State Department review to cost more than $1 million

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Tillerson spoke to State Department employees on his 90th day in office. 

CBS News

The State Department will be spending at least $1,086,250 for the “listening tour” that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson launched Wednesday morning. 

The department has contracted Insigniam, a private consulting firm, to conduct the review in a project they are calling the “Department of State organizational study.” The State Department has not replied to a requests for comment on the review’s price tag and their decision to use Insigniam to carry out this review. 

Tillerson and the Insigniam co-founder Nathan Owen Rosenberg served on the Boy Scouts of America board together in 2011. The State Department has not replied to requests for comment on the review’s price tag and their decision to use Insigniam to carry out this review. 

In a note to all State Department employees last week, Tillerson said they would all get survey links in their inboxes Wednesday morning. So far, State employees say that have not gotten that link to the survey. When they do get it they will have less than two weeks to fill it out. 

According to the State Department, 300 in-person interviews will be conducted as well. In total, the study, which began last week, will roughly a month. The results of the review “will be compiled and a final report will be generated in May,” Tillerson wrote in that same letter to employees.

Tillerson has said that the mission of the State department is to “deliver on the president’s policies” to advance America’s economic and national security interests. On Wednesday, he elaborated on how the department will seek to live up to Trump’s “America first” foreign policy, which he indicated will in some cases put less of a priority on human rights concerns. 

“In some circumstances, we should and do condition our policy engagements on people adopting certain actions as to how they treat people. They should. We should demand that. But that doesn’t mean that’s the case in every situation,” he explained. “If you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals or our national security interests.”

But in order to achieve those goals, he sees the need to restructure the State Department. “We’ve not fully adapted how we deliver on mission,” Tillerson explained. 

Some State employees see value in trimming the department but worry about losing their voice as the White House takes the lead on foreign policy. White House officials with little foreign policy experience are taking the lead on top foreign policy agenda items, such as the Middle East peace process. State employees also have reservations about an external group carrying out the review of the department where career diplomats have valuable institutional knowledge. 

“Some of what Tillerson is doing needs to be done. We are overstaffed the State Department. But the review is b*******. He is getting an outside group to asses when it should be done internally,” said one disgruntled State Department employee.

Still, Tillerson asked employees to approach this effort with “no constraints” on their thinking. He added that although this process may be “stressful” it will be worth it in the end, but did not directly address reports that he is considering cutting 2,300 jobs. 

“There’s nothing easy about it, and I don’t want to diminish in any way the challenges I know this presents for individuals, it presents to families, it presents to organizations. I’m very well aware of all of that,” Tillerson said. 

“I can promise you that when this is all done, you’re going to have a much more satisfying, fulfilling career, because you’re going to feel better about what you’re doing because of the impact of what you are doing. You will know exactly how what you do every day contributes to our delivery on mission.”

CBS News’ Laura Stickler contributed reporting to this story. 

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Source: CBS News – Politics

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