@StateDept Inspector General Vacancy Now at 657 Days and Counting

 

By the time you’re reading this, it would be 657 days since the State Department had a Senate-confirmed Inspector General. Despite the beating that office suffered during the previous administration, the current administration does not seem to be in any great hurry to nominate an Inspector General for the State Department.
IG Quick Facts:

IG Independence | Congress created OIGs to strike a workable balance for IGs and agency principals. This balance is accomplished through a number of provisions of the IG Act.

The IG Act specifically prohibits agency management officials from supervising the IG. This organizational independence helps limit the potential for conflicts of interest when an audit or investigative function is placed under the authority of the official whose programs are being scrutinized. The IG Act insulates IGs against reprisal and promotes independent and objective reporting. Additionally, the IG Act promotes independence through individual reporting of OIG budgets. For example, Section 6(g) requires OIG’s requested budget to be separately identified within the Department of State’s budget. Section 6(g)(3) authorizes OIG to comment to Congress on the sufficiency of its budget if the amount proposed in the President’s budget would substantially inhibit the IG from performing the duties of the office. Additionally, the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, requires annual certification by the Secretary that the Department has ensured the integrity and independence of OIG’s network, information systems, and files.

IG Access to Agency Principal | The IG is required to have direct and prompt access to the agency principal when necessary to perform his or her functions and responsibilities. This helps ensure that the agency principal is directly and promptly alerted to serious problems and abuses within the agency. Conversely, the Department of State is required to submit to OIG—within 5 business days of becoming aware of the allegation—a report of any allegation of (1) waste, fraud, or abuse in a Department program or operation; (2) criminal or serious misconduct on the part of a Department employee at the FS1, GS-15, or GM-15 level or higher; (3) criminal misconduct on the part of a Department employee at any level; and (4) serious, noncriminal misconduct on the part of any Department employee who is authorized to carry a weapon, make arrests, or conduct searches.

IG Reporting Obligations | The IG Act creates a dual-reporting obligation for IGs—to keep both Congress and the agency principal fully and currently informed about deficiencies in agency programs and operations.

Unfortunately, the Quick Facts does not include what can be done when the agency principal gets the IG fired for no reason beyond the office conducting oversight investigations that made the IG “a bad actor” in the eyes of the principal and his cronies.
The last time there was a lengthy vacancy at the IG, it was for almost 2,000 days or 5.4 years (see After 1,989 Day-Vacancy — President Obama Nominates Steve Linick as State Dept Inspector General).
Harold W. Geisel served as Acting IG from 2008-2013. Steve Linick served from 2013-2020. After Linick’s firing, Stephen Akard served as Acting IG for three months, Diana Shaw was Acting IG for a month, and Matthew Klimow served as Acting IG from August-December 2020. Diana Shaw once again became Acting IG for the State Department in December 2020 and continues to serve in that role to-date.
Congressional members made lots of noises, of course, after the Linick firing. They even conducted hearings. Which did not amount to anything really. Nothing happened besides a bad news cycle for Mikey Po so what could possibly dissuade any agency principal from doing exactly the same thing?
Defense (2,245 days) and OPM (2,204 days) currently have longer IG vacancies than State but the WH has previously announced the nominees for those agencies and they are currently awaiting confirmation. Whereas State (and Treasury) have been forgotten by the time lords.
We hope this isn’t a purposeful omission that could last the entire Blinken tenure.
It also occurred to us that one can avoid all the messiness of firing an IG by not appointing one.
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How to Report Waste, Fraud, and Abuse of Authority to the House Foreign Affairs Committee

 

As you already know, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) has oversight relating to the management and operations of the State Department.
HFAC has an online reporting tool for whistleblowers.  Federal employees may report waste, fraud, and abuse of authority to HFAC. The website says “You may remain anonymous if you choose. However, if you provide a way to contact you, it will make us better able to follow up on your report.” 
Below via HFAC:

Whistleblowers are entitled to protection under federal law. If you are a covered federal employee or applicant for federal employment you have the right to confidentially and, if you choose, anonymously report waste, fraud, or abuse of authority, without facing retribution or loss of your position.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Democratic office is committed to rooting out mismanagement, wrongdoing, and abuse of authority in the federal government and to protecting government employees, applicants, and contractors who bring such information to light.

