After President Trump’s inauguration, many people started preparing themselves for the future. Many government officials decided to put their dislikes aside and continue working, but many at the State Department are trying to make a statement.
Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State, has found himself in an interesting position after the entire senior level of management resigned. It’s assumed they all resigned together in an effort to avoid what they believe to be a devastating Trump era.
Washington Post writer Josh Rogin had the opportunity to actually be at the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday and wrote:
Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.
After Tillerson spent the entire morning at the headquarters, Kennedy and three top officials notified him of their resignations and left. Kennedy is scheduled to retire from the foreign service at the completion of the month while the others are being reassigned to a determined location.
Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations also both retired on January 20th. This leaves almost all the senior officials out of office. John Kerry’s State Department chief of staff David Wade gave his opinion on the mass exodus saying:
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate. Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
Along with those officials, several senior foreign officers of the regional bureaus have also resigned. For many agencies, this mass exodus wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, the lack of leadership is going to disrupt management because it’s so crucial that staff know the department and understand how to run its complicated bureaucracies. Replacing that will be near impossible.
Wade also said:
“Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there’s just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you can least afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death. The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”
However, a senior office at the State Department said this is a normal action within the department when a change of power takes place. The official stated that these are not career jobs but are appointments made by each administration.
“No officer accepts a PAS position with the expectation that it is unlimited. And all officers understand that the President may choose to replace them at any time,” this official said. “These officers have served admirably and well. Their departure offers a moment to consider their accomplishments and thank them for their service. These are the patterns and rhythms of the career service.”
It’s no doubt that Tillerson is in deep trouble. He first must find experienced and qualified officials to manage the important offices. His second priority is to let the entire State Department workforce know that everything is under control and they are working rapidly to fix everything.
What do you think about this sudden resignation exodus? Let us know in the comments below!