Amb. Eikenberry’s Kunar Province Photos

Magnifying Glass No Longer Needed

I supposed some level headed person has prevailed over somebody responsible for those pinhead sized-photos of Ambassador Eikenberry posted in Facebook and Flickr. I am happy to report that the photos of the Ambassador’s visit to Kunar Province are now viewable without the need of a magnifying glass.

Ambassador Eikenberry speaks to Provincial Council members,
district governors, and line ministers in Kunar
Photo by: US Embassy Kabul

There are now five options for downloading the photos from the US Embassy Kabul’s Flickr page — the largest still at only 717 x 476. But since I’m not in these photos and have no reason to have it printed professionally by a photography outlet, I won’t complain. I’m just happy that I can tell what I’m looking at — yes, those are Afghan pakol hats on the foreground, not flat bread.

Related Post:
Amb Eikenberry Visits Kunar Prov: Pinhead Photos Available

H.R. 2410: Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011

Last week, Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced wide-ranging legislation to improve and support U.S. foreign policy efforts, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410). It includes authorize appropriations for the Department of State and the Peace Corps to modernize the Foreign Service, and for other purposes.

The short title is: “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011’’.

The whole document is here, exactly 320 pages long. It encompasses a lot but a quick look shows several items that would be of interest to the FS community:

Subtitle A—Towards Modernizing the Department of State (starts on p.73)

Sec. 301. Towards a more modern and expeditionary Foreign Service.
Sec. 302. Quadrennial review of diplomacy and development.
Sec. 303. Establishment of the Lessons Learned Center.
Sec. 304. Locally employed staff compensation.

Subtitle B—Foreign Service Pay Equity and Death Gratuity (starts on p.95)

Sec. 311. Short title.
Sec. 312. Overseas comparability pay adjustment.
Sec. 313. Death gratuity.

Subtitle C—Other Organization and Personnel Matters (starts at p.101)

Sec. 321. Transatlantic diplomatic fellowship program.
Sec. 322. Security officers exchange program.
Sec. 323. Suspension of foreign service members without pay.
Sec. 324. Repeal of recertification requirement for Senior Foreign Service.
Sec. 325. Limited appointments in the Foreign Service.
Sec. 326. Compensatory time off for travel.
Sec. 327. Reemployment of Foreign Service annuitants.
Sec. 328. Personal services contractors.
Sec. 329. Protection of intellectual property rights.
Sec. 330. Department of State employment composition.
Sec. 331. Contracting.
Sec. 332. Legislative liaison office of the Department of State.
Sec. 333. Discrimination related to sexual orientation.
Sec. 334. Office for Global Women’s Issues.

The bill includes AUTHORIZED INCREASES.— (1) AT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE.—Secretary of State is authorized to hire an additional 750 members of the Foreign Service (above attrition) in fiscal year 2010 over the number of such members employed as of September 30, 2009, and an additional 750 members of the Foreign Service (above attrition) in fiscal year 2011 over the number of such members employed as of September 30, 2010. (2) AT USAID.—The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development is authorized to hire an additional 350 members of the Foreign Service (above attrition) in fiscal year 2010 over the number of such members employed as of September 30, 2009, and an additional 350 members of the Foreign Service (above attrition) in fiscal year 2011 over the number of such members employed as of September 30, 2010.

Sec. 301. Towards a more modern and expeditionary Foreign Service
. The bill amends (d) WORLDWIDE AVAILABILITY.—Section 301(b) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3941(b)) is amended— (1) by inserting ‘‘(1)’’ before ‘‘The Secretary’’; and (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: ‘‘(2)(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), at the time of entry into the Service, each member of the Service shall be available to be assigned worldwide. Includes waivers on medical grounds and other exception at the discretion of the Secretary of State.

It has implications for recruitment and training.
The bill includes (e) RECRUITING CANDIDATES WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE IN UNSTABLE SITUATIONS.—Section 301 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3941), as amended by section 212(c) of this Act, is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: ‘‘(f) The fact that an applicant for appointment as a Foreign Service officer candidate has the experience of working in situations where public order has been undermined by instability, or where there is no civil authority that can effectively provide public safety, may be considered an affirmative factor in making such appointments.’’.

‘‘(c) The Secretary of State shall ensure that members of the Service receive training on methods for conflict mitigation and resolution and on the necessary skills to be able to function successfully where public order has been undermined by instability or where there is no civil authority that can effectively provide public safety.

‘‘(d) The Secretary of State shall ensure that members of the Service have opportunities during their careers to obtain advanced education and training in academic and other relevant institutions in the United States and abroad to increase the capacity of the Service to fulfill its mission.’’.

