Officially In: Scott H. DeLisi to Kathmandu

Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, NepalImage via Wikipedia

On November 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Scott H. DeLisi to be US Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The WH released the following official bio below:

As a 28 year career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Scott H. DeLisi has served as Ambassador to the State of Eritrea and as Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana. Currently Mr. DeLisi is the Director of Career Development and Assignments in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources where he has played a key role in the staffing of embassies. This has included missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Previously, as the Director for Entry Level Programs, Mr. DeLisi was responsible for the training, placement and career development of 600 new entrants and over 2500 existing Foreign Service Officers. Mr. DeLisi has also served as Director for Southern African Affairs, Vice Counsel for the Embassy in India, the Chief of Political Section in Sri Lanka, in addition to other postings in Madagascar and Pakistan.

A native of Minnesota, Mr. DeLisi holds both a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

* * *

That would be Vice Consul not Counsel for the US Embassy in India. If confirmed, Mr. DeLisi would succeed career diplomat, Nancy Powell (currently the Director General of the Foreign Service) as top US representative in Kathmandu. Our last six US Ambassadors to Nepal were all career diplomats.

Officially In: Beatrice Welters to Port-of-Spain

Carnival Masqueraders in Trinidad and TobagoImage via Wikipedia

On November 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Beatrice W. Welters to be the US Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The WH released the following official bio below:

Beatrice W. Welters is currently the President and Chairman of the AnBryce Foundation, which provides long-term academic and leadership enrichment programs for underserved youth. Ms. Welters founded the Foundation in 1995. From 1977 to 1991, she worked at IBM where she held several roles, including systems engineer. Ms. Welters was also a past Presidential Appointee to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts serving on its Executive Committee. She continues to serve on the Library of Congress Madison Council. Ms. Welters also serves as a Trustee at the Brookings Institute, the Aspen Institute, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Jesuit Academy, and at the Maret School.

Ms. Welters holds an A.A. from Ulster County Community College, a B.A. from Manhattanville College, and an M.A. from the City University of New York.

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According to Capital Eye, the blog of, Ms. Welters and her husband, Anthony, of McLean, Virginia have bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s campaign last year and another $100,000 for his inauguration in January. They have also been prolific campaign contributions to federal candidates and committees. The blog notes that Welters is now the twenty-fourth fund-raiser for Obama to be elevated for a diplomatic post with the rank of ambassador.

If confirmed, Ms. Welters would replace Roy L. Austin of Pennsylvania, the presidential friend who was appointed US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago by George W. Bush from 2001-2009.

If confirmed and if Ms. Welters decide to take on this mission — she would face no less than a substantial challenge in paradise. Our US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago has made a reputation for itself in two areas: 1) no management officer has fully completed a tour there in 19 years; curtailment of officers is the norm not the exception in this part of paradise; and 2) the previous ambassador according to the OIG, “went through five DCMs” there (that is, five deputy ambassadors in a span of eight years). I’m not sure if that is a record but — well, enough to drive anyone, including me to blame the rain in Port-of-Spain.

But you know what they say about there not being any bad missions … do, please read the OIG report on US Embassy Trinidad and Tobago here. This ambassadorial assignment is not going to be a walk in the park, pardon the cliché.

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S. 1524: USAID Reform Bill Scheduled for Mark Up

The Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform bill is scheduled for mark up today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John Rogin of The Cable has some background on this here. Rogin reports that the State Department leadership “has been asking Kerry to slow-walk the bill, not wanting the legislation to preempt State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).” But apparently, Senator Lugar wanted this to move along and “It’s important for Kerry to maintain his arm-link with Lugar, so he pushed back.” Rogin quotes one development expert close to the discussions.

S.1524 also known as the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to establish in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID):

(1) an Assistant Administrator for Policy and Strategic Planning to assist in matters related to policy planning, strategic planning, program design, research, evaluation, and budget allocation and management;

(2) a Bureau for Policy and Strategic Planning whose primary duties shall include policy and long-term strategy development, evaluation of program effectiveness, and establishment of resource and workforce allocation criteria. Establishes:

  • (1) in the Bureau for Policy and Strategic Planning an Office for Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis in Development;
  • (2) the Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance and the Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance Advisory Board.

The bill directs the Administrator of USAID to: (1) develop a comprehensive workforce and human resources strategy and a related task force to support the objective of promoting development and reducing global poverty; and (2) establish career guidelines for Foreign Service officers and civil service officers that incorporate interagency, intergovernmental, or international organization rotational assignments.

It also directs the President to require all federal departments and agencies to make publicly available on their Web sites comprehensive and accessible information about U.S. foreign assistance on a program-by-program and country-by-country basis. Sets forth USAID program fund guidelines.

If you are currently with USAID, you might want to read Section 7 of this bill as it relates to workforce planning requirement for the agency. Section 8 covers rotations, promotions, including promotions into the senior ranks and external training and educational opportunities for USAID personnel.


