On February 2, 2017, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State’s Harry S. Truman Building. Speaking directly to employees for the first time since his confirmation and swearing-in, Secretary Tillerson said:
“In the days and weeks ahead we’re going to have plenty of opportunity to discuss in more detail the goals, the priorities, and the strategic direction for our organization. But for now I really want to take a few minutes to communicate my high regard for the men and women of the State Department and share with you some principles for all of us to live by as we pursue our shared mission.
The individuals who comprise this department are among the finest public servants in the world. Many of you serve our nation abroad and have served our nation abroad. State Department staffers in the field are not just conduits for policies and plans; you are our emissaries of our nation and the ideals we stand for. When people see you, they see America.
When I wake up each morning, the very first thing I ask myself is: Are all of our people safe? The safety of every single member of our State Department family, regardless of where he or she is posted, is not just a priority for me. It’s a core value, and it will become a core value of this department. This means the State Department family here in the U.S. and all those agencies serving under chief of missions abroad, including Civil Service; Foreign Service officers and specialists; locally engaged staff of host country and third-country nationals; interns, fellows, support contractors and implementing partners; and not least of all, the family members who support us at home and in our service to our country overseas.
The Foreign Service is not the only component of the State Department. The Civil Service workforce at the State Department plays an indispensable role in all we achieve, and we cannot attain success without the mission-critical services that you provide.
Though we often live in a world of headlines, working outside of the public eye does not make you any less essential to our operations. Your dedication, your intelligence, and your sound judgment are the brick and mortar elements of all we do. We all depend on your good work, and I know it will continue.”