Career Diplomat Elizabeth Aubin Sworn-in as U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

 

 

 

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Career Diplomat Marc Knapper Sworn-In as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

 

 

Career Diplomat Jeffrey Hovenier Sworn-In as U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo

 

FSGB: Requests For Discovery Fail For Imposition of “Undue Burden on the Department”

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2021-015/November 22, 2021-Order Motion to Compel
Grievant is an untenured FP‐04 consular coned officer. She has been reviewed for tenure by two Commissioning and Tenure Boards (“CTB”), the second of which recommended her for tenure; that recommendation was suspended while the Department investigated the events giving rise to this grievance.
Her grievance concerns a disciplinary proposal arising from events that took place when she was performing passport and citizenship services at a post abroad in July 2017. The Department has proposed a 4‐day suspension for charges of Misuse of Position, with three specifications, resulting from her action in sending, or attempting to send, a photo of a naked baby contained in a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (“CRBA”) file to her mother and sister, and two specifications of Poor Judgment; one for orally discussing said baby’s genitals with consular staff and a second for asking parents of CRBA applicants for photographs of her with their babies
Grievant admits the facts underlying the proposed discipline, although she alleges that she was harmed by bias and lack of counseling on the part of her supervisor and has expressed remorse for the poor judgment displayed in these instances.
However, she alleges that the penalties are disproportionate and unfairly harsh because they will effectively end her career. She argues that, unlike the individuals in the comparator cases, she is an untenured officer, and that having a suspension letter in her performance file for two years, three years into her limited career appointment, eliminates any chance of a renewed recommendation for tenure despite otherwise exemplary performance and the strong recommendations of her raters and reviewers. She further contends that because she is on a five year Limited Career Appointment as an untenured officer, undue delay in the investigation and disciplinary process, in particular a two-year gap between the completion of the investigation of the complaint by Diplomatic Security and the proposal for discipline, has harmed her by precluding any future board from considering her file absent the suspension letter.
Grievant filed a Motion to Compel on August 16, 2021, seeking full Department response to two requests for production of documents.
[…]
Additional details from ROP:

We set out below the two requests in dispute together with the respective positions of the parties.

a. Discovery Request 3: Without revealing any information protected by the Privacy Act, please provide the following information:

a. In the last ten years, how many untenured career candidates have been proposed for any action between an admonishment and a five day suspension?

b. Of those employees, how many actions were sustained as admonishments, how many as reprimands, and how many as suspensions?

c. Of those that received reprimands and suspensions, how many were deferred and/or denied tenure at least once?

d. Of those that received reprimands or suspensions, how many were actually recommended for tenure with the decision letter in their files?

e. Of those that received reprimands and suspensions, how many failed to achieve tenure?

b. Discovery Request 4: Without revealing any information protected by the Privacy Act, please provide redacted copies of Department proposal letters, decision letters and Douglas factor checklists for those cases of untenured career candidates proposed for disciplinary action up to and including five days’ suspension, within the last ten years referred to in request 3 above.
[…]

This Board has in the past denied requests for discovery that require extensive research and analysis of the files of unrelated individuals in pursuit of a statistical or other correlation.

See FSGB Case No. 2014-026 (Order dated April 26, 2015). Grievant’s argument that the Department, because it reports denial of tenure and disciplinary statistics separately to AFSA, must also keep records of the relationship between disciplinary proposals and tenure, both
statistically and with respect to each individual affected, or alternatively that the information she requests should be readily available, is largely speculative and unsupported by preponderant evidence. We therefore find that, taken together, the resources required to respond to these two requests outweigh the likely materiality of the information produced. Grievant’s Motion to Compel is denied.

