USAID/OIG General Counsel Nicole Angarella to be the Next USAID Inspector General

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Nicole Angarella who serves as the general counsel to the USAID Inspector General to be the next USAID Inspector General. The WH released the following brief bio:

Nicole Angarella, Nominee for Inspector General, United States Agency for International Development

Nicole Angarella serves as the general counsel to the USAID Inspector General. In that position, Ms. Angarella leads a team of attorneys and specialists that provides independent legal counsel to the Inspector General, deputy inspector general, senior managers, and staff. Her office provides comprehensive legal advice, research, and guidance to the Offices of Audit, Investigations, and Management within the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Her office also updates the Inspector General and staff on legal developments and represents OIG in Federal and administrative litigation.

Prior to her appointment as general counsel, Ms. Angarella served as a senior legal counsel at USAID OIG and at the Department of Transportation’s OIG. Ms. Angarella has spent her entire federal career in the Inspector General community. She is Chair of the Council of Counsels to the Inspectors General. Before joining the U.S. Government, she worked as an associate attorney in the General Litigation & White Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group at Cozen O’Connor, an international law firm representing corporate and individual clients in Federal investigations and complex criminal and civil matters. She also worked as an associate attorney specializing in employment and labor relations law at a law firm in Washington, DC. Ms. Angarella has a B.A. in political science from the University of Mary Washington and a law degree from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America. Ms. Angarella is a member of both the Virginia State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar.

If confirmed, Ms. Angarella would succeed Inspector General Ann Calvaresi Barr who served at USAID from November 2015 until her retirement from Federal service on December 31, 2020. Thomas J. Ullom, who served for more than 2 years as Deputy Inspector General, became USAID’s Acting Inspector General on January 1, 2021.

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Biden Taps Entrepreneur Jonathan Eric Kaplan as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore

 

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Jonathan Kaplan to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jonathan Eric Kaplan, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Singapore

Jonathan Kaplan currently serves as Chairperson of the EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit organization that works with governors and officials across the nation to provide American public school classrooms access to high-speed internet connections. An entrepreneur and innovator, Kaplan most recently was the Chairperson and CEO of FishSix Restaurant Corporation. Prior to that, as Chairperson and CEO of Pure Digital Technologies, he invented and marketed the revolutionary Flip video camera and, when Pure Digital was acquired by Cisco Systems, Kaplan became Senior Vice President and General Manager of its Consumer Products Division.  Earlier Kaplan was President and CEO of Sega.com, Founder and CEO of MovieStreet, Vice President and General Manager of Geoworks, and Vice-President of Hands On Technology. Kaplan serves as an advisor for the Young Presidents Organization, meeting with corporate management and government leaders in dozens of countries.  Kaplan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial management from Carnegie Mellon University and was the 2010 Ernst & Young Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year.

If confirmed, Mr. Kaplan would succeed Ambassador Kirk W.B. Wagar who served as Ambassador  to Singapore from September 25, 2013–January 20, 2017 under President Obama. Trump nominated Kathleen T. Mcfarland on June 15, 2017 and renominated her on January 8, 2018. Her nomination was eventually withdrawn on February 5, 2018 (see Nominee/Candidates For U.S. Ambassadorships to Singapore, Austria, and South Korea Withdraw From Consideration).
In 2019, Trump nominated Barbera Hale Thornhill to be U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (see Interior Design Businesswoman Barbera Hale Thornhill to be U.S. Ambassador to Singapore).  The nomination was returned to the President on January 3, 2021.

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Confirmations: 64 FS Nominations From Six Foreign Service Lists

 

On July 29, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of 64 officers from six Foreign Service lists pending from April and June of this year. Click on links to see the names:
2021-07-29 PN359 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeanne Frances Bailey, and ending Bruce J. Zanin, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 13, 2021.
2021-07-29 PN477 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Russell Anthony Duncan, and ending Mark Clayton Prescott, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 27, 2021.
2021-07-29 PN478 Foreign Service | Nomination for Marc Clayton Gilkey, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 27, 2021.
2021-07-29 PN479 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Susannah Holmes, and ending Aaron Rodgers, which 4 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 27, 2021.
2021-07-29 PN724 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Gabriel J. Allison, and ending Amanda M. Zeidan, which 41 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 22, 2021.
2021-07-29 PN727 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Wade C. Martin, and ending Fernando Ospina, which 14 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 22, 2021.

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@StateDept “continuing to evaluate the situation regarding the embassy and the staffing” in #Moscow

 

Via Department Press Briefing – August 2, 2021
08/02/2021 06:22 PM EDT

QUESTION: I wonder if you could comment on the report that the Russian ambassador to the U.S. has said there’s 24 Russian diplomats who’ve been asked to leave the country by September 3rd after their visas expired. So why are they being asked to leave? Were any of these people acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status? And is this a retaliation against something Russia has done?

