Home is Where the Heart Is: A State Department Focused on the Domestic Agenda (Marcellus Policy Analysis)

By Yameen Huq, Spring 2021 Marcellus Policy Fellow

The coming international order is one of multipolarity and rising collective challenges. American voters and elected officials alike realize that the next foreign policy agenda must center domestic matters, prudent prioritization, and careful diplomacy.

The State Department (State) can only support this agenda with proper organizational design. This means reforming existing structures to reduce gaps in cooperation and efficiency. It includes transforming relationships across the executive branch to put State in a leading role on foreign policy. Finally, this transition requires strategic insights to deliver long-term process and policy improvements.

State should implement three major reforms to achieve these goals. First, it should adopt a regionally autonomous organizational structure that gives each Under Secretary the ability to manage the full diplomatic tool kit for their region. Second, State needs a stronger line of communication to the White House and the authority to collaborate effectively on diplomatic activities where additional knowledge and expertise is needed. Third, State should redesign the Office of Policy Planning as an in-house strategic center to provide long-term insights and assessments on how policies can best benefit the American people. These reforms can ensure a domesticated foreign policy that prizes prudence and puts American interests first.