When Rex Tillerson took the job as Secretary of State, he announced a goal to reduce the nearly 25,000 full time American employees at the department by 8 percent, which would amount to 1,982 people.
The New York Times accused Tillerson’s efforts of crippling morale in the department, as he has already frozen hiring, reduced promotions, and asked some senior employees to “perform clerical duties that are normally relegated to lower-level staff.”
According to State Department accountants, only 1,341 people are expected to quit or retire by the end of September 2018.
To make up the difference, the State Department announced a buyout incentive Friday. The first 641 employees who will agree to quit by April will receive a $25,000 buyout bonus.
After taxes, the buyout is estimated to be reduced to about $16,000, but the Times reported that many top diplomats have already left, and those among the top ranks has dropped from 39 to 21.
Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), who is the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in protest of the cutback, “These actions are going to harm our security and our ability to lead on the global stage.”
However, Tillerson is reportedly in the middle of a department-wide reorganization, which lines up with President Trump’s insistence that he wants fewer diplomats.
During an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News recently, Trump said, “You know, don’t forget, I’m a business person, and I tell my people, ‘When you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with there.”
As far as the morale in the department, Tillerson said in an interview last month, “I walk the halls, people smile. If it’s as bad as it seems to be described, I’m not seeing it, I’m not getting it.”
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