Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011.
I applaud and thank Chairman Berman and his staff for their hard work and their dedication to this important issue. This legislation truly represents a renewed emphasis on meaningful dialogue and strong diplomacy as it sets forth to increase our number of Foreign Service officers, grow our Peace Corps mission, develop new educational and cultural exchange programs, and expand our public diplomacy efforts.
Mr. Chairman, my amendment calls on the Department, as part of the public outreach and public diplomacy efforts, to make materials found in libraries, resource centers and film screenings available online to help showcase United States culture, society and values in history to as many individuals as possible. It also adds online outreach as an evaluation criteria for our public outreach efforts.
The Internet has made the world a smaller place, making it easier to share information globally in just a matter of seconds. It's imperative that we utilize the Internet as a means of public diplomacy and continue to explore the effectiveness of online outreach.
My amendment also tasks the State Department with diversifying the experience of Foreign Service officers. Through creative diplomacy and hard work in often harsh conditions, our Nation's top diplomatic corps make an enormous contribution to global peace and stability and to the way in which our Nation is viewed overseas. However, many of the best and brightest Foreign Service officers feel forced to focus exclusively on a region or country, frequently avoiding critical assignments in nonregional
bureaus, to the detriment of those offices and causes. They aren't avoiding these assignments because they don't care about these issues without borders, like human rights, the environment or refugees issues, but rather because the State Department's promotion system strongly favors those Foreign Service officers who focus on country-specific or regional assignments.
My amendment is designed to correct this inequity and to pave the way for a more balanced and effective diplomatic corps. It requires that the Secretary of State, acting through the Director General of the Foreign Service, submit a detailed plan to Congress on how the [Page: H6485]
Department will increase career incentives for Foreign Service officers to serve in bureaus and offices not primarily focused on regional issues.
We further ask that the Department consider requiring all Foreign Service officers to serve at least 2 years in a bureau or office that's not focused exclusively on a regional issue before joining the Senior Foreign Service.
The amendment also recommends that a composition of Foreign Service selection boards include the participation of Department personnel with extensive experience in nonregional assignments. I believe this amendment will help shake up the current system of promotion in the Foreign Service, and result in a stronger and better diplomatic corps that's able to apply lessons learned from throughout the globe with deep sector expertise when tackling issues such as human rights, the environment, population
I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, the amendment by the gentleman from Colorado has three main components, none of which I find inherently objectionable.
Most significantly, it would require the State Department to report to Congress with a plan on providing appropriate career incentives for Foreign Service officers to serve in nonregional bureaus of the Department, such as the human rights and refugee-focused bureaus.
And, secondly, it would clarify that some of the new public diplomacy efforts required by the underlying bill also should make use of the Internet for online research. And even while some question the fiscal wisdom of the underlying provisions, these changes do not exacerbate those flaws. I do not intend to oppose this amendment.
I yield back.