Friday, December 8, 2017

Tillerson In Vienna, and a Townhall is Scheduled for Next Week

Silent Rex stopped in Vienna and delivered remarks to staff that were heavy on defense of the Department redesign effort and debunking media reports of a hollowed-out workforce. There was one new twist, referring to spouses and their employment. But the big news came out separately today via a notice to staff. Tillerson will hold a townhall meeting for employees next Tuesday, December 12.

A few excerpts from his remarks in Vienna:
I want to also recognize our three charge d’affaires, Young, Kamian, and Shampaine, and thank them for their leadership of all three of these missions. I know, as I’ve said many times, and I want to say this because a lot of stuff gets written out there in the media about the hollowed-out State Department and the empty hallways that I’m walking in, where all I can hear are the echoes of my footsteps. (Laughter.) And it’s not true. And I tell people everywhere it’s not true. We have great, competent, capable career people that have stepped up in leadership positions while we’re working to fill those roles, and we haven’t missed a beat. Not one. And I want to thank all three for their leadership at the missions here. I know it’s not the easiest thing to do when you’re put in an acting role like that, but we have not missed a beat on the leadership. The three charges here are very competent with the team we have.

-- snip --

I want to say a real quick word, and I’m not going to talk long because you don’t want me to talk long – (laughter) – but I want to say a little bit of a word about the redesign at the State Department because there’s been – a lot of other people seem to want to say a lot about it, whether they know anything about it or not. And so I want to tell you what’s going on. And we are moving – we’ve completed phases one and two now, and this is an entirely employee-led effort. Your colleagues are the ones doing all the work, they’re the ones making the recommendations, they’re the ones developing the various projects that we’re going to be undertaking.

-- snip --

But what it fundamentally comes down to – and we’re going to start holding some town halls now that we’re moving from phase two to phase three, which is execution, and share with you exactly what is being done.

-- snip --

And so some of this when – a lot of concern people have about we’re going to reduce the staffing by X amount, or we’re going to close this office or that office – there’s nothing planned to close any embassies, and there’s nothing planned in terms of a specific target for the staffing levels. What we did say is to the OMB, because we owe them a number and the reason we put the hiring freeze in place, is – and we said, look, we’re going to at least capture what normal attrition would be through these efficiencies, and that’s about 8 percent over the next few years.

-- snip --

So there may be redeployments of talent, but we’re going to use the talent, and we’re going to use it and provide a system of how we do that that makes people say, we need to modernize our policies and recognize the amazing working families today. Our policies are stuck in about the 1980s, as I look at them. So we need to recognize it. In today’s world, there’s a lot of two-career families, and we need to have our policies that are responsive in recognizing both members of that couple are very talented and they have a lot they can do. So a lot of what we’re getting at is capturing all that talent as well.

Let me just say, lastly, on the hiring freeze, just to correct a few numbers that are out there that scare people, I’ve approved over 2,400 exceptions to the hiring freeze for EFMs. I’ve approved a number of exceptions for promotions. We’re hired 300 new Foreign Service officers this year already. The total number of Foreign Service officers in the department is within 10 of what it was in October 2016, and that’s out of a base of about 1,080. We’ve actually had fewer people retire this year than we had last year.

-- snip --

So I’m very excited about it. They’ve got great ideas. They’re your ideas. We want to just unleash all of that. So lastly, thank you again. Thanks for what you do for us here day in and day out. And I appreciate every one of you. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

TSB: I've liked Silent Rex ever since he told stunned reporters they wouldn't be flying on his plane because being Secy of State is a real big job. I hope he sticks around long enough to get the ball rolling.

Greenwald enjoys poking fun at the fake news media:


TSB said...

The news industry has really taked a hit to its reputation this past couple weeks. Greenwald is right: when all your mistakes are in the same political direction, they look more like bias than actual mistakes.

Anonymous said...

TSB: FBI really taking a hit too!!: McCabe Cancels Testimony, Something "Far More Sinister" With Fusion GPS: One of these days some heads are going to roll among the VERY small group of people who run the FBI. If only Hillary had won and they hadn't gotten the wives involved. gwb