The bill provides for the establishment of a Lessons Learned Center
— (2) LESSONS LEARNED.—The term ‘‘lessons learned’’ means information resulting from evaluation or observation of negotiations, operations, exercises, training events, or other processes and experiences, particularly any corrective measures or innovative techniques, that produced an improved performance or increased capability.

Somebody has been reading the OIG reports. The bill includes a (b) POLICY REVIEW on LE staff compensation based on the OIG report that was released last week. —The Secretary of State shall direct a policy review to assess the adequacy of locally employed staff compensation. In carrying out such policy review the Secretary shall consider the recommendations of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State.

Sec. 323 on Suspension of foreign service members without pay
. (a) SUSPENSION.—Section 610 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4010) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: ‘‘(c)(1) In order to promote the efficiency of the Service, the Secretary may suspend a member of the Foreign Service without pay when the member’s security clearance is suspended or when there is reasonable cause to believe that the member has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed.

Sec. 328 is on Personal services contractors
. (a) IN GENERAL.—In addition to other authorities that may be available, the Secretary of State may establish a pilot program (in this section referred to as the ‘‘program’’) for the purpose of hiring United States citizens or aliens as personal services contractors, for service in the United States, or for service both in the United States and abroad, to respond to new or emerging needs or to augment current services. Not more than a total of 200 United States citizens or aliens are employed at any one time as personal services contractors under this section.

Sec. 333 is on Discrimination related to sexual orientation
(starts on p.125)
(a) PARTNER BENEFITS.—(1) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and any other applicable provision of law, persons covered by section 511.3 of volume 14 of the Foreign Affairs Manual shall be deemed to include the same-sex domestic partner of a member of the Foreign Service (including an individual serving in the Foreign Service on a temporary basis as a limited noncareer appointee during the period in which such individual is so serving). This subsection shall apply to employees of the Peace Corps who are appointed as members of the Foreign Service in the same manner as this subsection and such section 511.3 applies to such members of the Foreign Service who are described in the preceding sentence. The Secretary of State shall promulgate new regulations to implement this section, including criteria to certify the eligibility for the same-sex domestic partner of a Foreign Service officer for benefits under this section. Item (2) provides for a list of requirements for certification of eligibility.

Here is the press release from Congressman Berman’s office. The full text of the bill is here. H.R. 2410 was introduced on May 14 by Congressman Berman. It has no co-sponsors at this time. Latest Major Action as of 5/14/2009: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Jack Lew on the FY10 State Budget

Talks about the “three pillars” of smart power … but USAID is still missing an Administrator

The State Department’s Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew was over at the HFAC last week for the hearing on Building Capacity to Protect U.S. National Security: The Fiscal Year 2010 International Affairs Budget. You can read the whole thing here (pdf). The hearing page plus webcast link is here. Note that you need Real Player to watch these committee videos. Long excerpts below:

This budget — a total of $53.9 billion, of which $48.6 billion is for the State Department and USAID — is a 9 percent increase over the total FY 2009 funding level, including supplemental appropriations. It reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to fiscal discipline and transparency by shifting funding for predictable and recurring programs, previously funded in emergency supplemental appropriations, into the FY 2010 request.

Five Smart Power Funding Objectives

First, we must build the civilian capacity within the Department of State and USAID necessary for 21st Century missions.

Our diplomatic and development missions have evolved. Foreign and civil service personnel deploy alongside the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, reaching far beyond embassy walls to connect with citizens and communities whose support we enlist to suppress insurgency and drive out enemies like the Taliban and al-Qaeda. […] Our diplomatic and development teams are increasingly posted in situations that resemble military conditions rather than traditional diplomatic assignments. We simply cannot spread our workforce thinner and thinner without increasing the risk that while we address a current hotspot we are missing an opportunity to prevent the next crisis or engage in such a way as to build new and capable partners.

The FY 2010 budget requests $283 million to support adding over 740 new Foreign Service personnel at the Department of State, a significant step toward achieving a 25 percent increase in State Foreign Service personnel over four years. I want to call special attention, however, to our efforts to rebuild USAID, where, as many of you have noted, human resources have significantly eroded over the past decade, even as we have ramped up development activities and our expectations of our lead development institution. The FY 2010 request includes a 45 percent increase in USAID operations to support adding an additional 350 new permanent USAID Foreign Service Officers and related capital improvements under the Agency’s Development Leadership Initiative. The FY 2010 budget puts the USAID on a path to double its Foreign Service officers by 2012. The budget also would provide the resources needed to train the expanded workforces of both State and USAID with the language, diplomatic, development and managerial skills necessary for their mission, and allow us to increase civilian presence and leadership in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

We must not only expand our reach but improve our management and oversight capacity. We see contract reform as a critical component of that effort. In FY 1990, USAID employed nearly 3,500 permanent direct hires administering $5 billion a year in assistance. As of FY 2008, USAID employed about 2,200 permanent direct hires administering $13.2 billion in assistance. USAID’s ability to provide strategic direction and appropriate oversight is clearly challenged at this level. This diminished workforce has resulted in contracting out more and more programs and activities, bundling activities under large mechanisms, and in many cases, higher overall costs.

