CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Bureaucracy in Crisis: How the State Department Responded to 9/11

Darina Shtrakhman, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Kathryn Tenpas

Date of this Version: 28 March 2012



When and under what circumstances does a bureaucracy implement reforms? What can inhibit it from doing so? This thesis explores these questions through the particular lens of the State Department and the terrorist attacks carried out by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001. I examine State Department reform in two capacities: first, how State responded to Al Qaeda attacks leading up to 9/11, and second, how prior historical watershed moments have changed State. To achieve this, I rely on the 9/11 Commission Report, congressional hearings, interviews, and memoirs of relevant actors. Viewing State’s response to 9/11 in these two contexts, I argue that while the agency has improved its public diplomacy efforts in the Muslim world and its approach to counterterrorism, an absence of outside pressure from commissions and a lack of funding has prevented the department from making dramatic changes to the bureaucratic structure. This, in turn, has negative consequences for how diplomats carry out their missions in a technologically sophisticated and multipolar world.


American Politics | Defense and Security Studies

Suggested Citation

Shtrakhman, Darina, "Bureaucracy in Crisis: How the State Department Responded to 9/11" 28 March 2012. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 18 June 2012




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