Prior to Rex Tillerson, Senate votes confirming the secretary of state have been bipartisan. Vance, Christopher, and Powell all had voice votes. Baker and Albright had 99-0 votes. Rice had 85-13. All the rest had at least 90+ votes in the Senate until Tillerson who got 56-43, the lowest confirmation vote recorded going back to the Carter years. The current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rank with the second lowest votes at 57-42. On January 23, 2017, he was previously confirmed CIA Director by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 66 – 32.
| March 20,
|January 11, 2017||January 20,
|February 1, 2017||56-43
|January 24, 2013||January 22, 2013||January 29, 2013||94-3
|December 1, 2008||January 13, 2009||January 20, 2009||January 21, 2009||94-2
|January 26, 2005||85-13
|January 17, 2001||January 20, 2001||January 20, 2001||Voice Vote|
This clip of the secretary of state talking about the “rapture” is not new (though we’ve just seen it). It has been around prior to his confirmation earlier this year. Although 10 more senators refused to confirm him as SecState than the year earlier as CIA director, he got one more vote than Tillerson (including seven Democratic votes) and was confirmed as 70th Secretary of State (with the second lowest votes at confirmation).
Rex Tillerson was confirmed and assumed charged of the State Department on February 1, 2017 as the 69th Secretary of State. He was fired on March 13, 2018 and left Foggy Bottom for the last time on March 22, 2018. Below is the comparative look of Foreign Service family member employment numbers inside overseas missions from Spring 2014 to Spring 2018. Overseas missions include over 275 diplomatic and consular posts overseas located in 191 countries.
Excuse me, is this the same department responsible for an updated September 7 guidance regarding the correct use of commas in paper for the Secretary and other agency principals? An update to guidance on the same topic (comma inclusion and omission) issued in June? Who knows? The folks who did the comma guidance … are they the same ones who did the updated department seal? Are there plans for updating all embassy and consulate seals with Embassy of Swagger? How about business cards? Should we roll out new t-shirts and uh, swags?
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) September 11, 2018
Shakespeare was the first to use "swagger." Gen. Patton had his swagger stick. At @statedept, we've got #swagger too. Follow me on Instagram at https://t.co/LNY8d8NgK8 for pics and videos with some @Statedept #swagger. pic.twitter.com/mpSZKfdHst
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 10, 2018
We really do think they should tone down on that swaggering bit but um … not a trick question, the swagger guy vs. the cold guy?
This bit on Rex Tillerson from Bob Woodward’s book is 😳 pic.twitter.com/psDZHdFqtW
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) September 9, 2018
Posted: 1:45 am ET
In response to last year’s congressional request, USAID/OIG reviewed “USAID’s process in developing its reform plans and its compliance with congressional notification requirements.” We believe this is the first official accounting available on what transpired during Tillerson’s Redesign project, but primarily on the USAID side. We’re looking forward to State/OIG’s review of the project on its side.
The March 8, 2018 USAID/OIG report titled “USAID’s Redesign Efforts Have Shifted Over Time” was publicly posted on March 9, 2018. This report was originally marked “Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU)” and when publicly released, some of the appendices were redacted apparently at the assertion of the State Department and USAID that these be withheld from public view (see Appendix D, E and F. “USAID and the State Department have asserted that these appendixes should be withheld from public release in their entirety under exemption (b)(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5). OIG has marked this material SBU in accordance with 22 CFR 212.7(c)(2), which states that the originator of a record is best able to make a determination regarding whether information in that record should be withheld”).
USAID/OIG’s task was to determine (1) how USAID developed its redesign plans pursuant to Executive Order 13781, which were addressed by describing both the events and actions taken by USAID to develop its reform plans and the assessments of USAID’s actions by those involved in the process, and (2) whether USAID complied to date with fiscal year 2017 appropriation requirements.
USAID/OIG interviewed 42 officials from across USAID. Interviewees included USAID employees from the Administrator’s Office, members of the Transformation Task Team, employees across every bureau and independent office, and overseas mission directors. The report says that these individuals were selected because of their knowledge of specific portions of the redesign process. There was also a survey that includes all 83 USAID mission directors worldwide (27 of whom responded). USAID/OIG also interviewed six senior officials from the State Department involved in the joint redesign process “to corroborate USAID testimony and portray a more balanced, objective sequence of events leading to the reform plan submissions.”
