June 09, 2022

Reps. Joaquin Castro, Andy Kim Introduce Legislation to Modernize Foreign and Civil Service Training

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) introduced the State Department Training Modernization Act to update training for Americans who serve our country around the world in the Civil and Foreign Service.

“As the State Department evolves to meet today’s needs, Department personnel must have high-quality training that reflects current global and domestic priorities,” said Congressman Castro, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact. “The State Department Training Modernization Act will strengthen our foreign policy workforce by expanding Department partnerships with universities, non-governmental organizations, and private industry. The foreign policy challenges we face in the 21st century require innovative solutions, and our Foreign and Civil Service deserve access to training and professional development resources at every stage of their careers.”

“When I was at the State Department, I was trained to adapt to an ever changing world. Looking back, I now understand that simply training people to adapt isn’t enough; we need to adapt the way we train Americans who want to go into the Foreign Service,” said Congressman Kim. “This bill will modernize professional development at the State Department, incorporate innovative education and training courses and programs, and ensure that training curriculum evolves to meet the needs of the workforce. In order for America to project strength across the globe, we need our State Department officials to better reflect America, be the best of the best, and this bill is one tangible way we can better prepare our foreign policy workforce and improve our standing in the world.”

A fact sheet on the State Department Training Modernization Act can be found here.

Specifically, the State Department Training Modernization Act would:

  • Direct the Secretary of State to offer increased training offerings, including increased virtual instruction that is interactive and more accessible to personnel deployed around the world, and increased training provided by partner organizations such as universities, industry entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).  
  • Create new fellowship programs for Foreign Service and Civil Service officers that include opportunities at NGOs, the Department of Defense, intelligence organizations like the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, colleges and universities, and industry entities working in technology, global operations, finance, or other fields. 
  • Create an independent Board of Visitors – the governing structure used for institutions of higher education– for the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), comprised of experts in management and leadership outside of the State Department to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of State on organizational management, strategic planning, resource management, curriculum development, and other matters of interest to the FSI.
  • Establish a Provost at the Foreign Service Institute to be appointed by the Board of Visitors to directly oversee, review, and evaluate the academic curriculum for courses taught at the FSI. 
  • Allow other national security agencies and congressional staff to take advantage of professional development programs at the FSI.
  • Improve oversight and transparency of efforts to increase the diversity of the State Department workforce by requiring annual reports to Congress to include the demographic breakdown of personnel and efforts underway in each bureau to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work.
  • Require the Secretary of State to develop a strategic plan for how to adapt and evolve training requirements to better meet the Department’s current and future needs for 21st century diplomacy. 
  • Establish an incentive program to encourage members of the Foreign Service to maintain their foreign language proficiency. 

This legislation is the House companion to S. 3492, introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Bill Hagerty (TN), which was unanimously passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.