January 8, 2020

The Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation (M/PRI) became the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS). M/SS realigned to the following directorates: Policy and Global Presence (PGP — formerly Policy and Rightsizing), Consulting and Advanced Projects (CAP — formerly Innovation), and Center for Analytics (CfA).

January 28, 2020

The Transportation and Travel Management Division (TTM) in the Bureau of Administration was divided into the Transportation Management Division (TM) and the Travel Management and Policy Division (TMP).

January 28, 2020

Working Parents @ State, an employee-driven peer group that met monthly for parents to find support and resources, cultivate community, and advocate for the needs of working parents at the Department, held its inaugural meeting at the Harry S. Truman building.

January 29, 2020

The Department of State’s Tandem and Anti-Nepotism Standard Operating Procedures were updated in recognition of the increase in the number of tandem couples in the Foreign Service. (20 STATE 9466)

February 19, 2020

The Bureau of Human Resources changed its name to the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM). Within the Bureau, the Office of Civil Service Human Resource Management (HR/CSHRM) became Civil Service Talent Management (GTM/CSTM), the Office of Resource Management and Organization Analysis (HR/RMA) became Organization and Talent Analytics (GTM/OTA), the Office of Recruitment, Examination, and Employment (HR/REE) became Talent Acquisition (GTM/TAC), and the Office of Shared Services (HR/SS) became Talent Services (GTM/TS). The title of Director of the Bureau of Personnel became the Director of Global Talent.

March 12, 2020

The Director General of the Foreign Service, Carol Z. Perez, eliminated the Six-Year-Rule and the associated waiver process required for Foreign Service employees exceeding six years of continuous domestic service (CDS). The congressionally mandated Eight-Year Rule remained in effect.

March 14, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, approved Authorized Departure from any diplomatic or consular post of U.S. direct hire employees or eligible family members who, after confidential consultation with MED, had determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19, or who had requested departure based on a commensurate justification in foreign areas. Posts were instructed in 20 STATE 28418 to immediately inform all official U.S. citizen employees and family members of this authority. The Department had already issued a global travel advisory recommending that U.S. citizens reconsider travel abroad. The departure was initially approved for a period not to exceed 60 days. On March 19, 2020, in 20 STATE 30308, Bulatao delegated authority to Regional Executive Directors to designate an official alternate domestic safe haven (anywhere in the 50 United States) for employees who departed post under Authorized (or Ordered) Departure for COVID-19 related reasons. Departing employees could further be approved to telework from alternate worksites at their safe haven locations, subject to procedure. 20 STATE 31358 on March 21 clarified that employees who departed post under Ordered or Authorized Departure to alternate foreign safe havens were not permitted to telework due to a range of considerations, including lack of foreign country accreditation, lack of privileges and immunities for persons working for the U.S. government in a foreign country, and other safety and security considerations.

March 18, 2020

Congress passed the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which provided covered Department of State employees with up to 2 weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave for specified qualifying circumstances related to COVID-19. Its effective period was from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

March 18, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, indefinitely authorized posts and bureaus to modify their flexible and core hour requirements (as defined in 3 FAM 2331.3) to include an expanded range of core hour requirement time of less than five consecutive hours between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., flexible hours that could be met at any other time of day, and the authorization of non-consecutive working hours to fulfill an employee's daily tour of duty. These flexibilities applied to both employees who performed work at their regular worksite, and telework-ready employees who were performing work at their home or alternate worksite.

March 19, 2020

In an effort to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding in-person contact, the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/SI/PSS) authorized investigators who perform security clearance background investigations to conduct phone or videoconference interviews for certain personnel with the approval of the DS/SI/PSS Office Director and Investigations Division Chief. For security reasons and to remain compliant with federal policy, not all interviews could be conducted by phone or videoconference.

March 24, 2020

Telegram 20 STATE 31866 outlined the establishment of a standing worldwide medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) capability using eight contracted aircraft strategically placed around the world, capable of reaching all U.S. diplomatic posts within twenty-four hours or less.

