This bill grants competitive status for appointment to a position in the competitive service for which the employee is qualified to any employee of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) who was not terminated for cause, and who completes at least 12 months of service at any time before the termination of the SIGIR on October 5, 2013.
The Secretary of State shall certify to Congress that the Department of State has made reasonable efforts to ensure the integrity and independence of the Office of the Inspector General Information Technology systems.
Each Department entity under the Foreign Service Act of 1980 shall report within five business days to the Inspector General (IG) any allegations of:
program waste, fraud, or abuse;
criminal or serious misconduct on the part of a Department employee at the FS-1, GS-15, GM-15 level or higher;
criminal misconduct on the part of any Department employee; and
serious, noncriminal misconduct on the part of any individual who is authorized to carry a weapon, make arrests, or conduct searches (such as conduct that would constitute perjury or material dishonesty, warrant suspension as discipline for a first offense, or result in loss of law enforcement authority).
The IG may investigate such matters.
No Department entity with concurrent jurisdiction over such matters, including the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, may initiate an investigation without first reporting the allegations to the IG.
A Department entity that initiates an investigation of such a matter must fully cooperate with the IG, unless the IG authorizes an exception.
Temporary relaxation of such restrictions may occur in exigent circumstances.
This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration. According to govtrack.us, there are 5,343 bills and resolutions currently before the United States Congress. Of those, only about 5% will become law. They must be enacted before the end of the 2015-2017 session (the “114th Congress”).
On June 24, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominations by voice vote:
Cal. #129 – Charles C. Adams, Jr., of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Finland.
Cal. #130 – Mary Catherine Phee, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Sudan
Cal. #149 – Nancy Bikoff Pettit, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Latvia.
Cal. #150 – Gregory T. Delawie, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kosovo.
Cal. #151 – Ian C. Kelly, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia.
Cal. #152 – Julieta Valls Noyes, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia.
Last September, Mike Kelly, the Republican Representative for Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district introduced the Enhanced Security Clearance Act of 2014 (HR 5482) aimed at the implementation of enhanced personnel security programs which requires agency programs to “integrate information from government, publicly available, and commercial data sources, consumer reporting agencies, and social media.”
Mr. Kelly told ZDNet, “In particular, the bill will update government background checks to include an applicants’ publicly available electronic data including social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.” This bill was introduced on September 16, 2014, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted.
Well, the bill may have died but it was only a matter of time before social media content becomes part of the federal background investigation.
The Federal Investigative Services (OPM-FIS) provides investigative products and services for over 100 Federal agencies to use as the basis for suitability and security clearance determinations. OPM provides over 90% of the Government’s background investigations, conducting over two million investigations a year.
On June 17, the Office of Personnel Management, Federal Investigative Service (FIS), PIC Acquisitions Team, published a “Notice of Intent to Sole Source – PAEI Reports” to Social Intelligence, a company headquartered in California. Social media content is now officially called Publicly Available Electronic Information (PAEI). If we’re reading this correctly, it looks like there already are pilot projects with the same company conducted with the U.S. Army, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of State and the National Reconnaissance Office.
Below is the published notice via fedbiz:
It is the intention of the agency to award a firm-fixed price agreement to Social Intelligence for publicly available electronic information (PAEI) reports. This is not a solicitation for quotations, but rather a notice of the agency’s intent to make a sole source award to Social Intelligence.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Investigative Services (FIS) seeks to award a firm-fixed price agreement to Social Intelligence who will conduct searches of multiple sources of PAEI in an automated manner and provide complete, accurate, standardized reports to OPM-FIS when searches result in information pertinent to Subjects of Investigation.
OPM-FIS is participating in a set of pilot projects with other federal investigative service providers to evaluate the use of PAEI in the background investigative process. This acquisition will provide 400 PAEI reports over a period of approximately 6-9 months for a sample population of investigations to assess the OPM-FIS operational end-to-end process and relevancy to the investigation along with the effects of quality, costs and timeliness. The vendor must also provide high level training on how to review and analyze the PAEI reports and also provide customer and technical support 24×7 until 400 PAEI reports have been provided to OPM-FIS.
Social Intelligence is the only source that possesses knowledge and expertise obtained through participation in other high level government PAEI pilot projects, to include pilots with the U.S. Army, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of State and the National Reconnaissance Office. Social Intelligence is the only one available whose product will result in a consistent and accurate comparative analysis between results of the OPM-FIS pilot and other government agencies’ pilots. This vendor’s personnel have experience with and have received training on the personnel security process and the thirteen adjudicative guidelines due to participation in previous government pilots. Such experience is required in order to appropriately identify issues containing relevant adjudicative information. Only data that meets the adjudicative guidelines will be collected and retained by OPM-FIS.
