The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

14 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), at podium, hosts a briefing on the GAO report on Feb. 25. On the panel are, from right, AFSA Director of Professional Policy Issues Julie Nutter, Ambassador (ret.) Mari Carmen Aponte, GAO’s Direc- tor of International Affairs Jason Blair, and Ambassador (ret.) Gina Abercrom- bie-Winstanley. GAO Report: State Department Struggles with Diversity W hile the overall proportion of racial and ethnic minorities at the State Department has grown in recent years, the proportion of African Americans and women serving in the department has declined, according to a Feb. 25 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. From 2002 to 2018, the proportion of racial or ethnic minorities among the department’s full-time, permanent career employees increased from 28 to 32 percent. On the Civil Service side, the proportion of minorities decreased slightly from 44 to 43 percent, while in the Foreign Service, the number increased from 17 to 24 percent. Though the overall number of department employees rose from 16,570 to 22,806 during that time frame, the proportion of African Americans fell from 17 to 15 percent of all employees, GAO found. The proportion of African Americans in the Civil Service decreased from 34 to 26 percent from 2002 to 2018, while it increased from 6 to 7 percent in the Foreign Service over that time. The proportion of women in the Civil Service decreased from 61 to 54 percent from 2002 to 2018, while the propor- tion of women in the Foreign Service increased from 33 to 35 percent. The proportion of minorities and women was much smaller at higher ranks, GAO found. For example, women make up 69 percent of jobs at GS-10 or below, but only 38 percent of executive- level jobs in the Civil Service. Minorities make up 65 percent of jobs at GS-10 or below, but only 13 percent of executive jobs. “State has implemented several plans, activities, and initiatives to improve diversity and representation throughout the ranks of its workforce,” GAO stated, adding, “However, longstanding diversity issues persist at the agency.” “State may have an incomplete picture of issues affecting diversity in its work- force,” GAO noted. “Taking additional steps to identify diversity issues could help State properly direct its resources to investigate, identify, and remove barriers to a diverse workforce.” On Feb. 25 AFSA Director of Profes- sional Policy Issues Julie Nutter partici- pated in a congressional briefing on the report, hosted by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “The results of this important report unfortunately show that despite some laudable efforts, the Department of State has yet to cultivate the kind of diverse and representative national security workforce we need,” Sen. Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a Feb. 25 statement. “Whether we are talking about the boardrooms of the Fortune 500 or the upper echelons of government, some- thing is wrong when most of those occu- pying our most powerful positions are overwhelmingly male and overwhelm- ingly pale,” stated Menendez. View the report at Trump Envoys Push Out Career Diplomats O n Feb. 5, Foreign Policy maga- zine featured an exclusive report about an issue AFSA has been watch- ing closely—the pushing out of career diplomats by some political-appointee ambassadors. President Donald Trump’s envoys have removed their deputy chiefs of mission (DCMs) in South Africa, Canada, France, Iceland, Romania and the United Kingdom, Foreign Policy reports. Some of the ambassadors did so shortly before or just after they arrived at post. “We are deeply concerned by the number of removals of deputy chiefs of mission overseas, which are happening at way above the normal pace,” AFSA President Eric Rubin told Foreign Policy . “It’s generally very rare for a DCM to be removed by the ambassador. It does happen. Sometimes it happens for a good cause. But it’s rare. And it is now becom- ing an epidemic.” FP reports that in past administra- tions, career officials, including DCMs, “felt they had the support of the State Department if their ambassadors were causing issues.” Lewis Lukens, who was ousted as DCM from U.S. Embassy London in 2018, told FP : “When I was being told I had to leave seven months early, the answer from the department was, ‘Look, the ambassador is a friend of the president’s, he’s a friend of Trump’s, and there’s noth- ing we can do.’ I imagine that some of these other people are facing that same situation.” AFSA/KIMGREENPLATE