As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kim is engaging with State Department leadership on the restriction issue and to improve retention and promotion of underrepresented minorities.
The Foreign Affairs Manual says assignment restrictions, which can come out during the initial security clearance process or when they are reviewed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, can be placed on an individual over family ties to a particular country or if a person has substantial financial interests or foreign contacts in a particular country.
The proposed Department of State Authorization Act of 2021, authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksColombia's protests are threat, test for US Pressure increases for US to send vaccines to Latin America Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate Intelligence panel working on legislation around mandatory cyber breach notification McCarthy unveils House GOP task forces, chairs Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel MORE (R-Texas), would make the appeals process similar to that for a security clearance and mandate that any review be resolved within 60 days.
An official with the American Foreign Service Association said that the organization sought data in June 2020 from the State Department broken down by gender, ethnicity and other criteria to evaluate whether certain groups were suffering disproportionately, but only received some general information.
CNN reported that it had obtained a sensitive-but-unclassified 2018 letter to House lawmakers that said restrictions had affected 166 employees in 2015, 168 in 2016 and 307 in 2017.
“I have had meetings with Asian American State Department employees, and they would tell me about their assignment restriction and how there was literally no basis for those restrictions,” said Lieu.
A State Department spokesperson wrote in an emailed response to The Hill that the agency “does not and will not request information relating to an employees’ race and ethnicity” when adjudicating security clearances and said that these are not factors in evaluating eligibility for security clearance.
The spokesperson said the agency does not make assignment restrictions based on protected characteristics of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or age and that it does not discriminate based on these characteristics.
Further, the spokesperson said that assignment restrictions address concerns listed in the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines that would otherwise result in a security clearance being denied.
The spokesperson said the State Department is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility as well as fair and equal treatment of men and women in the workforce.
“As the Secretary said during his March hearing, we take reports of discrimination very seriously, and are conducting a thorough review of our assignment processes and adjudication procedures,” the spokesperson continued.
Blinken has said improving diversity and retention of minorities at the State Department is the yardstick he’ll use for evaluating whether he succeeded or failed as the nation’s top diplomat.
Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroDemocrats ask Biden to reverse employee policy on past marijuana use The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Blinken to appear before Foreign Affairs Committee MORE (D-Texas) is planning on reintroducing legislation addressing diversity at the State Department that would, among other things, formalize Abercrombie-Winstanley’s position