In the FY2011 budget, the Obama administration requested 410 new Foreign Service positions and for USAID, an increase of 200 FS positions. Last year, when Secretary Lew (now OMB Director) was asked by a reporter on President Obama’s plans early on to increase the number of Foreign Service officers by 1,600 over two years, this is what he said:
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: It was never over two years.
QUESTION: Is that –
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: No, I mean, we’ve stretched it out a little bit, but it was never over two years.
QUESTION: Well, my point is, have the cuts that he’s trying to make affected the positions that are going to be added?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: I think that as I indicated in my opening statement, we have had to extend the period, but we haven’t changed the goal. And I think it’s really a remarkable statement of how important this rebuilding of the core capacity of the State Department and USAID is in a very difficult budget year when there are very difficult tradeoffs in domestic programs.
We’re maintaining the commitment to building up our capacity to have properly trained civilians available for these critical assignments. You look around the world and the fact that there are 3,000 civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq makes the case as clearly as anything that I could argue as to why we need more people. Without growing, it just means pulling civilians out of other posts. So we need to grow and I think the budget gives us the ability to continue to grow. And the pace of hiring will only slow down slightly. It will not be a dramatic change.
Since the FY2011 budget is still hung up in Congress, it’s hard to say if the 610 new positions will actually materialized. But the new request for FY2012 is already in and only totals 362 for State and USAID. The next opportunity to request a staffing increase won’t happen until February 2012 for the FY2013 budget.
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