March 26, 2020

Telegram 20 STATE 33542 provided guidance to all Department of State personnel on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) travel and home leave until April 30, in the context of COVID-19. The Department suspended all PCS travel to overseas posts and all domestic-to-domestic PCS travel, effective through April 30, with the exception of PCS travel to Washington, DC. Exceptions could be made for mission critical employees, whose posts could accommodate arrival, by the bureau Assistant Secretary for CDC Level 1 or 2 countries, or by the Under Secretary for Management for CDC Level 3 or 4 countries.

March 27, 2020

Telegram 20 STATE 33726 provided guidance on the restricted usage of the classified pouch system during the COVID-19 virus pandemic, limiting shipments to those that were critically needed to save life and limb, and/or served a specific and vital national security mission. Due to the severe restrictions on the movement of cargo and Diplomatic Couriers, as well as cancellations of normal routes by transportation vendors, items could only be accepted for shipment with a written justification. Written justifications were to be submitted to the courier division, or hub responsible for the post where the items were being entered into the system, for each registered item and accompanied by email concurrence from the receiving post.

April 2, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, authorized the use of administrative leave for certain situations related to COVID-19: Supervisors were authorized to grant employees up to 10 hours of administrative leave per week until further notice, to provide care for children as a result of a lapse in childcare due to COVID-19 related school and daycare closures; to provide care for other dependents (such as an elderly parent or family member) as a result of a COVID-19 related lapse in care arrangements; and for health and safety reasons in order to help prevent exposure/transmission of COVID-19, including, but not limited to, taking sanitation measures, preparing for local shelter-in-place orders, and taking personal health/safety measures to facilitate work or telework. This authorization was made effective immediately and retroactive to February 16, 2020.

April 3, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, announced the formation of the Coronavirus Data Analytics Team (CDAT), to coordinate the Department's data needs and produce rapid analysis.

April 15, 2020

The Department of State announced the award of the contract for the construction of Building B at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center to Grunley Construction Company, Inc. The 200,000 square foot facility was planned to house training classrooms, office space for FSI’s School of Professional and Area Studies (including Consular Affairs training) and the Leadership and Management School, student collaboration spaces, and a 9,000 square foot, state-of-the-art multipurpose training/conference space. FSI anticipated having sufficient space in the new building to bring language training courses housed in Rosslyn, Virginia, back to the Shultz Center. Construction was expected to begin in spring, with the building scheduled to open in fall 2022.

May 19, 2020

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun approved the Department Strategic Framework for International Engagement on Artificial Intelligence. The Strategic Framework was designed to promote policy consistency and provide overarching strategic guidance to the Department’s activities related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), while also allowing flexibility to craft AI engagement strategies appropriate to each mission/bureau context. All missions and bureaus were requested to consider drafting individual AI engagement strategies if appropriate to their goals or local context.

May 21, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, requested all posts designate officials who, in coordination with their Regional Executive Director, would update information on post phase status by reporting on local COVID-19-related conditions and their state of readiness through digital Phase and Travel Restrictions trackers as conditions changed.

May 26, 2020

The Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources was re-named the Office of Foreign Assistance (F).

June 3, 2020

The Department renamed the Office of the United States Special Envoy to Sudan (S/USSESSS) the Office of South Sudan and Sudan (AF/SSS). The Office of the United States Special Envoy to Sudan was established in 2009.

June 5, 2020

The Bureau of African Affairs renamed the Office of Security Affairs (AF/SA) the Office of Regional Peace and Security (AF/RPS). The office was reorganized into a Policy team and a Plans and Programs team.

June 5, 2020

The Director General of the Foreign Service, Carol Z. Perez, announced the creation of the TalentCare Council, comprised of senior-level representatives from the bureaus of Global Talent Management, Medical Services, Diplomatic Security, and Administration, as well as the Ombudsman, the Office of Civil Rights, and the Foreign Service Institute, among others. The TalentCare Council was formed to support and promote the integration of Department well-being, safety, family, flexibility and resilience initiatives. It served as a conduit and advisory board for the Director General, the Under Secretaries, and the Secretary and was responsible for coordinating, aligning, and developing initiatives across the Department that address the work and life needs of diverse employees.

