— Domani Spero
In March this year, WaPo reported on AFSA’s demands that the State Department turn over key documents on three embattled ambassadorial nominees — and all pending Obama administration nominees, both career Foreign Service and non-career folks — or face a prompt lawsuit for the materials. (See AFSA Threatens to Sue State Department Over Ambassadors Credentials, Again).
We concluded that more transparency would benefit all: publication of the certificates of demonstrated competence – prior to a nominee’s hearing – together with an effort to write the certificates to specifically address the criteria in the AFSA Guidelines, would open up the process to the public and address directly the issues of qualifications for all nominees. We proposed this to the White House. They agreed that, going forward – as part of the Transparency in Government initiative and a forward looking legacy – the State Department will publish more detailed certificates on state.gov in real time. These revised documents will use the AFSA Guidelines to illustrate nominees’ experience in the four key areas:
- Leadership, Character and Proven Interpersonal Skills
- Understanding of High Level Policy and Operations
- Understanding of Host Country or Relevant International Experience
Media response to AFSA’s Chiefs of Mission initiative has been very favorable, and has helped raise our public profile.
Updated 5/9/14 1:14 pm PST: AFSA has now posted the certificates released by the State Department under FOIA.
On Thursday, we noticed that the ambassadorial nominees’ “Certificates of Competency” have now been posted online at state.gov:
“Under the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Certificates of Competency must be presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for each candidate nominated by the President to serve as a bilateral Ambassador overseas and for the candidates for Ambassador to the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”
As of this writing, there are only two files online.
- Kelly – Thomas P., III – Republic of Djibouti – 04-2014 [322 Kb]
- Wells, Alice G. – Kingdom of Jordan – 04-2014 [311 Kb]
On May 1, President Obama announced the following nominees:
- Gentry O. Smith – Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service, Department of State
- George Albert Krol – Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan, Department of State
- Mark William Lippert – Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Department of State
- James D. Nealon – Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras, Department of State
- Dana Shell Smith – Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Department of State
We don’t quite know what “real time” means anymore.
In any case, President Obama announced the nomination of Alice Wells, to be the next ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan on April 10, 2014. The WH released the following brief bio:
Alice G. Wells, Nominee for Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Department of State
Alice G. Wells, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State. Ms. Wells served as an assessor at the Foreign Service Board of Examiners in 2013. She was Special Assistant to the President for Russia and Central Asia in the White House from 2012 to 2013 and Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton from 2011 to 2012. She served as Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns from 2009 to 2011, and previously served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia from 2006 to 2009. Ms. Wells was Director of Maghreb Affairs and Acting Director of Egypt and North African Affairs in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2003 to 2005. She served as Senior Desk Officer for Egyptian Affairs from 2002 to 2003, Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India from 2001 to 2003, and Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 1998 to 2000. Prior to that, Ms. Wells served as a Political Officer and a Political-Military Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as a Political and Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Ms. Wells received a B.A. from Stanford University and a joint M.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles/Rand Corporation.
Below is Ms. Wells’ “Certificate of Demonstrated Competency” available here via state.gov.
The certificate for the nominee for Djibouti is here.
The “revised documents” were touted as “more detailed certificates” that will use the “AFSA Guidelines to illustrate nominees’ experience in the four key areas.”
It looks like Yahoo News has also obtained the certificates for the nominees to Hungary (Bell) and Argentina (Mamet) and who knows how many more.
Folks, you know who won this round, right? Okay, that’s it, enjoy the new format!
* * *
- Once-confidential ambassador nominee documents to go public (washingtonpost.com)
- State Dept on Ambo Nominees’ “Certificates of Documented Competency” – Working On It (charlieray45.wordpress.com)
- White House to Post Ambassador Nominee Qualifications Online (abcnews.go.com)
- AFSA Threatens to Sue State Department Over Ambassadors Credentials, Again (diplopundit.net)
- AFSA Releases Underwhelming Ambassador Guidelines For “Successful Performance” (diplopundit.net)