State Department offering buyouts to reduce ranks

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Nov. 11, 2017 at 2:55 PM
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Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department is offering buyouts of up to $25,000 in an effort to trim 641 employees from its ranks, department officials said Saturday.

A state official told ABC News the voluntary buyouts would be in addition to the normal attrition expected within the department by the end of 2018.

Multiple officials told The New York Times that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's goal is to reduce the department by 8 percent, or 1,982 people. The department already has instituted hiring and promotion freezes, left a number of ambassadorships and senior leadership positions fulfilled and asked some senior employees to do low-level clerical duties.

"The department's goal is to meet its workforce reduction targets through the use of voluntary measures such as buyouts rather than involuntary measures, such as furloughs or ... layoffs," the official told ABC News.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the staff and spending cuts were "misguided given [the] need for diplomacy and Trump administration's acute lack of experience."

The American Foreign Service Association said the number of people within the department's top two ranks has decreased nearly by half from 39 to 21, and about 20 percent of those one rank lower said they plan to leave.

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