@StateDept Tells Employees There’s “Enough Time” and It’s Updating Contingency Plans For “Orderly Shutdown”

Posted: 9:59 am PT

 

Related to our prior post — As Govt #Shutdown Looms Large, @StateDept Still “Reviewing All Available Options” #MissingGuidance — we’ve learned that Acting DGHR and “M Coordinator” Bill Todd sent out a message to State Department employees this morning concerning planning for a potential lapse in appropriations.

He tells employees that “The Administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur. There is enough time to prevent a lapse in appropriations.”

He talks about “prudent management” and working on updating the agency’s contingency plans for “executing an orderly shutdown” should there be a lapse in appropriations:

“… prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding, and that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.”

The potential shutdown is tonight and Tillerson’s godpod people are still working on guidance that should have been out a week ago?

For posts whose workday doesn’t start on Monday but starts tomorrow and Sunday, what are they supposed to do with less than 12 hours to go? The December 2017 guidance says that “Posts that normally operate on Saturdays or Sundays will immediately commence procedures.”

But … but … what procedures are they supposed to commence immediately if/when the shutdown happens tonight?

The message from A/DGHR and M Coordinator Bill Todd ends with “The uncertainty of the current circumstances puts our workforce in a difficult situation, and should a lapse occur, it could impose hardships on many employees as well as the people that we serve every day.”  Apparently, he also expressed commitment to providing employees “with updated and timely information on any further developments.”

Uh-oh.  Remember how many folks were furloughed in 2013?

We’ve heard that there are overseas posts already telling employees to just show up on Monday and that they will be told then who will be furloughed. We have not heard yet what will happen to posts that opens tomorrow and Sunday. Are we going to see updated guidance at 11:59 pm tonight? Will folks be working on those furlough lists/letters after midnight tonight?

Related posts:

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Senators Seek Review/Analysis of @StateDept and @USAID Sexual Harassment and Assault Data

Posted: 2:29 am ET

 

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ranking Member of the SFRC Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, led the Committee’s Democrats in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green on January 17, requesting a review and analysis of data to better understand the scope of sexual harassment and assault issues at the Department and Agency, in order to consider appropriate policy changes to address the problems.

ABOUT TIME.

Note that back in September 2016,  this blog wanted to know the statistics on sexual assault in the Foreign Service, specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. We were also interested in overall statistics on sexual assault in the Foreign Service worldwide, during the last 10 years. We did not ask for names, only numbers. We simply asked for an accounting of sexual assault reports since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the present, and the worldwide number of reports spanning over 280 overseas posts in the last 10 years. We were sure the data must be available somewhere. How could it not?

This was the State Department’s official response at that time:

“The Office of Special Investigations receives and catalogues allegations and complaints. Allegations are neither categorized by location nor by alleged offense.”

That remains a shocking response.

Without looking at their data by location and offense, or for that matter by individuals accused, how is the State Department to know when there are serial offenders in its ranks? (See The State Dept’s Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure Appears to Be a Black Hole of Grief).

In its 4th Quarter 2017 report for period ending September 30, 2017, the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) does have some information on Equal Employment Opportunity Data required by the No Fear Act.  The public report indicates that reprisal is the number one complaint by basis in FY2017.  Non-sexual harassment went from 72 complaints in 2016 to 103 at the end of FY2017. The comparative report notes 3 complaints of sexual harassment in 2016 and 6 complaints at end of FY2017.

The average number of days in investigation? 207.17 days.

Total Findings of Discrimination after a hearing for sexual harassment? Zero. In 2012.

Also zero in 2013, in 2014, in 2015, in 2016, and through the end of FY2017. Zero.

Apparently, S/OCR does not also count cases reversed by the EEOC like that 2016 case where S/OCR did not find sexual harassment but where the EEOC decided that the complainant was indeed subjected to sexual harassment and ordered the State Department to take remedial actions (see @StateDept to Hold “Harassment in the Workplace” Session But First, Read This FSI Sexual Harassment Case).

S/OCR was recently a presenter in a State Department Q&A session “Should I Report That? How (and when) to Report Workplace Conflict, Harassment & Bias in the Department”.

To read more about our previous posts on sexual assault, click here; for sexual harassment, click here.

Below is the text of the letter to Secretary Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green:

We write to draw to your attention the November 28, 2017 letter signed by over 200 national security professionals who have served, often with distinction, in the State Department, the intelligence community, USAID, and the Pentagon about their experiences of (or serving as witnesses to) incidents of sexual harassment or sexual assault inside our national security bureaucracies.

