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Jack Lew has left the building

After finally getting confirmed late last week to become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew has officially left the State Department to begin his new role. "Stepping back from the day-to-day issues, I see three larger efforts that defined my tenure:  planning and presenting ...

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Getty Images
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After finally getting confirmed late last week to become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew has officially left the State Department to begin his new role.

"Stepping back from the day-to-day issues, I see three larger efforts that defined my tenure:  planning and presenting the budget, coordinating across government, and building civilian capacity in frontline states," Lew wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after resigning Nov. 19 and being sworn in as OMB chief the same day. "I am proud of what we have accomplished in each area. But we are still at the beginning of a long journey, and continued progress will remain crucial in the years ahead. "

In his letter, Lew thanked Clinton and other leadership at State and USAID while also expressing confidence that his successor, Thomas Nides, will be able to continue the reforms that Lew initiated but left unfinished.

After finally getting confirmed late last week to become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew has officially left the State Department to begin his new role.

"Stepping back from the day-to-day issues, I see three larger efforts that defined my tenure:  planning and presenting the budget, coordinating across government, and building civilian capacity in frontline states," Lew wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after resigning Nov. 19 and being sworn in as OMB chief the same day. "I am proud of what we have accomplished in each area. But we are still at the beginning of a long journey, and continued progress will remain crucial in the years ahead. "

In his letter, Lew thanked Clinton and other leadership at State and USAID while also expressing confidence that his successor, Thomas Nides, will be able to continue the reforms that Lew initiated but left unfinished.

"I know that the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources will continue to drive analytical and cross cutting problem-solving within State and USAID, and in many cases across government," Lew wrote. "In our missions overseas, this also needs to become a regular practice. We cannot manage around the world with the proverbial 3,000-mile screwdriver from Washington. I hope that we will continue to find ways to strengthen these skills across the Department."

Clinton wrote to all State Department employees this week to share with them Lew’s letter and offer her praise for his tenure.

"Naming the first-ever Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources was one of my first decisions as Secretary," she wrote. "The Department needed a senior executive devoted to managing complex operations across the globe and designing and championing our budget, all while working closely with the strong team already in place. It was a big job that needed a big talent-so of course I called Jack."

"Even if you never met Jack Lew, you are part of a stronger Department today because of his leadership.  And if you did meet Jack, then you know that he achieved all this with unmatched decency that was inspiring and contagious.  Jack was a good colleague and an even better friend," Clinton said.

Read the full letters after the jump:

 

THE SECRETARY OF STATE

WASHINGTON

 

Friends and Colleagues,

As many of you may know, Jack Lew – our advisor, friend, and strong advocate for State and USAID – completed his last day at the Department on Friday and began his new role as the President’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Naming the first-ever Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources was one of my first decisions as Secretary.  The Department needed a senior executive devoted to managing complex operations across the globe and designing and championing our budget, all while working closely with the strong team already in place. It was a big job that needed a big talent-so of course I called Jack. 

In just twenty-two months, Jack Lew took a job that had never been filled and proved its indispensability.  He mobilized unprecedented resources for new initiatives and critical frontline missions. He brought a new level of focus to planning, executing, and reforming our diplomacy and development programs.  He built bridges to Congress and the military.    And crucially, he kept State and USAID, other civilian agencies and the whole of government focused on shared goals.

Even if you never met Jack Lew, you are part of a stronger Department today because of his leadership.  And if you did meet Jack, then you know that he achieved all this with unmatched decency that was inspiring and contagious.  Jack was a good colleague and an even better friend.

Although all of us will miss Jack, we can be confident that the Office of Management and Budget-which Jack led to record surpluses in the 1990s-will benefit greatly from his leadership.

I want to assure you that we will continue to build upon Jack’s good work.  Fortunately, we have found an outstanding successor.  Tom Nides, whose nomination is now before the Senate, brings impressive managerial experience inside and outside government.  He has served as Chief Operating Officer of two major corporations.   Upon his confirmation, I look forward to welcoming Tom onboard and promptly dubbing him D(N). 

As we say goodbye to Jack, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you once again for the tremendous energy and effort you bring to this Department every day.  I am so proud to be a member of this team, and I know that Jack leaves feeling the same way. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and let’s keep up the great work. 

Sincerely,

Hillary Clinton, aka "S"

P.S. Jack was kind enough to outline a few parting thoughts about the Department and USAID.   I wanted to share them with you.

Madam Secretary,

Last Thursday night, the Senate approved my nomination to become the next Director of the President’s Office of Management and Budget.   Friday morning, I submitted my resignation as Deputy Secretary of State and took the oath of office for my new position.    However, I cannot leave the State Department without thanking you for the opportunity to be part of the leadership of this extraordinary organization. 

