Tag Archives: SFRC Hearing

State Department Seeks Contractor For Simulated Congressional Hearing Sessions

– Domani Spero

 

Last month, the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute issued Solicitation #SFSIAQ14Q3002 for a contractor to provide professional training on effective congressional testimony and briefing skills.  The requirement solicitation also includes a requirement for Simulated Congressional Hearing Sessions.

Related post: US Embassy Oslo: Clueless on Norway, Murder Boards Next?

 

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Below is an excerpt from the solicitation posted on fedbiz:

The purpose of this project is to obtain the services of a contractor to deliver interactive, professional training seminars for senior-level officials on effective congressional testimony and briefing skills. There will be one primary product, a two-day course entitled “PT-302 – Communicating with Congress: Briefing and Testifying.” This course targets government professionals at the GS-14/FS-02 level or higher, who will be testifying before Congress or briefing members or staffers. We will offer this course between three to four times per year. There is a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 participants per class.

Secondly, LMS [Leadership Management School] will seek the services of a contractor to deliver training on strategies for building effective relationships with members of Congress and their staffers to participants of the Ambassadorial Seminar (PT-120) and other senior-level courses. The Ambassadorial Seminar is offered to Ambassadors-designate (including both career Foreign Service Officers and political appointees) and their spouses. This seminar normally runs two weeks and includes up to, but not limited to, 14 participants.

Lastly, contractor shall submit additional proposals to deliver hour-long, one-on-one simulated congressional hearing sessions with feedback for individuals as preparation for anticipated congressional testimony. These individuals may or may not be graduates of the Ambassadorial seminar, or they may be or may not be other, senior-ranking government officials.

C.4.1. Communicating With Congress: Briefing and Testifying (PT-302)

  • Provide professional services to design and deliver PT-302, Communicating with Congress: Briefing and Testifying, for senior ranking officers drawn from the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and military. It is expected that the first year will include significant course design work, but that option years will not involve major course design.
  • It shall include the following topics presented by individuals with current or recent Capitol Hill experience. Experience within the past two years is highly desirable.
  • Training and skill-building in briefing techniques;
  • Presentations/discussions on congressional committees and the hearing process
  • Presentations/discussions on tips for leveraging State’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs
  • Presentations/discussions on building effective relationships with Congress members and staffers.
  • It shall also include simulated congressional hearings, at which:
    • Each class member will deliver written and oral briefs/testimony before a panel of experts capable of appropriate questioning and criticism;
    • All briefings/testimony and responses to questions are video recorded;
    • Experts critique the individual briefing/testimony and responses to questions.

C.4.2. Ambassadorial Seminar (PT-120)

  • Provide professional services to design and deliver a three-hour training segment on strategies for building effective relationships with members of Congress and their staffers to participants of the Ambassadorial Seminar (PT-120) and other senior-level courses.
  • This shall be delivered via 1-2 presenters with ample time for questions and answers. If contractor provides two presenters, one presenter shall have current or recent experience on Capitol Hill as a member or staffer (experience within the past two years highly desirable), and the second presenter shall have recent senior-level executive branch service with personal experience in developing successful relationships on Capitol Hill, to include effective congressional testimony and briefing experience (experience within the past three years highly desirable). If contractor provides only one presenter, this presenter shall have both current or recent experience on Capitol Hill as a member or staff, and recent senior-level executive branch service with personal experience in developing successful relationships with Capitol Hill.

C.4.3. Simulated Congressional Hearing Sessions

  • Provide professional services to deliver hour-long, one-on-one simulated congressional hearing sessions with feedback for individuals as preparation for anticipated congressional testimony. These individuals may or may not be graduates of the Ambassadorial seminar, or they may be or may not be other, senior-ranking government officials.

 

The solicitation requires that the contractor/s’ professional qualifications include experience delivering training in a federal government context with senior executive participants; professional experience in working with Congressional staffers and members; current or recent Capitol Hill professional experience. Experience within the past two years is also highly desirable.  For presenters in the three-hour and one-hour sessions, qualifications also include prior service as a senior executive in a federal agency with personal experience briefing and testifying to Congress.  But the government also wants contractors with “knowledge of and experience using adult learning principles in the facilitation and delivery of a course” as well as “expertise in experiential learning methodologies and techniques.”

This should help avoid future incidents of trampling through the salad bowl during a confirmation hearing and save us from covering our eyes.

 

 

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Got Tired of Laughing — SFRC Confirmation Hearings Now on Audio Only?

