Madam Secretary

Office space snafu at State

Office space snafu at State

Sources tell Madam Secretary that all is not well on the 7th floor of Foggy Bottom, where Secretary Clinton has her suite. The culprit? Office space.

Bill Burns, State’s widely admired No. 3, has been bumped from his offices to make way for Jacob Lew, one of Hillary’s two new deputies, sources say. Lew, who was director of the OMB in the Clinton White House, has been tasked with getting State more cash.  

Proximity to the Secretary is everything on the 7th floor of the State Department building, and we hear that the much-respected Burns, the under secretary for political affairs (or “P”), and his staff have been bumped from the relatively central office suite normally reserved for P and unceremoniously reassigned to the less-desirable “G” suites down the hall. The folks in the G offices (normally for the under secretary for global affairs) are apparently being bumped even farther down the hall to the “R” offices, normally occupied by the under secretary for public diplomacy. Where the R folks are going is anyone’s guess, but it’s presumably the far-from-coveted 6th floor — hardly a good message to send about the importance of public diplomacy under a new administration. 

We hear rank-and-file foreign service officers (FSOs) are none too happy with the move, which is considered a slight to Burns, a career diplomat who is the highest-ranking FSO in the country. One former government employee with good contacts at State put it to MS this way:

Most comments I’ve heard thus far about reaction in the building aren’t quite suitable for print. But I think it can be summed up with a supremely cynical “oh, so THAT’s how they’re going to treat us.” But can share one good reaction: “forget hopes Hilary will work out at State….we’re right back to the worst of the Albright days, only with bigger egos.”