(a) Comprehensive Workforce and Human Resources Strategy for the United States Agency for International Development- The Administrator shall develop and implement a comprehensive workforce and human resources strategy for the Agency to support the objective of promoting development and reducing global poverty.

(b) Scope- The strategy required under subsection (a) shall be a strategy for modernizing the workforce of the United States Agency for International Development in support of foreign assistance and policy priorities, and shall–

  • (1) determine long-term Agency personnel priorities, including priorities over 5- and 10-year time periods;

  • (2) identify career professional development programs for all personnel, including training, language, and education, interagency and intergovernmental rotations, and assignment opportunities outside the United States Government;

  • (3) include an assessment of future development and foreign policy priorities and the implications of such priorities for technical and policy expertise, including how to meet future unanticipated demands brought about by manmade and natural disasters;

  • (4) include an overseas facilities and security assessment examining the implications of such facilities and security for personnel increases;

  • (5) include the appropriateness of regional platforms to perform necessary Agency functions and to provide services to other donors and organizations;

  • (6) consider structural reform options to professionalize the human resource capacity of the Agency, including options to outsource the entirety of the human resource capacity of the Agency; and

  • (7) address the means to enable the Agency to access cutting-edge technical and managerial expertise.

(c) Factors To Consider- In developing the strategy required under subsection (a), the Administrator shall, among other things–

  • (1) examine the objectives the Agency is mandated to fulfill, and assess whether its current workforce model effectively supports the goals of the Agency;

  • (2) review the Agency’s workforce evolution and identify the additional program demands that have been placed on the workforce in the past 10 years;

  • (3) examine different personnel and workforce management models from other United States Government agencies, international organizations, and the private sector and determine the comparative advantages the models might offer and whether they would allow the Agency to better structure its workforce to carry out its responsibilities and meet the challenges of a changing environment;

  • (4) examine different bureaucratic and legislative constraints facing the Agency in implementing a comprehensive workforce planning and management system and how these constraints can be addressed, including–

    • (A) which limitations, if any, currently exist that prevent the Agency from hiring the right people for the right positions in a timely manner, including mid-level hires and reentry of mid-level professionals into the Agency; and

    • (B) how this compares with other organizations, such as the Department of State and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and how the Agency compares to the Department of State and the MCC in its ability to attract and retain high caliber professionals;

  • (5) examine the advantages and disadvantages of the Agency’s use of contractors in the last 10 years to carry out its core mission and management responsibilities;

  • (6) assess the scope and effectiveness of training, including the availability of language training, for Agency personnel, and the extent to which available trainings support carrying out Agency objectives; and

  • (7) present a cost analysis for using a contracting model versus a direct hire model and determine the cost savings and consequences that could result from the elimination of institutional contractors and the hiring of the same professionals as personal services contractors.


(a) Career Professional Development- Chapter 2 of part III of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2381 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 630 the following new section:


(a) Rotations-

  • (1) CAREER GUIDELINES- The Administrator shall establish career guidelines for Foreign Service officers and civil service officers that incorporate interagency, intergovernmental, or international organization rotational assignments. The guidelines established under this paragraph shall include–
    • (A) selection;
    • (B) professional education and training;
    • (C) types of relevant interagency, intergovernmental, and international organization assignments; and
    • (D) such other matters as the Administrator considers appropriate.
  • (2) PROMOTIONS TO SENIOR RANKS- Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish additional guidelines that consider participation by relevant officers in at least 1 interagency, intergovernmental, or international organizational rotational assignment of at least 6 months as a factor for promotion into the ranks of the Senior Foreign Service or Senior Executive Service.
  • (A) QUALIFICATIONS- The Administrator shall ensure that promotion precepts and promotion panels do not penalize officers who have been assigned to interagency, intergovernmental or international organizations.
  • (B) REPORT- The Administrator shall provide an annual report to the appropriate congressional committees that–
  • (i) specifies the aggregate number of officers and the promotion rates of officers who are serving in, or have served in, interagency, intergovernmental, or international organization rotational assignments; and
  • (ii) details efforts to meet the objectives described in paragraph (1).

(b) External Training and Educational Opportunities- It is the sense of Congress that–

  • (1) the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development should augment and expand external training and educational opportunities for Foreign Service and civil service personnel and expand opportunities for work assignments to entities outside the United States Government;
  • (2) a strong development agency should have a knowledgeable and capable workforce that is familiar with and has access to cutting edge development practices, methodologies, ideas, work experience, and programs; and
  • (3) the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development should ensure that personnel of the Agency have opportunities during their careers to obtain a range of knowledge-building work experiences and advanced education and training in academic and other relevant institutions in the United States and abroad to increase the capacity of the Agency to fulfill its mission.’.

Read the whole text of the bill here.

