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Some Dings and Cheers For the Bureau of Counterterrorism in New OIG Report

State/OIG recently released its inspection report of the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

“At the time of the inspection, the bureau’s authorized staffing included 112 Foreign Service and Civil Service positions, augmented by 53 contractor positions and 43 additional personnel and detailees from other U.S. Government agencies. The bureau has 13 offices in addition to the Front Office. Nine offices support policy issues, such as counterterrorism finance, aviation security, collection of biometric information, foreign terrorist fighters, and bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement. Two offices carry out operational responsibilities related to the Department of Defense, and one office designs and manages CT-funded assistance programs. Finally, the Office of the Executive Director focuses on bureau administrative requirements and also provides support to the Office of the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs. The bureau managed $642 million in active foreign assistance program funds that spanned multiple fiscal years, including through annual and multiyear projects involving other Department bureaus and Federal agencies.”

The report says that the CT Coordinator “exhibited decisive leadership” but apparently, CT bureau employees and senior officials from other Department bureaus “told OIG about occasions on which the Coordinator lost his temper in meetings with U.S. Government officials and foreign partners. When OIG spoke with the Coordinator about the issue, he acknowledged the problem and responded positively to OIG’s suggestions for improvement.”
The report notes that “staff in interviews and in responses to OIG questionnaires gave the Coordinator lower marks for adherence to leadership principles found in 3 FAM 1214b(6) and (9) regarding self-awareness and managing conflict.” 
The Bureau concurred with all 11 recommendations and the OIG considered all recommendations resolved.
Summary of OIG Findings:

• The Coordinator for Counterterrorism exhibited decisive leadership, marked by setting clear strategic goals and communicating them effectively to staff. This enabled the Bureau of Counterterrorism to navigate major shifts in its mission since 2016.

• At times, the Coordinator engaged in conduct that negatively affected employee morale and productivity.

• The bureau established effective internal policy coordination and communication processes.

• Employees from other Department of State bureaus and Federal agencies expressed differing opinions about the bureau’s effectiveness in promoting its policy goals in interagency processes.

• The Bureau of Counterterrorism did not provide sufficient policy guidance, training, and administrative support to overseas employees responsible for coordinating and reporting on regional counterterrorism issues.

• Vacancies in 22 percent of the bureau’s Civil Service positions hampered operations.

• The bureau’s Office of the Executive Director did not have systems in place to measure the results of key administrative activities and efficiently communicate with customers. As a result, bureau staff expressed dissatisfaction with the administrative and support services delivered by the office.

• The bureau did not follow Department procedures for software development.

•The lack of information technology contingency plans placed at risk the bureau’s ability to support these functions in the event of an unplanned disruption.

Executive Direction:

Tone at the Top and Standards of Conduct : The Coordinator assumed his position in August 2017. At the time of the inspection, he also served as acting Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Prior to joining the Department, the Coordinator was a law professor. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security and worked on counterterrorism policy and judicial confirmations in the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice. The Principal Deputy Coordinator, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, arrived in 2016, after having previously served as Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, among other senior positions in the Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Coordinator Decisively Led Bureau During Major Mission Shifts, but Travel Schedule and Temperament Issues Resulted in Employee Stress: The Coordinator exhibited decisive leadership during a major expansion of the bureau’s counterterrorism efforts. CT employees and others interviewed by OIG described the Coordinator’s operating style as decisive, strategic, and action-oriented — qualities that are consistent with leadership principles in 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 1214(2) and (3). The Coordinator demonstrated a command of complex technical and diplomatic policy issues in meetings OIG observed, consistent with responsibilities outlined in 1 FAM 481.1. Since 2016, the bureau had broadened its efforts to counter violent extremism, launched the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) initiative, 9 assumed responsibility for aspects of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and took over responsibility for the sensitive policy area of terrorist detentions. OIG concluded the Coordinator took appropriate steps to set and communicate policy priorities for these new responsibilities.

Nonetheless, despite positive comments regarding his decisiveness, staff in interviews and in responses to OIG questionnaires gave the Coordinator lower marks for adherence to leadership principles found in 3 FAM 1214b(6) and (9) regarding self-awareness and managing conflict. Staff described the Coordinator as unaware of the demands his travel schedule placed on employees and said that at times they lacked a clear understanding of the purpose and outcomes of the Coordinator’s travel, which included 21 international trips in FY 2019, of which 1 was to a CTPF focus country.10 Additionally, the Coordinator’s practice of scheduling trips on short notice burdened staff, who had to put regular duties on hold to prepare briefing documents and handle travel logistics. OIG advised the Coordinator to share readouts of the outcomes of his travel with his staff to broaden their understanding of the purposes and results of his trips. Although it is within the Coordinator’s discretion to determine the extent and nature of such readouts, providing at least some information would be consistent with the Department’s leadership principles in 3 FAM 1214(4) and (7) pertaining to communication and collaboration.