 

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Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

 

Ambassador Michele Sison Assumes Charge of @State_IO Bureau

 

Senate Cuts Loose 44 @StateDept/USAID Hostages, Two FS Lists Before Running Out the Door

 

The Senate adjourned for the holiday break early morning Saturday at 4:04am ET. The Senate returns on Monday, January 3, 2022 for the beginning of the 2nd session of the 117th Congress.
Except for Rahm Emanuel (nominee for Japan) and Atul Atmaram Gawande (nominee for USAID), all nominations in this group were confirmed via voice vote. See, it wasn’t hard, was it?
Many more nominees are stuck in super glue in the Senate’s Executive Calendar. Over 50 more are pending in Committee. We don’t know how many will require renominations in January.
We expect that some senators will continue to play the game of hold next year because there are no consequences from voters for these actions. Politico’s Global Insider on December 17 notes that the confirmation mess will continue to grow. Apparently, some nominees were even told by the administration to “lobby for themselves.” What-the-what? Happy holidays and that’s not in$$$ane at all!

AMBASSADORSHIPS: CAREER FOREIGN SERVICE

2021-12-18 PN377 ALGERIA – Elizabeth Moore Aubin, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.

2021-12-18 PN382 ANGOLA/SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE – Tulinabo S. Mushingi, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Angola, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

2021-12-18 PN378 BAHRAIN – Steven C. Bondy, of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

2021-12-18 PN786 BANGLADESH – Peter D. Haas, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

2021-12-18 PN1009 BENIN – Brian Wesley Shukan, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Benin.

2021-12-18 PN911 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Michael J. Murphy, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2021-12-18 PN910 BRUNEI – Caryn R. McClelland, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Brunei Darussalam.

2021-12-18 PN732 THE GAMBIA – Sharon L. Cromer, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of The Gambia.

2021-12-18 PN381 CAMEROON – Christopher John Lamora, of Rhode Island, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.

2021-12-18 PN937 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – Patricia Mahoney, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Central African Republic.

2021-12-18 PN417 REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO – Eugene S. Young, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Congo.

2021-12-18 PN1033 EQUATORIAL GUINEA – David R. Gilmour, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

2021-12-18 PN733 GUINEA – Troy Damian Fitrell, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Guinea.

2021-12-18 PN379 LESOTHO – Maria E. Brewer, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

2021-12-18 PN873 MOLDOVA – Kent Doyle Logsdon, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova.

2021-12-18 PN939 MOZAMBIQUE – Peter Hendrick Vrooman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mozambique.

2021-12-18 PN383 SENEGAL/GUINEA-BISSAU – Michael Raynor, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Senegal, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

2021-12-18 PN376 SOMALIA – Larry Edward Andre, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

2021-12-18 PN897 SRI LANKA – Julie Chung, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

2021-12-18 PN1005 TOGOLESE REPUBLIC – Elizabeth Anne Noseworthy Fitzsimmons, of Delaware, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Togolese Republic.

2021-12-18 PN380 VIETNAM – Marc Evans Knapper, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

AMBASSADORSHIP: CAREER EXECUTIVE SERVICE

2021-12-18 PN734 PARAGUAY – Marc Ostfield, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Paraguay.

AMBASSADORSHIPS: NON-CAREER/POLITICAL APPOINTEES

2021-12-18 PN1029 ARGENTINA – Marc R. Stanley, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Argentine Republic.

2021-12-18 PN1225 BELGIUM – Michael M. Adler, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Belgium.

2021-12-18 PN738 COSTA RICA – Cynthia Ann Telles, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Costa Rica.

2021-12-18 PN785 FRANCE/MONACO – Denise Campbell Bauer, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the French Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Principality of Monaco.

2021-12-18 PN774 IRELAND – Claire D. Cronin, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland.

2021-12-18 PN1004 POLAND – Mark Brzezinski, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland.

2021-12-18 PN938 SPAIN/ANDORRA – Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Spain, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Principality of Andorra.

2021-12-18 PN958 SLOVENIA – Jamie L. Harpootlian, of South Carolina, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.

2021-12-18 PN1226 SWEDEN – Erik D. Ramanathan, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

2021-12-18 PN1030 SWITZERLAND/LIECHTENSTEIN – Scott Miller, of Colorado, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Swiss Confederation, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Principality of Liechtenstein.

2021-12-18 PN1058 JAPAN – Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan.

STATE DEPARTMENT

2021-12-18 PN922 MANAGEMENT – John R. Bass, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management).

