Department of State news
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, released this afternoon, commends the Department of State on its strengthened oversight of SWT, while acknowledging the public diplomacy value of this exchange program that brings up-and-coming leaders to the U.S. for summer cultural experiences.
Earlier today, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered opening remarks to the inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women/U.S. State Department entrepreneurship program. Through this initiative, 29 women from 15 Middle Eastern countries will take part in a 2-week seminar focused on entrepreneurial skills training.
Funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a bilateral exchange program supported jointly by the U.S. and Germany, are facing bipartisan criticism from members of Congress, as well as from the German government. In addition to opposition from CBYX program alumni, the cuts have “spawned an unusual coalition in Washington that is working hard to reverse the partial defunding of the program,” Deutsche Welle reports.
Secretary of State John Kerry, throughout the past two days, testified before several congressional committees with regard to the President’s FY16 State Department budget request.
Thirteen young professionals from 12 European countries, ranging from Turkey to Russia, were profiled in a new documentary called "Connecting Cultures, Impacting Lives: The IVLP Experience." These professionals were engaged in the State Department sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), participated in youth leadership events throughout their five-city, 22-day program.
Secretary of State John Kerry honored seven influential American artists one month ago for their contributions to U.S. cultural diplomacy, presenting them with the Art in Embassies (AIE) Medal of Arts Life Time Achievement award. In his opening speech at the awards ceremony, Kerry explored the weight art and multimedia have on cultural diplomatic pursuits:
The President’s FY16 budget, released earlier today (see pages 31-33), requests $623.079 million for Department of State international exchange programs, a 5.6 per cent increase over current levels—a robust number in difficult budget times, and a concrete sign of the Obama administration’s support of exchanges.
Educational and cultural exchange programs are funded at $589.9 million in the FY15 omnibus appropriations bill released last night and expected to be voted on by both Chambers of Congress this week. This funding amount is $12 million more than the President’s FY15 request of $577.9 million and $21.2 million more than the FY14 enacted level of $568.6 million. The FY15 omnibus also contains increases over the FY14 level for every specified program, including:
Student exchanges are key in advancing the United States’ positive relationship with China, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed in a speech on U.S.-China relations on Tuesday:
“One of the best ways for us to improve our connection is by expanding the student exchanges.”
(Update 10/8/14: An additional significant change not included in our original analysis has been added below [see bullet #7, and further comment on that bullet in the section titled “Significant changes to sponsor representations and disclosures: section 62.9(d)(3)”].)