This letter speaks to what we believe remains a critical issue that too many of our national security institutions have been too slow to address: sexual assault and harassment and its effects on the professionalism and effective functioning of those institutions. These incidents and the pervasive culture that all too frequently excuses these behaviors and actions have had serious and detrimental consequences for the careers and lives of those affected – and by depriving the United States of the service of some of our best and brightest, a deep and negative effect on our national security.

To better address this issue, we would urge you to provide the Foreign Relations Committee a review of your current methods for data collection, oversight, reporting structure, victim protections, analysis and anti-sexual harassment training, including employee feedback on these mechanisms and how they are being implemented. In our oversight capacity, we hope to work with you, to review and analyze the data to better understand the scope of the problem we confront as we consider appropriate policy changes to address it.

The November 28 letter contends that training is all too often “erratic” and “irregular,” and that policies often go unnoticed among staff. In our experiences serving on the oversight committee with responsibilities for the Department of State and USAID we concur with this contention. We would urge that you pay special attention to whether anti-harassment training is adequate, how it is implemented, and how it is enforced, in your respective reviews. We also urge you to examine your procedures for disciplinary actions to ensure that those who demonstrate improper behavior are held accountable for their actions.

The letter also calls for a number of reforms including a clear indication that national security leadership will not tolerate certain behavior, ensuring the full accessibility and functioning of “multiple, clear, private” channels to report abuse without fear of retribution, and ensuring sufficiently regular, mandatory, and instructive training for employees and contractors. We would be interested in your thoughts and comments on these potential areas for reform.

We also urge that you each take the opportunity to work with us to determine what additional resources are necessary to ensure that each report and allegation receives proper attention, that your offices are collecting all the relevant data, that cases are addressed in a timely and confidential fashion, and that training is fully implemented across the State and USAID workforce.

At a moment in our country when we are being reminded anew of the scope and challenge of sexual harassment in the workplace, we are rededicating ourselves here in the Senate to addressing this issue in our own ranks. The Legislative branch faces similar challenges and that while we work to address them, we expect the same from executive branch agencies. For our part, in addition to exploring appropriate oversight and legislative action to ensure that you have the resources and focus that you need to address these issues, we also intend to place additional emphasis on these issues in the confirmation process. We intend to ensure that nominees live up to the highest standards of behavior, and will seek commitments regarding how they intend to address sexual harassment and assault if they are confirmed.

Lastly, we note that the abuses, harassment and assaults noted in the November 28 letter are enabled by an environment in which the diversity of our nation – one of our “secret weapons” and competitive advantages as a nation – is not reflected in the national security workforce. This is especially true at the senior levels. At the State Department, for example, women and men enter the Foreign Service in roughly comparable numbers, but only about one-third of our senior Foreign Service Officers are women. Although women comprise a majority of the Civil Service, the Senior Executive Service remains 61% male and 89% white. Similarly disturbing trends come to light when analyzing the salaries, bonuses and expectations of workplace behavior amongst men and women working in national security roles. We still have a long way to go on gender equality in the national security workforce, and encourage you to share with us as well your vision for how you plan to address deficiencies in recruitment, retention and promotion to assure that your national security workforce is equitably balanced.

The members of our national security workforce should not be forced to spend their time and energy combatting harassment and a culture of tolerance for disrespectful behavior. Rather, they should be free to focus on what they do best – working to keep our nation safe. And we know from numerous studies that a more diverse workforce leads to better outcomes. A 2015 McKinsey study found that a more diverse workforce is more successful through improved decision-making, leadership, and financial progress. We know that to be true in the private sector and we know that to be true for government as well.

Mindful that there are myriad challenges and opportunities to better address sexual harassment in the workplace we do not seek nor do we expect you to develop a cookie-cutter approach to these issues. Rather, we call on you to respect the dignity of each member of our national security workforce by ensuring an environment in which each individual is capable of fully contributing his or her talents to our national security, without obstruction.

The original text of letter is posted here.

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SFRC Clears Brownback, Poblete, Grenell, Evans, Danies, Trujillo, Plus Four Foreign Service Lists

Posted: 1:07 am ET

 

On January 18, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared some State Department nominees recently renominated by the White House, as well as four Foreign Service lists (see White House Sends @StateDept Renominations to the Senate).

 

STATE DEPARTMENT

The Honorable Samuel Dale Brownback, of Kansas, to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Dr. Yleem D. S. Poblete, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance).

 

AMBASSADORS

Mr. Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mr. James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg.

Mr. Joel Danies, of Maryland, 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 Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

The Honorable Carlos Trujillo, of Florida, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

FSO LIST:

PN1433 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (6) beginning Marc Clayton Gilkey, and ending Mark A. Myers, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1434 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (90) beginning Alyce S. Ahn, and ending Michele D. Woonacott, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1435 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (118) beginning Priya U. Amin, and ending Erik Z. Zahnen, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1436 – 1 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (93) beginning Angela P. Aggeler, and ending Mari Jain Womack, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.