“Results of our point-in-time review indicate good intentions by USAID as well as the State Department. However, USAID’s limited involvement in the design of the listening survey, uncertainty about redesign direction and end goals, and disagreement and limited transparency on decisions related to the consolidation of functions and services raise questions about what has been achieved thus far and what is deemed actionable. Given the concerns raised by USAID personnel, transparency—as well as compliance with congressional notification requirements—could prove challenging as redesign plans turn into actions.”
The details below are excerpted from the report:
Redesign process was resource-intensive and ad hoc
- During this nearly 3-month process, USAID reported contributing around 100 employees (mostly senior officials) spanning 21 of its 24 bureaus and independent offices. Ten employees were detailed full-time to the effort. These participants were 48 percent Civil Service employees, 28 percent Foreign Service employees, 7 percent political appointees, and 5 percent contractors.
- The State Department was reported to have brought around 200 people into the process.
- According to work stream leaders, the State Department’s initial guidance for the teams was to “think big” with “no guardrails,” but the lack of boundaries and explicit goals hindered progress. The looming question of whether USAID would merge into the State Department not only distracted teams but further confused the direction of the redesign process.
- The initial lack of direction was viewed as a hindrance by representatives from all work streams.
- Participants described the joint redesign process as “ad hoc.” Interviewees from both the State Department and USAID noted instances when leaders of the joint process seemed unsure of the next steps. For example, a senior State Department official involved in coleading a work stream said there was not a lot of preparation, and the work streams did not know what the final products would be.
Joint disjointed efforts and disagreements
- USAID shared its supplemental plan with the State Department days before the OMB deadline. A senior State Department official stated that the State Department was not pleased with the supplemental plan, noting that some of USAID’s proposals should have been developed through the joint process. The State Department asked USAID to remove some of its proposals relating to humanitarian assistance, foreign policy, and strategic international financing because State Department’s decisions regarding these areas had not been finalized. In the end, the supplemental plan USAID submitted to OMB contained 15 proposals (appendix E), while the version previously submitted to the State Department had 21. The six removed supplemental proposals are shown in appendix F. A senior USAID official noted, however, that USAID let OMB know what the filtered and unfiltered supplemental plan looked like.
- Interviewees from the work streams and various leadership positions noted disagreement on decisions related to consolidation of USAID and State Department functions and services. Members from the work streams at all levels stated that the ESC—tasked to resolve disagreements within the work streams—rarely did so and was often unable to reach consensus on major issues such as the consolidation of IT and management services, or how to divide humanitarian assistance and funding decisions between the State Department and USAID.
- Even after some decisions were thought to have been made, USAID officials reported instances when the State Department would revisit the decisions, forcing USAID to defend what was already considered resolved. This rethinking of decisions led a number of interviewees from both USAID and the State Department to wonder whether there were strong advocates for consolidation of services within the State Department.
- Officials familiar with ESC [Executive Steering Committee] also noted that the committee lacked a formal process to resolve disagreements, and opinions were often split along State Department and USAID lines. As a result, some decisions on consolidation were left on hold and remain undecided.
USAID not part of listening survey decision
- According to a top USAID official, the decision to administer a survey was made by the State Department alone, and USAID had little say as to whether it should participate or how the survey would be administered. USAID was not part of the contracting process with Insigniam and was brought in after most of the details were decided. The week following the issuance of OMB’s memorandum guidance, Insigniam engaged State Department and USAID officials to provide input into developing the listening survey questions but gave them less than 2 business days to provide feedback. A small group of senior USAID officials worked over the weekend to compile suggestions and submitted it by the requested deadline. Despite this effort, USAID officials did not feel their input was sufficiently incorporated into the survey.
Questions about data integrity
- Questions of data integrity were raised, including projected cost savings of $5 billion that would be realized with the proposed reforms—projections several USAID officials characterized as unrealistic. For example, one senior USAID official stated that the contractor responsible for compiling work stream data did not adequately understand USAID and State Department processes before applying assumptions.
- The data and analysis behind the listening survey were also closely held. USAID officials reported requesting and being denied access to the complete, “raw” survey data, which is owned by the State Department. Some interviewees noted that without access to data, it would be difficult to interpret the magnitude of some of the issues identified in the listening survey.
- This concern with data integrity was consistent throughout our interviews. For example, a senior USAID official stated that Deloitte—who was compiling data for work stream decision making—did not obtain an adequate understanding of processes before applying assumptions to them. Other work stream participants said that because data came from different systems in USAID and the State Department, it was difficult to accurately compare scenarios between agencies. According to several interviewees familiar with the data, the process had poor quality assurance. For example, documents were kept on a shared server with no version control. Moreover, interviewees noted that much of the decision-making information for the work streams was “experiential”—based on the backgrounds of people in the subgroup rather than hard data.
