Future of Tillerson’s State Dept. reform plan uncertain

The future of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s unpopular agency restructure project is in doubt, despite $12 million that’s already been spent on consultants.

The uncertainty comes as Mike Pompeo is slotted to take over as secretary, leaving what Tillerson had cited as the most important long-term project he had planned for the department up to his successor. Tillerson said he hoped to “align” resources from the State Department and the US Agency for International Development, a goal that suggested he could merge the two agencies.

“I think it will have a very long-lasting impact on the effectiveness of the State Department for decades to come,” Tillerson said about his redesign efforts in a January interview with CNN.

Politico first reported the $12 million price tag for Tillerson’s plan, and it was later confirmed to CNN. A State Department spokesperson said the department had paid the $12 million for consulting services from May 2017 through March 2018.

According to Politico’s report, congressional officials said the details could be the subject of upcoming hearings and that despite its efforts there was little to show of the redesign project’s progress.

In December 2017, CNN reported that two senators on the Foreign Relations Committee had sent a letter to the State Department expressing “significant concerns” about the direction of Tillerson’s redesign effort and asking that it “reassess the assumptions guiding the reform effort.”

Tillerson initially submitted his redesign plan in September 2017, and he said in an email to employees at the time that he hoped to save up to $10 billion over five years with the redesign.

Pompeo was tapped to take over for Tillerson in March, news that came as the administration faced a highly anticipated upcoming meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.