Tillerson Vents About ‘Fragmented’ Gov’t: ‘Not A Highly Disciplined Organization’

The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, talks with Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, not in the picture, after he arrived in Kuwait, Monday, July 10, 2017. (AP photo/ Jaber Abdulkhaleg)
Jaber Abdulkhaleg/AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed frustration Thursday at the “fragmented” decision-making processes in the Trump administration, noting the government was “not a highly disciplined organization.”

Tillerson made the comments to pool reporters on the plane ride home from a multi-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, including an attempt at opening discussion between Qatar and other Arab states who accuse it of funding terrorism, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Well it is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon because I was the ultimate decision-maker,” Tillerson told the reporters, adding: “We had very long-standing, disciplined processes and decision-making — I mean, highly structured — that allows you to accomplish a lot, to accomplish a lot in a very efficient way.”

The Times noted that Tillerson said he didn’t meant to criticize the government, but that “it’s largely not a highly disciplined organization.”

“Decision-making is fragmented, and sometimes people don’t want to take decisions. Coordination is difficult through the interagency [process].”

He also noted that his job itself used many of the same skills he developed leading the enormous oil and gas corporation.

“Engagement with the rest of the world is actually very easy for me,” Tillerson said. “None of it is new to me. It is more difficult, it is more difficult, because of just the elements we talked about.”

Various reports have suggested the Trump administration has “sidelined” the Tillerson-led State Department, including with proposed massive budget cuts. Tillerson has himself been criticized for shutting out the press from foreign trips and press conferences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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