Bureau employees and senior officials from other Department bureaus also told OIG about occasions on which the Coordinator lost his temper in meetings with U.S. Government officials and foreign partners. When OIG spoke with the Coordinator about the issue, he acknowledged the problem and responded positively to OIG’s suggestions for improvement. OIG advised the Coordinator to review the Leadership and Management Principles for Department Employees in 3 FAM 1214, which he agreed to do.

The Coordinator delegated many operational and policy tasks to the Principal Deputy Coordinator, with whom he had a productive relationship. In responses to OIG’s questionnaire, bureau staff gave the Principal Deputy Coordinator strong scores on her performance and leadership. In addition, several bureau employees cited her improvements to, and transformation of, the bureau’s budget and program management functions as positive developments for the bureau. Outside observers also noted the Principal Deputy Coordinator’s leadership and support for CT staff as being essential to the bureau’s success at a time of rapid change and significant pressure.

The CT Coordinator is Nathan Sales. The Principal Deputy Coordinator at the time of this review was Alina Romanowski. She was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait in December 2019. The inspection team was headed by Ambassador Joseph Macmanus, former U.S. Ambassador to UNVIE and Executive Secretary of the State Department from 2014-2017.

Career Diplomat Jonathan Pratt to be U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti

Via WH:

Jonathan Pratt, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.

Mr. Pratt, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs for the State Department.  Mr. Pratt has also held assignments as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Office Director for Pakistan Affairs in the State Department.  He served earlier as the Political Counselor at the United States Embassy in Islamabad, as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and as the Political and Economic Section Chief at the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.

Mr. Pratt’s other assignments include service at the United States Embassies in Angola, Jordan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Mr. Pratt earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego.  He is the recipient of the State Department’s James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence and the Director General’s Award for Reporting.  He speaks Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Related post:

Career Diplomat Melanie Harris Higgins to be U.S. Ambassador to Burundi

 

Via WH:

Melanie Harris Higgins, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.

Ms. Higgins, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Director of the Office of Central African Affairs at the State Department.  Previously, she was the Principal Officer of the United States Consulate General in Auckland, New Zealand and was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Throughout her two decades of service, Ms. Higgins served as the Acting Director and Acting Public Affairs Advisor for the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  She also held a number of other positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C., Jakarta, Indonesia, Canberra, Australia, and Yaounde, Cameroon.

Ms. Higgins earned a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.  She is the recipient of the Sinclaire Language Award from the American Foreign Service Association.  She speaks French, Indonesian, and some Bosnian.

 

Career Diplomat Jeanne Marie Maloney to be U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini (Formerly Swaziland)

Via WH:

Jeanne Marie Maloney, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Ms. Maloney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Army Africa in Vicenza, Italy.  Previously, she was the Director of the Office of Security Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

Ms. Maloney has served in various leadership positions at the State Department over the course of her career, including as Career Development Officer in the Bureau of Human Resources, Director of the Office of Terrorist Screening and Interdiction in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, and Deputy Political-Military Counselor at the United States Embassy Baghdad in Iraq.  Ms. Maloney was also the Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention Programs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ms. Maloney earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa.  She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and basic Arabic.

On Eswatini, via state.gov:

The official name of the Kingdom of Swaziland was changed to the Kingdom of Eswatini, or Eswatini, in April 2018. The U.S. and Eswatini have had good bilateral relations since Eswatini’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1968 and establishment as a constitutional monarchy. Five years after independence, the country’s ruler, King Sobhuza II, repealed the constitution and began to rule by decree. In 2006, under Sobhuza’s son King Mswati III, the country implemented a new constitution that enshrined broader political freedoms, expanded the roles of the legislative and judicial branches, and established Eswatini as an executive monarchy ruled by Mswati alongside traditional parliamentary and bureaucratic structures. U.S. policy seeks to maintain and strengthen bilateral relations, and stresses Eswatini’s continued political and economic reform.

 

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Executive Secretary Lisa S. Kenna to be U.S. Ambassador to Peru

 

Via WH:

Lisa S. Kenna, of Vermont, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Peru.

Ms. Kenna, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, is the Executive Secretary of the Department of State and a Senior Advisor.  She previously served as a Political Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and before that she was chief of the political section of the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Ms. Kenna was previously Director of the Iraq office in the National Security Council at the White House following a tour as Deputy Director of the Iraq Political Office in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department.  She served as a political/military officer at the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  Other assignments overseas included the United States Embassy in Mbabane, Swaziland, and the United StatesConsulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Before joining the State Department, Ms. Kenna was an attorney in private practice.  A graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, she speaks Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

 

 

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