American taxpayers are on the hook for $12 million in predominantly cost-cutting consultant fees amassed under the tenure of former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who at times paid more than $300 an hour for consulting services, Politico has learned.
According to the news outlet, the costs in consulting services were primarily linked to Secretary Tillerson’s failed efforts to “redesign” the U.S. Department of State—make the State Department learner, cheaper, and modernized.
Tillerson initially set out to “transform” his department, according to one document [obtained by Politico], a goal that coincided with President Donald Trump’s attempts to slash by a third the nearly $60 billion a year the U.S. spends on the State Department and affiliated programs.
In the face of fierce criticism from current and former department officials who saw the redesign as a secrecy-cloaked excuse for heavy-handed cuts, Tillerson eventually scaled back the plan to focus on modernized technology and better management practices.
Congressional aides and former State Department officials noted that, despite months of work, Tillerson’s redesign initiative has had few, if any, tangible accomplishments. Some pointed out that the spending on consultants happened amid cost-cutting measures at State, including efforts to downsize its staff. Some also said that rather than rely on an army of high-priced consultants, Tillerson could have turned to public sources that would cost taxpayers nothing.
President Trump fired Tillerson on March 13, making it impossible for the former secretary to see much of his plan implemented.
Politico identifies the primary recipient of U.S. taxpayer funds as the consulting firm Deloitte, noting that the costs are “part of a pre-existing federal contract whose ceiling was lifted to $265 million.”
The news outlet acknowledges:
Now that Tillerson has been fired, the vaunted “Redesign” initiative he launched faces an uncertain future, but at least one clear legacy: around $12 million spent just for private consultants who in some cases charged the State Department more than $300 an hour.
The hired consultants reportedly spent an inordinate amount of time at State headquarters, meeting with top officials while collecting and analyzing data.
Lawmakers are expected to bring up the fate of Tillerson’s redesign efforts during the Senate confirmation hearing for CIA Director Mike Pompeo, chosen by Trump to become the next U.S. Secretary of State.