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As Govt #Shutdown Looms Large, @StateDept Still “Reviewing All Available Options” #MissingGuidance

Posted: 8:23 pm PT

 

On January 18, the State Department spokesperson was asked about the the preparations for a potential government shutdown and the impact on the State Department. Here is one part of the response:

MS NAUERT: Yeah, well, first let me start off by mentioning to everyone here the current continuing resolution expires at midnight tomorrow, January the 19th. We are putting in place prudent management of this. Our Secretary’s office right now is reviewing all the available options as to how we should handle some of the decision-making going forward, if this were to happen, if there were to be a government shutdown. We will be prepared for all contingencies – I want to make that clear – including the possibility of a lapse. That would mean a government shutdown.

OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, has requested that all agencies determine ways to minimize the impact on the American people. Matt, I think that would fall under visas and passports and the like. This is what we’re doing here from the State Department. Some of those decisions are still being made, exactly what services we will be able to provide and which ones we will not.

The State Department spox and her bosses do not realized that passports and visas are fees-funded and not appropriated funds?

After the spox talked about the Secretary having “quite a bit of leeway” and embassies having “a lot of discretion over how they will handle their staffing”, she was asked “You sound very reassuring, like the Secretary has lots of leeway, the embassies have some leeway. It sounds very peaceful in your view. But does the State Department view this looming prospect as dangerous to national security on its face?”

MS NAUERT: Look, national security, and keeping the security and the safety of Americans is always a top priority. We will not pull back on that in any way, shape or form. We will continue to follow those things. We’re not going to get all excited about what may or may not happen. We will have contingency plans that we put in place, and we will adhere to those. Okay.

A State Department official cited by vox.com notes that “US missions usually designate people as essential employees who must work during government shutdowns; others are considered non-essential and therefore can’t work. As of Thursday, no such list has been created.”

Are they going to come up with the furlough lists after the actual shutdown occurs?

On December 4, 2017, the State Department released its Guidance on Operations During a Lapse in Appropriations. The guidance was prepared in anticipation of the lack of appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017. As of this writing, we have not seen an updated guidance for the looming shutdown tomorrow. We’ve asked the A/DGHR if this same guidance would apply if there is no CR by midnight Friday, January 19, the deadline to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the U.S. government open and avoid the shut down of federal agencies, but our question has so far been ignored.

Below is an excerpt from the December 2017 guidance that has not been updated for 2018 but potentially relevant to how the State Department will manage the agency in a shutdown.

Appropriated Funds: 1-Year, 2-Year, No-Year Funds

Departmental entities will continue to operate until their respective balances are insufficient to continue. While many appropriated funds expire after one year, the Department has some accounts that are 2-year funds or no-year funds.

If there is no appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017, Department elements using multi-year or no-year appropriations (with remaining available balances), trust funds, other permanent appropriations, fees, and the Working Capital Fund will fund and continue operations as long as this funding is available. Please note that due to reduced funding or revised authorities, such availability for FY 2018 may be different than what was in place for the previous lapse in appropriations.
[…]
If there is no appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017, posts and offices supported by single-year appropriations will immediately commence procedures [/] on the first business day following that date, i.e., Monday, December 11, 2017. Posts that normally operate on Saturdays or Sundays will immediately commence procedures [/] on Sunday, December 10, 2017.

Determination of Excepted Functions and Positions

A. Definition of Excepted Functions: “Excepted” functions that may be continued in an absence of appropriations include those necessary for emergencies involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property,” and those necessary for activities essential to national security, including the conduct of foreign affairs essential to national security. Employees performing “excepted” functions will continue to report to work and perform their duties.

B. Chief of Mission (COM) Authority Regarding Other U.S. Government Agency Employees Abroad: Under a lapse of appropriations, each U.S. government agency at post must determine which positions meet the criteria of “excepted” in the absence of appropriations. If an agency has determined that certain of its positions abroad do not meet those criteria, and that determination conflicts with the views of the Chief of Mission, then the Chief of Mission should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the parent agency concerned. Based on COM authority and the Department’s foreign affairs responsibilities, the COMs and Department’s judgment about what functions constitute the conduct of foreign relations essential to national security carries great weight. If the COM is unable to reach agreement with another agency on what functions should continue to be performed during a lapse of appropriations, the COM may refer the matter to Washington to see if the Department is able to reach an accommodation with the other agency.

The COM will be responsible for informing the most senior officials of other agencies at post immediately upon notification by OMB that we are to implement shutdown procedures.

C. Consular Operations Domestically and Abroad: Consular operations domestically and abroad will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported. The continuance of consular operations in such instances will be treated on a case-by-case basis by the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.