The only way to reverse this trend is to increase the core of foreign and civil service staff whose full time and sole responsibility is to serve their mission. Foreign and civil service officers on the ground need to be developing objectives, working with locally based organizations, providing oversight, and making decisions about how resources are utilized. We have announced our intent to double foreign assistance by 2015. This can only be accomplished if we have the people on board to drive the program.

The State Department has long needed greater capacity to respond quickly to stabilize situations at times of conflict or crisis. These situations may be caused by political or natural disasters, but they share a common need for a rapid civilian response. Our military men and women are often called upon to respond to situations for which they were not trained and where a civilian presence would be more effective. The military has done an extraordinary job, but it cannot — and should not — handle these situations alone. In order to build the capacity to deploy civilians rapidly, we are requesting $363 million for the Civilian Stabilization Initiative. This will expand our total response team to over four thousand persons and greatly increases our ability to prevent and respond to conflict with an immediately deployable civilian counterpart to the U.S. military, ready and able to help stabilize countries in the transition from war to peace.

Included in that request is $40 million for a Stabilization Bridge Fund, which will provide the Civilian Responders immediate resources for critical transition and stabilization programs to reduce the need for long-term deployments of military forces or peacekeepers. Separately, we also request $76 million for a Rapid Response Fund to help stabilize turmoil in new and fragile democracies, such as what we saw during Kenya’s most recent election, where a quick infusion of resources can help reconcile competing interests and support the will of the people. In order to increase personnel and conflict response capacity, we also need the tools and infrastructure to enable our overseas personnel to do their jobs.

The FY 2010 budget includes $2.095 billion to construct safe, secure, functional new embassies; a strengthened American presence in critical emerging areas; and expanded and secure global classified and unclassified information technology networks. These resources also support efforts to improve the efficiency of diplomatic and development operations, including modernizing antiquated software systems; integrating State and USAID information technology; participating in e-government initiatives that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement; upgrading reporting and financial management systems, and consolidating State and USAID administrative platforms.

Smart power means using all of the tools available to reach out to the world, and the FY 2010 budget requests $1.13 billion for public diplomacy and educational and cultural exchanges, providing the resources required to engage and influence people around the world, advance understanding of our country’s principles and values, and facilitate the formation of strategic partnerships through the exchange of people and ideas. These programs connect people to people — exchanging knowledge, information, and expertise, and bring people together around shared values. Public diplomacy programs often help build the sustainable relationships with local communities that become foundations of our development programs. And in a world in which 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30, our youth programs are among the most critical investments we can make. Extracurricular programs, educational opportunities, and exchanges help divert at-risk youth away from the influence of violent actors, and the use of innovative new media greatly expands our reach into this critical population.

Read the full testimony here.

Jack Lew concluded his testimony talking about the State Department leading a whole-of-government process to design and implement a new strategy. He also pointed out that State and USAID account for about 70 percent of official U.S. development assistance but that “we are just two of the nearly 20 U.S. agencies involved in providing foreign aid.” He says, “We must care more about strategy, unity and results than we do about turf. We must be able to look at a country, a function, or an objective, and be able to identify everything that the U.S. government is doing in that area — not just State. To meet the challenges of a world being bound closer together, we need a government that is working closer together.”

He also emphasized the need to speak with one voice: “Our partners abroad have sometimes received mixed messages from the array of agencies working in international affairs, each of which has its own rules of engagement. Our ability to get results on the ground will depend on our ability to field coordinated teams, both in Washington and around the globe.”

Looks good — remains to be seen if State gets everything on its wish list from Congress this year. One observation though – given that development is one of the “three pillars of smart power,” where is the new USAID Administrator? It’s almost four months since the new administration took office and USAID still has an Acting Administrator. I understand that there is a review conducted on foreign assistance as a whole, but I just think it’s going to be difficult to continue to make a vigorous case for development as one of the three pillars of smart power if you can’t fill that slot.

I noticed that Deputy Secretary Jack Lew not the Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham signed a Joint Statement of Collaboration for USAID’s three-year, $24 million, Energy Efficiency and Capacity Building project in Pakistan early last month. I guess we’re back to my original post on this: What’s going to happen to USAID? Jack Lew?

Back in December, TPM also speculated that Jack Lew will spearhead a long-overdue reorganization of the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy, saying “You don’t hire a guy like Jack Lew to preside over the status quo.” Stay tuned…