MURPHY DEMANDS EXPLANATION FROM TILLERSON IN WAKE OF “SHORT-SIGHTED” & “DANGEROUS” PLAN TO OFFER EMPLOYEE BUYOUTS

The State Department announced it will offer buyouts of up to $25,000 to reduce the national security workforce by nearly 2,000 employees

HARTFORD – In response to a New York Times investigation revealing that the U.S. Department of State will offer buyouts of up to $25,000 as part of an effort to reduce the agency’s national security workforce by nearly 2,000 employees, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday requesting an immediate explanation for these actions. Murphy emphasized that offering buyouts – and incentivizing Foreign and Civil Service employees with critical diplomatic experience to quit or retire early – is short-sighted and dangerous, especially considering the complex national security issues our country faces today. 

“I am writing to express deep concern about the plans for buyouts of Foreign and Civil Service employees at the Department of State and to request an immediate explanation of the need for diminished diplomatic staffing levels at a time of unprecedented global challenges.  Offering buyouts to employees with specialized, highly valuable language skills and regional expertise that the Department has spent many years and millions of dollars to hone is short-sighted and dangerous,” said Murphy. “It would take the Department decades to build up this level of expertise at a time when our need for diplomatic solutions to complex global problems is at an all-time high. I appreciate your prompt explanation of the need for decreased diplomatic staffing and the steps you are taking to ensure the Department retains the employees whose skills it has invested tremendous resources in cultivating.”

Murphy, who is a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, has blasted the Trump administration’s proposal to cut State Department funding and personnel. He is author of “Rethinking the Battlefield,” a comprehensive proposal containing specific recommendations to dramatically increase the United States’ non-military footprint abroad by nearly doubling the U.S. foreign affairs budget – including the State Department and USAID – with an emphasis on funding for international development, additional foreign service officers, anti-corruption efforts, countering propaganda, crisis response, and humanitarian relief.

The full text of the letter is available online and below:

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

I am writing to express deep concern about the plans for buyouts of Foreign and Civil Service employees at the Department of State and to request an immediate explanation of the need for diminished diplomatic staffing levels at a time of unprecedented global challenges.

The New York Times reported on November 10 that the Department confirmed buyouts of up to $25,000 for approximately 640 employees, as part of an effort to reduce the overall national security workforce at the State Department by approximately 2,000 employees. I understand that nearly all employees would be eligible for the buyout, with the exception of those with specialized career paths including information technology and human resources. It is also my understanding that the amount of buyout compensation an employee is eligible for would depend on his or her length of service, incentivizing those with more experience and expertise to leave the Department.

Offering buyouts to employees with specialized, highly valuable language skills and regional expertise that the Department has spent many years and millions of dollars to hone is short-sighted and dangerous. It would take the Department decades to build up this level of expertise at a time when our need for diplomatic solutions to complex global problems is at an all-time high. No similar workforce reduction is taking place at other national security agencies.

I appreciate your prompt explanation of the need for decreased diplomatic staffing and the steps you are taking to ensure the Department retains the employees whose skills it has invested tremendous resources in cultivating.

Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy