Committee Advances Hagerty-Cardin Bills to Modernize and Strengthen the State Department 

March 24, 2022

Bipartisan legislation now moves to Senate floor for consideration

WASHINGTON—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD)—who serve respectively as Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development—applauded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s unanimous passage of their bipartisan bills that aim to modernize and strengthen the State Department through more strategic training of foreign service and civil service personnel.

Hagerty and Cardin developed their legislation based on input from a series of hearings held by the subcommittee last year.

“I thank my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for unanimously passing legislation that I authored with Senator Cardin to establish a commission on reforming and modernizing the State Department,” Senator Hagerty said. “When I served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, I saw firsthand how the United States must innovate and expand its toolkit to meet complex diplomatic, economic, technological, and security challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and other malign actors, as well as work with our allies and partners around the globe. Four decades have passed since Congress seriously and thoroughly examined the role of the State Department in broader U.S. foreign policy. Our bill therefore seeks to evaluate every aspect of American diplomacy, including the State Department’s mission, organization, personnel system, and effectiveness, and to propose far-reaching reforms to ensure our Nation meets evolving challenges in the 21st century.”

“Our national security demands that as we continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest to represent America around the world, we must invest in their skills throughout their careers and constantly add value to their experiences,” said Senator Cardin. “Senator Hagerty and I appreciate the unanimous support of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for our comprehensive approach that will move the State Department beyond current practices and move toward a more robust professional training for these public servants charged with representing the United States around the globe.”

One of the two bills calls for the State Department to move beyond its current “on-the-job training” approach and move toward a more robust professional training continuum, incorporating innovative education and training courses, methods, programs and opportunities with a clear link between required employee training and promotional opportunities and assignments. The bill also requires the establishment of a Provost position to serve as the principal director of training and academic programs across all disciplines within the State Department, as well as the establishment of a non-partisan Board of Visitors to provide independent oversight, including providing advice and recommendations regarding training at the Foreign Service Institute.

The other bill would establish a commission to examine the changing nature of diplomacy and development in the 21st century and ways that the Department of State can better modernize to advance the interests of the United States. The commission would offer comprehensive recommendations to reform the Department, including organizational structure, personnel-related matters, global diplomatic footprint, and the role of the State Department in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. Members of the commission would be appointed by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as from Senate and House leadership from both parties.