There’s waiting to exhale and then there’s just waiting … with a Tyrannosaurus Rex tee

There’s waiting to exhale and then there’s just waiting … with a Tyrannosaurus Rex t-shirt.  Features a Tyrannosaurus Rex inside a circle (or an eye, if you want) with a leading arrow pointing somewhere down the horizon. Perfect for watchers and travelers contemplating the universe. Lightweight, of course, and may be used for layering over/under when it gets chilly out there in the Jurassic corridor. Comes in three dark, moody colors, and two cheerful shades.  Available for a limited time. 

Annoying Tee: Take Me, I’m Yours!





11/30 SFRC Hearings: Braithwaite, Trujillo, Bierman, and McClenny

Posted: 2:45 am ET


Prepared statements and the confirmation hearing video will be posted here when available.


@StateDept Chief Information Officer Frontis Wiggins to Retire Effective December 8

Posted: 2:22 am ET


Another 30-plus year veteran of the State Department is leaving effective December 8. Frontis Wiggins, the agency’s chief information officer, and a career employee of over thirty years announced his retirement to his IRM colleagues via email on November 20:

“Today, I am announcing that I will retire from the U.S. Department of State, effective Friday, December 8, 2017. I will have more information to share with you in the near future.”

The State Department’s average annual attrition the last five years for Information Technology Managers at the  FE-MC rank like Mr. Wiggins is 1. In 2016, the average annual projected leadership attrition for this skill group and rank the next five years was zero.

Next to security officers and office management specialists, information management specialists in the State Department are projected to have the third highest overall attrition in the next five years (2016-2020).

His official bio via

Frontis B. Wiggins, a member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, is currently the Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he is responsible for the Department’s information resources and technology initiatives which provide core information, knowledge management, and technology (IT) services to the Department of State and its 260 overseas Missions. He is directly responsible for the Information Resource Management (IRM) Bureau’s budget of $569 million, and oversees State’s total IT/ knowledge management budget of approximately one billion dollars.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1985 and has served overseas in Cairo, Budapest, Hong Kong, Paris, Information Management Officer Beijing, and Director of Regional Information Management Center (RIMC) Frankfurt. Senior level assignments in D.C. have included the Principal Deputy CIO, Deputy CIO for Foreign Operations, the Dean of the School of Applied Information Technology (SAIT) at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), and the Director of Information Resource Management’s Messaging Systems Office.

Mr. Wiggins holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the College of William and Mary, a Master’s Degree in Information Systems from George Washington University, and is a member of their Honor Society. He is a graduate of the Chief Information Officer’s University class of 2006 and has received numerous Meritorious and Superior Honor awards during his career, as well as being the first recipient of AFSA’s Tex Harris Award for constructive dissent in 2000. He speaks seven foreign languages with varying degrees of fluency.

A colleague of Mr. Wiggins who was at FSI where he was once dean told us that everyone there raved at that time that he would be the next CIO. “There was a lot of excitement in the field when he did become CIO because he worked up through the ranks and was familiar with the work in the trenches. He seemed keen on modernizing our aging IT infrastructure, so there’s been a lot of hope that things *might* actually change for the better in IRM.”

Mr. Wiggins was “leading the charge for much-needed modernization of our IT infrastructure” at the State Department we were told. And that “this is a sad time for IT in the Department.”

One source confirmed for us that Rob Adams, the Principal Deputy CIO will be Acting CIO after Mr. Wiggins’ departure.  Federal News Radio who reported on Wiggins’ departure says that Adams joined the State Department in 1988 after serving in the Marine Corps for four years.  Federal News also note that Wiggins will become the eighth cabinet agency CIO to leave in the past year.


