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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken poses for a photo with employees and families from U.S. Embassy Kinshasa in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are all standing in front of a large U.S. flag with trees on both sides.

An essential component of the Secretary’s agenda to modernize American diplomacy is ensuring we attract, retain, and develop our talent.  We are dedicated to instituting reforms aimed at career development, performance management, workplace flexibility, and Eligible Family Member employment to retain a diverse, engaged, and empowered workforce.  While appreciating there is much more to do, I want to highlight some of the accomplishments over the last nine months. 

Foreign Service hiring for FY 2022 totaled 811 Foreign Service personnel (718 Foreign Service Officers and 93 Consular Fellows), the highest intake since FY 2012.  Civil Service staffing hit an all-time high, with total Civil Service employees on board at 11,413 and growing. 

Deputy Secretary McKeon poses for a group photo with newly sworn-in Foreign Service Officers in a large room.
Deputy Secretary McKeon swears in the largest joint generalist-specialist State Department Foreign Service class, marking the completion of their orientation, in Arlington, Virginia. (State Department photo/Public Domain)

For the Foreign Service, we have adopted a more holistic approach in the initial FS generalist assessment process as well as the Foreign Service Officer Test score to identify candidates more likely to succeed at the oral assessment – a step strongly endorsed by the Department’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.  To further guard against bias in the general assessment process, we stripped names and other biographic data from candidates’ personal narratives and essays before assigning them to assessors for review. 

For the Civil Service, we enhanced vacancy templates to streamline instructions, incorporate inclusive terminology, and reflect recruitment and marketing best practices, which will help showcase the Department as an employer of choice to attract top talent and improve applicants’ overall experience.  Working with, we launched the remote work feature, which allows Department hiring managers to highlight their 100 percent remote vacancies so applicants can easily search for them. 

This fall, I swore in our first cohort of paid interns.  With support from the Congress, through paid internships, we can recruit more diverse talent.   

Deputy Secretary McKeon swears in student interns in a large auditorium. He stands at a podium and the interns stand in the audience.
Deputy Secretary McKeon swears in new student interns, at the Department of State. (State Department photo/Public Domain)

Professional development is an essential component of both retaining and taking care of our people.

So far in 2022, the Bureau of Global Talent Management has facilitated 51 bureau-to-bureau, 21 interagency, and 22 intergovernmental details for Civil Service employees, with an additional 60-65 Foreign Service and Civil Service detailees at the NSC at any given time.  We awarded 138 Eligible Family Member Professional Development Fellowships for the 2022-2023 cycle.  The Department supported leadership and development training for more than 200 employees through the unique programs offered by the Graduate School USA and the Partnership for Public Service.  

We are incredibly proud of these developments and look forward to continuing to strengthen our work force.  To our readers, hope you all will consider a career at the State Department.  To our employees, thank you for your continued service. 

About the Author: Brian P. McKeon is the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources at the U.S. Department of State. 

U.S. Department of State

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