- In addition, interviewees from both the State Department and USAID questioned Insigniam’s recommendation to move the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to the Department of Homeland Security—a recommendation some claimed was unlikely to have been based on data from the listening survey. This prompted a number of those involved in the reform process to question how survey input had been processed and the validity of the rest of Insigniam’s takeaways.
(NOTE: A source previously informed us that only 5-6 individuals have access to the raw data; and that the survey data is in a proprietary system run by Insigniam. Data collected paid for by taxpayer money is in a proprietary system. We were also told that if we want the data, we have to make an FOIA request to the Transformation Management Office, but our source doubts that State will just hand over the data).
Concerns about inclusiveness and transparency
- A number of interviewees, including some mission directors and heads of bureaus and independent offices, felt the redesign process was not only exclusive, but also lacked transparency. According to senior USAID staff, OMB instructed the Agency to keep a close hold on the details of the redesign. While some mission directors noted that biweekly calls with bureau leadership, agency announcements, and direct outreach kept them informed of the redesign process as it occurred, field-based officials expressed dismay and disillusionment with what seemed to be a headquarters-focused process.
Mission closures and congressional notifications
- [W]hile mission closings remain under consideration, some actions taken by USAID raised questions about compliance with notification requirements to Congress. To meet the congressional notification requirement, USAID must notify the Committees on Appropriations before closing a mission or reorganizing an office. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, Section 7034, requires congressional notification “prior to implementing any reorganization of the Department of State or the United States Agency for International Development, including any action taken pursuant to the March 31, 2017, Executive Order 13781.”
- Specific mention of USAID’s offices in Albania, India, and Jamaica as candidates for the chopping block.
Non-notification and violation of FY2017 appropriations legislation
- In the case of USAID/RDMA [Regional Development Mission for Asia], our analyses of USAID’s actions were less conclusive and raised questions about compliance with notification requirements to Congress. On August 17, 2017, the Acting Deputy Administrator requested from the Asia Bureau and USAID/RDMA a closure plan for the regional mission. The closure plan would outline the timing, funding, and staff reductions for a 2019 closure date. It was noted that the closure plan was for discussion purposes only, and USAID leadership would consult with the State Department to ensure that any future decisions would be in line with overall U.S. foreign assistance and foreign policy strategy.
- [O]n August 18, 2017, the Agency removed six Foreign Service Officer Bangkok positions from a previously announced bid list. The Agency also informed the U.S. Embassy Bangkok, counterparts in the State Department’s East Asia/Pacific Bureau, and USAID leadership in the Bureaus of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health of a planned closure of USAID/RDMA’s activities. USAID leadership noted that they were given until the end of 2019 to complete the actual phaseout. Our best assessment is that the totality of the Agency’s actions relating to USAID/RDMA— without notifying Congress—violated the spirit of the FY 2017 appropriations legislation. 13
Aspirational savings of $5 to $10 Billion: not based on analysis, “came out of nowhere”
- According to the joint plan, the proposed reforms would yield $5 billion in savings (link inserted) over a 5-year period; however, this amount did not factor the investment costs of $2.8 billion over that same period, which would result in net savings of $2.2 billion. These projections were characterized as unrealistic by several USAID officials. A senior USAID official involved in reviewing data stated that the $5 billion projection was unrealistic given the process used by the State Department and USAID to gather and analyze information. The official stated that the State Department’s reported aspirational savings of $10 billion was not based on analysis, but rather “came out of nowhere.”
- 2017 Redesign Ends With a Whimper as Tillerson Announces Start of “The Impact Initiative” (Feb 2018)
- Tillerson’s #Redesign Gets Rebranded as “The Impact Initiative” or TII But Why Not TELII? (Feb 2018)
- @USAID Suspends Involvement in Tillerson’s Redesign Passion Project (Jan 2018)
- Tillerson Announces “Immediate Changes” From Redesign, USAID is Now in the GAL – Yay? Dec 2017
- @StateDept “Listening Tour” Survey Leaks, So Here’s Your Million Dollar Word Cloud May 2017
- Tillerson Delivers Remarks at the Redesign Leadership Gathering #AllTheHappyPeople Dec 2017
- Tillerson’s Redesign Chief Leaves Office After Three Months, Meet the New Redesigned-In-Chief | Nov 2017
- @StateDept Awards $2,105,663 Contract For Efficiency Task Force Support #Redesign | Nov 2017
- @StateDept Says It’s “Unfortunate” That It Withholds Employee Survey Results From Public 😢 Hu-Hu!