Trump to Nominate Ex-NHTSA Admin Nicole R. Nason to be Asst Secretary For Administration

Posted: 2:12 am ET


On November 28, the White House announced President Trump’s intent to nominate former NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. The WH released the following brief bio:

Nicole R. Nason of New York will serve as an Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. Ms. Nason, an attorney and senior government official, has served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. since June 2017. She previously served in Washington, D.C. as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (2006-2008), Assistant Secretary for Government Affairs, U.S. Department of Transportation (2003-2006), Assistant Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (2002-2003) and Attorney for the Subcommittee on Crime, U.S. House of Representatives (1995- 1999). From 2014-2017, she founded and ran Project Koe in Connecticut, empowering women and improving health and fitness using traditional Japanese martial arts techniques. Ms. Nason earned a B.A. in Political Science and Government at American University and a J.D. at Case Western Reserve University.

According to AllGov, she previously worked as counsel and communications director for Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss of Florida, as counsel for the House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Henry Hyde of Illinois, and as assistant commissioner of the Office of Congressional Affairs  at the U.S. Customs Service.

According to Consumer Report, Nason left NHTSA after serving a little more than two years as head of the government’s primary auto safety agency.

A quick summary about the A bureau via

The Bureau of Administration provides support programs to the Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates. These programs include: procurement; supply and transportation; diplomatic pouch and mail services; official records, publishing, and library services; language services; setting allowance rates for U.S. Government personnel assigned abroad and providing support for Department assisted overseas schools; domestic real property and facilities management; domestic emergency management; support for White House travel abroad; and logistical support for special conferences.

Direct services to the public and other government agencies include: responding to requests under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts and providing the Virtual Reading Room for public reference to State Department records and information access programs; printing official publications; simultaneous interpretation for Senior USG Officials; and determining use of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the Harry S Truman headquarters building in Washington, DC.

State/A oversees the offices of Allowances, Directives, Emergency Management, Global Publishing, Languages Services, Logistics Management, Overseas Schools, and the Office of the Procurement Executive. The incumbent reports to the Under Secretary for Management. notes that the Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Administration during a general reorganization in December 1944, after Congress authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries in the Department from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). The reorganization was the first to designate substantive designations for specific Assistant Secretary positions. The title for this position has varied over the years. Assistant Secretaries for Administration have supervised a variety of functions ranging from budget and personnel matters to foreign buildings and record keeping. Several of these functions, such as accounting and diplomatic security have become the responsibility of newly created bureaus.

Of the last ten appointees to this position, two have been non-career appointments, Arthur Fort and Rajkumar Chellaraj.

Related items:

Nicole Nason: AllGov
Diplomacy, humor take new NHTSA chief far (by Jayne O’Donnell, USA Today)
Hey Auto Journalists, NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason Is Waiting To Take YOUR Call! (Jalopnik)
Bush Names Choice To Head Traffic Safety (by Sholnn Freeman, Washington Post)
What’s Off the Record at N.H.T.S.A.? Almost Everything (NYT, August 22, 2007 via Wayback Machine)
David Kelly replaces Nicole Nason as top NHTSA administrator (Consumer Reports News, Sept 8, 2008)
For NHTSA Chief Nason, Family Influences Policy (, Wayback Machine)


Clip of the Day: Annoyed Tillerson Offended on Behalf of @StateDept

Posted: 1:44 am ET


There are still a lot of empty chairs over in Foggy Bottom, and let’s not even  talk about the musical chairs in the redesign pod, but in fairness to Mr. Tillerson, somebody wants to know what’s so bad about the acting chiefs? These are career people, they know their stuff, though they are in their acting capacity and not blessed by the White House and the Senate.

Do you really want Mick Mulvaney to come over with his bag of donuts and be the Acting Secretary of Everything?

Wait, you already have your own version of the Mickster? Did he bring donuts?


GOP Tax Plan Includes Major Headaches For Homeowners #CallCongress

Posted: 3:28 am ET
Updated: 2:01 pm PT


Update: Tax Reform and the Foreign Service via

Several AFSA members have expressed concern that the House of Representatives version of the pending tax reform bill would impose a capital gains tax that could exceed $35,000 on anyone who sells their primary residence without having physically lived there for five out of the previous eight years. 

The good news is that, after Congress adopted the current two-in-five-year rule in the early 2000s, AFSA joined with groups representing members of the U.S. military in securing passage of a law in 2003 that extended the qualifying period by up to 10 years for a taxpayer who is away from their primary residence on a Foreign Service, military, or intelligence community assignment. The current House bill does not change that special provision. 