MR PRICE: Well, let me first address Ambassador Antonov’s remarks. I understand he made these remarks during a media interview. But his characterization of the situation is not accurate; it’s incorrect. The three-year limit on visa validity for Russians, it’s nothing new. When visas expire, as you might expect, these individuals are expected to leave the country or apply for an extension. That is what is at play here.

But since you did raise the – this issue, let me take an opportunity to speak to the broader issue, and that is a statement that you all saw from us – from Secretary Blinken – on Friday. And we issued this statement in response to what the Russian Government has mandated and what took effect yesterday, and that’s namely that the prohibition on the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff except for our guard force, which very lamentably has forced us to let go of hundreds of staff members across Russia, across embassy and the mission community there. It is unfortunate because these measures have a negative impact on our – on the U.S. mission to Russia’s operation, potentially on the safety and security of our personnel, as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian Government.

I will say that we reserve the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia’s actions. The Russian Government has also indicated that it will impose similar measures on the embassies of some other – some of our partners and allies. We also strongly object to this and will stand in solidarity with the other countries, the other members of the diplomatic community there who are affected by this.

The point we’ve made before is that our actions on March 2nd and April 15th, the measures we put into place to hold the Russian Government accountable for its range of threats to our interests and to our people – those were a response. We did not escalate; we did not seek an escalation. Those were a response to the Russian Government’s harmful actions, and we continue to believe that at times like these, we do need open channels of communication between our governments, including through our respective embassies. So we’re continuing to evaluate the situation and will update you as we have new developments.

Shaun.

QUESTION: Could we pursue that a bit? The ambassador – another thing that he said was that three-year validity is unique or almost unique to Russia. Is that accurate as far as you see?

MR PRICE: So the Office of Foreign Missions did issue some guidance recently. What we have said – and we can get you more details if we’re able to share on how this applies to Russia – but we have – we announced last week that the department will limit the assignment duration of most newly arriving members of foreign, diplomatic, or consular missions in the United States to a maximum of five consecutive years. Now, of course, that doesn’t apply to all missions, but the limitation on duration does help us to balance the lengths of tours for bilateral diplomats assigned to foreign missions in the United States and for U.S. diplomats’ assignments overseas.

QUESTION: Five years. Is that not the —

MR PRICE: The maximum is five years across the board.

QUESTION: So when he’s talking about three years, is that accurate? I mean, is that something that’s the case with Russians?

MR PRICE: I couldn’t comment as to whether that is unique to Russian diplomats or not.

QUESTION: Well, can they apply for renewals?

MR PRICE: We’ll see if we can get you more information on that.

QUESTION: Well, because, I mean, you said that after the three years for the Russians, when they either have to leave or they —

MR PRICE: Apply for an extension.

QUESTION: Yeah. Can they get an extension? Or you say no —

MR PRICE: They can apply for an extension. They can apply for an extension, and just as —

QUESTION: But have – and have you – but have you said that we will not accept any extension requests?

MR PRICE: What we’ve said is that they can apply for an extension. As in all cases, applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: All right. But this – but this – but you’re saying in response to his question is that this is not like a retaliatory move for the broader issues or the —

MR PRICE: This is not – the characterization that he put forward is not accurate.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: He also said that you make it impossible for them to get visa again to come back. He said they likely will not come back because you guys make it impossible for them to get visa renewal. Is that – do you dispute what he’s saying?

MR PRICE: What we have consistently said is that we believe that in a relationship like this that, at least at the present, is characterized by disagreement, by tension, by friction, and all of that is probably putting it lightly, that we need more communication rather than less. We think it is in our interest. We tend to think it’s in the interest of our two countries, that we are able to communicate effectively and openly, and we can do that through our embassies, but our embassies need to be adequately staffed. The measures that the Russian Federation put in place on Sunday has, as we said before, forced us to let go of hundreds of our employees across our facilities in Russia. That, in turn, has a ripple effect on our ability, on the ability of our diplomats in Russia to do their jobs. We think that is quite unfortunate.

Yes.

[…]

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on Russia for one second?

MR PRICE: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So you said that the U.S. is continuing to evaluate the situation regarding the embassy and the staffing. What do you mean by that? Do you mean the U.S. is questioning if they should keep open this embassy in Moscow? Do you mean you’re looking at how to respond both of those things? Can you just be a little more explicit?

MR PRICE: Well, so of course, our embassy in Moscow does remain open. When it comes to our other facilities, operations remain suspended at the U.S. consulate general in Vladivostok. All public-facing services were halted earlier this year at our consulate general in Yekaterinburg. The CG there no longer provides consular services, including U.S. citizen services such as passport issuance, notarial services, and consular reports of birth abroad.

