The State Department has said that its agency reform plan as ordered by an OMB memo focuses on creating “a more effective global service delivery framework to reduce operational costs and redundancies, increase efficiency, and improve service quality for our personnel around the world.”

“We want to reduce red tape and bureaucratic hurdles by making management and administrative functions do what they were intended to do – support our professionals as they change posts, develop their skills, and serve our country all over the world,” Deputy Secretary John Sullivan said at a House hearing.

He said in an employee survey 41 percent of respondents said that there are tools they require to do their work that are not readily available to them and 75 percent reported that they “apply workarounds to duplicative, complicated bureaucratic processes at least a few times a year.”

“Employees frequently noted that the seemingly endless layers of approvals required to accomplish a simple task slowed them down. We also received many comments about how outdated technologies at the State Department hinder our employees’ ability to coordinate with others and finish even a minor task,” he said.

He said the reform plan also will: “assess our physical footprint around the world, to ensure our missions abroad align with our foreign policy priorities;” improve coordination among State and other agencies involved in foreign assistance; shift the focus of the HR function from navigating processes to a more strategic role; and “improve our IT platforms, modernize legacy systems, and upgrade our technology infrastructure so that our employees can work anywhere, anytime, and as effectively as possible.”

“Some changes will need further guidance from the OMB. Others will require close coordination with other agencies. Still others will require a change in law by Congress,” he said, promising that Congress will be consulted before any actions are taken even on matters not requiring a change in law.