|Hillary Clinton brainchild gender equality employment at the State Dept.|
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team asked the State Department this week to submit details of programs and jobs aimed at promoting gender equality, rattling State Department employees concerned that the incoming administration will roll back a cornerstone project of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The one-page memo, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times on Thursday, directed employees to outline “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.”
It also requested a list of positions “whose primary functions are to promote such issues” — though not the names of people in those positions — as well as how much funding was directed to gender-related programs in the 2016 fiscal year.
The wording of the memo is neutral and does not hint at any policy change. Nevertheless, some State Department employees took note of the reference to “gender-related staffing,” which they said could also refer to programs focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, though the memo did not refer specifically to them.
The memo is reminiscent of one the transition team sent recently to the Energy Department, which asked for the names of people who had worked on climate change or attended global climate talks organized by the United Nations within the past five years. That more detailed questionnaire, on the heels of Mr. Trump’s appointment of a climate change denialist to head the Environmental Protection Agency, sowed fears that the Trump administration would purge anyone involved in trying to curb the effects of climate change.
The latest request drew expressions of concern from advocacy groups and some on Capitol Hill.
“The transition team should clarify their intent,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, said in a statement. “I can promise that if the next administration intends to roll back programs designed to lift women up, it will very quickly meet stiff opposition in the Senate.”
The Trump transition team declined a request for comment on the latest memo. A person answering the phone in the State Department transition office directed inquiries to the public affairs office, which declined to confirm the existence of the memo or to discuss specific information being sought by Mr. Trump’s team.
After a slow start, the transition team is accelerating its work to staff the State Department, sending memos requesting a range of information from the rank and file. Among the issues it asked about is the department’s antiterrorism initiative, Countering Violent Extremism.
Mr. Trump has made the fight against the Islamic State central to his foreign policy and has railed against what he said was President Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” The transition team’s questions have led some in the department to assume that, at a minimum, the program will be renamed Countering Islamic Extremism.
Transition officials are said to be concerned about how many senior jobs in the department will be vacated by departing political appointees. They asked whether there would be anyone to show the secretary of state-designate, Rex W. Tillerson, around his office.
On Wednesday, the State Department press secretary, John Kirby, told reporters that in general terms, the information being sought by Mr. Trump’s team was not out of the ordinary.
Excerpts from the New York Times