- Results of @StateDept $1M Organizational Study Reportedly Available via Intranet Today – Yay!
- @StateDept Requires Insigniam to Provide Summary Report of Poignant Themes, Patterns, and Sentiments
- @StateDept’s $1,086,250 Organizational Study: Multiple Contractors Interviewed But Only 1 Offer?
- With Reported Proposal to Cut 2,300 @StateDept Jobs, Tillerson Set to Survey Employees
- Notable Details From Tillerson’s Congressional Appearances on FY18 Budget Request
- @StateDept Redesign Briefing Presents Five “Guiding Beliefs” and Five “Key Outcomes” #OMG
- Don’t Forget the @StateDept Redesign, But Get Ready For “New Carpool Karaoke With S”
Courtesy of Amazon Kindle/Preview:
Also this –following 14 months of Hurricane Rex, Tillerson apparently finally admitted to “maybe I was just too inexperienced” thingy.
What did former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tell @RonanFarrow? "For the first time in this interview, [Tillerson] really did say, 'Look, maybe I was just too inexperienced,'" Farrow tells @JudyWoodruff.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) May 1, 2018
“You don’t fucking know us.” Inside Rex Tillerson’s war with the State Department, the White House’s war with Tillerson and the threat the destruction of diplomacy poses to America’s future. Read my latest in @newyorker, drawn from my new book #WARONPEACE: https://t.co/YqQmP6NVwr
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) April 19, 2018
Posted: 1:58 pm ET
Thank you, State Department employees, for granting Secretary Tillerson a measure of dignity in his departure, and reminding us what a classy and cohesive public institution looks like. https://t.co/luTH8lXGoK
— Heather Hurlburt (@natsecHeather) March 22, 2018
Secretary TIllerson comments on three important values — ensuring the safety and security of yourselves, loved ones, and colleagues; maintaining a commitment to accountability and integrity; and treating each other with respect. pic.twitter.com/JVqbyRjD0M
— Department of State (@StateDept) March 22, 2018
“This can be a very mean-spirited town,” Tillerson says to laughs and applause from State Department employees. “But you don’t have to choose to participate in that.” pic.twitter.com/fnQTsvAA9O
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 22, 2018
Tillerson's farewell remarks:
"This can be a very mean-spirited town. But you don't have to choose to participate in that. Each of us get to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated, and the way we will treat others." pic.twitter.com/Lj81BvEK8e
— Katie Watson (@kathrynw5) March 22, 2018
I guess I’d feel better about Rex Tillerson calling for people to "undertake to ensure one act of kindness each day towards another person,” and "treat each other with respect,” if he and his staff had, you know, been kind or treated others with respect. Even once.
— Danielle Pletka (@dpletka) March 22, 2018
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 22, 2018
Fired March 13 by Pres Trump, Tillerson left the State Department through a throng of applauding personnel, many anxious to shake his hand. pic.twitter.com/A8fRxYEP4T
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 22, 2018
Despite widespread frustration with his leadership, hundreds of @StateDept staff showed class filling lobby to wish Rex Tillerson well and give him a dignified exit- part respect for SecState office and part sympathy with him for the way he was fired.
— Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) March 22, 2018
The gang’s all back together: @rchammond, Margaret Peterlin, Steve Goldstein, other aides spotted at Tillerson’s farewell remarks in State Department lobby
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 22, 2018
Tillerson has left the building
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 22, 2018
Posted: 3:14 am ET
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) March 20, 2018
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) March 17, 2018
Mr Pompeo has shown a serial willingness to substitute partisan myth for reality https://t.co/AB2bAOqqPV
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 20, 2018
— Bloomberg (@business) March 18, 2018
Susan Pompeo’s role as "first lady of the CIA" draws critics and defenders https://t.co/pxYpAVJCuW
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 19, 2018
Posted: 2:50 am ET
CNN reported late on March 13 that Tillerson’s chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, and deputy chief of staff, Christine Ciccone, also submitted their resignations on Tuesday, according to two senior State Department officials. Both are expected to serve until Tillerson leaves on March 31.
We wrote about Tillerson’s inner circle at State last June, see Rex Tillerson’s Inner Circle Photo Album, Say Cheese Con Quezo!
