The State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned en mass Wednesday.
Patrick Kennedy, the agency’s undersecretary for management who had served in that position for almost a decade, resigned unexpectedly along with three of his top officials, The Washington Post is reporting.
The mass resignations will make newly-confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job much more difficult. Kennedy was actually in the running to be Tillerson’s number two at the State Department. He was actively involved in the transition.
Then suddenly Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned with no notice. Those leaving with Kennedy include Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions.
All are career foreign service officers – not political appointees – who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service.
In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
Whether Kennedy left on his own or was pushed out by the incoming Trump team is not known. Just days before he resigned, he was taking on more responsibility inside the department and working closely with the transition. His co-workers expressed surprise at the resignation.
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H/T: The Hill