Federal Internship for Spouses, Military Spouses Only

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 on October 28, 2009 and it had become Public Law No: 111-84. Sec. 564 of the Act is a pilot program to secure internships for military spouses with Federal agencies.

(a) Cost-reimbursement Agreements With Federal Agencies- The Secretary of Defense may enter into an agreement with the head of an executive department or agency that has an established internship program to reimburse the department or agency for authorized costs associated with the first year of employment of an eligible military spouse who is selected to participate in the internship program of the department or agency.

(b) Eligible Military Spouses-

  • (1) ELIGIBILITY- Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who is married to a member of the Armed Forces on active duty is eligible for selection to participate in an internship program under a reimbursement agreement entered into under subsection (a).

  • (2) EXCLUSIONS- Reimbursement may not be provided with respect to the following persons:
    • (A) A person who is legally separated from a member of the Armed Forces under court order or statute of any State, the District of Columbia, or possession of the United States when the person begins the internship.
    • (B) A person who is also a member of the Armed Forces on active duty.
    • (C) A person who is a retired member of the Armed Forces.

(c) Funding Source- Amounts authorized to be appropriated for operation and maintenance, for Defense-wide activities, shall be available to carry out this section.

(d) Definitions- In this section:

  • (1) The term `authorized costs’ includes the costs of the salary, benefits and allowances, and training for an eligible military spouse during the first year of the participation of the military spouse in an internship program pursuant to an agreement under subsection (a).
  • (2) The term `internship’ means a professional, analytical, or administrative position in the Federal Government that operates under a developmental program leading to career advancement.

(e) Termination of Agreement Authority- No agreement may be entered into under subsection (a) after September 30, 2011. Authorized costs incurred after that date may be reimbursed under an agreement entered into before that date in the case of eligible military spouses who begin their internship by that date.

(f) Reporting Requirement- Not later than January 1, 2012, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report that provides information on how many eligible military spouses received internships pursuant to agreements entered into under subsection (a) and the types of internship positions they occupied. The report shall specify the number of interns who subsequently obtained permanent employment with the department or agency administering the internship program or with another department or agency. The Secretary shall include a recommendation regarding whether, given the investment of Department of Defense funds, the authority to enter into agreements should be extended, modified, or terminated.

* * *

The defense appropriations act for FY 2010 is still in conference and has not been included in the omnibus spending bill that was just passed in Congress. Perhaps it’s not be too late to tell AFSA and your elected representatives to include Foreign Service spouses in this pilot program? If it is — there is always next year to lobby for a similar internship or fellowship. Contact AFSA here. Contact your elected representatives here.

Based on statistics presented in FLO’s 2009 ―Worldwide Family Member Employment overview, close to 10,000 adult family members accompany a U.S. Direct Hire employee on his/her overseas assignment. According to the Family Liaison Office — of this total, nearly two-thirds expressed an interest in working, while only a third was successful in finding employment. Unlike military spouses who may find employment inside military bases overseas, there are usually not enough jobs for diplomatic spouses overseas, inside the mission or in the local economy. And when jobs are available within the US missions, most jobs are clerical in nature and widely viewed by some 75% of family members with degrees (about half have advanced degrees) as not very challenging or interesting. A federal internship such as this would allow EFMs to obtain work experience for career advancement while accompanying the employee-spouse on a diplomatic assignment overseas. Which also means that returning home after years of being away would not put spouses and partners at a disadvantage when job hunting with their chequered and spotty resumes.

Quickie: Public Diplomacy 2.0: Where the USG Meets "New Media"

Helle C. Dale has a research article up in the Heritage Foundation website on public diplomacy (Public Diplomacy 2.0: Where the U.S. Government Meets “New Media” | December 8, 2009). The writer is a Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a Division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. Quick excerpts below:

“U.S. embassies have seen the potential of social Web sites for facilitating public diplomacy. Embassies in Pakistan and Indonesia both have Facebook pages, offering information about the United States and American culture to an audience roughly 13 to 26 years of age. Degrees of success vary wildly, however. The U.S. embassy in Indonesia boasts 19,640 “fans” as of December 1. Its Web site bears an official U.S. government seal, and has a professional look that lives up to its diplomatic purpose. By contrast, the U.S. embassy in Pakistan has 539 Facebook “fans,” and is more difficult to identify as an official group — the site has no official seal, no State Department e-mail address, and a casual homemade look. This highlights the very pertinent question of official policy guidelines regulating U.S. government use of online social networking.”

