– By Domani Spero
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Mr. Phillips ran the new media program for the Presidential Transition Team (Change.gov) and served as the Deputy Director of the Obama campaign’s new media department (BarackObama.com). Prior to the campaign, Phillips led Blue State Digital’s strategy practice, working with clients like the Democratic National Committee and Senator Ted Kennedy. His WH bio says that he is “a proud Americorps*VISTA alum,” is a Huntsville, Alabama native and a graduate of Duke University. He is on Twitter @Macon44.
According to WaPo, the Obama administration is launching a new strategy aimed at revamping America’s “digital diplomacy” efforts. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has reportedly hired Macon Phillips, the 2008 Obama campaign’s digital guru to develop ways to expand engagement with foreign audiences:
Now, Phillips will be taking over the Bureau of International Information Programs — also known as the government’s “propaganda arm” — at a time when disseminating messages is increasingly complicated.
“It’s a double-edged sword: It’s easier to get information out, but also harder to correct misinformation that’s out there,” Phillips said.
A challenge for Phillips and his team is not simply reaching foreigners, but persuading them to change their views about the United States.
Another challenge for Phillips will be to change the culture at the tradition-bound information bureau. The inspector general’s report found that morale was low and that “leadership created an atmosphere of secrecy, suspicion and uncertainty.”
Administration officials said they’re counting on Phillips to turn the page.
Active links added above. The Ross the report is referring to who is writing a book is Alec Ross formerly a senior advisor to former Secretary Clinton.
Mr. Phillips will presumably take the Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs position, the job vacated by Dawn McCall this past spring. He will take over a bureau that staff described to the OIG inspectors as suffering from “reorganization fatigue.” The OIG report noted that “The coordinator believes she was hired with a mandate to “fix” IIP” with the following results:
IIP’s front office leadership has focused on reorganizing the bureau’s structure without adequate engagement in and oversight of administrative matters. The front office has paid insufficient attention to mission-critical management controls, particularly in the areas of performance management, contracting, and travel. Front office decisions and management style do not reflect the PD family’s leadership tenets, which emphasize two-way communication and esprit de corps. A more inclusive approach could have helped the coordinator achieve her large scale changes more easily and successfully.
As far as we know, the IIP Coordinator position is not an assistant secretary level position. According to the 2013 OIG report, the 2004 OIG inspection report recommended that the Department designate the senior position in IIP as an assistant secretary, given the size of the bureau and the responsibilities of the coordinator. The Department cited a congressional cap on the number of assistant secretaries as the reason it did not act. However, the lack of an assistant secretary rank continues to limit the coordinator’s effectiveness and Department perceptions of the bureau.
The 2013 OIG report similarly recommended that “The Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, in coordination with the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, should continue to seek legislative authority to designate the senior position in the Bureau of international Information Programs as an assistant secretary. (Action: S/ES, in coordination with R/PPR).”
We would not be surprised if this is the year when this position will be elevated to the assistant secretary level. Obama White House alumni Heather Higginbottom has recently been nominated as Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources at the State Department. Former Managing Editor of Time Magazine Richard Stengel has also been nominated to the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Stay tuned.
- The White House Is Ignoring a Bunch of Petitions, and This Site Tracks Them (webpronews.com)
- The White House: Online petitions system ‘We the People’ now open source (nextlevelofnews.com)