The Foreign Service Journal, June 2003

10 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U N E 2 0 0 3 Historic Success, Unfinished Work In January 2001, Colin Powell took over as CEO of a State Department that had been weakened by years of budget cuts and hampered by anti- quated operating procedures. Secre- tary Powell proceeded immediately and vigorously with a wide range of steps to equip the department and the Foreign Service to meet the foreign policy challenges of the 21st century. And, according to an independent assessment by the Foreign Affairs Council, an umbrella group of 11 organizations — including AFSA — concerned about U.S. diplomatic readiness, the Secretary and his man- agement team have had “substantial, even historic, success” in revitalizing the machinery of U.S. diplomacy. Still, “this ambitious transformation is far from complete,” states the FAC, whose 30-page report, released at the end of March, is available online at . Among Secretary Powell’s major accomplishments, the Council points to a strong beginning at changing the organizational culture of the State Department; securing an infusion of resources for personnel, information technology and facilities; enhancing working conditions, security and morale in the Foreign Service; and, improving State’s relations with Capitol Hill. The report spells out the background, actions taken and unfin- ished business in each area. But the main focus of the forward- looking report is unfinished work. The Task Force Report contains 45 specific recommendations in 11 areas such as: ensuring that top appointees have the experience and expertise to advance U.S. interests; obtaining additional resources to strengthen diplomatic readiness; harnessing the information revolution to serve America’s foreign policy interests; upgrading overseas facilities to reduce diplomats’ vulnerability to terrorist attack; building a broader base of domestic public understanding for the work of diplomacy; better aligning consular staffing and procedures with post-9/11 realities; further improving the State Department’s relations with Congress; and determining the future of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Failure to accomplish the suggest- ed reforms, the FAC states, would have serious consequences for America’s national security. The FAC assessment was chaired by retired Ambassador Thomas D. Boyatt, and the assessment coordinator was AFSA President John K. Naland. The report was unanimously endorsed by the following FAC member organiza- tions: AFSA, Associates of the American C YBERNOTES Site of the Month: Best of History Web Sites The World Wide Web is a great research tool for histo- rians, but finding quality sites can be a tiresome chore. Best of History Web Sites ( ) takes away some of the guesswork by reviewing, rating and categorizing more than 800 sites devoted to different peri- ods of human history. Thomas Daccord, a history teacher and instructional technology consultant at the Noble & Greenough School in Dedham, Mass., does most of the research. The site has won such awards as the 2002-2003 Golden Web Award from the International Association of Webmasters and Designers, and is recommended by a number of organiza- tions, including The National Council for the Social Studies and The British Library Net. The home page gives links to “the best sites” devoted to different historical periods including prehistory, medieval, U.S. history and, of course, World War II. For example, clicking on the “Early Modern European” link takes one to a long list of rated sites, which includes titles such as “Exploring Leonardo,” “Exploring the French Revolution” and “The End of Europe’s Middle Ages.” The sites are created by organizations from around the world. Not every period of history is covered, but Best of History seems to be growing rapidly in scope. More than 50 new sites were added between October 2002 and January 2003. The site’s creators admit that reviews, by nature, are not impartial, but it is a good starting point for someone inter- ested in learning more about history or in need of a quick reference. — Stephen E. Mather, Editorial Intern