Public opinion polls have shown continued negative sentiments toward the United States in the Muslim world. Public diplomacy activities--led by the State Department (State)--are designed to counter such sentiments by explaining U.S. foreign policy actions, countering misinformation, and advancing mutual understanding between nations. GAO was asked to examine (1) what public diplomacy resources and programs State has directed to the Muslim world, (2) whether posts have adopted a strategic approach to implementing public diplomacy, and (3) what challenges remain to be addressed.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||To improve the delivery of public diplomacy messages to Muslim audiences around the world, the Secretary of State should direct the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs to increase the sophistication and effectiveness of U.S. outreach efforts, develop written guidance detailing how the department intends to implement its public diplomacy goals as they apply to the Muslim world and incorporates the strategic communication best practices discussed in this report. This guidance should be developed in consultation with the White House, affected government agencies, and outside experts who have a practical knowledge of what is needed to translate private sector best practices into practical steps which can be taken in the field. To accompany this guidance, State should develop a sample country-level communication plan that posts can tailor to local conditions.||
Closed – Implemented
|Department of State||To improve the delivery of public diplomacy messages to Muslim audiences around the world, the Secretary of State should direct the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs to meet the challenges facing public diplomacy officers in the field, including the need to balance security with outreach and short tours of duty at certain posts, strengthen existing systems of sharing best practices in order to more systematically transfer knowledge among embassies around the world.||
Closed – Implemented