If the House provision becomes law, the 10-year extension for Foreign Service members would remain. Thus, the new five-out-of-eight-year rule would be a five-out-of-eighteen-year rule for Foreign Service members serving away from their primary residence.

If you may need to take advantage of this special treatment, please learn more about it in AFSA’s annual Tax Guide which is updated and printed every January in The Foreign Service Journal and on the AFSA website. Additional information is in IRS Publication 523 (page 5 in the current 2016 edition). The actual law is in Section 121 of the IRS code (26 USC 121).

AFSA would like to highlight the role of our then-Director of Congressional Relations Ken Nakamura, who was instrumental in securing the 2003 law affording special treatment for the Foreign Service. Since then, hundreds of AFSA members have each saved tens of thousands of dollars in taxes when they sold their primary residence after an extended period of overseas service. Your AFSA dues make possible victories such as this one.


Tax lawyer/lobbyist and friend of a friend who is highly engaged on the Hill on both tax bills asked that we pass on this alert for homeowners:

A provision in the House tax bill (H.R. 1) could cost us $100,000 in capital gains taxes when we sell our houses.  Under current law, a homeowner filing jointly is allowed to exclude the first $500,000 of gain on the sale of a principal residence.  The House bill deletes the current law’s $500,000 exclusion of gain from the sale of a principal residence.  The Senate bill only lengthens the holding period from 5 years to 8 years, but retains the $500,000 exclusion.

The two bills will be reconciled in the next two weeks or so. I urge you to contact House and Senate tax writers asking them to adopt the Senate bill’s approach.  The most important person to contact is your home state Senator and your own Representative in the House.  

U.S. Senators – Get contact information for your Senators in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Representatives – Find the website and contact information for your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives

In addition, you can call the office and leaving a message or, in some circumstances, sending emails to the following key decision makers:

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady:  Phone: (202) 225-4901

House Speaker Paul Ryan: email him or call his office to leave a message of concern at his Washington office (202) 225-3031.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: and fill out the form or call his Washington office at (202) 224-2541

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch:  (202) 224-5251 or please call (202-224-4515), fax a letter to (202-228-0554).

Here is a Sample Message:  I oppose the repeal of the $500,000 exclusion for gain from the sale of a principal residence in the House Tax bill (H.R.1).  The $100,000 tax imposed by that repeal is important for my retirement, my family, and my ability to move to a new job in another location.  There is no tax reduction in the bill that will offset that tax cost.  The Senate version is better, and should be substituted for the House repeal.

It takes time and effort, but we understand that calls and emails coming from outside Washington, D.C. play an important role in this process.

You may review the text of H.R. 1 here; use the browser’s find function to see details under SEC. 1302. MORTGAGE INTEREST.


Libyan Khatallah Convicted of Terrorism Charges, Acquitted of Murder in Benghazi Attack

Posted: 4:32 pm PT
Updated: Nov 29, 1:54 pm PT – with tweet from State Department spokesperson


We previously blogged about this case in 2014 (see U.S. Nabs Ahmed Abu Khatallah, Suspected Key Figure in 2012 Benghazi Attack).  On November 28, DOJ announced that Ahmed Abu Khatallah, aka Ahmed Mukatallah, 46, a Libyan national, was found guilty by a jury of federal terrorism charges and other offenses stemming from the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya.  Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. government personnel Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in the attack at the Mission and the nearby Annex in Benghazi.

We have not seen an official statement from Tillerson’s State Department as of this writing. We will update this when it becomes available.


Tillerson’s Redesign Chief Leaves Office After Three Months, Meet the New Redesigner-in-Chief

Posted: 3:19 am ET


We blogged about Maliz Beams’ appointment back in August (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Reportedly Appointed @StateDept Counselor) and again when her official bio finally showed up on (see @StateDept Now Has an Official Bio For New Counselor of the State Department Maliz E. Beams).

