US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated March 24, 2017
12 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

1.0
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US Department of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
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12 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • work/life balance; very formal culture (in 25 reviews)

  • Very few promotion opportunities for civil servants; still dominated by the foreign service (in 50 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "DDTC Compliance"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Specialist in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The work is good work, given you can actually get it done.

    Cons

    Management is dysfunctional on all levels and this results in a very caught in the middle staff. Management is never available (closed door policy and avoidance policy in full effect) for guidance or training. There is an unfair distribution of rights to chosen people. Teleworking or asking to telework is blasphemous even though your contract or position allows it and management engages or allows others to engage in it at their convenience. I would not recommend this place to my worst enemy.

    Advice to Management

    Be present for guidance. Communicate with your staff. Identify their issues and HELP them solve them, don't avoid issues because you as a manager are there to help them succeed as they are there to help you succeed. Stop picking favorites and allow everybody who is interested to develop. And most importantly if you don't like management...get out of it.


  2. "General Services Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - General Services Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - General Services Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    none for me..but thats my opinion

    Cons

    job sucks..you are always taking care of everyone else

    Advice to Management

    you are compared to other persons that come form a golden guild, they dont tell you in your face but with very special wording knife you in the back


  3. Helpful (2)

    "Tragic Waste of Talent"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Decent pay, good health benefits, pension

    Cons

    The State Department spends millions recruiting "the best and the brightest" and then completely squanders the skills they bring to the table. Abysmal leadership and stifling bureaucracy eventually make even the most ambitious officers give up and simply do what they can to get by. Creativity and independent thinking are squashed in the Department, and everyone learns that all you need to do to succeed is suck up to the right people. It's incredibly sad when you realize how important our mission is and how impressive our people are. What a waste.

    Advice to Management

    It doesn't matter, because they don't care what the troops think.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "Total chaos"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Good colleagues. Some very smart people. Opportunity to do some good in the world despite leadership's best efforts.

    Cons

    Antiquated bureaucracy + too many appointees. There is no way this place should have so many. Sexual harassment and corruption/disregard for rules pretty rife.

    Advice to Management

    Stop ignoring your field experts. Washington isn't the center of the universe.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Educational Specialist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Counselor in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Senior Counselor in Arlington, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good money at a grade 13
    Prestige of working with the Department of State
    Pretty park-like campus at the Foreign Service Institute- was a former elite school for young women

    Cons

    Disgraceful practices by management. First line supervisors are permitted to create a hostile work environment. Division managers are disinterested in running their departments and caring about their employees as individuals. Went in to position so honored to be working for the federal government-such idealism! Quickly learned that innovative thinking, creativity, and being an individual is not rewarded. If you want to work here-keep your head down, do the job, don't make waves, especially to improve gaps in the delivery of work performance, and cover your assets. Check out how many EEOC complaints are filed against this organization. There were so many that State Department attorneys had to come in and have a review session on how managers need to treat people.

    Advice to Management

    Walk the walk. You espouse to be leaders. Check in to see if you are authentically treating your staff with decency, compassion and care. Be the servant leader. If you do not know what that term means-study the concept and incorporate the concepts in your day to day actions with your staff. Stop covering up for incompetent managers along the line of command. When their subordinates bring issues of malfeasance to you- listen and act on the information.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Working at FSI is a textbook definition of a hostile environment. They call it 'The Plantation' nuff said."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Working among all kinds of international people.

    Cons

    Horrible soul-sucking environment impossible to change since it trickles from the top (not so much @ State. There are some good teams there).
    Hypocritical management. DO NOT TRUST anything anyone says and walk with your back to the wall. If you are not 'a snake' you will be eaten alive.
    Huge turnover (just watch the ads they are ALWAYS for the same positions. There's a reason for that)

    Advice to Management

    Fire all people running FSI and start over with people who actually know how to manage an organization. This place keeps only the bad seeds. Everyone who worked there with me is gone. I wouldn't work there if it was the alternative to STARVATION!


  8. Helpful (1)

    "Foreign Service Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Ability to travel and see the world and get paid for it.

    Cons

    Foreign Service Officer themselves are one of the biggest turn offs. Culture is risk adverse and is often spends hours debating inane things with no strategic plan. Evaluation system is capricious and random. This is really an unhealthy environment to work, which is getting worse since they hired too many people in the last decade.

    Advice to Management

    Manage the organization!


  9. "Bureaucracy... inaction"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Consular Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Consular Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Working for the US Department of State brings you close to interesting international work, as a part of the most powerful government on the planet. As a government bureaucrat (i.e. NOT a contractor) you will earn the salary and benefits that most only dream of. A typical first year employee will receive approximately $100,000 in salary, pension, perks, benefits and other goodies.