While many agencies and offices of our federal government are impressive, few have the range, reach, and remarkable staff that the State Department and USAID enjoy.   It is hard to imagine a more committed and courageous group of people than those with whom I have been lucky enough to work these last two years:  twenty-five year veterans and new political appointees, Foreign Service, Civil Service and Locally Employed Staff-all united by a commitment to our shared mission for America and the world.  

Under your leadership, we have taken significant steps forward to build America’s civilian power.   We have made important progress in how we listen to the bureaus and incorporate their input; how we analyze competing needs and make difficult trade-offs; and how we represent our highest priorities to the Congress and to the American public.    Stepping back from the day-to-day issues, I see three larger efforts that defined my tenure:  planning and presenting the budget, coordinating across government, and building civilian capacity in frontline states.   I am proud of what we have accomplished in each area.    But we are still at the beginning of a long journey, and continued progress will remain crucial in the years ahead.   

First, I took on the role of Deputy Secretary understanding the importance of using our budget strategically to advance our priorities.  As you have often pointed out, building civilian power depends on a strong civilian budget and effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars.  In today’s challenging budgetary environment, doing all these things transparently and well is even more important. 

Second, I have engaged, with many others, in an ongoing effort to ensure that different offices and agencies work effectively together and focus on shared goals.   As you recently wrote, while the State Department and USAID have distinct roles and missions, "diplomacy and development often overlap and must work in tandem."  Increasingly, global challenges call for a joint effort- often with other agencies involved as well.  

My office has endeavored to coordinate whole-of-government efforts such as bringing together the numerous agencies that support the Global Health Initiative.  Methodically pulling together the different State Department bureaus and the Departments of Defense and Justice to plan each step of our civilian transition in Iraq established important connections and built the confidence that civilian agencies are prepared to assume the lead.

I know that the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources will continue to drive analytical and cross cutting problem-solving within State and USAID, and in many cases across government.   In our missions overseas, this also needs to become a regular practice.  We cannot manage around the world with the proverbial 3,000-mile screwdriver from Washington.  I hope that we will continue to find ways to strengthen these skills across the Department.  

Third, while I anticipated that this job would have a global reach, an unexpected discovery for me, and-with my frequent trips to the region-for my family as well, has been the depth of my office’s involvement in the frontline states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.   With one-fifth of our budget and an equally significant share of our human capital dedicated to these missions, this is certainly going to be an ongoing responsibility.  These missions have tremendous importance in proving the value of civilian power to our national security.  They are also difficult assignments, and I part with the deepest respect for the courage and dedication of our colleagues who volunteer for them, and equally for their supportive families.

In the challenging terrain of the frontline states, two concepts that are true everywhere become particularly important.  First, resources and policy cannot be decoupled.  Our policy must be shaped by an awareness of what is feasible in terms of our budgets and capabilities.  Second, rather than letting our past capabilities define our limits, we must constantly work to expand what our civilians can accomplish.  

Building an ever more operational State Department and USAID is an important focus of the ongoing Quadrennial Review of Diplomacy and Development.   In my new position at the Office of Management and Budget, I look forward to working closely with you and the next Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources to support these efforts.   I am confident that Tom Nides will be an excellent addition to your team and look forward to his speedy confirmation. 

In working with colleagues at State and USAID over the past twenty-two months, I have been moved and proud so many times:   when I spoke with incoming classes of entry-level officers with impressive credentials and enthusiasm to match; when I saw how our missions in Tanzania, Nigeria and elsewhere are bringing together development and diplomacy to improve the human condition and the security of the American people; when I looked at the focused faces of those working on the Haiti task force in the first hours of our response; when I worked with new Ambassadors to make real your vision that they should function as CEOs of their embassies; and especially when I witnessed the commitment of our civilians in Helmand, Mosul, Peshawar and other dangerous postings.    The brave men and women from State, USAID and sister agencies like USDA and DOJ venture out daily to reach people directly and set the standard for the innovative and caring civilian service we seek to build. 

Let me conclude where I started-with thanks.    To my colleagues, in particular Cheryl Mills, Jim Steinberg, Bill Burns and Pat Kennedy.  To Raj Shah, Eric Goosby, and Daniel Yohannes, who have been superb partners.  To my outstanding staff, who have worked tirelessly to translate ideas from across our civilian agencies into successful action.   To all the men and women of the State Department and USAID.  It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve alongside them the last two years.    Finally, thank you, Madam Secretary, for giving me the chance to participate in serving this country and the world in ways that I believe will leave all of us stronger, better off, and safer.  I am honored by the responsibility you entrusted to me.

Sincerely,

Jack Lew

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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