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APRIL 2016



domestic locations, divorced in practice

from the essential “foreignness” of the

department’s responsibilities, on the


A Clear Personnel Policy


What is required instead is a clear

personnel policy, one that is in line with

the injunction of the Foreign Service Act

and with the mission statement of the

Department of State. Given the exis-

tence of the FSA, new legislation will not

be required; and because the reform will

be budget neutral, a seventh floor–led

internal reorganization should be suf-


The objective would be to staff the

department and its field posts with a pro-

fessional diplomatic service, recruited

and promoted by competition, obligated

to worldwide assignments for “the good

of the Service” and focused on the inter-

national character of diplomacy.

The principles of the Wriston Act

should be restated to produce a single

personnel system for the department.

A reasonable integration period for

currently employed professional staff

would be required, with the objective of

rationalizing the department staff into a

single personnel system in a reasonable

time frame.

Specialized duties such as the legal

office and, perhaps, departmental bud-

geting might require Civil Service incum-

bents, but they should be specifically

identified and set aside as exceptions.

What this system is called is irrelevant,

but “foreign service” (diplomacy) is what

it should be about.

No one would argue that military

officers should be allowed to pursue a

career exclusively in the Pentagon. Nor

should the Department of State’s foreign

affairs personnel be permitted to pursue

diplomatic careers solely or largely in


This ongoing change in the quality

and character of our diplomatic repre-

sentation, and in the management of

our foreign affairs, does not appear to

be happening as the result of conscious

national policy. But the trend should be

of concern not just to Foreign Service

members, but to our political leadership

and the public in general.