Town Hall Meeting for Employees Marking One Year at State

2009_0905_clinton_town_hall_m

Just finished watching video of Secretary Clinton’s town hall meeting with employees of the State Department today.  I’ve attached a link to watch the video in its entirety, but have highlighted some of the key questions asked by State Department employees:

QUESTION: Good morning, my name is Jennifer King. I just wanted to ask what your stance is on pre-selection during the hiring process.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do I have a stance on pre-selection? I’m opposed. (Laughter.) I’m sorry, I really – I don’t understand that. I don’t know. That’s one thing that I – I get into a lot of the details. I don’t know that. But I’ll let the under secretary respond. Do you want to say a word? (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: We have a –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Come – yeah. (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: We have a hiring system at the State Department that jobs that come vacant in the State Department in the Civil Service are posted on our website. Applicants apply and it is a banned practice on the part of the myself, on the part of Director General Powell, Linda Taglialatela and the other senior leadership in HR. So if you have any reason to believe that there’s pre-selection going on that inhibits a fair competition for jobs, please be in touch with the director general or Deputy Assistant Secretary Taglialatela. We will definitely want to look into that.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you. And my second question is that employment opportunities for eligible family members overseas are an important factor in recruitment, retention, and post morale. Seventy-five percent of eligible family members have college degrees, of whom 50 percent have advanced degrees. Can you comment on the prospects for increasing eligible family member employment overseas and also address the possibility of increasing opportunities for employment through the use of teleworking?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, on the last one, teleworking, we are constantly exploring what more can be done. We think it has a lot of advantages. One that we have been promoting is more conferences by teleconference, SVTS, and the like. It saves money, it saves wear and tear, and it can often lead to the same or better outcome than you would get if people had to travel distances. On the teleworking side, similarly, we’re going to explore all kinds of options. I mean, technology gives us the chance to do that.

With respect to family members, again, this is an area that we are constantly reevaluating. We know that when we send someone to serve in a post overseas, the family serves, whether the family accompanies the officer or stays behind. We know that there is a family that is involved in most cases. It really depends on a case-by-case analysis and a post-by-post situational analysis. Some posts, it’s a lot easier. Some we have, as you know, reciprocal agreements with the host countries, others we don’t. So we’re working on this because we know it’s an impediment for a lot of families, but I can’t give you more than the commitment we’ve made to work through this and the fact that we are trying to push as hard as we can to provide opportunities for those who accompany the person who’s assigned.

QUESTION: Yes. Our next overseas question comes from Jenny Bavisotto, a community liaison officer in Stockholm. She’s asking, “What is being done about collaboration and communication with overseas family members who don’t have access to OpenNet?”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Pat? (Laughter.) We haven’t had a lot of questions about foreign policy, so that’s why I have him here.

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I’ll have to take that question. OpenNet, ma’am, is our technical name for our internet system. I’m just very surprised, frankly, that in a country as technologically advanced as Stockholm there is not an ability to get on the internet to reach the State Department’s principal website from home, but I will speak to the Family Liaison Office about this. And I know, at least at posts I’ve served at when people could not get on at home, terminals were made available in the Family Liaison Office in the Embassy for family members to come in and use those so they could reach out. And I see Leslie Teixeira, the head of the Family Liaison Office, shaking her head in the audience.

Video and transcript of the town hall meeting are available on the Department of State’s website

2 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    This gets me so excited… you know you want to be an FSO when you get excited to be party of a future town hall meeting!

  2. Jason says:

    that excitement has not turned into disappointment … got my qep results today, didn’t get in…

    i have a jd from GWU, work for a non profit, have lived in Moscow for 2 years and got a combined score of 168.2 and a 10 on the essay… the qep is baffling.

Leave a Comment