D. Use of E-Mail/Telegrams/Remote Access/Mobile Applications: The Department will be minimally staffed if a shutdown occurs. Department managers and post managers are asked to reduce message traffic to include only the most urgent need. Remote access and mobile programs, to include fobs, secure laptop services, and centrally managed Blackberry support services will be minimally staffed. Additionally, due to reduced domestic staff levels, all personnel should be cognizant that there are fewer personnel available to respond to incoming messages.

Non-excepted employees should turn off all Department-provided mobile devices, and excepted personnel should not communicate with non-excepted employees. For purposes of communicating work status to non-excepted employees, supervisors should have employee personal contact information on file.

Personnel

U.S. Direct Hires Employees

An immediate hiring freeze will apply during a lapse in appropriations. Entry-on-board dates for prospective employees with employment offers are suspended until the funding lapse is over. No new job offers may be made.

We will need to examine the text of any subsequent appropriation or continuing resolution to determine if the Congress has authorized retroactive pay and allowances. All non-excepted personnel support activities, such as unfunded security investigations, should be suspended.

Family Members and Locally Employed (LE) Staff at Post

Eligible Family Members employed at post follow the furlough procedures of other direct-hire U.S. government employees unless paid on the local pay plan. Application of the furlough to LE staff (including foreign nationals and locally resident U.S. citizens, whether on personal services agreements (PSA) or direct-hire appointments) depends on local labor laws in each country. In general, Department LE staff will be required either: a) to report to work as directed by their supervisor (i.e., if “excepted,” or if treated as “excepted” because these LE staff legally must be paid, provided that in no event may LE staff report to work if adequate supervision is unavailable); b) to be on excused absence leave per 3 FAM 7451, if LE staff must be paid under local labor law but may not actually work because, for example, adequate supervision is not available; or c) to be placed on ordinary furlough status.

HROs at each post will examine local labor law and make appropriate, post-specific determinations in conjunction with post management. The COM should inform other U.S. government agencies at post that, as in the past, the Department plans generally to treat those LE staff members as excepted whom the Department believes must be paid under host state labor laws regardless of attendance. HR/OE will be in touch with those posts that indicated during sequestration planning that their host country local laws allow personnel to be furloughed.

Part-Time Employees

Part-time employees should follow the same guidance as full-time employees.

WAE Employees and Seasonal Employees

Employees with a When-Actually-Employed (WAE) work schedule and seasonal employees are called to duty at identified periods of the year in accordance with pre-established conditions. WAE employees are non-full-time employees without a regularly scheduled tour of duty. A seasonal employee is an employee hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less. Whether either group is called for work during the period in which furloughs are scheduled is discretionary with agencies, but those personnel must be performing excepted functions.

Rotation of Personnel

The decision to rotate personnel to perform excepted functions may be made at bureau and post discretion in unique and compelling circumstances. However, the following should be taken into consideration when making a decision on rotations:

  • Managers should take into account the potential impact on unemployment compensation eligibility for the employee, based on local jurisdictions’ unemployment insurance policies.
  • Decisions on rotations for specific positions should balance the Department’s need for continuity and equity to the employees.
  • Posts may determine on what basis rotations may take place (based on increments of at least one week), but due consideration should be given to continuity and fairness.
  • Personnel rotated into and out of an excepted function must have the requisite qualifications to perform the function.

All decisions to rotate employees must be documented by the bureau or post.

Details

Detailees follow the furlough policies and procedures of their home agencies because they remain officially employed by their home agencies. If you are detailed from the State Department to another federal agency, the State Department will determine if and how you are affected. If you are detailed to the State Department from another federal agency, your home agency will determine if and how you are affected. For more information and for details involving non-Federal agencies, refer to OPM guidance.

Specific Situations

The following are typical bureau/post obligation/payment categories and how they should be handled:

LE staff pay/allowances: Standard procedures to process LE staff payroll must be followed. Under no circumstances should alternate means be used to pay LE staff salaries, such as using petty cash. As per the above general guidance for obligations after a lapse in appropriations, no obligations for payroll after that date should be recorded on official accounts or in RFMS and GFMS, even for excepted activities. More detailed guidance on submitting time and attendance during the period of the lapse will be provided prior to the deadline for the next submission of time and attendance.

American Salaries, Benefits, and Allowances: While obligations may continue to be established for employees on US-based salary schedules performing “excepted” and shutdown activities, payments for salaries and allowances may only be made for services rendered prior to the lapse in appropriations.

