The White House announced a government hiring freeze soon after the current administration took office in January.
Blanket orders often are not well thought out and can have unintended consequences. A recent article in The Foreign Service Journal (July/August, 2017) pinpointed one such consequence. Foreign Service officers, the Americans who staff U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, transfer frequently, moving with their families from one assignment to another.
As American citizens, spouses often fill critical positions at posts, as they move with husbands and wives. The hiring freeze means that they cannot be hired for jobs at their spouse’s new post. They cannot serve as office managers, back up visa officers as they interview foreigners, or help security officers with classified data.
Many of these spouses staff critical positions in U.S. embassies and consulates . The government saves money because they already are in the country and do not have to be moved there or paid housing allowances and other expenses to take the jobs.
Family members who had jobs lined up have suddenly had to change plans. Some must pay for unexpected housing back in Washington as the spouse waits there for the freeze to end. Others must do without the planned salary from the job while waiting at post.
One view from a long-term spouse: “. . . there is absolutely no indication that this administration has any interest in mission staffing, from either a practical or a morale perspective.”
Another says, “It is devastating for families and demoralizing for those blocked out of positions.”
Not to mention damage to U.S. diplomacy as supporting roles remain unfilled.