2021-12-18 PN384 STATE/IO – Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs).

2021-12-18 PN616 STATE/PROTOCOL – Rufus Gifford, of Massachusetts, to be Chief of Protocol, and to have the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service.

2021-12-18 PN547 Department of State – Adam Scheinman, of Virginia, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador.

2021-12-18 PN776 Department of State – Bathsheba Nell Crocker, of the District of Columbia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, with the rank of Ambassador.

2021-12-18 PN781 Department of State – Jack A. Markell, of Delaware, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador.

2021-12-18 PN552 Department of State – Christopher P. Lu, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform, with the rank of Ambassador.

2021-12-18 PN553 Department of State – Christopher P. Lu, of Virginia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform.

2021-12-18 PN934 Department of State – Mark Gitenstein, of Washington, to be Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

2021-12-18 PN935 Department of State – Laura S. H. Holgate, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

USAID

2021-12-18 PN415 Marcela Escobari, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

2021-12-17 PN874 Atul Atmaram Gawande, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

FOREIGN SERVICE LISTS

2021-12-16 PN726 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Arthur W. Brown, and ending Peter C. Trenchard, which 35 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 22, 2021.

2021-12-16 PN728-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Rahel Aboye, and ending Kyra Turner Zogbekor, which 153 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 22, 2021.

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Related post:

 

FSGB: Selection Boards Cannot Rely Almost Exclusively on Discipline Letters For Low-Ranking

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2021-019 | September 28, 2021
Held – Grievant proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the 2020 Foreign Service Selection Board (“FSSB”) committed procedural error in low-ranking him.
Case Summary – Grievant argued that the 2020 FSSB effectively relied only on a discipline letter in his Official Performance Folder (“OPF”) when deciding to identify him for low-ranking, a violation of its Procedural Precepts. While the FSSB also referenced a Developmental Area (“DA”) from his 2018 Employee Evaluation Report (“EER”), grievant argued the FSSB misinterpreted the DA. Moreover, he maintained, the FSSB was required to substantiate the discipline letter and the DA with examples from his evaluations, which it did not do. Grievant argued that the FSSB cannot low-rank him for failing to demonstrate growth without citing examples from his evaluations for the last five years to substantiate its finding, which it failed to do. Grievant asked that the low ranking be rescinded and he be mid-ranked.
The Department of State (“Department”) noted that the discipline letter was correctly included in grievant’s OPF and therefore was appropriately available for review by the FSSB. The FSSB clearly stated in its low-ranking statement (“LRS”) that it had reviewed the past five years of grievant’s evaluations as required by its Procedural Precepts. The FSSB properly linked grievant’s conduct as discussed in the discipline letter to performance standards, skills, and competencies. The FSSB referred to both the discipline letter and the 2018 EER, meeting the standard for specific references established in the FSSB Procedural Precepts. The expectation of professional growth is implicit in the appraisal process and does not require a separate definition. Grievant also failed to place a rebuttal letter into his file although given the opportunity to do so.
The Foreign Service Grievance Board (the “Board”) found that the LRS relied inappropriately on the discipline letter, without the supporting examples from evaluations which are required by its Procedural Precepts. The LRS made a passing reference to the 2018 DA that came from the same rating period as the discipline letter and was not substantiated by examples from relevant EERs as required by the FSSB Procedural Precepts. The LRS inappropriately faulted grievant for failing to demonstrate growth in two specific areas without citing evidence from his OPF. Grievant’s decision not to submit a rebuttal to the discipline letter is irrelevant.
The Board granted the grievance and ordered the Department to rescind the low-ranking and amend grievant’s record to show mid-ranking.
Details:

REDACTED(“grievant”) is an FO-01 Economic Officer employed by the Department of State (the “Department” or the “Agency”) since 1998. He has served at numerous foreign and domestic posts, and by 2018 had earned three Meritorious Service Awards across his 20-year career.