Travel: Only travel in fulfillment of excepted activities can be initiated after a lapse of appropriations. Per guidance above, even in cases of travel in this category, obligations made after any lapse of appropriations should not be recorded on official bureau or post accounts even though obligations have been incurred. Blanket travel orders issued prior to the lapse in appropriations are not valid during the lapse period, unless in the case of travel abroad, travel commenced or any cost was incurred for that travel prior to the shutdown. No travel advances can be issued unless the obligation for travel abroad was incurred prior to the lapse in appropriations. Travel voucher reimbursements can be processed only if against obligations incurred and recorded for prior years, or for the current Fiscal Year (if obligated prior to the lapse in appropriations) multi-year or no-year appropriations for which funds remain available. Travelers who hold Citibank Travel Cards may charge advances against these cards for any approved trips as travel card advance charges do not create advances to official accounts. As part of GSA Smart Pay cards, Citibank Travel Cards will continue to function normally and banks will continue to provide service. Cardholders, as usual, should contact the bank customer service organization should they experience problems with their cards.

Utilities: As with other categories of payments, utility payments for obligations established prior to the lapse in appropriations can be processed and sent to CGFS for payment or entered in RFMS. Obligations for utility costs after the lapse in appropriations should not be recorded even though incurred, and utility payments for periods after that cannot be made from lapsed appropriations. Posts confronted with any emergencies in this regard should contact the Department as soon as possible (see paragraph 13 below).

OBO Allotment Activities: Since OBO activities abroad (e.g., rents, maintenance and repair, fire/safety and capital projects) are paid from the no-year OBO appropriation, these activities can be obligated and paid if the post has sufficient funds in its OBO allotment. Salaries for facility managers and OBO direct-hire project staff at post are funded domestically from the no-year OBO appropriation; therefore, those personnel will continue to report to work and perform their duties. Salaries for locally-hired OBO project staff are funded from post-held OBO allotments and can therefore be obligated and paid as long as post has sufficient funds in its allotment.

Collections: Embassy cashiers can continue to process all collections normally.

Absolutely Necessary Payments: To reiterate, and consistent with OMB guidance, we have authority to incur obligations but cannot make payments for excepted activities after the lapse in appropriations. Because our accounting system pays for incurred obligations, we cannot post (record) obligations due to the lapse of appropriations even though obligations have been incurred, nor can we make payments against the incurred but not recorded obligations for current Fiscal Year lapsed appropriations. If it is necessary to make payments in emergency situations (e.g., to safeguard life and property), the bureau or embassy should send a memo or cable, respectively, on a case-specific basis to request use of funds that BP determines may be available for such purposes. Each request should provide details of the date the funds are needed, the amount, the justification, and any other relevant information. Requests of this type should be limited to extreme cases.

Repatriation Loans: Post authority to expend up to $2,000 per applicant without Department approval is temporarily rescinded. If a post determines that a repatriation loan is necessary during the period of a lapse in appropriations, the post should cable CA/OCS and CA’s Comptroller to request funding as mentioned in paragraph 11 above.

Emergency Medical Services: If the concurrence of MED is received, emergency medical travel and services obligations can be incurred but not recorded. Accordingly, payments against such obligations cannot be made. Please coordinate with MED and follow guidance in paragraph 11 in emergency situations where payment is required immediately. For medical services funding requests the post should cable MED and CGFS – USOFFICE Global Financial Services (not the regional bureaus).

Speech-Making and Media Engagement

As a general rule, all speeches to public audiences should be cancelled and no invitations to give speeches to public audiences should be accepted during the shutdown period. If you believe there are exceptional reasons to honor an existing speech commitment or to accept a speaking invitation, you should contact the Public Affairs (PA) Special Assistants at 202-647-6607 for guidance. No speeches to public audiences may be made during the shutdown period without explicit approval from the PA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.

The Bureau of Public Affairs may need to communicate with the media, via on-camera or off-camera briefings and/or the release of statements via traditional or social media means, for events and issues involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, or those necessarily related to national security, including the conduct of foreign affairs essential to the national security (“excepted activities”). This would include direct support to the Secretary of State for travel related to national security-related issues, and any news media and transcription support that would entail. Approval for such activities will rest with the Bureau Assistant Secretary or Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.

Non-emergency social media operations outside of flagship social media accounts must cease. Department flagship accounts managed by the Bureau of Public Affairs may operate in support of excepted activities.

Representation Events

Domestic Representation: As a general rule, no domestic representation events should be held during the shutdown period. Events already scheduled should be cancelled and no new events planned until the shutdown is over. If you believe there are truly exceptional circumstances that merit a representation event being held during the shutdown period, you should contact M/EDCS for approval.

Representation Abroad: As a general rule, no representation events should be held abroad during a shutdown period. Chiefs of Mission (COMs) may authorize a representational event abroad only if it is necessary to support excepted activities. COMs should consider the perception of a representational event during a Department shutdown.