June 10, 2020

The Department renamed the Office of the United States Haiti Special Coordinator (WHA/HSC) the Office of Haitian Affairs (WHA/HA). The Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator was established following the 2010 Haiti earthquake to coordinate humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. In 2015, the office moved from reporting directly to the Secretary to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. In 2017, the Special Coordinator for Haiti title was removed, and its functions transferred to a WHA Deputy Assistant Secretary.

June 15, 2020

The National Capital Region of the Department of State entered COVID-19 Phase I conditions, which allowed managers to bring back 0% to 40% of their workforce to their office locations.

July 6, 2020

The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs announced the merger of the Office of Maghreb Affairs and the Office of Egyptian Affairs. The new office, named the Office of North African Affairs, became responsible for coordinating U.S. policy with respect to Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Western Sahara.

July 21, 2020

Eight U.S. embassies in south-central Europe (North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Albania) gathered virtually to launch a regional initiative to promote diversity and inclusion. The kick-off event, hosted by Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate M. Byrnes, featured remarks by Director General of the Foreign Service Ambassador Carol Z. Perez, Bureau of Global Talent Management Deputy Assistant Secretary Mirembe Nantongo, and Bureau of European Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer. Participating posts agreed to collaborate on five specific steps toward implementing and strengthening this goal, ranging from how missions recruit to how they acknowledge and address the diversity within their embassy teams.

July 27, 2020

The National Capital Region of the Department of State entered COVID-19 Phase II conditions, which allowed managers to bring back up to 80% of their workforce to their office locations.

August 3, 2020

The document processing software application Cascades was released in a phased rollout. The application replaced Everest (and Denali), was accessible on both ClassNet and OpenNet, and offered greater compatibility with Office 365 applications.

August 3, 2020

The Under Secretary for Management, Brian J. Bulatao, announced the formation of the Reimagine Task Force to normalize the progress in workplace mobility made in response to COVID-19, and to explore future workplace flexibilities.

September 13, 2020

The Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser instituted a realignment of legal functions and the way legal advice is provided to CA. Legal offices and attorney-advisers previously embedded with specific CA directorates (PPT/L, OCS/L, and VO/L) were combined with existing L/CA attorneys into a single office within the Office of the Legal Adviser, led by Assistant Legal Adviser Anne Joyce.

October 23, 2020

The Department of State paused all training related to diversity and inclusion to allow the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to review program content as directed by the September 22 Executive Order (E.O.) 13950 on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) launched a process to collect all Department diversity and inclusion training materials, including for any FSI course and any unique training materials that the Department’s domestic bureaus and overseas missions may have developed for recurring or future use. OPM completed its review of those materials on December 14, determined them to be compliant overall with E.O. 13950, and the Department immediately resumed diversity and inclusion training using materials determined to be compliant.

October 29, 2020

The Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) announced the establishment of a Department-wide Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) program under a new senior executive, the Enterprise CISO (E-CISO).

November 13, 2020

The Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Affairs (OES/EQT) was renamed the Office of Environmental Quality (OES/ENV), and the Office of Space and Advanced Technology (OES/SAT) was renamed the Office of Space Affairs (OES/SA). Both offices were located in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

November 20, 2020

The Bureau of International Organization Affairs split its Office of Peacekeeping, Sanctions, and Counterterrorism (IO/PSC) to establish the Office of Peacekeeping Operations (IO/PKO) and the Office of Sanctions and Counterterrorism (IO/SCT).

December 1, 2020

At the direction of Deputy Secretary Biegun, the Department initiated an interim review to capture and memorialize the Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Interim Review (CIR) captured lessons learned to date and developed recommendations to improve crisis preparedness and response and operational agility. Ambassador (ret.) Jess Baily led the CIR team, comprised of staff from the Operations Center’s Office of Crisis Management and Strategy (CMS) and the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS).

December 3, 2020

The Bureau of Global Talent Management’s Office of Accessibility and Accommodations (GTM/OAA) opened the Access Center in SA-1B. The Access Center offered centralized disability services where employees could test, train, and provide feedback on assistive technology solutions in an environment similar to their workspace domestically or overseas.

December 21, 2020

The National Capital Region of the Department of State regressed to COVID-19 Phase I conditions, which allowed managers to bring back 0% to 40% of their workforce to their office locations.