If you know of wrongdoing and wish to report it, you can use this secure online form. You are not limited to reporting to your agency’s ombudsman or inspector general.  You may report wrongdoing to the Committee and still be entitled to whistleblower protection. Please contact us if you have questions about whether whistleblower protections apply to you.

A few things to know about reporting wrongdoing at your agency:

    • It can make a difference.  Often, employees who are aware of wrongdoing choose not to come forward because they believe nothing will change.  This Committee and other Congressional offices are committed to stopping waste, fraud, and abuse.  If you have something to report, this Office will review your submission and take appropriate action.
    • The law allows you to report any information to Congress. Our staff can assist you in understanding what protections exist for federal employees who report wrongdoing.
    • Many whistleblowers come forward.  Federal employees who report problems at their agencies play an invaluable role in making sure our government works the way it should.  Not every whistleblower story ends up on the front page of the paper, but the information whistleblowers provide is constantly helping Congress fulfill its oversight role.
Click here to submit your report.

Billy Goat on Grass Field by Pixabay

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What do you do when your office’s top leadership behave like this? #badbosses

Via Sender A with the “top of the iceberg” allegations:
— Opening investigations as favors.
— Closing investigations inappropriately.
— Reported to OIG five times with no action taken.
— Reported mismanagement, bullying, misogyny and hostile work environment
— Specifically and publicly calling a senior woman in the office a “fucking bitch”.
— Specifically and publicly calling a -prominent, newly appointed to a senior position- woman of color “stupid and dumb”
–Specifically and publicly calling a woman in our office “dumber than a bag of rocks”.
— A man in the office was publicly berated, began to cry and was called a “sissy baby”.
— Leadership use of office programs to do favors for personal friends and “friends of the office”.
— Disclosing information on investigations inappropriately.
— Inappropriate consultation with agency counsel…
— General disregard of process and firewalls set in place.
— Severe allegations of toxic work environment.
— Public distrust and embarrassment of this office stems from silencing and censorship of employees by management.
— Staff are actually good people passionate about their roles and want investigation and accountability. However, most are terrified of retribution and retaliation by leadership because of “management style” discouraging “disloyalty”.
— Leadership have made “strategic friends” with power playing roles who can easily look away from the abuse of power.

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Snapshot: Family Members Employed at US Missions Overseas by Bureau 2018-2021

 

Via State/FLO-FAMER

Related posts:

A New Trend? Posts’ Requests to @StateDept For Authorized Departures Go Public

 

 

In a span of a couple of weeks, we’ve seen two reports of diplomatic posts requesting the State Department to go on evacuation status leaked to the press. This has occasionally happened in the past, of course, but only in isolated cases.  The most notable happened at some posts in one region in March 2020 where the missions’ Emergency Action Committees (EAC) recommended an “ordered departure” for their posts and a top bureau official reportedly talked the ambassadors out of requesting it.
Were these requests from Kyiv and Beijing leaked because the EACs/ACOMs were dissuaded from making formal requests in the first place, which then avoided a formal response from the bureaus/DOS, or were these leaked to ensure that the requests are now public record, ramping up the pressure on State to agree to the requests? The EACs typically make recommendations in these cases and the departures are then requested by the chief of mission (COM). Final approval is by the Under Secretary for Management (M).
In the case of US Embassy Kyiv, the request made the news on January 21, and the State Department made it official on January 23. In Mission China’s case, the request made the news on January 26. As of this writing, the China travel advisory remains at Level 3, and no authorized departure has been announced as of this writing. The new US Ambassador to China was sworn-in on January 27.

Related posts:

Is @StateDept Actively Discouraging US Embassies From Requesting Mandatory Evacuations For Staff? #CentralAsia? #Worldwide?March 23, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Howler: “No one in DC, to include S, gives AF about AF” March 20, 2020

Snapshot: Unemployment Status of @StateDept Family Members Overseas (Fall 2021)

 

Via State/FLO:

Related posts:

Modernizing @StateDept Workforce and Winning Talent – See What’s Glaringly Missing?