What we have voiced strong objection to, including from the Secretary that you saw on Friday, was the idea that because of the prohibition on the use of Russian or third country staff, that we would have to diminish some of the services and some of the operations that are – that take place at our embassy in Moscow. What I was referring to there – and obviously, we regret this decision that the Russian Federation has taken. Of course, we are going to continue to evaluate what might be appropriate – what may be an appropriate response for us to take going forward.

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US Mission Russia Terminates Local Employees/Contractors Due to Moscow’s Prohibition

 

The US Mission Russia staffing issue that has been brewing for a while has finally erupted to a predictable conclusion. Previously, in late April we reported that there was supposed to be a Mass Termination of Local Staff, and Severe Reduction in Consular Services Effective May 12. That did not happen when Russia informed the US Embassy in Moscow of its intent to postpone its prohibition of the employment of foreign nationals until mid-July.  Presumably, the two sides continued talking but the issue did not get resolved.
On Friday, July 30, Secretary Blinken released the following statement:

The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at U.S. Mission Russia. We thank them for their contributions to the overall operations and their work to improve relations between our two countries. Their dedication, expertise and friendship have been a mainstay of Mission Russia for decades.

Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force. We are deeply saddened that this action will force us to let go of 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at our diplomatic facilities in Moscow, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.

These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. mission to Russia’s operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government. Although we regret the actions of the Russian government forcing a reduction in our services and operations, the United States will follow through on our commitments while continuing to pursue a predictable and stable relationship with Russia.

We value our deep connection to the Russian people. Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.

As of April 1, 2021, Consulate General in Yekaterinburg stopped visa and American Citizen services. In March 2020, the U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Post did not resume its operations in due to critically low staffing of the United States Mission to Russia. It looks like following that suspension of services, U.S. citizens in the Russian Far East were still able to obtain services from the U.S. Consular Agency in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Visa services by then were provided solely by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow due to insufficient staffing. It is likely that this consular agency will also shut down.
We once recalled that in 1986, the then Soviet Union barred all Soviet employees from working for the U.S. Embassy or U.S. diplomats, in response to the expulsion from the United States of 55 Soviet diplomats. At that time WaPo noted that “225 diplomats and their families had to adjust quickly to the latest development in the embassy wars.”

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@StateDept Designates WHA/EX Christopher Del Corso as Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Seoul

 

Christopher Del Corso, a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor has assumed his current position as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Seoul on July 16, 2021. Prior to this posting, Mr. Del Corso served in Washington, DC as the Executive Director for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and before that, he was the Minister Counselor for Management Affairs and acting Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Seoul.
Mr. Del Corso succeeds SFSO Rob Rapson who was Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Seoul since January 20, 2021 (Rapson is retiring after over three decades in the Foreign Service).  Immediately prior to being A/CDA, Mr. Rapson served as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Seoul, 2018-2021 and was Political Minister Counselor and acting Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Tokyo, 2015-2018.
Also on July 16, Seoul’s Consul General Linda E. Daetwyler was designated as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission.

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Biden to Nominate FIU’s Francisco O. Mora to be U.S.Representative to the Organization of American States

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Fransisco O. Mora to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Organization of American States. The WH released the following brief bio:

Francisco O. Mora, Nominee for Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador   

Francisco O. Mora is a Professor of Politics and International Relations, and Senior Researcher, at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University (FIU).  Earlier, he was Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU’s Green School of International and Public Affairs.  Mora served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for the Western Hemisphere.  He held several teaching positions, including Professor of National Security Strategy and Latin American Studies at the National War College at the National Defense University, and Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of International Studies at Rhodes College.  He is the author of four books and numerous articles and other publications.  Mora earned a B.A. in International Affairs at The George Washington University.  He received his M.A. in Inter-American Studies and a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of Miami.  He also completed studies at universities in Peru and Costa Rica.  He is a recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Department of Defense.  Mora is a native Spanish speaker and also speaks Portuguese.

If confirmed, Dr. Mora would succeed Florida state representative Carlos Trujillo who served in that post from April 5, 2018 – January 19, 2021.

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Philippine President Duterte Retracts Kill Order For Visiting Forces Agreement With the United States #VFA

 

In February 2020, the Philippines sent the United States  a Notice of Military-Pact Termination.  On July 29th, during Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit in Manila, the Philippine Defense Secretary tweeted that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is “in full force again after Secretary Austin’s meeting with President Duterte. No challenge is insurmountable between longstanding allies that are committed to attaining shared goals of regional peace and stability.”

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FSGB: Salary Determination Per SOP 134D1? What’s that?

