Mc Kinsey was chosen as a sole source contractor because they had done the War for Talent [the underpinning for Secretary [Colin] Powell’s effort to increase FS manpower] previously.
When I became the Staff Director, we had five different written exams – one for each career track.
In 1989, a court order found that the Department of State had discriminated against women in the written portion of the Foreign Service Officer Test, which led to initial changes in the exam.
In 2006, then-Director General of the Foreign Service George Staples proposed that the written exam be removed from the process because of its negative impact on minority hiring.
Margaret Dean, Staff Director for the Board of Examiners (BEX) from 2004 through 2007, explains the challenges that she and her team faced in trying to design an exam which would not be biased against women and minorities and which would continue to yield the high quality of candidates needed by the Foreign Service.
During her tenure as Director of BEX, alterations to the exam included changing from five written exams, one for each track, to one exam; transitioning the exam from bubble-sheet and blue book to an online process; and adding the PNQs so that reviewers could get a better sense of a candidate’s background.