SFRC Clears Gast, Richard, Sonenshine, Whitehead, Palmer, Farrar, Powers, Powell

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following nominees on Feb 14, 2012. All nominations will now go to the full Senate vote:

  • Earl W. Gast, of California, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Katherine Almquist, resigned
  • Anne Claire Richard, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration), vice Eric P. Schwartz, resigned.
  • Tara D. Sonenshine, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, vice Judith A. McHale
  • Robert E. Whitehead, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Togolese Republic.
  • Larry Leon Palmer, of Georgia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Jonathan Don Farrar, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama.
  • Phyllis Marie Powers, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Republic of Nicaragua.
  • Nancy J. Powell, of Iowa, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Personal Rank of Career Ambassador, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to India.

Domani Spero

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4 responses

  1. Nancy J Powell is one of the founders of the Franklin Fellows Program at the State Department (http://careers.state.gov/ff) She’s going to make a great ambassador to India because in that country poverty and riches live side by side like nothing could be more normal, and Ms. Powell has no problem asking American citizens to work for free without compensation or benefits even after working for an entire year as Franklin Fellows for the State Department, for free. That’s right, for free. The legal eagles at State all signed off and said it’s perfectly legal, and apparently ethical, too, to ask American citizens to work for the State Department for an entire year for free. The poor “Cinderella” State Department, which has a budget of only $50 billion, simply cannot afford to pay the Franklin Fellows even minimum wage to cover their expenses. In addition to a farewell message from Ms. Powell on page three, there’s a great propaganda piece about the Franklin Fellows in the December 2011 edition of State Magazine (http://digitaledition.state.gov/publication/?i=91715). The title of the article is “Self-funded Staffers.” Ain’t that a hoot? Self-funded staffers. Yes, Franklin Fellows are considered actual employees of the State Department with secret or top secret security clearances in hand. They are not interns by any stretch of the imagination. It’s such an honor to work for the federal government for no compensation or benefits or advocacy. If State can do it, why not the rest of the federal government? Make everyone work for free. Your country will thank you for helping to solve the budget crisis. Hey, these evil geniuses may be on to something here.

    The brilliance of the Franklin Fellows Program is that participants assume 100% of the risk, with the State Department assuming zero. In some ways it practically spits in the eye of the federal employees’ union, having Fellows effectively play the role of scabs. It’s a way for management to show FSOs and Civil Servants alike that there are people out there who can do their jobs just as well as they can, and they don’t even need to be paid, not a dime. At least the State Department doesn’t send Franklin Fellows a bill to pay it for the privilege of working there, yet. It’s interesting that the program started in 2008 just as the financial system was in free fall and the US had entered the worst recession since the Great Depression. Talk about poverty and riches living side by side. Nancy Powell is going to feel right at home as US Ambassador to India. Happy diplomating, Ambassador!

    • Just Sayin – Thanks for your comment. From best I could tell, this is a voluntary program. Folks must have their reasons for applying in the FFP. Maybe it’s good for their resume, maybe it gives them better contacts, maybe it gives them a break from their regular work — I don’t know. But the announcement makes clear that this is not a Federal government appointment and that it is “unpaid” fellowship; it also does not lead to regular employment with the Feds.
      http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/2326159
      SALARY RANGE: $0.00 to $0.00 / Per Year
      POSITION INFORMATION: Full-Time – Temporary fellowship for approximately 1 year, with a possible of 1 year maximum extension.

      Americans who do not apply for these fellowships will not be asked to work for free. Folks who apply are expected to read the fine print. Nothing deceptive there. And that’s how it goes. The only thing that can potentially change it is if Congress wades in or if a court system find something illegal with the program. I can’t imagine either happening.

      • Doh! No fun! That’s exactly something Alec Ross would say. You’re supposed to pundit, not punt it. That’s a two-point touchback for State. Oooo. They owe you one.

        I just think the program has an exploitative feel to it even with all of the exculpatory clauses and forewarnings attached to it. The whole thing reminds me of the NCAA’s quiet exploitation of college basketball players by not paying them for their performance on the court. Sports writer Frank DeFord comments on the topic and makes reference to an article in “The Atlantic” by Taylor Branch called “The Shame of College Sports.” See it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/8643/. I see some parallels. Nobody’s forcing any of the student players to play NCAA basketball but is it fair? Still not feelin’ it?

        Will more federal agencies introduce Franklin Fellow-style year-long unpaid fellowships? How about this for a blog?: “The Shame of Unpaid 365-day Federal Fellowships.” Thanks for the forum to raise the issue.