State Dept Releases Part of FOIA’ed Ambo Credentials — Showing Soon Online? Mm-hmm.

— Domani Spero

On March 7, the State Department released the “certificates of demonstrated competence” requested by AFSA on July 29, 2013. The fulfilled request did not include the second FOIA request filed on February 28, 2014.  The DPB extract below also has brief FOIA data for FY2013, which we did not have when we blogged about this case yesterday (State Dept on Ambo Nominees’ “Certificates of Documented Competency” — Working On It.

Two sources confirmed to us that AFSA has these documents and is reviewing them. These “certificates” or “reports” are typically a page long, as previously described in our post here (AFSA Threatens to Sue State Department Over Ambassadors Credentials, Again).  It is our understanding that these docs released today are just bio data and are not confidential.  We’ll have to wait and see whether AFSA would share these “certificates” with their members, and the public by posting them as a subsection of the ambassadors page on its website.

Via DPB, March 7, 2014:

QUESTION: Do you have any update on whether you’ve given the certificates of demonstrated competence to the AFSA representatives?

MS. PSAKI: I do. We have – as I mentioned yesterday, there were two different FOIA requests. So we have fulfilled the requests meeting the July FOIA. That was from – requested from January – January 1st, 2013 to the present time, meaning to when it was – when the process of looking at it began, which means it’s through November. So that is a request we’ve met. The February request is separate. We just received it last week. As I said yesterday, and as is the case in any FOIA, we’re working to process that.

QUESTION: Now, when you say fulfilled, does that mean that you agreed and handed over those certificates —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — unredacted?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that, but just to – and I know somebody asked this question yesterday, but it’s an important note here because I looked into this. These documents that they’re asking for are about a page or two pages long.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: They are certainly not reflective of the qualifications or even that extensive of a background or any – of any of the individuals.

QUESTION: Right, which kind of begs the question as to why it took so – if they’re only a page or two long, why it takes so long to go – anyway. But —

MS. PSAKI: Well, they only —

QUESTION: — when was —

MS. PSAKI: To answer another one of your questions, Matt —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: — because I aim to please here —

QUESTION: Uh-huh, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: — the request was not made informally or through any other channels —

QUESTION: Before?

MS. PSAKI: — but through the FOIA. Correct, through the FOIA process.

QUESTION: Would they – oh, I suppose this is a hypothetical question, but would – does it – are – could they have gotten it through an informal request? Or do you – would you have demanded that they go through the FOIA route to get them?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t answer that question. I mean, it’s impossible to answer.

QUESTION: Right. And then —

MS. PSAKI: But we do try to provide information —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: — and work closely with AFSA.

QUESTION: And when was it fulfilled as – the way —

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to double check on that. I believe it was this morning, but let me double check on that and make sure that’s true.

QUESTION: It was this morning. So you missed their deadline. You were hoping for a little leeway, kind of like the Israelis and the Palestinians.

MS. PSAKI: I’ll check and make sure, Matt. Well, they certainly know when we met it or didn’t meet it, right?

QUESTION: Well, right. I know. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not a secret to them.

QUESTION: So we need to ask them if they’re satisfied with —

MS. PSAKI: And I can check – well, I can check too when – if it was last night or this morning.

QUESTION: How many tickets – how many tickets were there?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any numbers for you. It was any that were applicable in that timeframe.

QUESTION: Do you have in front of you – and I know the building has put these together, but I don’t know if it’s made its way to you – the response to the question that I asked yesterday, just to get it on the record, for how long it takes on average to respond to FOIA requests for the State Department?

MS. PSAKI: I do, Arshad.

QUESTION: I am delighted. Let’s —

MS. PSAKI: Get excited, it’s a Friday.

QUESTION: Let’s put this on the record. (Laughter.) Excellent.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. In Fiscal Year 2013, the average time to process a simple request was 106 days. In the same fiscal year, the average time to process a complex request was 533 days. To show just a factual point here on efforts to improve, in Fiscal Year 2013, the Department received over 18,000 FOIA requests and processed over 21,000. So we processed more than we received, meaning we’re trying to speed up the process.

QUESTION: So – and I had one other question about that, which is that implies that there is a big backlog that you were able to – right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

 

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By The Numbers – Foreign Service Promotion Statistics 2012

— Domani Spero

Extracted from State Magazine, June 2013:

The Bureau of Human Resources has compiled the 2012 ForeignService Selection Board results by class and cone for generalists and specialists. The tables show promotion numbers, rates, average time inclass and average time in service for each competition group. The bureau also analyzed and compared certain 2012 promotion rates and levels to the 2011 results and the five-year averages. While the number of generalist and specialists promoted in 2012 was higher than 2011 and the five-year average, the number of eligible employees increased at a faster rate. Thus, the overall 2012 promotion rate for all eligible Foreign Service employees was 23 percent, lower than the 2011 rate of 24 percent and the five-year average rate of 25 percent.

The number of 2012 promotions into and within the Senior Foreign Service increased from 2011 and was greater than the five-year average. Due to an increasein retirements, the number of promotion-eligible employees actually decreased from 2011 and was less than the five-year average.

The 2012 promotion rates and numbers for many specialist skill groups were at or slightly below the 2011 levels and five-year averages. While the number of promotions remained steady formany specialist occupations, the number of eligible employeesoften increased, affecting the promotion rates.

Click on maximize view icon max iconon the lower rightmost end of the ScribD screen to read the extract in full.

On a  related note, the U.S. Senate is reportedly holding the names of 1,300 FS members awaiting tenure and promotion.  The Senate currently has a number of nominees also pending in committee and pending on the Executive Calendar. Also, see WaPo’s At many U.S. embassies, nobody’s home.

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Senate Confirmations: Rose Gottemoeller to State/T; Michael Hammer to Chile

— Domani Spero

On March 6, the U.S. Senate confirmed a couple of executive nominations for the State Department:

Rose Eilene Gottemoeller of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Confirmed: 58-42

Secretary Clinton announced on February 7, 2012 that President Obama has designated Rose Gottemoeller as the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T).  As Acting Under Secretary she  also remained in her role as Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC).  She was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of State for State/AVC on April 6, 2009. She was the chief U.S. negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation, which entered into force on February 5, 2011.  Ms. Gottemoeller received a B.S. from Georgetown University, and a M.A. from George Washington University. She is fluent in Russian.

Photo via @Gottemoeller

Photo via @Gottemoeller

Michael A. Hammer, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chile; Confirmed by voice vote.

Ambassador Hammer is a career member of the United States Senior Foreign Service. He previously served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from March 2012 to August 2013.  He also served as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.  Ambassador Hammer grew up in Latin America, living in Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil.  He is fluent in Spanish and speaks French and Icelandic.  Ambassador Hammer and his wife Margret Bjorgulfsdottir have three children.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Mike Hammer dons
a funny hat and hams it up with students after taking their questions
during the “Mock Reporter” activity.
Photo by Bill Palmer | State Department
(State Magazine, June 2013)

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