Pompeo ends unpopular hiring freeze at State Department

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended a largely self-imposed hiring freeze Tuesday, which had hampered staffing decisi...

Posted: May 16, 2018 5:11 AM
Updated: May 16, 2018 5:11 AM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended a largely self-imposed hiring freeze Tuesday, which had hampered staffing decisions at the State Department for over a year.

In an email to agency employees, obtained by CNN, Pompeo said the move would "give our domestic bureaus and missions overseas the flexibility to fill positions that are essential to promoting the Department's mission and the United States' foreign policy goals worldwide on behalf of the American people."

"The Department's workforce is our most valuable asset," he added. "We need our men and women on the ground, executing American diplomacy with great vigor and energy, and representing our great nation."

The State Department had been operating under the freeze since January of last year, when newly inaugurated President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily halt hiring across many federal agencies.

But when the large-scale freeze was lifted the following April in favor of what the White House called "targeted" and "surgical" cuts, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opted to continue the embargo in his department, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis.

The policy was deeply unpopular at the State Department and contributed to sinking morale under Tillerson.

It also drew criticism from lawmakers and from the American Foreign Service Association, a union representing US diplomats.

The association's president, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, criticized the hiring freeze in an open letter late last year, writing, "As the shape and extent of the staffing cuts to the Foreign Service at State become clearer, I believe we must shine a light on these disturbing trends and ask 'why?' and 'to what end?' "

Stephenson welcomed Pompeo's announcement Tuesday, saying in a statement her group was "pleased to see the clear consensus between Congress and the Administration that diplomacy is a vitally important part of America's national security toolkit."

"Getting the Foreign Service back to full strength and deployed to the field is exactly what is needed to reassert America's global leadership and deliver wins for the American people," she added, while also warning against a proposed cut to the State Department's overseas contingency operations budget, which "could cripple State operations and disrupt staffing."

When Pompeo took over at the State Department just over two weeks ago, he pledged to bring back the agency's "swagger."

One of his first moves was to reimpose a policy that allowed eligible family members of diplomats, primarily spouses, to serve in critical support positions at embassies and consulates overseas. That program had also been frozen under Tillerson.

This latest move will reopen a slew of positions for foreign and civil service officers throughout the 70,000-person agency.

A State Department official, confirming the move Tuesday, said the department would be able to hire "to current funding levels."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319381

Reported Deaths: 7354
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22264265
Hinds20634421
Harrison18381316
Rankin13862282
Jackson13677248
Madison10234224
Lee10050176
Jones8458167
Forrest7821153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6498149
Lamar633688
Lafayette6298120
Washington5418136
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Panola4663110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4597146
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc424973
Monroe4155135
Union415576
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock386087
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn324172
Scott319374
Yazoo314171
Itawamba305077
Adams304885
Copiah299766
Coahoma298383
Simpson298189
Tippah291568
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Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267083
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251951
Newton248563
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Jasper222148
Attala215073
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Holmes190374
Clay187554
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135247
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite126142
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica108027
Jefferson Davis107833
Claiborne103030
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin85023
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547873

Reported Deaths: 11274
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809141565
Mobile41984826
Madison35629523
Tuscaloosa26147458
Shelby25580254
Montgomery25075611
Baldwin21805313
Lee16248175
Calhoun14710325
Morgan14618285
Etowah14160362
Marshall12446230
Houston10757288
Elmore10292212
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10155250
Cullman9928200
Lauderdale9591248
DeKalb8963189
Talladega8455184
Walker7330280
Autauga7229113
Blount6937139
Jackson6905113
Colbert6406139
Coffee5622126
Dale4929114
Russell454541
Chilton4470116
Franklin430783
Covington4267122
Tallapoosa4127154
Escambia401180
Chambers3723123
Dallas3606156
Clarke352861
Marion3237106
Pike313978
Lawrence3124100
Winston283272
Bibb267664
Geneva257081
Marengo250665
Pickens236662
Barbour234559
Hale226678
Butler223771
Fayette217762
Henry193743
Cherokee187245
Randolph186944
Monroe179141
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155157
Cleburne153144
Lamar146237
Lowndes142053
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113230
Coosa111429
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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