"Today I am lifting the Department's hiring freeze on Foreign Service and Civil Service and authorizing the Department of State to hire to current funding level," said new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday.
With that, the State Department chief has reversed another of his predecessor's orders. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had placed a hiring freeze on the Foreign and Civil Services, as well as on family members of State Department personnel posted overseas. Those decisions "drove down morale" at the agency, the Hill reports.
"The Department's workforce is our most valuable asset," Pompeo said. "We need our men and women on the ground, executing American diplomacy with great vigor and energy, and representing our great nation. By resuming hiring of the most gifted and qualified individuals, we will ensure that we have the right people with the right skills working to advance our U.S. national interests and executing the Department's mission in an increasingly complicated and challenging world.”
Pompeo is ending the hiring freezes in part to fill roles that have been vacant for far too long. For instance, over 40 ambassador posts remain open. It also doesn't help that over 400 employees have quit or retired since last year. One diplomat in Nairobi made her departure very public in December, writing Tillerson that she was dismayed at how the Trump administration had turned its back on human rights. She also felt the agency's influence had diminished at the behest of the White House, but "to our detriment as a nation."
When Pompeo took over the agency, he told his new employees that his goal is to get the agency its "swagger" back.