The "Diplomatic Readiness Initiative" - A Human Capital Success Story
At the State Department, what we call our "Diplomatic Readiness Initiative" is at the heart of our efforts on the strategic use of human capital. Our goal in this initiative is to expand and strengthen our workforce, and make it more diverse in the process.
For several years in the 1990s the Department hired only half of the number of employees lost every year through retirements and resignations. At the same time international affairs became more complex and challenging, and the Department established many new embassies following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The legacy of those years of hiring below attrition rates was a serious obstacle to Secretary Powell's goal to get "
the right people in the right place at the right time with the right skills
The President, Secretary Powell, Director General Ruth Davis, and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman at the Swearing-In of a New Class of Foreign Service Officers
So how did we change all that? Change came about because of three things: strong leadership, clarity of vision, and the budgetary support that reflects an understanding that the challenges America faces around the globe cannot be addressed on the cheap. Consequently, from 2002 to 2004 we will hire 1,158 employees over our attrition-replacement hiring so we'll have the people we need to meet expanding global challenges, respond to crises, and get appropriate training - without neglecting daily work or overworking our employees. That is a big challenge requiring sustained, targeted, and expanded recruitment - including a new website and other tools, more leadership involvement, personal contacts, and targeted outreach.
Year One: We met our new, higher hiring targets while keeping standards high and the process moving. We increased the number of takers of the Foreign Service Exam - through which we recruit Foreign Service generalist officers, our future managerial corps - from just over 8,000 in 2000 to more than 27,000 between September and April. In the same period, we increased minority takers of the Foreign Service exam from 2,153 to 8,500. And we offered the exam not once but twice a year, compressed the oral assessment schedule, and streamlined our medical and security clearance processes so that hiring time was reduced from 27 months to only 10 months.
To recruit Foreign Service Specialists, we developed targeted advertising for deficit skills and saw record application numbers. Specifically we went after office management specialists and budget officers, using ads in trade journals and on the web. We also intensified recruiting efforts for minorities through partnerships with historically black colleges and universities as well as Hispanic serving institutions, and we doubled our "Foreign Service ROTC" scholarship program (The Pickering Fellows) which has been a great source for talented minority applicants to the Foreign Service. Lastly, we co-hosted the Federal Government's Virtual IT Job Fair and were one of the biggest beneficiaries of candidates for both Foreign and Civil Service IT jobs.
The President and Secretary Powell
We also developed a Civil Service website with direct links to OPM's vacancy announcements, became the Federal government's second largest participant in the Presidential Management Intern program for future Civil Service leaders, and created some exciting programs to target hiring to domestic needs. We are also reengineering the Civil Service recruitment and hiring processes this year, building on our experiences with Foreign Service innovations.
I invite you to visit our website - www.careers.state.gov - and see for yourself why people have been inspired to sign up for the Foreign Service exam or apply for our Civil Service positions. As Secretary Powell noted in one of our ads, we offer "the best job you'll ever have in your life."
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with me.
Grant S. Green, Jr.