– Domani Spero

“Is there a rule ambassadors can’t have set foot in the countries they are going to ambassador? Would it ruin the surprise?” Jon Stewart asked with sort of a straight face.  Then he did double jabs on the corrupt practice of awarding ambassadorships to political donors and bundlers.  This was funny sad, really — well, maybe more sad than funny for Mr. Stewart’s subjects. If you missed the laughs, see below:

Yeah, bet you didn’t know that Iceland cost more than Argentina in the ambo sweeps.  Sure, Argentina has horses, wine, and tango, but Iceland has Westeros, folks.

In any case, Congress must have gotten tired of laughing. The last time we checked, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee only had the audio up on its website for the latest confirmation hearings.  We hope this was because of the snow that week or some glitch and nothing like the remove the Marine Corps Times from the newsstands sort of thing.  Because that would not be cool.

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Today at the SFRC: Bauchus (China), Chacon (DGHR), Smith (INR)

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–Domani Spero

Today, the  Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding its confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nominee for the next ambassador to China, the Director General of the Foreign Service and the Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.  You know where all the attention will be.

Via sfrc

Via sfrc

Presiding: Senator Menendez

Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Time: 10:00 AM

Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Webcast: This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Please return to this page to view the hearing live and see the nominees prepared testimonies:

Panel One:

The Honorable Max Baucus (see WH announcement)
of Montana, to be Ambassador to China

Panel Two:

The Honorable Arnold Chacon (see WH statement)
of Virginia, to be Director General of the Foreign Service
The Honorable Daniel Bennett Smith (see WH statement)
of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research
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Today at the SFRC: AM – Gottemoeller, Rose, Scheinman; PM – Broas, Lu, Sherman

– By Domani Spero

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today will hold confirmation hearings on the nominees to three posts related to arms control  (T Bureau) and nonproliferation. The afternoon hearings will consider the nominations for the ambassadorial posts to Morocco, Albania and Portugal.

Morning Hearings

Presiding: Senator Menendez
Date: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM
Location:Senate Dirksen 419

Nominees:

  • The Honorable Rose Eilene Gottemoeller of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
  • Mr. Frank A. Rose of Massachusetts, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance
  • Mr. Adam M. Scheinman of Virginia, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the Rank of Ambassador

 

This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Click here http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nomination-09-26-2013  to view the hearing live or read the prepared statements.

 

Afternoon Hearings:

Presiding: Senator Murphy
Date: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Time: 02:00 PM
Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Nominees:

  • Mr. Timothy Broas of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • Mr. Donald Lu of California, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Albania
  • Mr. Robert A. Sherman of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic

This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Click here http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nomination-09-26-2013-pm  to watch video or read the nominees’ prepared statements.

 

(O_O)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today at the SFRC: Goldberg, Blake, Jr., Stanton, Hyatt

– By Domani Spero

On September 25, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) will consider the nominees to four ambassadorial posts in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP).

 

Presiding: Senator Cardin
Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Time: 02:30 PM
Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Nominees:

  • The Honorable Philip S. Goldberg of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines
  • The Honorable Robert O. Blake, Jr. of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia
  • Ms. Karen Clark Stanton of Michigan, to be Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • Ms. Amy Jane Hyatt of California, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Palau

 

For Ambassador Goldberg, until recently A/S to State/INR, the Philippines will be his second ambassadorial posting after Bolivia. You might recall that he was appointed to Bolivia in 2006 and in 2008, Evo Knievel’s government gave him 72 hours to leave the country, after declaring him persona non grata.

For Ambassador Blake, Jr., son of retired Ambassador Robert O. Blake, and until recently A/S to State/SCA, Indonesia will be his second ambassadorial posting after  Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

If confirmed, this will be Ms. Stanton’s first ambassadorial appointment.  Prior to this appointment, she was the Executive Director at State/EAP where a recent OIG report says: “The executive director is respected throughout the Department and the bureau for competence, leadership, innovation, and hard work but is also seen as being unnecessarily direct on occasion. Inspectors advised the director to be mindful of the tone used in conveying decisions or responses to requests.”

If confirmed, this will also be Ms. Hyatt’s first ambassadorial appointment. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Hyatt was the Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  

This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Click here: http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nomination-09-25-2013 for video and prepared statements of the nominees.

 

(O_O)

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Today at the SFRC: AM – Bush, Childress, Daughton, Harrington, Reddick, Hoover, Hoza; PM – Malinowski, Harper, Nix-Hines, Hamamoto

– By Domani Spero

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a packed schedule this week. This morning, the Senate will consider seven nominations for ambassadorial posts to Africa. In the afternoon, the SFRC will consider the nominees for State/DRL and three other UN-related nominations.   With a schedule like this, how much time will the Senators have to listen and ask questions?  Or maybe the question might be, how many Senators will actually show up for these hearings?