Politico’ Nahal Toosi also reported these departures on March 14 and notes that “Many State staffers say the two were widely disliked for severely limiting access to the secretary, sidelining career diplomats and slowing down an already cumbersome decision-making process.” And that’s not an exhaustive list.
We’d like to know what happens to the staffers that Tillerson’s aides brought with them to Foggy Bottom now that they’re leaving. Are they leaving, too? Any personnel conversions to Civil Service or conversions to special government service (SGEs)? Curious minds would like to know.
Chief of staff Margaret Peterlin watches Tillerson from the wings pic.twitter.com/y6qEfVGX1M
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 13, 2018
— POLITICO (@politico) March 14, 2018
No love lost for Tillerson's chief of staff & other aides. One State Dept. official tells me: “I think the record will show it wasn’t Rex who got himself fired. It was the echelon of inept and obstructionist staff he came with who got him fired.” https://t.co/Lf5BlAoiTQ
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) March 13, 2018
Peterlin was a controversial figure at State. Some officials blame her for some of the personnel and procedural chaos at State during the redesign
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) March 13, 2018
With Tillerson's team dropping like flies, the big unknown is Brian Hook and his 15-person team at Policy Planning. “Everyone wants to know what will happen to Hook,” one official said. https://t.co/2qdKfCCdLD pic.twitter.com/Ix57NXv3cB
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) March 14, 2018
State Dept announces Policy Planning chief Brian Hook will go to Vienna for an Iran deal meeting March 16. Hook, who was basically Tillerson's policy brain, cultivated good ties with the White House and is expected to survive his ouster.
— Nicholas Wadhams (@nwadhams) March 14, 2018
Not sure how long Hook is able to stay but S/P needs to return to its original role, and Pompeo needs a strong career "P" to support him. https://t.co/sQGoudb9vh
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) March 14, 2018
U.S. @StateDept Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook discussed the importance of the #IndoPacific region and U.S. policy toward Asia. Read the transcript here: https://t.co/7ItY6sgZxn #AsiaPacificMediaHub #peace #stability #prosperity pic.twitter.com/qpo4guPHjp
— US EAP Media Hub (@eAsiaMediaHub) January 20, 2018
Posted: 4:06 am ET
President Trump finally announced via Twitter the firing of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 13 Mar 2018, Tuesday at 9:44 AM. Below are some reactions from around the world, with a couple of cartoons thrown in.
— Matt Wuerker (@wuerker) March 13, 2018
Thank you Rex Tillerson for all the good work we have achieved together over the last year. The UK/US relationship continues to be steadfast and valuable at all levels.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 13, 2018
Die Entlassung von Rex #Tillerson macht nichts besser…
— Michael Roth MdB 🇪🇺 (@MiRo_SPD) March 13, 2018
Rex Tillerson has been a great friend and partner to Canada. We thank him for his efforts to advance peace, security and democracy around the world. I hope to see you back in Canada in the future! #CanUS
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) March 13, 2018
Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono feels “much regret” over the firing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. He adds Tillerson “was a counterpart who I truly trusted and could talk to candidly.” Kono hopes to meet with Mike Pompeo soon to exchange views on North Korea.
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) March 14, 2018
— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) March 13, 2018
— Nick Bryant (@NickBryantNY) March 14, 2018
#IranDeal red alert: "If the U.S. quits the nuclear deal, we will also quit it," said Iran's deputy FM Abbas Araghchi on Wednesday. "We have told the Europeans that if they can't keep the US in the deal, Iran will also leave it." https://t.co/kLTbs2bf1P
— Daryl G Kimball (@DarylGKimball) March 14, 2018
— MFAT 🇳🇿 (@MFATgovtNZ) March 13, 2018
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha had announced she was going to meet with Tillerson in two days mere hours before Tillerson was fired.
— T.K. of AAK! (@AskAKorean) March 13, 2018
— DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) March 13, 2018
Steve Bell on Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson backing the UK – political cartoon gallery in Putney pic.twitter.com/mBsCL7t0YS
— Political Cartoon (@Cartoon4sale) March 13, 2018
#Russia's state TV:
For the umpteenth time, Russian state TV host exclaims "Trump is ours."
"Yesterday, Tillerson supported Theresa May in her 'highly likely' [#Skripal poisoning] allegation. So Trump immediately fired him. Trump is ours!" pic.twitter.com/86WJgPGWmL
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) March 14, 2018
— BBC Monitoring (@BBCMonitoring) March 13, 2018