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County of Los Angeles Office of Protocol

375 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA  90012
(213) 974-1307; (213) 621-2084 fax

What is Protocol?

Protocol is the set of rules prescribing good manners in official life and in ceremonies involving governments and nations and their representatives.  It is the recognized system of international courtesy.

Other countries often are more rigid in their practice of official etiquette or protocol than is the United States.  It is important for international goodwill, understanding, prestige and acceptance that the United States and its local governments be sensitive to these differences and behave in such a manner as to not offend unnecessarily. 

Another more contemporary definition which recognizes the value of protocol in the business world but also applies to diplomatic protocol comes from Robert Frye, former Chief of Protocol for Lucent Technologies and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and for U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte:

Protocol is the art of creating a distraction free environment that facilitates the complete and open exchange of information to resolve issues and build relationships in global business and international diplomacy.

This definition applies to government as well. Making mistakes in protocol or breeching etiquette can lead to larger problems that detract from the main purpose of the visit of or event for an international dignitary.

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