As a side note — in October, Secretary Clinton, in response to a question during the Dean Acheson lecture said that “a new team going in to Pakistan” and that “We have adopted a new approach, which is we do not leave any misstatement or inaccuracy unanswered.”

The US Embassy Pakistan’s Facebook page was created in late October, four days before Secretary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan. It has 627 fans and about a couple dozen photos online as of this writing. Odd thing though — there is no link from the official embassy website to its Facebook page; so you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. Since November 4, US Embassy Islamabad’s press office has also issued seven Corrections for the Record statements ranging from the US Embassy construction to “suspected Blackwater house.” But other than these, it’s hard to tell how much this rapid response team has done so far.

“New media” as “game changer?” More excerpts:

The challenges the U.S. government faces in harnessing social media are numerous. While it is essential that government have a coordinated message, the “grassroots” nature of social media makes it both difficult and somewhat undesirable to control them. The appeal of social media is precisely its feeling of intimacy and informality, and the government runs the risk of diminishing, even destroying, this appeal of social media through regulation. The content on social-networking sites should be both interesting and pertinent to individuals — people, not formal information, are the essence of social interaction.
The U. S. government, traditional media, and the public often view “new media” as a magic tool, portending a revolution in the way the U.S. government conducts public diplomacy and addresses the world. In time, it may indeed be the “game changer” that Undersecretary McHale talked about in her confirmation hearing, and new media does make it possible to connect with previously unreached and under-engaged populations. However, to realize this advantage, the strengths, limitations, and risks of each media tool must be properly understood, and technologies must be wisely used to their respective comparative advantage. This is why the framework of a National Communications Strategy is desperately needed in order for U.S. public diplomacy to rise above mere strategy and tactics.

In her confirmation testimony before Congress, Judith McHale spoke of the need for just such a strategy. While Twitter, for instance, is excellent at providing small, timely bits of essential information, it is fatiguing and ineffective for routine updates. The U.S. government, in the person of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, must provide agencies engaging in outbound communication with guidelines and metrics to establish that their use of new media is on message, recognizable as official, and wisely deployed in order to avoid destroying the intrinsic appeal of a given media to the target audience. Lastly, the government must realize that there are new media that are valuable tools, and others that are a distracting waste of time and taxpayer resources.

Congress and the Administration should:

  • Create a National Communications Strategy articulated by the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy.
  • Formulate government-wide guidelines to ensure that the new media is on message, as well as standards for official use of social media, ensuring that government Web pages can be identified and differentiated from impersonators without destroying the appeal of the particular media to its audience.
  • Establish a new non-governmental or semi-governmental research organization (a Corporation for Foreign Opinion Analysis)

The must-read article especially for practitioners of “new media” is here.

State Dept in Court: Two Title VII Cases

The U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia recently granted summary judgment on two civil action cases filed against the Department of State/HRC in her capacity as Secretary of State. A summary judgment for the Secretary was denied without prejudice in one case pending plaintiff’s opportunity to conduct discovery.

Civil Action No. 2005-2011
Doc No. 49 (memorandum opinion)
by Judge Reggie B. Walton
Plaintiff Matthew McGrath brings this action against Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her official capacity as the Secretary of State,1 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 (2006), for “reprisal for engaging in protected activity,” Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶ 1. Currently before the Court is the defendant’s motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. After carefully considering the party’s pleadings, the defendant’s motion, and all memoranda of law and exhibits submitted with these filings,2 and for the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that it must grant the defendant’s motion.
The plaintiff, a white male, “began his service as a Foreign Service Officer [(“FS Officer”)] on June 10, 1984” and “was terminated by [the] defendant effective on November 30, 2004,” after “serv[ing] in a variety of responsible posts in numerous countries throughout the world . . . .” Id. ¶ 11. The plaintiff “achieved Grade 1 – the highest level for a regular [FS Officer] – in a time period much faster than the usual FS Officer [and] . . . [h]is performance ratings from 1984 through 1999 were outstanding.” Id. ¶ 12. The plaintiff assumed his position as the Chief of the Division of Cultural Programs for the Department of State (the “Chief”) on September 10, 2001, which was under the supervision of S. Van Wunder. Id. ¶ 13. According to the plaintiff, “[w]ithin the first weeks of [his] employment in his new position . . . [Mr.] Wunder[] began to attempt to undermine [the plaintiff’s] authority as Chief,” id., “by going directly to [his subordinates] about assignments, instead of going through [him],” id. ¶ 14.
Accordingly, this Court declines, as it must, “to serve as a ‘super-personnel department
that reexamines an entity’s business decisions.’”
[T]he Court concludes that the plaintiff could not carry his evidentiary burden of proving to a reasonable jury that it was more likely than not that the defendant retaliated against him when it issued the two negative evaluation reports in 2002, involuntarily curtailed him, issued the Letter of Admonishment, assigned him the Declassification Unit, and ultimately separated him out of the Foreign Service. Accordingly, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment must be granted.
Read the whole thing here.