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Snapshot: @StateDept’s Professional Development Program Principles For #FSOs

Posted: 3:49 am ET

 

Related to our previous posts on the State Department’s new FSO Professional Development Program (see @StateDept Rolls Out New FSO Development Program, and Promotion Rules to Get Into the Senior Foreign Service and AFSA: FSOs Will Now Compete in a “Scavenger Hunt” to Be Considered for Promotion Into the Senior Foreign Service), see a snapshot of the new PDP principles rolled out by the State Department on the last working day of 2017:

The Professional Development Program (PDP) is designed to enhance leadership and adaptive capacity, fuel professional development, and develop the experience and skills of employees over the length of their careers. It is also designed to meet Service needs at various grade levels. Service needs continue to evolve based on U.S. interests, international challenges, and the evolution of diplomacy to encompass inter-agency and “crisis response” responsibilities. The principles outlined below encompass this dual objective of employee and Service needs. No single career path — no specific set or sequence of assignments, no particular promotion timing — determines success. Professional growth and career advancement come from taking on challenges and demonstrating accomplishments across an array of Service-needs assignments to broaden experience, widen perspective, deepen expertise and language proficiency, and amplify leadership and adaptive capacity. Employees should use assignments and training opportunities to challenge themselves and to integrate competencies and skill sets for positions of greater responsibility irrespective of rank or grade.

The PDP has four principles that an officer must develop and demonstrate over the course of his or her career, from entry through tenure and up to consideration for promotion at the Senior Threshold. Officers considered for entry into the Senior Foreign Service should demonstrate:

1) Operational effectiveness, including a breadth of experience over several regions and functions;

2) Leadership and management effectiveness;

3) Professional language proficiency; and

4) Responsiveness to Service needs.

 

OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

Mandatory Requirement | A minimum of 15 years in the Foreign Service, to include service in a mix of completed domestic and overseas assignments with demonstrated regional and substantive expertise, including service in two separate bureaus after tenure. Those entering the Foreign Service after January 1, 2017, must serve at least one tour in a global affairs bureau or in a global affairs position.

(Note: Superhard language training held in-region may be counted toward regional expertise. “Domestic assignments” refers to Department positions in Washington and elsewhere in the United States, not details or long-term training.)

Mandatory Requirement: Completing one of the following two electives

1) Professional Development (one tour/one academic year, cumulative, after tenure). Such assignments would be drawn from the annual list of training opportunities and details managed by the HR Bureau’s Professional Development Unit (HR/CDA/PDU), including long-term training opportunities such as Senior Training programs at the War Colleges; academic study; Transatlantic Diplomatic Fellowships; Commands and Staff Colleges; Inter-American Defense College; National Intelligence University; and details such as NSC; DHS; Pearson Fellowships; USTR; Treasury; and USTDA.

2) Out-of-Cone Assignment (one year, after tenure). Such assignments would include a position with a skill code other than your primary skill code.

 

LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS

Mandatory Requirement | Significant and substantial leadership responsibility (one tour, after tenure). Such assignments would include positions that assign work, develop and set priorities, counsel employees, evaluate performances, resolve disputes, effect minor disciplinary measures, interview and recommend candidates for positions within a unit, and supervise other employees who perform such responsibilities. Positions such as Deputy Chief of Mission, section heads, unit chiefs, and office (or deputy office) director positions could be examples of positions that fulfill this requirement. Leadership effectiveness entails executing and achieving policy and programmatic results through people.

Mandatory Requirement | In accordance with the Procedural Precepts, FS-03s must complete Basic Leadership Skills (PK245) for promotion to FS-02; FS-02s must complete Intermediate Leadership Skills (PT207) for promotion to FS-01; and FS-01s must complete Advanced Leadership Skills (PT210) for promotion into the SFS.

(Related post: Burn Bag: Does @StateDept Really Care About Leadership Training?)

 

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Mandatory Requirement | One language at the 3/3 level (or at the 3/2 level for a hard or superhard language) tested after tenure, or one language at the 4/4 level (tested either before or after tenure).

 

SERVICE NEEDS

Mandatory Requirement | A completed tour at a 25% or greater hardship differential post from entry into the Foreign Service OR a completed tour at an unaccompanied post from entry into the Foreign Service AND

Another completed tour at a 20% or greater hardship differential post after tenure.