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2019-049:
Held – Grievant failed to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the Department of State (“Department” or “agency”) committed a grievable error in its initial determination, or its resolution of, the appeal of grievant’s salary determination. However, grievant did establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department erred in not following its own standard operating procedure (“SOP”) regarding the provision of notice of the right to appeal the salary determination and affording her sufficient time to prepare an appeal. The Board ordered the Department to permit grievant to submit supplemental appeal materials to a new Salary Review Committee (“SRC”).
Case Summary – Grievant became a Foreign Service generalist career candidate in 2018. She contended that in determining her starting salary for that position, the Department Office of the Registrar violated published policy and acted arbitrarily and capriciously by declining to credit a number of theatrical stage management jobs she had held as qualifying experience that would have resulted in a higher starting salary. Believing that she had less than 12 hours to appeal, grievant quickly submitted arguments to the SRC for reconsideration of the salary determination, but that body confirmed the starting salary offered by the Office of the Registrar.
Grievant accepted the position, but several months after her start date, she grieved the starting salary. She contended in her grievance that the SRC was unfamiliar with the primarily intellectual nature of stage management jobs and, therefore, wrongly concluded that some, but not all, of her stage management positions did not constitute qualifying experience. She further contended that both the Office of the Registrar and the SRC miscalculated the duration of one or more of the jobs that they found were qualifying, by interpreting her month/year description of these short-term positions as lasting to the beginning of the ending month, rather than through the entire last month. Grievant further contended that she was never given the necessary information about appeal procedures from the decision of the Office of the Registrar. She claims that, in violation of Department SOPs, she was given only a few hours, rather than the required 30 days to prepare and submit her appeal.
The Board concluded that grievant failed to establish by preponderant evidence that either the Office of the Registrar or the SRC had violated published policy or acted arbitrarily or capriciously in determining her starting salary. The Board found, however, that the Department erred by deviating from its SOPs that mandated the provision of 30-days’ notice to career candidates about the appeal procedure from decisions of the Office of the Registrar, which caused grievant to submit a rushed appeal to the SRC. The Board further concluded that the error may have been a substantial factor in the SRC’s decision to confirm her starting salary. The Board, therefore, denied the grievance in part and upheld it in part. As a remedy, the Board ordered the Department to permit grievant to submit supplemental appeal materials to a new SRC within 30 days.
[…]
The September 21 email, containing the salary offer, but none of the other information described in SOP 134D1, and the subsequent email correspondence (which informed the candidate only that “your file is marked to be reviewed”), clearly did not meet the requirements laid out in SOP 134D1. The October 4 email, containing the appointment letter, meets the requirements of the SOP, without explicitly referring to SOP 134D1. This was apparently meant to be the beginning of the review and appeal process, not the end. By not clearly distinguishing for grievant the difference between an informal preview/review process in the Registrar’s Office and the 30-day deadline for a formal appeal to the SRC, the Department committed a procedural error that generated unnecessary fog in an already rushed process. We conclude that grievant was denied a clear and meaningful opportunity to present clarifying information to the SRC. In addition, we conclude that she has established that the procedural error may have been a substantial factor in the action of the SRC. We note that she does not have to prove that the additional material that she proffered in the grievance appeal would have caused the SRC to reconsider her salary.
In cases where the Board finds procedural error that may have been a substantial factor in an agency action, the burden of proof shifts to the agency to show, by preponderant evidence, that the agency, (the SRC in this instance), would have taken the same action had the procedural error not occurred. See C.F.R. 905.1(c). The Department has explained the reasoning of the SRC, but it has not presented a persuasive argument, supported by preponderant evidence, that the outcome would have been the same had grievant been given timely notice of her right to file an appeal to the SRC, i.e., that, had it followed its own SOP, the grievant would have submitted additional documentation and the SRC would have made the same determination with respect to each of grievant’s numerous short-term stage management positions and arrived at the same grade and step level.
The Board therefore finds that the Department has not carried its burden of proving that the SRC would have come to the same result absent the procedural error. Accordingly, the Board grants grievant’s request for a reconstituted SRC to review her initial salary determination after reviewing any additional relevant information that she would like to provide, in conformity with SOP 134 D1.
Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

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Nominated: State/ENR PDAS Virginia E. Palmer to be U.S. Ambassador to Ghana

 

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate career diplomat Virginia E. Palmer to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. The WH released the following brief bio:

Virginia E. Palmer, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Ghana

Virginia E. Palmer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources.  She has served as Acting Assistant Secretary since January 20, 2021, overseeing U.S. foreign policy engagement at the critical intersection of our energy, climate and national security goals.  Before assuming her current position, Palmer was the Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at the National Defense University.  She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malawi from 2015 until 2019.  Prior to that, she was Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa;  Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam; the State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism; and Director of the Bureau of East A’s Office of Economic Policy and the alternate U.S. Senior Official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).  Other postings include assignments in Canada, Zimbabwe, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Kenya.  Palmer obtained her M.A. from the University of Virginia and a BSFS from Georgetown University.  She also attended Washington University in St. Louis.  She speaks Chinese and French.

If confirmed, Ambassador Palmer would succeed Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan who has been Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Accra since September 6, 2018.

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