DGHR Nominee Stephen Akard Now Nominated as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions

Posted: 9:52 am  PT
Update: 7:24 pm PT

 

Update: Late on March 20, the White House officially withdrew the nomination of Mr. Akard for DGHR. 

On March 19, the White House announced the nomination of former FSO Stephen Akard to be the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (with the Rank of Ambassador). The WH released the following brief bio:

Stephen Akard of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (with the Rank of Ambassador), Department of State.  Mr. Akard has served as a senior advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, U.S. Department of State since January, 2017.  Previously he was Chief of Staff, Vice President and General Counsel, and Director of International Development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indianapolis, Indiana from 2005 -2017.  Earlier in his career, Mr. Akard was a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State from 1997 – 2005 and had assignments in India, Belgium, and as a special assistant in the Executive Secretariat of the State Department.  He earned his B.A, M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Mr. Akard was honored with several awards while serving in the State Department, including two Meritorious Honor awards, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in 2000.

Akard was previously nominated as Director General of the Foreign Service and personnel chief of the State Department (DGHR). As far as we can tell, the White House has not withdrawn the DGHR nomination. We are, however, hearing that a new DGHR nominee is in the works but we’re still seeking confirmation.

Akard’s OFM nomination was announced on March 19 together with Joseph Mondello, the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. Mondello’s nomination was sent to the Senate on March 19 together with five other nominees that does not include Akard’s name, but the public notification is bound to show up at some point.

 

 

Related posts:

 

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Congress Seeks Documents/Transcribed Interviews in @StateDept “House Cleaning”

Posted: 4:32 am  ET

 

On March 15, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to the White House and State Department releasing new documents obtained by a whistleblower showing high level political appointees targeting career civil servant employees they believed did not adequately support President Donald Trump’s agenda.

We have obtained extremely disturbing new documents from a whistleblower indicating that high-level officials at the White House and State Department worked with a network of conservative activists to conduct a “cleaning” of employees they believed were not sufficiently “supportive” of President Trump’s agenda. They appear to have targeted these staffers despite being fully aware that they were career civil service employees and despite the career employees expressing willingness to support the policy priorities of the Trump Administration.

Over the past year, we have heard many reports of political attacks on career employees at the State Department, but we had not seen evidence of how extensive, blunt, and inappropriate these attacks were until now. In light of this new information, we now request that you produce additional documents regarding these staffing decisions and make several officials available for transcribed interviews with Committee staff.

The congressional representatives say that the documents they have show that political appointees characterized career State Department employees in derogatory terms, including as “a leaker and troublemaker”; “Turncoat , associated with previous policy”; and “Obama/Clinton loyalists not at all supportive of President Trump’s foreign policy agenda.”

The congressional letter requests the following documents and information including transcribed interviews by March 29, 2018:

(1) all documents and communications referring or relating to any reassignment or proposed reassignment that was considered or ordered since January 20, 2017, of career or civil service employees at the Department;

(2) all documents and communications referring or relating to any proposed or actual reassignment or removal of career or civil service employees at the Department since January 20, 2017, based on alleged personal political beliefs, prior service with previous Administrations, or work on prior Administrations’ foreign policy priorities, including any documents authored by, copying, involving, or referring to:

(a) Christine Ciccone;

(b) Makan Delrahim;

(c) Sean Doocey;

(d) Julia Haller;

(e) Brian Hook;

(f) Edward Lacey;

(g) Matthew Mowers; or

(h) Margaret Peterlin; and

(3) all documents and communications referring or relating to proposed or actual personnel actions since January 20, 2017, against Sahar Nowrouzzadch, including the curtailment of her detail to the Policy Planning staff.

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Heather Nauert: From Spox to Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Posted: 3:21 am  ET

 

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert assumed her position on April 25, 2017 (see Heather Nauert: From Fox News Channel to State Department Spokesperson). On the same day that Secretary Tillerson and Under Secretary Goldstein (see Steve Goldstein Assumes Charge as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs) were both fired, the White House also publicly designated  Heather Nauert as Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). Her official bio notes that “She will continue to serve as State Department Spokesperson.”

Ms. Nauert may not get any sleep for the next six months (must see story of the day also has a State/GEC connection). Or if as the White House told a reporter, “Heather is the only one at State we trust” what’s the likelihood that this acting position becomes a permanent appointment subject to Senate confirmation, of course?

She just skipped over her new boss at Public Affairs, and she will be dual-hatted as “R” and as spokesperson until a new nominee is confirmed. How long is that going to take? Goldstein was announced as “R” nominee in September 2017 but did not get through the confirmation process and assume office until December 2017. We have seen PA dual hatted as spox, but we don’t think we’ve ever had an R dual hatted as spox (Margaret D. Tutwiler did serve as R and Public Affairs but not concurrently, though she was dual hatted as PA/spox).

If the online details of the R bureau are current, of the fourteen senior positions currently under Ms. Nauert, five are currently vacant, five are encumbered by career officials, and four are recent political appointments from Trump campaign/connections that include Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michelle Giuda (Gingrich), DAS for Digital Strategy in the Bureau of Public Affairs Len Khodorkovsky (campaign), DAS for Strategic Communications in the Bureau of Public Affairs Adrienne Ross (?) and Senior Advisor for Public Engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs Kathryn Wellner (campaign).

Six bureaus and offices report to the Acting Under Secretary:Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA-nominee pending)Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP-no nominee announced))Bureau of Public Affairs (PA-filled)Office of Policy, Planning and Resources (R/PPR)Expo Unit (EXPO) and the Global Engagement Center (GEC-no nominee announced).

One senior R adviser who recently left State notes the potential fallout from the Goldstein firing (see The Other Firing At State And What That Means).

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