Foreign Policy had an interesting piece written by retired FSO Joseph Cassidy about how to fix the State Department.
"A hypothetical graph of the State Department’s influence through history would have its obvious high points — William Seward serving as Lincoln’s confidant and advisor, George Marshall rebuilding Europe after World War II, James Baker organizing a global coalition in the first Gulf War and consolidating post-Cold War Europe — but fewer of late. With the rise of large, permanent defense and intelligence bureaucracies after World War II, and the more recent increase in size and stature of the National Security Council begun under Henry Kissinger and expanded since, State’s role is ever more constrained. Its regional and thematic policy experts are often muscled out of big decisions by other parts of the executive branch.
That is a waste. State’s impressively smart, hardworking, and principled employees could be investment bankers or tech titans or big firm lawyers (and some have been). Instead, they choose public service, with its lower pay, fusty hierarchy, and often considerable danger. American diplomats abroad are busy assisting U.S. businesses and American citizens in trouble, investigating war crimes, tracking corruption and terrorist financing, and representing Washington in treaty negotiations. Meanwhile, their colleagues back at Foggy Bottom toil in an organization that is neither agile, efficient, strategic, nor particularly relevant."
You can read the whole piece here.