Note: The standard definitions for “tour completion” apply:

10 months for a 12-month TOD

20 months for a 24-month TOD

30 months for a 36-month TOD

 

The term ‘global affairs bureau’ means any bureau of the Department that is under the following —

  •  Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment (E);
  • Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs (T);
  • Under Secretary for Management (M);
  • Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs (IO);
  • Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R); or
  • Under Secretary for Civilian, Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J)

Global affairs positions refers to diplomatic policy and support: components funded under this category are the bureaus and offices of the following:

  • Administration;
  • Arms Control, Verification and Compliance;
  • Budget and Planning;
  • Chief of Protocol;
  • Comptroller and Global Financial Services;
  • Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor;
  • Economic and Business Affairs;
  • Energy Resources;
  • Information Resource Management;
  • Intelligence and Research;
  • International Criminal Justice;
  • International Security and Nonproliferation;
  • Legal Adviser;
  • Legislative Affairs;
  • Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs;
  • Political-Military Affairs; Population and International Migration;
  • Public Affairs;
  • Secretary of State;
  • Under Secretary for Management;
  • Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Tillerson Lunches With Former Secretary of State Rice and Shultz

Posted: 3:29 am ET

 

Via state.gov

01/17/18 Remarks on The Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria;  Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Hoover Institute at Stanford University; Stanford, CA

Secretary Tillerson Meets With Former Secretary of State Rice and Shultz
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in a luncheon event with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and George P. Shultz at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Stanford, California on January 17, 2018. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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@StateDept Releases New Strategery For Diplomatic Spouse Professional Employment #Ugh

Posted: 6:01 am ET
Updated: 10:30 am PT (fixed headline)

 

During his town hall with employees on December 12, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the lifting of the hiring freeze in 2018 for Eligible Family Members (EFM). Actually, it turned out to be a 50% lift but State won that news cycle; no one came back to correct that it was not a full lifting of the hiring freeze (see Tillerson Issues New Personnel Actions, But What’s That About Lifting the EFM Hiring Freeze?).

During that speech, Tillerson also announced the expansion of the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) for Foreign Service spouses (see Tillerson Announces “Immediate Changes” From Redesign, USAID is Now in the GAL – Yay?). He promised:

To take care of our people, we will:

–Diversify and improve the quality of professional opportunities for Eligible Family Members by increasing the number of EPAP positions, from 250 to 400.

–Support EFMs in EPAP positions by offering increased training opportunities for them at the Foreign Service Institute.

 

The Department’s Family Liaison Office also says that “The Department of State is committed to supporting its employees and their families as they balance their service with the needs of family life.”

Recently, the State Department released its new guidance on Preparing for the 2018 Spring/Summer EPAP Vacancy Announcement. Via state.gov/flo:

The Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) provides U.S. citizen Eligible Family Members (EFMs) serving overseas with 200 professional-level Foreign Service full-time positions in Economics, Financial Management, General Services, Human Resources, Management, Office Management, Political, Public Diplomacy, and Registered Nurse areas. The program also provides up to 50 positions in the Information Management area. These positions are centrally funded. Each regional bureau and the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) is authorized a specific number of positions as determined by the Under Secretary for Management. Individual posts may also create post-funded ICASS positions with approval from their regional bureau.

 

New EPAP Qualification Standards

FLO also announced new qualification standards for EPAP applicants:

Previously Qualified EPAP Employees/Applicants Must Must Re-Re-Re-Qualify!

Here’s the howler: everybody starts from scratch. Previously qualified applicants must re-qualify to be eligible under the new standards; they will not be grandfathered into the new program.

Because the qualification standards were revised in 2018, the process of prequalification in one or several EPAP areas has been replaced with the new Qualification Standards. As of January 1, 2018, prior EPAP employees or EPAP prequalified applicants will need to meet the eligibility requirements listed in the new Qualification Standards. To be eligible for each position, applicants must submit an application package with all required documents.
[…]
The application must specifically address both the education and specialized experience requirements listed in the new Qualification Standards. Global Employment Advisors (GEA) can provide tips on preparing a federal resume; email GEI@state.gov.

Refer to the following documents: •    New EPAP Qualification Standards  •    Checklist: How to prepare required documents for the 2018 Spring/Summer Centralized Vacancy Announcement

 

Education Requirements

State/FLO says that EPAP pay grades range from FP-07 to FP-04 as determined by the regional bureaus and IRM. Each advertised position will show the minimum and maximum grades (full performance grade) at which a candidate may be hired.

And yet, the New EPAP Qualification Standards for Financial Management EPAP lists FP-03 as an EPAP grade, with Ph.D. in Business or Public Administration (with a concentration in Accounting or Finance) as an educational requirement, with “none” listed for specialized experience.

Folks, the announcement for a Foreign Service Financial Management Officer (FMO) says that “applicants with finance-related higher education and specific experience in financial management or accounting are preferred” but the education requirement for applicants does not even require a master’s degree, or for that matter, a “Ph.D. in Business or Public Administration with a concentration in Accounting or Finance as an educational requirement”.