In a related item — Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning Staff and one of the leads in the QDDR process at State was over at the Center for American Progress yesterday as keynote speaker for its event on “Integrating the Instruments of National Power.” She was quoted as saying that “the overall aim of the QDDR is to integrate and elevate development and diplomacy across the spectrum of the American foreign policy.” […]”You still need to integrate the power of development professionals, the ideas and the expertise, with the political clout and strategy and reach of diplomacy. That seems to me to be the perfect example of integrated power … and that is what Secretary Clinton would like to see as one of her legacies.” Rogin reports that she had the “whole development world scratching their heads.”

Sorry, brain freeze here; I don’t know how to translate what she said. I must point out that she was previously on the record with the “M” word as in — “no merger,” so I imagine integrate means incorporate, mix but …

Quickie: English Lessons Via Mobile Phones

Several mobile phonesImage via Wikipedia

Rhys Blakely of Times Online reports that the British Government has joined forces with the six largest mobile operators in Bangladesh to unveil the world’s largest project to teach a language using mobile phones (UK to teach English in Bangladesh via mobile | November 16, 2009). Excerpts:

Starting this week a scheme managed by the BBC World Service and funded by the British Government will offer the 50 million Bangladeshis who own mobile handsets the opportunity to dial up a series of three-minute-long English lessons for 3 takas (2.5p) each — less than the cost of a cup of tea at a roadside stall in Dhaka.
With three billion mobile phones now in use globally (compared to 1.5 billion television sets), the use of handsets as educational tools is increasingly being explored.
In Thailand, graduate students sit tests via text message, while in Japan — where mobile phones outnumber computers five-to-one — handsets have been used for several years to teach English as a second language. One survey found that 70 per cent of Japanese students preferred receiving lessons on mobile phones than on computers.
Mobile learning may be particularly useful in countries where populations are widely dispersed, such as in Mongolia, where special English lessons have been developed for waiters and bank tellers, which are distributed through text messages.

Exciting times for micro-learning! Read the whole thing here.

Remember When: Policy on Wives of Foreign Service Employees

Washington, January 22, 1972, 9:05 a.m.

The following is U.S. Government policy regarding wives of Foreign Service employees. This policy applies as well to male spouses and other dependents of Foreign Service employees. Copies of this instruction should be made available to all employees and their dependents. Ambassadors and Principal officers are asked to insure that this policy is observed and that all concerned understand the voluntary character of wives’ participation on which it rests:

1. The wife of a Foreign Service employee who has accompanied her husband to a foreign post is a private individual; she is not a Government employee. The Foreign Service, therefore, has no right to levy any duties upon her. It can only require that she comport herself in a manner which will not reflect discredit on the United States.

2. Foreign Service Officers have broadly defined representational responsibilities overseas. These are an integral part of their job, and they are expected to lead generally active social lives. An officer is not relieved of such responsibilities if his wife chooses not to assist him in carrying them out. However, the U.S. Government has no right to insist that a wife assume representational burdens. Each wife must decide the extent to which she wants to participate as a partner in this aspect of her husband’s job. She is free to follow her own interests (subject only to the laws and regulations of the host country and the U.S. Government).

3. Many wives may want to engage abroad, as they do at home, in charitable activities. In doing so they not only help others less fortunate than themselves, but often contribute favorably to the image of the U.S. abroad. However, a wife’s participation in charitable activities must be truly voluntary. Which particular charity, if any, and the extent of her involvement is a decision for the wife alone to make.

This applies also to wives’ participation in activities such as binational organizations, clubs and “in-house” social gatherings which are often worthwhile, contribute to morale and the effective functioning of the post, and thus benefit the Foreign Service. Many wives enjoy these activities, provided they are not viewed as requirements. Some do not and are not required to engage in them.

4. Although membership in a diplomatic community and the requirements of protocol inevitably involve considerations of rank and precedence in dealing with people outside the post, this does not grant to any wife authority over, or responsibility for, the wives of other employees. The American tradition of neighborliness, personal courtesy and mutual concern is the appropriate way to be helpful and friendly without assuming a superior-subordinate relationship.

5. Mention of wives’ participation or lack thereof in the types of activities discussed in this instruction may not be made in performance evaluation reports, Inspectors’ efficiency reports, or training evaluations. Every rating and reviewing officer has the responsibility of insuring that employees’ ratings are not affected by such considerations. However, should violations of this policy occur, remedial action will be taken.

6. The Department, USIA, and AID are instituting careful review of their regulations and guidelines to insure that they conform with these principles. Posts are instructed to review their own programs and guidelines to insure conformity with this instruction. These Agencies are confident that this policy statement will receive the support and cooperation of all concerned. If violations do occur, every effort should be made to resolve them at post. However, if after such an effort is made, they cannot be resolved in the field, they should be brought to the attention of the Director General for the Department of State, Office of Personnel and Manpower for AID, and the Assistant Director for Personnel and Training for USIA. Complaints of abuse will be handled on a confidential basis.

Related Items:

  • Action Memorandum From the Chairman of the Secretary’s Open Forum Panel, Department of State (Thomas) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration Macomber | October 20, 1971

  • Secretary Roger’s Airgram | From the DoS to All Posts | Policy on Wives of Foreign Service Employees | January 22, 1972