State Department IG Steve Linick released his work plan this week.

State Department IG Steve Linick released his work plan this week. Evan Vucci / AP file photo

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State Department Watchdog to Report Soon on Reorganization, Alleged Political Harassment

Linick’s work plan promises results this year on investigation of former Secretary Rex Tillerson’s aborted restructuring.

Before the end of 2019, the State Department’s watchdog will unveil results of a long-anticipated probe of the legality of the Trump administration’s faded plan to reorganize the government’s oldest agency.

It his new work plan released this week, Inspector General Steve Linick included his team’s coming review of the controversial reorganization plan, launched in 2017 by since-departed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The review will  “determine whether the processes employed by the department to develop and implement its organizational redesign effort and plan complied with applicable federal law and [Office of Management and Budget] guidance.”

Tillerson’s plan was based on President Trump’s Executive Order 13781 that called for revamping many agencies and was aimed at streamlining State’s reporting relationships in pursuit of agility. But it was accompanied by a temporary hiring freeze, a reluctance to fill vacancies and departures of seasoned Foreign Service officers, prompting Congress to intervene and insist on oversight.

Also due on in the coming months is the State IG’s take on allegations from lawmakers that Trump appointees committed prohibited personnel practices against career officials by allegedly applying political litmus tests to longtime staffers in the Office of the Secretary and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

Other items on the agenda include results of a review of sexual harassment complaint handling and disciplinary action against proven perpetrators by State’s Office of Civil Rights.

The IG also plans to release the first evaluation of State’s Global Engagement Center set up by the Obama administration in April 2016 with a $200 million budget to work with allies and private specialists to efficiently counter terrorist messaging and influence through communications. “The objective of this audit is to determine whether the [engagement center] has demonstrated progress toward achieving its statutory mission of leading, synchronizing, and coordinating U.S. government efforts to counter foreign-state and non-state actors’ propaganda and disinformation,” the IG wrote. President Trump in February tapped Fox News veteran correspondent Lea Gabrielle to head the center.

Highlighting his office’s war-zone work, Linick noted his team’s efforts, in coordination with inspectors general from the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, on Operation Inherent Resolve to defeat the Islamic State, mostly in Iraq and Syria. There are six ongoing overseas contingency operations requiring joint oversight, he noted, with three still classified.