic or Latino, 0.4 percent are Native American and 0.4 percent identify as multi-racial.[23]


The Department of State determined furloughs would not be necessary in reaction to the cuts needed during sequestration. While the budget was originally thought to be cut by $850 million in 2013, the final number only came to $400 million. The cuts were achieved by lowering travel costs and conferences, a slow down in hiring and adjusting the temperatures of office buildings.[24]

A memo to employees dated February 28, 2013, the day before sequestration was enacted, explained the department planned to slow hiring in March. In April the department began a partial hiring freeze, filling only one of every two open positions.[25]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term U.S. + Department + State

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Department of State News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. Washington Post, "John Kerry confirmed as secretary of state," January 29, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Department of State, "A Short History of the Department of State," accessed July 8, 2013
  3. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  4. U.S. Department of State, "Bureau of Budget and Planning," accessed July 8, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Charges Five in Chinese Army With Hacking," May 19, 2014
  6. L.A. Times, "China blasts 'absurd' U.S. charges of cyber-espionage," May 19, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 CNN, "Clinton: I'm responsible for diplomats' security," October 16, 2012
  8. CNN, "U.S. official says superiors worked against effort to boost Benghazi," October 11, 2012
  9. New York Times, "4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack," December 19, 2012
  10. CNN, "Clinton takes on Benghazi critics, warns of more security threats," January 24, 2012
  11. Huffington Post, "State Department Officials Reassigned After Leave Related To Benghazi Attacks," August 20, 2013
  12. Politico, "Darrell Issa: I can call Hillary Clinton back," September 18, 2013
  13. Political Wire, "Clinton Calls Benghazi Attack Her Biggest Regret," accessed January 28, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Politico, "Benghazi returns to the spotlight," May 1, 2014
  15. Politico, "Charles Krauthammer on Benghazi emails," April 30, 2014
  16. Politico, "John McCain: Jay Carney at an 'all-time low'," May 5, 2014
  17. Roll Call, "Republicans’ Benghazi Panel Appointments Likely Friday," May 8, 2014
  18. Politico, "John Kerry: I’ll comply with House GOP’s Benghazi request," May 6, 2014
  19. The Washington Post, "Democrats appoint 5 members to Benghazi select committee," May 21, 2014
  20. Talking Points Memo, "These 7 Republicans Will Serve On The Benghazi Select Committee," May 9, 2014
  21. U.S. Department of State, "Budget and Planning - International Affairs Budget," accessed January 31, 2014
  22. Office of Personnel Management, "Data, Analysis & Documentation: Employment & Trends," accessed June 16, 2014
  23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named BestPlaces
  24. Yahoo News, "No sequester furloughs at State Department," May 3, 2013
  25. Washington Post, "State Department’s no furloughs for now policy adds a variant on sequester’s impact," March 4, 2013