Civil Action No. 2008-1216
Doc No. 35 (memorandum opinion)
by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth

Plaintiff Janine Perry brings this action against defendant Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the U.S. Department of State, in her official capacity (“Secretary”), alleging race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16, as well as retaliation for asserting her rights under that statute, id. § 2000e-3. Before the Court is the Secretary’s motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment [#25]. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition thereto, the reply, the oral arguments of counsel and the record of this case, the Court concludes that the motion should be granted in part and denied in part.
The Secretary makes a variety of arguments in support of the request for summary judgment as to Perry’s retaliation claim. These arguments include: any claim that Joria retaliated against Perry based on her 1999 EEO complaint must be dismissed because the lapse in time between the protected activity and the alleged retaliation is too long to establish retaliatory motive; the denial of training, loss of certain job duties, and denial of an advance in sick leave are not materially adverse actions sufficient to support a retaliation claim; and the retaliation Perry alleged occurred after her 2005 EEO complaint is not sufficiently connected to her previous allegations to properly be added to the current action.
The Court will not resolve these issues until Perry has had an opportunity to conduct discovery. Each relevant question of law depends on facts evidence of which Perry has not yet obtained. For instance, Perry seeks information regarding her requests for training, budgetary reasons behind the decision to deny her requests, whether Joria permitted GS-13 Website Managers and other employees to attend training sessions. Rule 56(f) Decl. at 13. She would also request information regarding her loss of job duties as well as any change in job duties of GS-13 Website Managers.[…] Because Perry has not had the opportunity to conduct discovery as to these issues, summary judgment for the Secretary is denied without prejudice as to Count II.
Read the whole thing here.

Officially In: Judith Ann Stewart Stock to ECA

On December 4, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Judith Ann Stewart Stock to be Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Ann Stock is currently the Vice President of Institutional Affairs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ms. Stock oversees the Center’s expanded efforts to increase its national and international profile and manages the Center’s International Arts Management Programs. She also supervises the Government Relations Office, Press Office and Office of Institutional Affairs.

From 1993-1997, Ms. Stock was Deputy Assistant to former President Clinton and the Social Secretary at The White House. Prior to that, Ms. Stock served as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations for Bloomingdale’s Department Stores for ten years. Ms. Stock was also Deputy Press Secretary to Vice President Walter F. Mondale during the 1980 Presidential election campaign.

Ms. Stock has a B.A. from Purdue University.

* * *

The Department of State established a Bureau of International Cultural Relations on Jun 1, 1959, and subsequently renamed it the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs on Apr 17, 1960. The following year, the Department elevated the position of Special Assistant for Coordination of International Educational and Cultural Relations, which headed the Bureau, to the rank of Assistant Secretary of State. The Department had first established a Division of Cultural Relations in 1938. Cultural relations was also part of the responsibilities of the first Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs created in 1944. In 1978 the Bureau was abolished and its functions transferred to the International Communications Agency (subsequently the U.S. Information Agency) under Reorganization Plan No. 2 (91 Stat. 1637). On October 1, 1999, pursuant to the integration of the U.S. Information Agency into the Department of State this position was revived. Secion 2305 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 (112 Stat. 2681-825) increased the number of Assistant Secretaries of State from 20 to 24.

Since 1961, only one career diplomat had been appointed to this position (Lucius Battle of Florida). If confirmed, Ms. Stock would replace Iranian-American politician and businesswoman, Goli Ameri who was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs from 2008-2009.

Brief bio above via Chicago Sun-Times, December 4, 2009. The text of the official nomination does not appear to be posted in the WH website. But the nomination was sent to the Senate and was posted online the same day. Thanks for Rick K. for the poke on this nomination; almost missed this.

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