Center for Strategic Communication

By Patricia H Kushlis

Important Update September 17, 2014:  It’s recently come to my attention that the reason State is keeping its Foreign Service diversity statistics secret is because the department somehow exempted itself from providing such statistics publicly several years ago.  Can anyone explain why or under what provision the Office of Personnel Management agreed to such a request? 

Could there be a possible FOIA request in the offing or would State like to rethink this unnecessary secretiveness?

This past summer, the State Department claimed that it publicly released its aggregate promotion data for 2013 in The State Department Magazine, its trade magazine.  There is just one problem: the statistics on diversity and gender were, as usual, missing.  I noted this in two different posts this summer: one on discrimination against Hispanics in the Foreign Service and an earlier one on continuing gender inequality.

For the first time after writing about the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources dismal performance beginning in 2008 (see The Troubled State of State on WV’s left sidebar), I received a note from a representative of the bureau.  This came in the form of an e-mail from HR Public Affairs Officer Brenda Greenberg.  According to Brenda, I had made a mistake:  that State had indeed published the data.

The only problem with Brenda’s message was that the information in it was (and remains) wrong. To prove her point, she referenced the same SBU link that I had found a month earlier in the State Department Magazine and included in the post. 

Here’s a copy of our e-mail exchange:

In Reference to Whirled Vew Blog: Letting You Know about 2013 Promotion Statistics


Greenberg, Brenda L <>

Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 5:17 AM

To: “” <>

Regarding: “Going back to 2000, the only year that State published promotion figures based on gender and ethnicity was in 2012, when they appeared in the June 2012 issue of State MagazineThose statistics disappeared from State Magazine in 2013 and 2014. “

The 2013 promotion statistics are available on page 32 of the June 2014 online issue of State Magazine at and the 2013 Foreign Service promotion statistics will also be published in the July-August 2014 print and digital issue of State Magazine.

 The 2014 promotion statistics are simply not out yet.  The promotion boards have just convened.

Brenda Greenberg

HR Public Affairs


Pat Kushlis <>

Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM

To: “Greenberg, Brenda L” <>

Brenda – I most appreciate your e-mail.  Correcting the record is vital for us. I would have done so now had the links you provided in your e-mail, in fact, corrected it.  I cited the first and had included the link to the same State Magazine article in my most recent post on women’s promotions. If you did not read it, I’ve included the link below.

I also did not write – in my post on Hispanics in the Foreign Service – that the statistics from the 2014 boards were available for precisely the reason stated in your final paragraph.  What I wrote was that promotion statistics had not appeared in the public record, e.g. State Magazine in 2013 and 2014.  Meaningful statistics that are kept behind a hard wall and made available only to someone with an SBU clearance and State Intranet access fail to meet that criterion.

I certainly hope that State will be more transparent and forthcoming with its EEO data from the 2014 boards than those for 2013.

Thanks and I hope you keep reading WV.  Patricia Kushlis

Patricia H. Kushlis

  What is SBU?

For anyone unfamiliar with the SBU designation, it is an administrative classification akin to the old LOU, to which one needs a special clearance to access the document in question.  This means the information the document contains is not repeat, not accessible to the public. Furthermore, it is only accessible through State’s internal intranet website.  As Diplopundit noted recently in that blog’s second article complaining about the same problem, the Great Firewall remains intact.

So the mystery continues to surround this excessively secretive department’s ethnicity and gender promotion records:  Something that has sadly been the case for years.  And in 2012, the Department failed to release promotion data at all.

 State’s Office of Civil Rights asleep at the switch

Diplopundit also pointed out that State’s diversity statistics are kept by the Office of Civil Rights, that the OCR is not part of the Bureau of Human Resources and that its Director reports directly to Secretary Kerry.

Why HR even needs its own Public Affairs Office is beyond me but that’s another question for another day er post.  Rumor has it that a piece of the incumbent’s job is to  block relevant WV posts and likely Diplopundit ones too keeping them from Bureau higher ups and staff supposedly under the ignorance is bliss category.  (I suggest, however, that Ms Greenberg at least learn to spell WhirledView correctly.  For the record: It’s one word, not two and it is View, not Vew.)

In certain other countries including a few I’ve worked in such denial of information is otherwise known as censorship. 

But back to the Office of Civil Rights

Wouldn’t you think that this of all offices would want to be part of the solution, not the problem?  Even if HR refuses to release such aggregate statistics publicly for some reason known only to HR, shouldn’t the OCR be working even harder to facilitate their public release? In fact, why doesn’t the OCR just release the data itself as Diplopundit suggests rather than enabling and abetting another likely HR cover up?

A Party Would Be Nice . . .If Only . . .

 If the statistics demonstrate progress over the years, shouldn’t the OCR want to shout that from the rafters and throw a giant party?  If not, which is my guess, since the data remains under wraps, then something major needs to change.  This should start with greater transparency.  Transparency, after all, is usually the first step to resolving problems.

Furthermore, ignorance is not bliss. What we don’t know can hurt us

Doesn’t a law exist that mandates all federal agencies to collect and publicly release such data annually?  If so, how can State consistently fail to comply – not once, not twice – but for years?   Or am I wrong?  Could it have some kind of special secret dispensation from the requirement?  And if so why? 

In short, what is State hiding behind the Great Diversity Firewall?  And why doesn’t the administration and Congress demand accountability for a change?