 

On January 25, DipNote posted a new piece by Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon on Modernizing Our Workforce and Winning the Competition for Talent. He talked about recruiting the next generation, focusing on retention and building critical skills for the State Department. Excerpt below:

Recruiting the Next Generation

      • Our Recruitment Division conducted more than 3,000 recruiting activities, including over 900 events specifically targeting DEIA prospects. These DEIA-focused recruiting events engaged over 15,000 individual prospects.
      • We established a 500-person Volunteer Recruiter Corps with representation from all affinity groups, which participated in more than 150 events. These groups mirror the makeup of our workforce and help strengthen and support its diversity.
      • We streamlined the security clearance review process, reducing the average time it takes to finalize a clearance for new and transferring employees.
      • Looking ahead, we will continue to urge Congress to authorize and fund paid internships.

A Focus on Retention

      • We are focusing on creating and sustaining workplace flexibilities, to support our people and their families, modernize our performance management system, and promote professional development and career mobility for all our employees. In the last year, we have:
      • Expanded remote work and telework eligibility. The Department needs to keep pace with the private sector in enabling greater flexibility, and we are committed to enhancing and institutionalizing many of the changes we have implemented in response to the pandemic.
      • Expanded student loan repayment eligibility criteria.
      • Established the first Veterans Services Coordinator position, to better support our more than 5,000 veterans at the Department.
      • Created a Retention Team. In addition to reviewing the data and talking with the workforce to understand why people stay and why they leave, the Retention Team will develop the first Department-wide retention strategy.
      • These steps are important and are intended to support positive change across the Department. But we are not finished. In early 2022, in addition to announcing performance management reforms, we expect to roll out new professional development opportunities as well as long overdue initiatives aimed at helping our Civil Service employees build rewarding careers.

Building Critical Skills

      • As we reorient U.S. foreign policy to focus on 21st-century challenges that most directly affect Americans’ lives, we need to build our capacity and expertise in areas critical to our national security. To that end, we have:
      • Established a Talent Sourcing Unit to more effectively identify, reach, and target individuals for recruitment, especially in fields requiring specialized skills.
      • Conducted our first Department-only career fair, focused on STEM-and engaging diverse candidates.
      • Established new Foreign Service climate diplomacy positions in all geographic regions and key overseas missions and embassies.
      • Eliminated degree requirements for Foreign Service IT specialists and hired for several Civil Service data scientist positions.
It is shocking to see that this new modernization plan does not even mention family members anywhere.  Take a look at the following numbers:
Out of 11,840 total adult family members overseas, 75% (8,838) are female and 25% (3,002) are male.
Only 40% (4,761) adult family members are employed, while 60% (7,079) are not employed.  Of the 40% employed, only 24% or 2,900 worked for Uncle Sam inside our embassies and consulates while 16% (1,861) worked outside the US missions performing telework, running home businesses, or working in the education field.
According to BLS, the percentage of dual-income households in the United States was fairly stable between 1998 and 2017, ranging from 52 to 58 percent.
That’s not the case for FS households overseas. 
60% of FS adult family members overseas are unemployed. While unemployed, a good number are most likely not contributing to a retirement system. Sporadic and employment gaps while overseas could translate into a retirement wage gap; the same gap that helps push up the poverty rate for older women in this country.
We think that’s an important point to note since 75% of FS spouses overseas are female.
Something else to note when looking at these numbers.  In 2020, the average life expectancy of women at birth in the US was 80.5 years; 75.1 years for men.
So on average,  female FS spouses with chequered careers and with less retirement security than their regularly employed spouses are expected to live five years longer than their male spouses. According to WISER, the average annual Social Security benefit received by women age 65 and older is approximately $14,000, which is unlikely to cover all retirement expenses.
Would the female spouses in a modern State Department continue to give 20-30 years of their lives to life overseas as accompanying partners, only able to work now and then, and putting their financial future in their old age in great peril? How many employee-spouses would opt to leave mid-careers to give their accompanying spouses opportunities to pursue their own careers and build financial independence?
Also read: WISER: Retirement Planning for Stay-At-Home Moms

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So, what’s going on at the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights?

