State Department Withholds Employee Survey Results From Public

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Secretary of State Rex Tillerson State Department

The State Department’s answer to the White House’s demand for reorganization plans earlier this year included conducting a survey of its more than 35,000 employees. But the results—released Wednesday inside the department—are not being made public.

“Unfortunately, the results of the survey will not be available,” said Nicole Thompson of the department’s Office of Press Relations. That position comes in spite of the fact that a copy of the 110-page survey report from Insigniam, a consulting firm, was leaked to the Wall Street Journal, which published excerpts.

The results show concerns about budget cuts, the level of support for employees by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump White House, leadership vacancies, and administration plans to rein in the U.S. Agency for International Development. Other complaints centered around poorly functioning information technology, wasteful congressional reporting requirements, promotion of less-than-competent officials and, as expected, worries in the Foreign Service about the role of diplomacy in the Trump administration.

“People do not speak optimistically about the future,” the report says, according to the Journal. “The absence of a clear vision of the future allows room for speculation and rumor about what the future could bring, such as further USAID integration into DOS [Department of State] or the militarization of foreign policy.”

Among the more vivid anonymous comments:

  • “People need more leadership—we have vacancies at the highest levels—no one there to make the decisions that need to be made. People can continue to do their jobs, but the guidance is outdated—what are our priorities? No one knows.”
  • “There is nothing about this [work] that inspires me except for getting my paycheck. When [you are] getting treated as just a number, you lose all respect.”
  • “Our technology is a disaster. We have days where we can’t send an email … the generation [of employees younger than] me laugh—they don’t want to work in that kind of environment.”

Employees were asked to comment directly on Tillerson. Some were “highly complimentary,” while others were “coarse and vulgar,” according to the leaked version of the report.

The survey, reported to cost $1.1 million, included 300 interviews.

Tillerson was reportedly planning a Wednesday announcement that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will head a working group to further examine the report’s analysis of five key areas: overseas operations, foreign assistance programs, technology, staffing and administration. All federal agencies are under orders to to deliver formal reorganization proposals to the Office of Management and Budget by Sept. 15.

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