This vendor was deemed a consumer reporting agency (CRA) by the Federal Trade Commission, as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. As of January 2013, the vendor was the only social media background screening company designated as a CRA. This designation is important as the FTC has ruled that CRAs must take reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information reported from social media sites. All of the above make Social Intelligence a unique source that would provide the best solution with the least risk to the government for this pilot.
According to its website, Social Intelligence (http://www.socialintel.com) “provides social media data, tools, and reports to commercial and Government organizations. Headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif., the company has developed a unique suite of products including employment background screenings, insurance claims investigations, corporate due diligence, and Government services. … Social Intelligence was created to provide companies and governmentalorganizations publicly available online information, while ensuring this data is used appropriately and legally.” It provides the following services:
Social Intelligence’s Social Monitoring & Evaluation solutions provide a powerful and cost-effective way to monitor and evaluate an individual’s ongoing online activity across the deep web.
Social Intelligence’s groundbreaking research into online identity science and its implications allows companies to confidently rely on social media and internet data. A fully automated capability, Social Intelligence’s proven, proprietary Identity Resolution algorithm identifies, matches, and scores aggregated publicly available online information, the first of multiple steps to solidify data veracity.
On it’s website, the company talks about “the opportunity at hand” — apparently 64 million people are unscorable by traditional credit scores and 55% of millennials are willing to share their data in exchange for discounts.
OPM, in the FAQ section of the CSID website, declares that our family members were “not affected by this breach. The only data potentially exposed as a result of this incident is your personal data.” Thus, our family members cannot use the credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. But wait. My spouse’s name, date of birth, place of birth, passport number, and social security number were listed in my SF-86. And my SF-86 has been compromised. So hasn’t my spouse been “affected” by this breach, too?
So far no one has been fired, no one has accepted responsibility for the breach, and the OPM notification letter says, “Nothing in this letter should be construed as OPM or the U.S. Government accepting liability for any of the matters covered by this letter or for any other purpose.”
Excerpt from the SCOTUS 6-3 decision from ZIVOTOFSKY, BY HIS PARENTS AND GUARDIANS, ZIVOTOFSKY ET UX. v. KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE (pdf):
Petitioner Zivotofsky was born to United States citizens living in Jerusalem. Pursuant to §214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, his mother asked American Embassy officials to list his place of birth as “Israel” on, inter alia, his passport. Section 214(d) states for “purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.” The Embassy officials refused to list Zivotofsky’s place of birth as “Israel” on his passport, citing the Executive Branch’s longstanding position that the United States does not recognize any country as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. Zivotofsky’s parents brought suit on his behalf in federal court, seeking to enforce §214(d). Ultimately, the D. C. Circuit held the statute unconstitutional, con- cluding that it contradicts the Executive Branch’s exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns.
Quick background of this long-standing practice: Place of birth was first added to the U.S. passport designed in 1917. An October 4, 1963 staff study by the Passport Office on “Place of Birth” information in the United States Passport reflects “the passport used during World War I was the first in which including the place of birth of the passport holder was mandatory as part of the identification of the bearer, probably was a wartime travel control measure. The item was included in all subsequent revisions of the passport format, down to and including the present issuances.”
For United States passport purposes, the Department of State has defined the term “bearer’s origin” to be the bearer’s place of birth as it is presently recognized. That entry is included to assist in identifying the individual, not the individual’s nationality. The passport very clearly states that the bearer is a United States national or citizen.
For a person born in Jerusalem, write JERUSALEM as the place of birth in the passport. Do not write Israel, Jordan or West Bank for a person born within the current municipal borders of Jerusalem. For applicants born before May 14, 1948 in a place that was within the municipal borders of Jerusalem, enter JERUSALEM as their place of birth. For persons born before May 14, 1948 in a location that was outside Jerusalem’s municipal limits and later was annexed by the city, enter either PALESTINE or the name of the location (area/city) as it was known prior to annexation. For persons born after May 14, 1948 in a location that was outside Jerusalem’s municipal limits and later was annexed by the city, it is acceptable to enter the name of the location (area/city) as it was known prior to annexation.
On June 1, five elected officials announced the land purchase for the FASTC facility at Fort Pickett.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes and Robert Hurt announced that land has been purchased and construction will begin on a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County, Virginia.
Last week, the Director of the U.S. General Services Administration signed a Record of Decision (ROD), which identified Fort Pickett as the site to construct and operate the FASTC. This decision was made following a month-long review period of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which considered potential environmental impacts of the site, as well as FASTC’s operations and training needs, and comments from the public.