Morning Hearings – 10:00 AM

Presiding: Senator Coons
Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Panel One:

  • Mr. Dwight L. Bush, Sr. of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco
  • Mr. Mark Bradley Childress of Virginia, to be Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania
  • Mr. Thomas F. Daughton of Arizona, to be Ambassador to Namibia
  • Mr. Matthew Harrington of Virginia, to be Ambassador to Lesotho

Panel Two:

  • The Honorable Eunice S. Reddick of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to Niger
  • Mr. John Hoover of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador to Sierra Leone
  • Mr. Michael S. Hoza of Washington, to be Ambassador to Cameroon
Live webcast of the hearings as well as the prepared statements of the nominees will be posted at
(._.)

Afternoon Hearings:

Presiding: Senator Boxer
Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Time: 02:30 PM
Location: Senate Dirksen 419

  • Mr. Tomasz P. Malinowski of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
  • Mr. Keith M. Harper of Maryland, to be the United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council
  • Ms. Crystal Nix-Hines of California, to be the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
  • Ms. Pamela K. Hamamoto of Hawaii, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
Live webcast of the hearings as well as the prepared statements of the nominees will be posted at
(._.)

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Today at the SFRC: Caroline Kennedy, Anne Patterson and Gregory Starr

– By Domani Spero

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding confirmation hearings for Caroline Kennedy, Anne Patterson and Gregory Starr today:

Date: Thursday, September 19, 2013

Time: 10: AM

Location: Senate Hart 216

Panel One:

Ms. Caroline Kennedy
of New York, to be Ambassador to Japan

Panel Two:

The Honorable Anne W. Patterson 
of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security
Video and prepared statements will be posted here when available.
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State Dept Now Has 27 High-Threat, High-Risk Posts — Are You In One of Them?

By Domani Spero

 

Two top Diplomatic Security officials went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the July 16 hearing on S.980, The Embassy Security and Personnel Protection Act of 2013:  The guy who currently holds three jobs, Gregory B. Starr (Acting Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service) and Bill Miller, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of High Threat Posts.

McClatchy reports that the officials told the Senate that fifteen diplomatic posts in high-threat areas fail to meet safety standards 10 months after the Benghazi attacks.  Mr. Starr was quoted saying, “We cannot retrofit many of our buildings to withstand blasts or direct attacks without the ability to move to a new location . . . and build a new facility.”

The Starr testimony is here, and the Miller testimony is here.

AA/S Star’s testimony includes this:

DS is hiring 151 new security professionals this and the next fiscal year, many of whom will directly serve at or provide support to our high-threat, high- risk posts. We are also working very closely with the Department of Defense (DOD) to expand the Marine Security Guard program, as well as to enhance the availability of forces to respond in extremis to threatened U.S. personnel and facilities. We recently worked with DOD and the U.S. Marine Corps to elevate personnel security as a primary mission of the Marine Security Guards. Each of these efforts enhances the Department’s ability to supplement, as necessary, the host government’s measures in fulfilling its obligations under international law to protect U.S. diplomatic and consular property and personnel.

Missions overseas with some exceptions typically get one RSO and one ARSO. According to a March 2013 statistics, Diplomatic Security has 1,951 Security Officers (diplomatic couriers, engineers and techs excepted). It is slated to grow by 151 in FY2013 and another 151 in FY2014 to a total of 2,253. This is the crew that staff eight field offices in the United States, most of 284 posts overseas, the expanded DS offices in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and the newly designated high-threat, high-risk posts that now numbers 27. These are the same folks that provide security to the Secretary of State seven days a week, 24 hours a day, everywhere he travels in the world, as well as protective security details for cabinet-level foreign dignitaries who visit the United States.

We have some two months left in the fiscal year. Whoever is hired or will be hired for the remainder of this fiscal year and next year still has to undergo required training.  At this point, can we really count on those additional 151 new security professionals to serve or provide support to these 27 high threat posts?

In May 2013, in its announcement of the ARB Benghazi recommendation implementation, the Department said this:

“All high threat posts now have a minimum of a one-year tour of duty. We are planning to ensure overlap between incumbent and incoming positions to facilitate continuity of operations at high threat posts. Temporary duty assignments are set at a minimum of 120 days.”

That looks good on paper but you can’t do overlap if you can’t staff positions with incoming personnel. There is a limited pool of available agents with high-threat tactical training, and a good number of them are probably deployed to AIP posts. Some have also done back to back one-year postings between Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there’s Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and all that …

From our burn bag: “Another round of TDY requests for high-threat posts went unfilled with exactly ZERO DS agents volunteering. DS is now at the point where they’re threatening to direct agents to these high-threat locations for periods of 45 to 60 days.”