 

Via state.gov

“At the Department of State, diversity is not just a worthy cause: it is a business necessity. Diversity of experience and background helps Department employees in the work of diplomacy. The Secretary believes that diversity is extremely important in making the State Department an employer of choice. The Secretary has delegated both tasks of advancing diversity within the Department and ensuring equal opportunity to all employees to the Director of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR), who also serves as the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

The mission of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) is to propagate fairness, equity and inclusion at the Department of State. S/OCR’s business is conflict resolution, employee and supervisor assistance, and diversity management. S/OCR manages the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) administrative process for the Department and works to prevent employment discrimination through outreach and training.

S/OCR advises and assists the Secretary and other principal officers in equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy and diversity management issues that relate to the Department of State. The office is symbiotically separated into three sections: Diversity Management and Outreach, Intake and Resolution, and Legal.”

We’ve received a long list of disturbing allegations that says in part “history shows the State department(sic) will not enforce accountability unless abuses of power are brought to public light.”
If you know what’s going on over there, we’re here.
State/OCR is one of twenty offices (20!) reporting directly to the Secretary of State.
State/OCR’s only response to our email inquiry is an automated response as follows:
You have reached the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Civil Rights, which is a federal office that seeks to propagate fairness, equity, and inclusion in the U.S. Department of State’s domestic and overseas workplaces, including the U.S. diplomatic service and embassies and consulates overseas. Please be advised that the following are protected characteristics covered under antidiscrimination laws: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, and genetic information. The Department also may not engage in reprisal for participation in the EEO process or opposition to illegal discrimination.
We are only able to provide service to direct employees, former direct employees, applicants for direct employment, or others who have direct relationship with the Department of State (including its missions in other countries and domestic facilities) who feel that they have suffered discrimination. Please be sure to include the following information in a follow-up email (or an affirmative statement that the questions do not apply) or else we will not be able to assist you:
    1. Are you an American citizen?
    2. What is your employment status with the Department of State?
    3. Are you alleging discrimination based on one of the EEO categories listed above? Which one?
    4. Please provide a short a narrative of your allegation of discrimination to include date(s).
    5. Where are you currently located?
    6. Please provide a contact information (i.e. phone number and email).
From State/OIG, we only got total radio silence.
By the way, this is a good opportunity to note that it has been 605 days since the Inspector General for State/OIG went vacant according to the oversight.gov tracker. You might recall that former IG Steve Linick was fired urgently under cover of darkness. Now, almost a year into President Biden’s tenure and no nominee has been announced. Who’s happity with that?

Billy Goat on Grass Field by Pixabay

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@StateDept Fails in FSGB Defense Over Coersive (Unlawful) Curtailment

 

The FSGB found that the State Department committed in prohibited personnel practice (“PPP”) violation of 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4) against an FS employee stationed overseas when it coerced his curtailment from post. The Board also found that the curtailment in this case failed to comply with 3 FAM 2443.2. This case is horrifying in how carelessly embassy officials can chuck anyone out the airlock.
Also see FSGB: When Voluntary Curtailment Is NOT Truly Voluntary
According to the FSGB ROP, the Department questioned “whether 5 U.S.C § 2302 applies to Foreign Service Officers, because Title 5 of the U. S. Code applies only to Civil Service Employees.15 However, it concludes that, assuming the provision applies, there is no evidence to support the finding of a violation”.
The Board’s decision says “we address the Department’s question of whether Foreign Service Officers are protected against prohibited personnel practices. […] Under Section 105 (b)(2)(B)(4) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, all FS members are free from any personnel practice prohibited by 5 U.S.C. § 2302. […] we find that PPP protections apply to Foreign Service Officers under Section 105 of the FSA.
The oldest executive agency then argued before the Grievance Board that the Senior Regional Security Officer’s alleged statement that “all this would go away,” while putting his hand on the investigatory file, “could have merely meant the file itself would be gone or that the Ambassador’s determination to involuntarily curtail him would be obviated by his decision to voluntarily curtail.”
And get this, the Department concludes that the “vague statement” by the SRSO was not deceitful.”
The Department also argued that grievant has “failed to meet his burden to show that the SRSO knew that his statement was untrue or that he acted with an intent to mislead grievant.”
Oh, lordy!
Then covering all its bases — “even assuming that the statement was deceitful, the Department contends that Section 2302(b)(4) only applies to “competition for employment,” which is limited to hiring and promotions and does not apply to the retention of employment.14  Although curtailment is an assignment, it is not a process of hiring or promotion.”
The Department agreed that “it committed a harmless error of its curtailment procedures.”
It sure wasn’t “harmless” on the affected employee and his family, was it?
The FSGB did not buy it.

