The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

16 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Rex Tillerson came in and made an initial very positive impression. He appeared to reach out to the workforce of the Department of State, and so people were very optimistic. That optimism did not last long, however. … We got word that senior people were being fired without any notice or any justification. …When the decision came that our budget was going to be cut by one third or that a chokehold was going to be put on our recruitment pro- grams, people started to ask questions. Why is this happening? Why are these things being done? And no answer was provided—or no coherent answer. …My budget was cut. I was told that I could not hire anyone, even when I had vacant positions. I could not transfer people within my organization or from elsewhere inside the State Department. …I was also told that I could make no reference to the policies of the prior administration. There was a political appointee sent out to the Foreign Service Institute who reviewed our training materials and objected when there was reference to American foreign policy under the Obama administration. Our response was that we were not rewriting history. We would indeed continue to teach our diplomats what policy under all previous presidents had been, and that when the Trump administration developed a policy toward different parts of the world, we would teach that as well. … I decided to leave in June of this year. I went through a period of weeks and months of soul searching, of consult- ing with family and trusted friends, of talking with colleagues. …None of us—myself and others who have left or are in the process of leaving—we didn’t want to leave. We wanted to continue to serve our country, but we had to stay true to our values. —Ambassador (ret.) Nancy McEldowney, former director of the Foreign Service Institute and now director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, speaking to Michael Barbaro on the Oct. 20 edition of The Daily podcast from The New York Times , “The State of the State Dept. under Rex Tillerson.” Contemporary Quote “administrators of a Yahoo group used by diplomat parents to trade resources and advice kicked the medical team off.” “It is, simply put, not in our national security interest to prevent these expe- rienced, trained, talented officers from serving where the American people need themmost, whenever possible,” AFSA State VP Kero-Mentz told the Post . In addition to the June Speaking Out column, The Foreign Service Journal ran a story about SNEA by Dr. Kathy Gallardo, MED’s deputy director for mental health programs, in the September 2016 issue. Responses to questions the Journal posed to MED can be found on the State Department website’s Office of Child and Family Programs page. The Journal plans to take a look at the SNEA story in greater detail in the March 2018 focus on FS families. On-Again-Off-Again Hiring at State and USAID E very day, it seems, the hiring situation at State and USAID changes. From the eligible family member hiring freeze, covered in The Foreign Service Journal in both the July/August 2017 and September issues, to the cancellation and reinstate- ment of the Pickering and Rangel fellow- ship program, covered in the September FSJ , the situation is constantly in flux. In late October, word came that the State Department was rejoining the Presidential Management Fellows program. In July the department had abruptly withdrawn from that presti- gious program, which aims to recruit top college graduates into the federal government, causing confusion among program finalists who were in the middle of their job applications and had not been told. According to an Oct. 30 story in Gov- ernment Executive , State has decided to rejoin the program, but it is uncer- tain how many fellows they plan to hire—one State Department official told Government Executive that “future PMF hiring decisions will be considered as part of the department’s overall strategi- cally managed hiring plan, in line with the department’s redesign efforts.” Tough times for applicants aren’t just limited to the State Department. Over at USAID, 97 applicants who were in the pre-employment process recently received emails informing them that the positions for which they had applied no longer exist. According to an Oct. 31 report, these applicants will have to start over from the beginning of