On November 27, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to the press that Maliz Beams who was appointed Counselor of the State Department on August 17, 2017 and tasked with leading Tillerson’s redesign efforts “is stepping away from her role here at the Department of State and is returning to her home in Boston.”

In addition to the names mentioned in the BuzzFeed piece below, prior to Ms. Beams arrival at State, the redesign efforts was managed by an FSO brought back from overseas. At another point, an ambassador’s spouse was also brought in to work the redesign beat. Did we miss anyone?

The State Department statement notes that “Effective immediately, Christine Ciccone will step in to lead the redesign effort and manage its daily activities.”

BuzzFeed quotes Thomas Hill of the Brookings Institution and a former Republican staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) saying that “Beams’ departure is disappointing because she did at least have private sector experience in redesigning major organizations” and that “Now she’s being replaced by someone with very little experience with agency reform or the State Department.”

Christine Ciccone is officially Tillerson’s  Deputy Chief of Staff. Prior to landing at the State Department, she was the chief operating officer of Jeb Bush’s failed 2016 presidential campaign. She resigned late in 2015 when the Bush campaign underwent a downsizing according to the Daily Wire.  Ciccone also worked in George W. Bush’s presidential administration as special assistant to the president and before that was a longtime Senate staffer. In 2014, she headed a newly formed entity SGR LLC, Government Relations & Lobbying, a sister firm of Sphere Consulting LLC. (See Bush chief operating officer departs campaignJeb team’s chief operating officer quits. WaPo recently reported about SGR LLC).

So now Ms. Ciccone is double hatted as Deputy Chief of Staff and Redesigner-in-Chief, and Brian Hook is S/P and the all bureaus-in-one hat. We can’t wait for the next Hill briefing and the new redesign slides!

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, joined by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, left, and Deputy Chief of Staff Christine Ciccone, prepare for a meeting with U.S./Alaska Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska, on May 10, 2017. [U.S. Air Force photo / Public Domain]


Contractor Seeks PR Consultant For State/OBO’s Ideal Operational State (IOS) Public Relations Initiatives

Posted: 3:11 am ET


We recently posted about an OBO survey in this blog (see @StateDept Building Ops Employees Asked to Pick Top Ten Core Values From a 99 Values Menu).

Related to State/OBO, Moss Cape LLC, an Alaskan Tribal 8(a) Certified Entity with corporate headquarters in Anchorage Alaska is currently seeking a Public Relations Consultant for the State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) Ideal Operational State (IOS) public relations initiatives. The job announcement is posted at the mosscape website as well as on Simply Hired and Indeed.

This PR consultant has some interesting responsibilities that include “Support the Organization and Transformation Advisor in developing a strategic PR/Communications schedule” and “Create thought leadership materials to include leveraging creative tools (i.e. Foreign Service Institute) for delivery of communications” among other things.

Why does OBO, the overseas buildings arm of the State Department have “public relations initiatives” and why does it need a PR consultant to “create thought leadership materials” for the Foreign Service Institute?

According to a March 2017 GAO report OBO recently established an initiative—termed the Ideal Operational State—to explore long-term ways to centralize and standardize data collection across OBO’s operations.

According to OBO officials, this Excellence-related initiative is intended to provide a long-term data solution that will allow for better program management across OBO’s business activities as well as better tracking of project metrics such as cost and schedule performance. The study group tasked with assessing OBO’s current information technology systems and potential market alternatives held a kickoff in May 2016 and, after a series of working sessions and vendor evaluations, recommended a series of actions to OBO’s senior management, including an upgrade and modification of existing OBO management software. OBO management approved action on these recommendations in October 2016.

For those interested, the job announcement is posted below:

Responsible for Overseas Building Operations (OBO) Ideal Operational State (IOS) public relations initiatives. Creates, manages, and implements PR campaigns with the goal of enriching the IOS Program’s position in the eyes of external and internal stakeholders. Maintains strong relationships with the client and key stakeholders. Will effectively disseminate and communicate the program mission, policies and goals to the entire organization. Will inform the organization of all initiatives, processes, and outcomes relating to the program, in such a way as to create interest, acceptance, and engagement.


