Watchdog report says Trump's State Department hiring freeze impacted safety

Watchdog report says Trump's State Department hiring freeze impacted safety
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A 16-month hiring freeze at the State Department hurt both safety and morale within the department, according to a report released Friday by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The watchdog found 96 percent of embassies and consulates and 95 percent of domestic offices and bureaus said the hiring freeze "had a somewhat negative or very negative effect on overall operations."

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A full 100 percent of bureaus and offices responding to a survey told the OIG the freeze, imposed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE in January 2017 and ended in May 2018, hurt employee welfare and morale. Only slightly fewer embassy and consulate respondents — 97 percent — said the same thing.

"Several bureaus charged with protecting security, health, and life safety reported to OIG that the hiring freeze had significant detrimental effects on their operations,” the report said.

For example, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security said it was unable to fully staff its command center, which is responsible for monitoring potential threats against U.S. diplomats and American citizens abroad, during the freeze, according to the report.

"DS said that even staffing the center with the minimum staff needed to operate contributed to employee burnout and fatigue and led to coverage gaps that could have significantly affected its ability to respond to overseas security crises," the report states.

The survey results found the hiring freeze also hurt State Department operations domestically, with the Bureau of Medical Services telling the OIG that due to staffing shortages it was less prepared to provide services for children of overseas employees with special needs or process medical clearances for staffs, and was also hindered in mental health operations such as determining suitability for law enforcement officers authorized to carry weapons.