Federal Times Blogs

High stakes and bathroom breaks at State ops center

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The Washington Post just posted a fun article that peeks inside the State Department’s high-pressure, round-the-clock operations center. In an office that coordinates phone calls to the most powerful people in the world, even things as mundane as bathroom breaks have their own protocol:

“I’m going blue!” duty desk officers call out when they stand up to go to the bathroom. They flip a switch, triggering a blue glow from the [Barbie-sized, light bulb-equipped wooden] outhouse. As on an airplane, the light signals: Bathroom occupied; remain in your seats. Work stations must be staffed in case of an emergency.

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Hillary Clinton: Rock star?

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was greeted like a rock star today when she made her first appearance at the department’s D.C. headquarters.

Hillary Clinton greets employees at Foggy Bottom.

Hillary Clinton greets employees at Foggy Bottom.

Clinton arrived this morning to thunderous applause outside the C Street entrance and, once inside, waded through a camera-toting crowd numbering well into the hundreds, taking time to shake hands with employees eager to get their first look at the new boss.  The applause didn’t die down for more than three minutes, at which point the brief lull gave way to another round of hoots and hollars.

“We love you Madam Secretary!” one female employee shouted.

“Thank you,” a jovial Clinton replied.

Clinton said she was “thrilled beyond words” to become the 67th Secretary of State. She thanked employees for the warm reception and said she was looking forward to sharing with them a great adventure, but cautioned that the work before them would not be easy.

This is going to be a challenging time and it will require 21st century tools and solutions to meet our problems and seize our opportunities. I’m going to be asking a lot of you. I want you to think outside the proverbial box. I want you to give me the best advice you can. I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue that will make us better. 

Clinton spoke for about 10 minutes, then spent another six or so minutes shaking as many hands as she could.

The department’s skilled video team captured the entire event, presented for you below.

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