THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
loss of PRM’s assistance functions would
have profound and negative conse-
quences for the Secretary’s ability to
influence policy issues.
The letter recognizes the important
role that DHS has to play in refugee and
resettlement programs in the United
States: ensuring robust vetting processes
and determining the eligibility and
admissibility of all refugees.
However, the signatories expressed
concern that DHS does not have the
international infrastructure or the neces-
sary expertise in identifying refugee
groups in need of protection. Most
importantly, DHS is unable to “under-
stand the diplomatic consequences or
opportunities to leverage resettlement for
U.S foreign policy interests.”
The letter was also sent to the chairs
and ranking members of the House and
Senate Committees on Foreign Relations
and the Appropriations subcommittees
on State, Foreign Operations and Related
Results and Next Steps
esults of the Insigniam survey
of State Department and USAID
employees, commissioned by Secretary
of State Rex Tillerson, as part of a process
to “redesign” the department, were
released internally on July 5.The report revealed wariness
employees about the management of
the State Department. “People do not
speak optimistically about the future,” the
report states. In particular, respondents
indicated concern that the Secretary
of State and President Donald Trump
do not fully understand the role of the
department in advancing the interests of
the United States in the world.
One respondent quoted in the report
said: “I am concerned that the dra-
matic reduction in budget, paired with
extended staffing gaps at the most senior
level, will result not only in the loss of an
exceptionally talented group of people
from our ranks, but will hamper our
impact to fulfill our mission for decades
Other themes in the report reflect the
respondents’ frustration with outdated
technology and duplicative processes
(including congressional reporting
requirements) they perceive as inefficient.
The report also suggested that con-
sular responsibilities be transferred to
the Department of Homeland Security,
though it did not indicate whether that
suggestion came from employee input.
Sec. Tillerson announced that the next
step would be a series of working groups
led by Deputy Secretary of State John
Sullivan and covering five areas of con-
cern highlighted in the report: overseas
operations, foreign assistance programs,
technology, staffing and administration.
The groups will contribute to a report
outlining proposals for reorganization,
which the department will present to
the Office of Management and Budget
by Sept. 15. It’s not clear at this time how
much influence the survey report and
working group conclusions will have on
the final plan.
At a Town Hall meeting in the Dean
Acheson Auditorium at the State Depart-
ment on Aug. 8, the Deputy Secretary
discussed the “redesign” process and
responded to questions from employees.
Sullivan emphasized the importance
of employee input to the process, encour-
aging employees to make use of the spe-
cial intranet portal, the “Redesign Portal,”
established to receive recommendations
in the five areas of concern.
Sullivan said that he checks the
portal every day, and that the messages
are promptly forwarded to the relevant
working group to become part of their
Limited Foreign Service
n June 30, the State Department
announced that entry-level Foreign
Service officer classes had been autho-
rized for July and September 2017. The
classes will be composed primarily of
Pickering and Rangel Fellows, along with
a small number of candidates from the
Foreign Service roster.
Earlier in June, the State Department
had notified about 60 Rangel and Pickering
fellowship recipients that they would not
be joining the Foreign Service as promised.
This was followed by an outcry from
various organizations and members of
Congress. AFSA also weighed in.
The Pickering and Rangel fellows weresupported by several prominent lawmak- ers, many of whom signed a letter to Sec-
retary Tillerson, urging him to bring them
into the Foreign Service. The decision was
reversed on June 29.
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair-
man of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee said, “We’re pleased the
department is honoring its commitment
to these fellows so they can pursue their
careers in the Foreign Service.”
As we head to press, news is in that
State is temporarily withdrawing from
participation in the prestigious and popu-
lar Presidential Management Fellowship
program that brings top graduates into
federal government service.
A resumption of Foreign Service hiring,
even one that is limited in scope, has been
a top AFSA priority for the last six months.
At the Aug. 8 Town Hall, AFSA
President Barbara Stephenson asked the
deputy secretary about hiring, noting that
a steady intake of new employees is criti-
cal to staffing in the future.