The Department of State is the primary source of foreign affairs information for the U.S. Government and is responsible for implementing the President's foreign policies. The Department provides much of the national security and economic data used by the government as well as most data on internal politics of foreign countries. Information received from U.S. embassies abroad--providing in-depth analyses of the politics, economic trends, and social forces at work in foreign countries--goes to some 60 federal agencies dealing with national security, intelligence, economic and commercial matters, and science and technology. The Secretary of State is the President's principal adviser on foreign policy and uses this information in making policy recommendations.
The United States has diplomatic relations with more than 170 countries and maintains about 270 embassies, consulates, and missions around the world. The embassy normally is located in the host country capital and is headed by an ambassador, who can be a political appointee or a career Foreign Service officer. The ambassador is the personal representative of the President and, as "chief of mission," directs all U.S. programs and personnel--except for non-diplomatic military staff under a U.S. military commander--in the country to which he/she is accredited. The embassy staff is responsible for political and economic reporting, consular duties, press affairs, administrative matters, and cultural and educational exchanges. Many embassies also have personnel from other U.S. Government agencies. In some countries, the U.S. also maintains consulates in cities outside the capital.
Department of State employees include members of the Foreign and Civil Services and political appointees serving in the United States and abroad.
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