    Cons

    In return for the pros, you will work in a organization where half of the people walking the halls wish they were the Secretary of State, while the other half wish they were retied. This dynamic leads to a corrosive office culture, which is not aided by an antiquated hierarchy that emphasizes individual work and deemphasizes teamwork. Most people are unhappy working here, however, the average time between first applying and entry on duty is six years, thus with the sunk-cost fallacy at work, they feel unable to leave for fear of having wasted those years.

    Advice to Management

    Secretary Kerry, keep doing what you are doing, you want no part of this. The last Secretary of State to invest any time in the organization was Colin Powell, and things didn't turn out too well for him.

    American People, how much do you know about the work of the State Department? Is it really work 70,000 employees and $52 billion a year?

    Obama Administration, when was the last time you actually used the State Department?

    OPM, regulation limits freedom, make it easier to join and easier to leave, then you might hire a team work having. You've got a deadwood problem and you know it.


  10. "Great Travel...but"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great travel. See the world and get paid for it.

    Cons

    Promotion process is capricious and vindictive. HR is broken. People don't know boundaries. Dull work even after 15 years. Culture is petty! If you want to do real work, find a different employer! I am.

    Advice to Management

    Deal with reality!


  11. Helpful (3)

    "Disappointing and deflating"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Rather Not Say in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Rather Not Say in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Depending on what office, bureau or embassy you're at you meet some of the most fascinating people from around the world. The travel opportunity is unlike most and for Foreign Service Officers (FSO) it's obviously mandatory. The living facilities are fantastic for FSOs and they often get bonuses (can be substantially large) regardless of government cutbacks (separate funds than other departments and agencies). Most FSO are able to fly business class internationally which I suppose if a pro depending on what your view point is. Happy hours, receptions, and happy hours are common and many supervisors find holes so they Department pays for it. Working under a political appointee makes life much easier. Looks great on a resume when you leave. They have no problems buying you the most expensive desk chair, keyboard, lamps, or couch for your office if it's what you want. Very large salaries compared to other U.S. Government departments and agencies.

    Cons

    This was probably the least fulfilling and most deflating job I've ever had for quite a few reasons. The Foreign Service Officers for some reason have the largest sense of entitlement and arrogance you will come across at any organization. Obviously there are a select few that are exceptional but they are hard to come by. They truly believe that their work in combat zones is just as commendable as what our troops do (literally heard this from more people than I can count). You can't speak out about anything because of fear you'll be isolated.

    Speaking of troops they treat veterans like trash. There's absolutely no respect for them (probably has something to do with how they talk about "serving" like they are a veteran) and I watched multiple veterans have their career paths blocked for standing up for what's right. If you're on loan from DoD they can't touch you but no matter what you think they do talk trash behind your back always talk down to you. Unfortunately my mind was not blown when a 39 year old FSO demanded that he get the same respect as a Marine Colonel. Just what I came to expect at State.

    The new generation of mid level management is a serious problem; the older the supervisor the better from my experience (50yo and up). Good ideas are consistently ignored or blocked from being channeled to the executive levels. Money is thrown around like it's falling off trees and pretty much anything a section head wants they get. It's just flat out abuse of tax payers money. I watched a podium get purchase for 25k and a dining room table for almost quadruple that. Holiday decorations are actually a major priority for supervisors which I found to be appalling when I saw civil service have their bonuses denied (Civil service has tiny bonuses compared to FSOs. Like I mentioned before they come from different funds).

    Another issue is that it's nearly impossible to get fired if you're civil service and not capable of collecting retirement. Most civil service is worked to the bone for their first five or ten years and then they stop caring. They get paid complete garbage (especially when you compare to FSO salaries) and put up with the unbelievable attitudes of FSOs so maybe that has something to do with it.

    The ambassadors and secretaries (not a desk secretary) I worked with were pretty good to go for the most part but that's because most are old school State. The problem here is I think State treats FSOs like they are corporate execs in the private industry and that's where the arrogance and entitlement stems from.

    The Foreign Service uses the term "serving" a TON but in reality it looks as though it's U.S. tax payers serving them. Sure some FSOs go to what is called the "big three" (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) but State pays tons of money to make sure they get their pools, booze, business class flights and great housing. Money is thrown down the drain and it's just flat out depressing if you truly care for Americans suffering from the economy.

    Advice to Management

    Check the integrity of your mid-level management. More oversight on the higher scale FSOs and new SFS. It should be a privilege to work in the Foreign Service and that should be instilled back into the ranks.


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