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New State Department Map Looks Inward

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Even as the conflict in Crimea continues to escalate, a simple new interactive map that Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled Tuesday builds on an ongoing State Department efforts to make the scope of its work that makes up around one percent of the federal budget more tangible.

The interactive map with the title Department of State by State allows users to click on U.S. states and read information about how State Department work abroad has a domestic impact.

In New York, for example, in the area of business and trade, the map highlights how international trade advanced by the State Department supports over 2.5 million jobs in New York and around $130 million in goods and service exports, as well as educational programs and partnerships. The map also notes the role of the State Department in connection with General Electric winning its largest power agreement in company history as part of a $2.7 million deal with Algeria's national electricity and gas company, for which the majority of equipment will be exported from South Carolina and New York.

In Wyoming, for example, the map notes that international trade is responsible for more than 63,000 jobs in the state and around $2.6 billion in goods and services exports. Among the education programs, the map highlights the Department's support for a zoology research collaboration between the University of Wyoming and the University of Johannesburg.

Kerry made the announcement as part of a townhall conversation with students that was moderated by Buzzfeed's Miriam Elder. "Foreign policy is not just what happens over there, but what happens over here as a result of what happens over there," he said. "It's about a New Jersey company that gets a $144 million contract to build bridges in another country which means jobs here at home. It is about another company that is laying fiber between Samoa and the rest of the world so they can be connected and that's a $500 million contract ... [With the map] you'll find out what's coming to that state as a result of our efforts to help marry a contract or an economic opportunity with the capacities we have in various parts of our country."

Especially when it comes to foreign aid, studies have repeatedly shown that the American public overestimates its proportion of the budget, with estimates such as 28 percent, even though it's about one percent. A November 2013 Kaiser poll indicated that when respondents were informed of the actual proportion of the budget, they were less likely to say that the money spent on foreign aid is excessive.

The State Department has also over the past year been helping to expand the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a project that is part of the U.S. Government’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, and which offers details on foreign assistance spending by U.S. agencies.