On May 31, 2017, grievant was assigned as Deputy Chief of Mission (“DCM”) to the U.S.Embassy REDACTED (the “post” or the “country”). Upon his arrival grievant became the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim (“CDA”) of the U.S. Embassy at post, and served in that capacity until January 27, 2018 when a new ambassador arrived. During the time grievant was CDA, he appointed his Management Officer (“MO”) as his Acting Deputy Chief of Mission (“ADCM”) upon her arrival at post in August 2017.

Between September 2017 and January 27, 2018 grievant made a series of inappropriate comments and gestures directed at the MO and an office management specialist (“OMS”), persisting even after being advised he was making others uncomfortable. On April 5, 2019, the Department proposed discipline of a seven-day suspension without pay based upon a June 6, 2018 Sexual Harassment Inquiry received from the Office of Civil Rights (“S/OCR”). After receiving grievant’s written and oral submissions in response to the discipline proposal, the Department mitigated the discipline to a five-day suspension in a letter, dated April 6, 2020, which listed nine specifications of inappropriate comments. Consistent with regulation,1 this letter was placed in grievant’s OPF where it will remain until May 2022.
[…]
Grievant does not challenge the presence of the discipline letter in his OPF. However, he argues that the FSSB is barred by its Procedural Precepts from relying solely on a discipline letter in order to low rank him; that it is required to do more than just allude to reviewing the last five years of his evaluations and must instead cite specific examples from those evaluations linked to his alleged inadequacies. He further contends that the FSSB cannot low rank based on a perceived lack of growth in specific skills, absent examples drawn from his evaluations.

Grievant dismisses the Department’s argument that he could have placed a rebuttal letter in his OPF in response to the discipline letter but failed to do so. The right to submit a rebuttal, he insists, is irrelevant to the procedural error committed by the FSSB.
[…]
This Board finds that the Procedural Precepts are clear regarding the standards for taking the serious decision to low rank an employee for good reason. Affirmations cannot replace the specific examples required by the Procedural Precepts. A void in substantiating failure to perform cannot be compensated with specific examples related to positive performance.
[…]
The Board finds that the FSSB misinterpreted the DA. Grievant arrived at post in May 2017, and the OIG investigators came in October 2017. Any adverse findings by the OIG relating to the embassy’s internal management could not logically be attributed to any failing by grievant in those few months.
[…]
The Board acknowledges the gravity of grievant’s conduct and the importance of considering the discipline letter as part of the FSSB process. However, as we recently decided in FSGB Case No. 2021-002 (June 25, 2021) at 21:

The FSSB precepts also sought to protect employees from being sanctioned twice for the same misconduct by prohibiting sole reliance on discipline letters when the FSSB is making decisions about low-ranking.

By relying exclusively on the discipline letter without any substantiating examples from grievant’s evaluations for the past five years, the FSSB has committed procedural error, and has sought to penalize grievant twice for his conduct.

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Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

 

 

Around the World in Tweets: Consuls General

 

 

Afghanistan Evacuation: A “Management Failure” Ripe For Review. By the GAO, Please

 

Secretary Blinken has reportedly ordered an internal review of the Afghanistan evacuation.  Who has been tasked to do the review? Wait, he did not ask the Deputy Secretary for Management or the Acting Under Secretary for Management to do it, did he?
Or the OIG? The OIG has seen what the State Department overlords can do to the entity and its personnel. While the overlords are not the same, we doubt that folks can shake that nightmare quickly. The State Department still does not have a Senate confirmed Inspector General. After what the previous administration did to the OIG and Steve Linick, you’d think that the Biden Administration would work quickly to fill that position. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Also if this debacle is causing seasoned employees to consider leaving the Service, you’d want to know, right?
We do think that the GAO should conduct this review; after all, part of its mandate is the evaluation of operations and performance. The GAO undertakes work through congressional requests, so let’s go ahead, let’s write to our favorite reps so GAO can get tasked with looking under the rugs.

Related items:

Photo of the Day: Secretary Blinken With Health Incident Response Task Force’s Moore and Uyehara

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Health Incident Response Task Force Ambassador Jonathan Moore and Senior Care Coordinator Ambassador Margaret Uyehara, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Related post:

Blinken Announces New Appointees For #HavanaSyndrome Task Force

 

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