Even if DS is successful in ordering TDY directed assignments to high threat locations for 45-60 days, that is only half the duration State had previously cited as a minimum TDY length on its the Benghazi ARB implementation. And it would be exactly the same as the Libya TDYs, which, according to RSO Eric Nordstrom were 8-weeks duration or 56-day temporary duty assignments.

The Department also said that it “established a High Threat Board to review our presence at High Threat, High Risk posts; the Board will review these posts every 6 months.”

May 20, 2013 see State Dept Announces Implementation of 24 Out of 29 ARB Benghazi Recommendations

Fast-forward to July 2013, there are now 27 posts which fall under the high- threat, high-risk designation. And the DAS for the High Threat bureau just told Congress that the list will be reviewed annually, at a minimum, and more frequently as needed.

After the September 2012 attacks on our facilities in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Sudan, and Egypt, the Department reviewed its security posture and created my position, the Diplomatic Security Deputy Assistant Secretary of High Threat Posts, also known as HTP, along with a staff of security professional to support high-threat, high-risk posts. The Department assessed our diplomatic missions worldwide and weighed criteria to determine which posts are designated as high- threat, high-risk – there are now 27 posts which fall under this designation. This designation is not a static process and the list will be reviewed annually, at a minimum, and more frequently as needed. As emergent conditions substantially change, for better or for worse, at any post worldwide, high-threat, high-risk designations will shift, and missions will be added or deleted from this category. The HTP Directorate I oversee will lead the security operations in these high- threat, high-risk posts around the world, coordinate strategic and operational planning, and drive innovation across the broad spectrum of DS missions and responsibilities. We continue to work closely with the Regional Bureaus to ensure that everyone has visibility of the security threats at our posts.

We do not have a complete list of the high threat posts except the 17 posts already reported by the National Review Online in November 2012 from a State Department announcement, and CBS News here in December 2012 with a “senior State Department official” as source. See New Diplomatic Security Office to Monitor 17 High Threat Diplomatic Missions (With ARB Update) Dec 8, 2012 and State Dept’s New High Threat Posts Are Not All Danger Posts Dec 9, 2012.

As of this writing, the positions of Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security (formerly held by Eric Boswell), Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs (formerly held by Charlene Lamb) and Director for the Office of Foreign Missions (formerly held by Eric Boswell) remain vacant.

During the same hearing, Mr. Starr, according to McClatchy told senators that Secretary Kerry was reviewing those on administrative leave, as well as the circumstances of the attack but went on to praise the reprimanded officers.

“These are people that have given their careers to diplomatic security as well and the security of the Department of State, and I have a great deal of admiration for them,” Starr said. “It does not excuse the fact that we had a terrible tragedy in Benghazi . . . (but) all through the years that we’ve had multiple attacks in Yemen and in Afghanistan and in Iraq, those people performed admirably.”

It’s been almost seven months to the day three DS and NEA officials were put “on administrative leave pending further action.” Are these positions open because these officials will potentially return to these jobs after their administrative investigations conclude or is it because the government’s case is not going anywhere? Also, Secretary Kerry has been on the job for about six months now and on travel for over two months (68 days on travel since assuming post), visiting 27 countries, logging 134,691 miles along the way.

When does he even get the time?

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May 7, 2013: Today at the SFRC – James Knight (Chad), Deborah Jones (Libya)

 

Presiding: Senator Menendez

Date: Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM

Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Webcast: This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Please return to this page to view the hearing live at the specified date and time.

NOMINEES:

The Honorable James Knightof Alabama, to be the Ambassador to the Republic of Chad

The Honorable Deborah Kay Jones, of New Mexico, to be the Ambassador to Libya

 

 

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At the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week: Clinton on 1/23, Kerry on 1/24

The outgoing and the incoming Secretary of State will both be at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. It looks like both events will be presided by the presumptive incoming chairman of the SFRC, Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Senator Menendez is not/not our pick for next chairman (oh god, that one) but that’s beyond our magical powers.  All we can do is hope that he does not mess up so badly that he makes it into the front pages of both The Daily Caller and Gawker, again.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Benghazi: The Attacks and the Lessons Learned
Presiding: Senator Menendez
Time: 09:00 AM EST
Location: Senate Hart 216

Witness:
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC

The hearing should be broadcast live here.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nomination Hearing
Presiding: Senator Menendez
Time: 10:00 AM EST
Location: Senate Hart 216

Nominee:
The Honorable John F. Kerry
of Massachusetts, to be Secretary of State

 

The video of the confirmation hearing should be available here.

—> Domani Spero

 

 

 

 

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