Created in 1999 with the consolidation of the Department of State and the United States Information Agency (USIA), the Under Secretary is responsible for the State Department’s public diplomacy programs and personnel and coordinating its public diplomacy activities. On July 1, 2005, President Bush nominated Karen Hughes to take over the position. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed her appointment on July 29, 2005. She is expected to officially begin her term in office in August 2005. The Under Secretary's department is commonly referred to as the R Bureau within the State Department.

Previous Under Secretaries include: Evelyn S. Lieberman (Oct 1999 - Dec 2000), Charlotte Beers (Oct 2001 - March 2003), Margaret Tutwiler (Dec 2003 - June 2004)

Reports and Hearings

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