The Trump transition team has asked that the State Department turns over information regarding "gender-related staffing, programming, and funding".
The request comes just a week after the Trump team faced scrutiny for attempting to collect information about Energy Department climate change officials.
According to The Washington Post, State Department leaders sent out a "Flash Transition Tasker" to several offices and bureaus. The request ordered all state department offices hand in by 5pm Wednesday (21 December) complete reports on the positions and programmes in the department that focus on promoting women's and gender issues.
The official request required offices include details on all existing programmes and activities that "promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women's participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc."
The Post noted that the request did not ask for the names of the officials working on the programmes but asked that each office include the "position whose primary functions are to promote such issues".
State Department officials confirmed to the Post that the Trump transition authorised the request and that the department fulfilled the request. A senior State Department official told the Post's Josh Rogin that because Trump's team did not request names, the department felt compelled to cooperate.
"It's not clear to us what the intent is behind this request," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. "The Trump team could be looking to advance gender issues and make it a priority—or you could look at it as a witch hunt."
Another State Department official noted that fears quickly spread throughout the department about the negative actions the Trump administration could take on both political appointees and career officials who work on those programmes. "These types of requests send a cold chill through the Department and career diplomats dedicated to their work and service to the country," the official said.
The official added: "It's devastating to morale."
According to The New York Times, state employees are concerned the incoming administration were attempting to pinpoint which programmes were focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. State Department press secretary John Kirby tried to ease concerns, saying the information being requested was not unusual.