Education: Applicants must possess at least a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) in accounting or finance earned at the undergraduate or graduate level from an accredited school. Professional certifications such as CPA (certified public accountant) or graduate degrees from an accredited in business, government, or public administration are preferred with concentrations in accounting or finance.

Financial Management Officer

Stitching a Checkered Work Experience to Qualify For Specialized Experience

The Public Diplomacy EPAP with an FP-06 grade requires BA/BS or above in non-related field and 5 years specialized experience in management, oversight and provision of media, marketing, communications, public relations, educational, cultural or journalistic services.

Unless a spouse has that experience already when he/she joined/married into the Foreign Service, it will be a challenge to get that specialized experience after entry.  FS spouses typically take what jobs are available to them at the posts their spouses are assigned to. So they could be working at Public Affairs one tour, at the Consular Section another tour, or as a security escort at yet another post. Which makes it hard to have 5 years specialized experience in specific tracks.

Similarly, Political EPAP requires BA/BS or above in non-related field and 5 years specialized experience in research, monitoring and analysis of political, social, or related conditions and trends, write reports and make recommendations on same. Oh hey, also negotiate policy.

How many folks think this is a new strategery to get to that crucial staffing cuts without a RIF?

Training, Oh, Training – Still on Space A

Selected candidates are encouraged to take related training courses while in Washington, DC during home leave, R&R or personal travel. Financial support for training is not currently available prior to starting a position. However, if a candidate is working and post wishes to fund travel costs and per diem for him/her to take courses at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) or a regional training center, salary will continue to be paid during the training period from central funds. Individuals selected for this program will generally have priority over other EFMs for language and functional training enrollment on a space available basis. Email FLOASKTraining@state.gov for more information.

Is the State Department serious?

It would review its policy of “space available” training for spouses. And it needs to provide internship opportunities for spouses to obtain specialized experience. We know some spouses who went back to school while in the Service but lack the specialized experience due to their inability to find work while posted overseas.

Send us comments if you care. This is a very late night, um morning now for me, and I need to get to bed. Will probably update this later when I am more awake.

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U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley Resigns From the Foreign Service Over Trump Policies

Posted: 4:59 am ET

 

The Foreign Service Act and appropriate personnel regulations require three (3) commitments from candidates for appointment to the Foreign Service: availability for worldwide assignment, willingness to accept out-of-function assignments, and observance of Foreign Service discipline with respect to public support of established United States policy – is a condition of employment with the Foreign Service.  That third commitment refers to this:

In the official performance of their duties as representatives of the United States Government, Foreign Service members may be called upon to support and defend policies with which they may not be personally in full agreement. On such occasions, normal standards of Foreign Service discipline will apply. Ample opportunity is provided within official channels for discussion and dissent with respect to the development and conduct of United States Foreign policy.

On January 12, the U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a 28-year veteran of the Foreign Service did the honorable thing and tendered his resignation over Administration policies he is no longer able to support and defend. The Panama assignment is Ambassador Feeley’s first as chief of mission. He was on the second year of a three-year assignment.

Below is a brief summary of his long career in the diplomatic service:

John Feeley was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Panama on January 15, 2016, and assumed his post in early February. He is a career diplomat who has focused much of his work on Latin American and Caribbean issues, both in Washington and in the region.

Ambassador Feeley most recently served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2012 to 2015, responsible for the daily management of regional policy implementation and the supervision of 50 diplomatic posts across the Americas.

Previously he was the State Department’s Summit of the Americas Coordinator, overseeing the substantive preparation for Secretary Clinton’s engagement in the 2012 Cartagena Summit, a role he reprised for Secretary Kerry during the 2015 Summit in Panama.

From 2009 to 2012, Ambassador Feeley served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he managed a 37-agency country team that implemented the Merida Initiative. He has also been the Department’s Director for Central American Affairs and Deputy Director for Caribbean Affairs. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Feeley served as a Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was responsible for managing information flow to Secretaries Powell and Rice, as well as coordinating their overseas travel.

A 2004 Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, Mr. Feeley’s overseas assignments include two tours in Mexico City, Santo Domingo, and Bogota.

Prior to joining the State Department in 1990, Mr. Feeley served on active military duty as a helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and is married to retired career diplomat, Cherie Feeley. The Ambassador and his wife speak Spanish. The couple has two adult sons and one grandson.

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The Daily Démarche: Reorganization, the Solution in Search of a Prooooblem

A red, white and blue stars and stripes design with the words “Reorganization: the solution in search of a problem.” Available in five colors including fiery red. Apparently, a needed apparel for those subjected to the Feds reorganization from the State Department, Interior, EPA, to … ay caramba, who knows where else?

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New London Embassy at #33NineElmsLane Is Officially Open!

Posted: 4:02 am ET

 

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