The ROD and land purchase are major milestones in efforts to provide a facility dedicated to training foreign affairs personnel in security, lifesaving, and emergency techniques necessary for operating in today’s dangerous overseas environments. Building the FASTC at Fort Pickett will enable training collaboration and interagency partnerships between civilian, military, and intelligence agencies in the Washington D.C. area.
The Senate’s Virginia delegation is pleased; here is Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA):
“This is good news for the State Department and for Virginia,” said Sen. Warner.“The jobs and economic activity created by this project will be welcomed by this community, and the facility will have an important role in training those security officers who protect American diplomats around the world.”
“Today we are one step closer to breaking ground on a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett that will play a key role in keeping our diplomatic personnel safe around the world,” said Sen. Kaine. “Nearly three years after the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, a permanent facility to properly train our diplomatic personnel for service in an increasingly dangerous world is long overdue.”
House Armed Services subcommittee chairman Randy Forbes from Virginia’s 4th District says:
“Today marks another major step forward for a project that is not only important to Virginia, but also critical to the men and women who serve our country abroad,” said Rep. Forbes, Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. “Attacks against American missions in Yemen, Afghanistan, and the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 serve as powerful reminders of the evolving threats our Diplomatic Corps face on a daily basis. The construction of this dedicated training facility is essential to ensure that every American supporting our mission overseas is able to successfully promote U.S. interests and return safely home.”
Representative Robert Hurt from Virginia’s 5th District says:
“This is another positive step in bringing this critical, long overdue project to Fort Pickett,” said Rep. Hurt. “We will continue to work together to ensure our American diplomatic personnel have the best security training possible, and I am pleased that once again, that we are one step closer to groundbreaking at Fort Pickett, which has been identified as the site that offers the best resources for this training and the best long-term value for the taxpayer.”
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also praised the announcement:
“I am very pleased that the Record of Decision has been signed by the GSA. This is a big step in moving forward on construction of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Security Training Center,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “The GSA and DOS have done their due diligence and have undertaken an extensive process in search for the best possible and most cost effective site for the FASTC. It is no surprise that Virginia emerged as the right home for this important project, which will be an enormous economic driver for the region and our Commonwealth, creating as many as 1,000 jobs. My team and I were pleased to be a part of the effort that brought the FASTC to Virginia and we will continue to work with the congressional delegation, the various federal agencies and Nottoway County to bring this important project to fruition.”
The announcement notes that the Administration announced the selection of Fort Pickett after a multi-year exhaustive search as the best site to meet the State Department’s operational requirements and take advantage of synergies with the intelligence agencies and military facilities nearby in the Washington D.C. area. Also that Warner, Kaine, Forbes, and Hurt have long-supported the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett.
We just hope this project does not get stuck in Congress indefinitely while elected representatives continue to squabble over its location.
On May 28, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), issued a subpoena (pdf) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The subpoena compels OMB to provide the Committee with critical information he said HFAC has sought for nearly a year concerning the State Department’s plan to construct a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FAST-C) in Virginia.
Subpoena to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) | HFAC
The State Department plans to construct the FAST-C facility in Virginia at a cost of $413 million. However, the project’s initial estimate of $950 million suggests the likelihood of considerable cost escalation over the construction period. At either amount, the State Department proposal appears far more costly than the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to expand its Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia to provide State Department diplomatic security training, as is currently taking place.
Chairman Royce said: “In an increasingly dangerous world, the security of U.S. diplomats abroad is paramount. We must ensure that our diplomats receive improved security training, and a big part of providing that training effectively is making the most of our limited resources. That is why for nearly a year, I’ve been asking OMB to provide the Committee with its analysis, which according to OMB officials’ statements to Committee staff, recommended using an existing facility — a course that the Administration has apparently chosen to ignore. I’d like to know the factors considered in this important decision.”
In late 2013, OMB examined the two proposals to determine whether State’s request for funding for FAST-C was justified. Chairman Royce encouraged OMB to determine which proposal best addresses the State Department’s vital training needs in a fiscally responsible way. He also requested that the Government Accountability Office perform an independent analysis of the proposals in September 2014.
The Committee is aware that OMB analysts had completed a written analysis recommending that the State Department pursue its diplomatic security training at the DHS’s FLETC facility.
On May 19, 2014, Chairman Royce requested that then-OMB Director Sylvia Burwell provide the Committee with a copy of OMB’s analysis. On May 1, 2015, Chairman Royce reiterated his request to current OMB-Director Shaun Donovan, expanding it to include all “documents and communications” pertaining to the FASTC and FLETC facilities during OMB’s review period. OMB has given no indication it will comply fully with these requests.
