January 27, 2010

Secretary of State Clinton Promises Ombuds for Foreign Service Workers

At a Town Hall for State Department employees marking their first anniversary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about the status of the Ombudsman for Civil Service Employees.

MAJ. WALTER BRUCE: * * * I have one other issue, and that is ombudsman. I sent Pat [Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management] an email back in May of last year and I’ve known Pat for a long time and I know he supports everything that we possibly do *because it’s all in one accord. And I’m only concerned about what’s the status of the ombudsman program. That’s the guy or girl that’s supposed to be looking out for Civil Service employees. This is a Foreign Service organization. We got no doubts about that. But there should be an infrastructure in place that looks out for the interests and advances of those that we consider to be civil servants. (Applause.) I just wanted a status.

So, Madame Secretary, all I want to know is – and I’m sure Pat going to be able to tell me this – where we stand on it. (Laughter.) That’s all I have.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much and thanks for your many years of service to our country, first in the military and now here. We’re going to have that ombudsman, aren’t we, Pat? (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Madame Secretary, yes, the law requires that the ombudsman must be a member of the Senior Executive Service. We have no other choice; it’s written in the statute. So we are in the process in all this turnover of recruiting someone because we have to identify an SES position and recruit someone. That process is ongoing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And there’s no pre-selection? (Laughter and applause.)


The Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual explains that Civil Service Ombuds serves as senior advisor to the Secretary of State and senior Department management, and as consultant for Civil Service employees. The position has been vacant for several years. (Department of State Sec. Clinton Remarks, Foreign Affairs Manual Vol. 1–Organization and Functions; see also, 22 U.S. Code 2664a; Office of Personnel Management, ADR Guide.)

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