  • Plan and direct public relations initiative, designed to create and maintain a favorable public image for the client and the IOS program
  • Create IOS program literature, talking points, sound bites, and other content and user success stories for trifolds, videos, presentations, roadshows, and other marketing materials
  • Support the Organization and Transformation Advisor in developing a strategic PR/Communications schedule to be rolled up into a larger Integrated Master Schedule Coordinate scheduling and logistics w/ internal and external clients, as needed
  • Coordinate conference, trade shows, and press interviews
  • Develop content for the IOS Program’s website to attract more traffic and increase stakeholder engagement and interest; Recommend, implement and maintain site design and operation
  • Work with the IOS team for timely and useable content submissions
  • Copyedit, proofread, and revise communications
  • Design and launch email marketing campaigns
  • Plan pre-training communications rollout in anticipation of the execution of the training program
  • Promote IOS program successes and services through public relations initiatives
  • Create thought leadership materials to include leveraging creative tools (i.e. Foreign Service Institute) for delivery of communications
  • Identify, develop and execute communications strategy for key stakeholders (internal and external) contacts and customer references
  • Research lessons learned (UK Ministry of Defense, Smithsonian and DHS etc.) and industry trends to supplement narrative
  • Develop fresh story ideas
  • Conduct extensive stakeholder outreach
  • Prepare briefing materials
  • Manage and track communication dissemination
  • Prepare agendas, as needed
  • Help to clarify the organization’s point of view to their main constituency
  • Advise and keep PM/DPM informed of not only current state but also future strategies
  • Create high quality, well executed clear and engaging written materials
  • Develop promotional strategies to further engage the organization in the program’s mission
  • Organize communication events/opportunities to further educate/inform the organization of the program’s initiatives, processes, and outcomes
  • Develop and build key relationship with internal and external stakeholders
  • Coordinates with the program team to design and distribute bulletins, newsletters, website content, flyers, and media releases
  • Help gather information, write, edit and disseminate content for internal and external customers
  • Support comprehensive, proactive social media initiatives
  • Evaluate social media opportunities for reach, effectiveness, and required resource investment


  • Education:
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, English or related field
  • Required Knowledge/Experience:
    • 5+ years of directly related experience
    • Full Microsoft Office Suite expertise, particularly in PowerPoint and Word functionality
    • Experience working in or directly with web-based media
    • Ability to write clearly and adapt writing to suit various audiences
    • Strong interpersonal and oral communications skills, experience with a variety of audiences
    • Collaborate with cross functional teams
    • Coordinate with and manage stake holders
    • Develop schedules and maintain deadlines
    • Strong technical and design skills to build visual layouts desired in conjunction with PM/DPM and Organizational Transformation Advisor, facilitate stakeholder workshops, roadshows, training sessions etc. as needed
    • Strong strategic planning capabilities with equally strong tactical execution skills
  • Preferred Knowledge/Experience:
    • Experience working with Department of State Customer


Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Joseph E. Macmanus to be U.S. Ambassador to Colombia

Posted: 2:34 am ET


On November 21, the White House announced President Trump’s intent to nominate career diplomat Joseph E. Macmanus to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Colombia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Joseph E. Macmanus of New York to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia. Mr. Macmanus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1986. He is currently Adviser to the Secretary of State, a position he undertook in June 2017. Previously, he was Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and Executive Secretary of the Department of State from 2014-2017. A former Ambassador, Mr. Macmanus has been a senior aide to four Secretaries of State. He has served at five U.S. Missions overseas. Mr. Macmanus earned a B.A. at the University of Notre Dame and a M.L.S. at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He speaks Spanish, French, and Polish.

If confirmed, Ambassador Macmanus would succeed career diplomat Kevin Whitaker who was appointed chief of mission in Bogota in April 2014.  The last seven chief of mission appointees to Colombia going back to the mid-1990’s have been career diplomats.  According to, the last non-career appointee sent to Bogota was Morris Dempson Busby (1938–) who served from September 1991–July 1994 under George H. W. Bush.