Chairman Royce said: “I am disappointed that OMB hasn’t provided the Committee its analysis so that the Congress can make informed and responsible policy decisions in this critical area. The internal documents underlying this analysis should tell us how and why OMB arrived at its decision. In light of OMB’s continued refusal, I am left with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”
Chairman Royce’s January 9, 2014 letter to then-OMB Director Sylvia M. Burwell encouraging an independent OMB analysis is available here.
Royce’s May 19, 2014 letter requesting OMB’s analysis is available here.
Royce’s May 1, 2015 letter threatening to compel production of the analysis is available here.
In September 2014, Chairman Royce, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Chairman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) requested an independent Government Accountability Office review of the State and DHS proposals. That review is ongoing.
What are we learning from this first batch of emails?
1) The document dump is not arranged or ordered in any useful way. The emails from 2011 are mixed with 2012. Some of the emails are included more than once. Some of the redactions are rather odd, given that some of these emails were already published via the NYT. The former secretary of state is not referred to as HRC, only as “H.” The emails show an extremely small number of gatekeepers – Mills, Sullivan, Abedin, plus a couple of folks routinely asked to print this or that.
2) Sid, Sid, Sid — there are a good number of memos from “friend of S” or “HRC’s contact,” Sidney Blumenthal, who apparently had his own classification system. The memos he sent were marked “Confidential” although he was no longer a USG employee at the time he sent them and presumably, no classifying authority. Imagine the COM in Libya and NEA folks chasing down this intel stuff. Right. Instead of “OGA” for other government agency, State got “FOS”or “friend of S” as intel source.
3) “Pls. print” one of the former secretary of state’s favorite response to emails sent to her.
4) When former Secretary Clinton finally addressed the firestorm of her use of private email, she said: “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” a self-assured Clinton told more than 200 reporters crowded into a U.N. corridor. (via Reuters). It looks like she had more than one email address, and we don’t know how many devices. The email below was sent from an iPad.
8) In November 2012, the House Intelligence Committee had a closed hearing that reportedly had the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Matt Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, CIA Acting Director Michael Morell and the State Department’s Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. Those could be the Matt and Pat in this email:
9) There was a meeting at the WH Situation Room on Nov 26, 2:35 pm on Benghazi. The invitation was for the Secretary +1, and if she was unable to attend, an invitation for one representative only. The then Executive Secretary John Bass (now US Ambassador to Turkey) asked Mills if she’d prefer “Pat” to attend or “Dan.” Dan is State’s former counterterrorism guy, replied “Pat should go” in reference to Patrick Kennedy. Mills asked HRC if she’s good with Pat going and she replied “I think I should go w Pat.”
10) On December 17, 2012, then State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland (now A/S for the EUR bureau) confirmed that the Accountability Review Board on Benghazi had concluded its work, and that the report went to Secretary Clinton that day (see ARB Concludes Work, Unclassified Report May Be Publicly Available on Wednesday). The following email is between Burns and Mills dated December 18, 2012. It mentions three names, Eric, Pat, and Greg Starr. We are guessing that the Eric in the email is Eric Boswell, the then Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and Pat is the Under Secretary for Management. The portion referencing Greg Starr was redacted except for Burns’ “I like the Greg Starr idea.”
11) On December 20, 2012, the State Department’s two deputies, William Burns and Thomas Nides went before Congress instead of Secretary Clinton (see Clinton Recovering, Top Deputies Burns and Nides Expected to Testify Dec.20). Thank yous all around with HRC saying thank you to Burns and Nides. Thereafter, Cheryl Mills sent an email praising HRC’s email as being “so nice.” This was then followed with more thank yous from Nides and Burns.
12) So nothing surprising in the emails except the parts that may give some of us toothache. And the missing parts. This is only the first batch of emails although our understanding is that this constitutes the Benghazi-related emails. If that’s the case, it is striking that we see:
a) No emails here to/from Eric Boswell, the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.
c) No emails to/from Gregory Hicks who was Embassy Tripoli’s DCM at the time of the attack and who would have been attached by phone/email with Foggy Bottom (Hey! Are telephone conversations recorded like Kissinger’s?)
d) Except for an email related to one of the ARB panel member, there are no emails related to setting up the ARB, the process for the selection of ARB members, the assistance requested by the ARB, the support provided by the State Department to the panel, etc. What happened to those emails?
13) Then Secretary Clinton was using at least two emails from her private server according to these released emails. It does not look like anyone from the State Department could have just sent her an email by looking her up on the State Department’s Global Address List (GAL). But certainly, her most senior advisers including the experienced, career bureaucrats at the State Department must have known that she was using private email.
Seriously, no one thought that was odd? Or did everyone in the know thought it was beyond their pay grade to question the practice? Let’s imagine an entry level consular officer conducting official business using a private email server. How long would that last? Right.
So what happened there? Ugh! Pardon me? You were just doing your job? That CIA briefer also was just doing his job.