WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement after Secretary Antony Blinken gave a speech on State Department modernization that included championing reforms to the assignment restrictions process. His announcement included lifting restrictions on half of employees impacted. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) imposes assignment restrictions on some employees who otherwise hold Top Secret clearances, precluding them from serving in a particular country or working on issues related to that country in Washington. These restrictions are often discriminatory, biased, and counterproductive to the goals of diversity, inclusion, and retention of talent at the State Department. Moreover, assignment restrictions waste the impressive built-in linguistic and cultural expertise present among State Department employees.
In September, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ), and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the Accountability in Assignment Restrictions Act, which aims to reform the practice of Assignment Restrictions at the State Department. The Members’ legislation will increase accountability and transparency by giving employees with Assignment Restriction access to an independent appeals process while establishing reporting requirements for the Department, including disaggregated data about the race and ethnicity of employees subject to such restrictions.
“I’m pleased that Secretary of State Blinken has lifted more than half of the assignment restrictions at the State Department and has acknowledged that the practice can be discriminatory. This is a practice that spans presidents of both parties and I appreciate the Biden Administration’s commitment to addressing this issue. Reps. Castro, Kim, Houlahan and I introduced the Accountability in Assignment Restrictions Act earlier this fall precisely because assignment restrictions can hinder federal employees from using their cultural and language expertise to support the U.S.’s diplomatic goals, and because the practice appears to be discriminatory and outdated. That’s harmful to both the employees at State, as well as national security in general. While Secretary Blinken’s announcement is a good first step, we need to ensure the assignment restrictions appeals process is independent, and that there is better oversight of the overall decision-making process. I look forward to working with Secretary Blinken and House Foreign Affairs to ensure we’re championing diversity and national security at State.”
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