It is clear that the Board’s analysis found that the SRSO engaged in deceit. The statute prohibits “deceit or willful obstruction.” While obstruction is defined as willful, the drafters did not see a need to use the adjective with deceit. Deceit is willful; it is not negligent or inadvertent.

The Board includes “deceit” in the footnotes:

26 Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed, 2014) defines deceit: “1. The act of intentionally leading someone to believe something that is not true; an act designed to deceive or trick. 2. A false statement of fact made by a person knowingly or recklessly (i.e., not caring whether it is true or false) with the intent that someone else will act on it. 3. A tort arising from a false representation made knowingly or recklessly with the intent that another person should detrimentally rely on it.”

On curtailments, the Department notes that “under 3 FAM 2443.2(a), the Chief of Mission (COM) has discretion to determine curtailment when it would be in the best interest of the post. While the COM must follow procedures, there is no evidentiary standard, and the curtailment procedures do not require the same rigor as the disciplinary process.”
The Department then makes a shocking or maybe not really a shocking admission:

“..there were serious allegations against grievant, and the COM was not required to determine whether they were true, but only if the curtailment was in the best interests of the post.”

Wait, what? So anyone could make a claim, state an allegation, anyone could start a rumor, and COM is not required to determine whether they were true? How bonkers is that?
Via Record of Proceedings
FSGB Case No. 2019030 | September 29, 2021

The Department’s MFR seeks reconsideration of the Order on two grounds. The first ground for reconsideration is that the Department claims that the Board committed “clear error” by failing to find evidence of two essential elements of a prohibited personnel practice (“PPP”), in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4), despite finding that the Department committed a PPP. The missing elements, according to the Department, are – a willful or deliberate deception and a competition for a position. The second basis for reconsideration is that the Department claims that the Board committed “clear error” by conflating the curtailment and discipline procedures when it failed to remand to the Department the question of whether it would have curtailed grievant absent the procedural error by failing to follow the Department’s curtailment regulations.

Grievant, an FS-02 Security Engineering Officer (“SEO”), served as the Deputy Officer in Charge (“DOIC”) of the Department’s Engineering Services Office (“ESO”) at the U.S. Embassy in REDACTED (“post”) from August 2016 to January 18, 2017. His rater was the Officer-in-Charge (“OIC”), and his reviewer was the Senior Regional Security Officer (“SRSO”).

The incident that led to a preliminary investigation of the grievant and, subsequently, an in-depth investigation of him by the Office of Civil Rights (“S/OCR”), is an alleged threat made by grievant at the end of December 2016. On January 10, 2017,1 a supervisee claimed that grievant had made an implied threat of physical violence to him, and the SRSO assigned the Assistant Regional Security Officer (“the ARSO”) to investigate and notified the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (“DS”), Office of Special Investigation (“DS/DO/OSI”). On January 12, post management briefed the Ambassador, who decided to exercise his authority under 16 STATE 27226 to curtail grievant from post. Later that day, January 12, the SRSO, grievant’s reviewing officer, held a meeting with grievant, two Human Resource Officers, and grievant’s rater and told grievant that the Ambassador had decided that he would be involuntarily curtailed if he did not voluntarily curtail, and if he voluntarily curtailed, “all of this,” gesturing to the investigative file, “would go away and it would be as if he had been curtailed for family reasons.”2

But the investigation did not, in fact, “go away.”

On January 14, the ARSO issued an RSO Report, which the Accountability and Suitability Board (“A&SB”), which included the SRSO, discussed that day with the Ambassador. The case was referred to the Department of State’s Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) that same day. On January 16, the Management Counselor prepared a Decision Memorandum (“Decision Memo”) in Support of No-Fault Curtailment, which was sent to the front office. A day later, on January 17, grievant met with the HRO at post and formally accepted a “voluntary curtailment,” and management approved his request that day. On January 18, Grievant curtailed without having been advised of the ARSO’s report or of the referrals to S/OCR and to
DS/DO/OSI.
[…]
GTM/ER proposed to suspend grievant on a single charge of Improper Comments, with three specifications. The Deciding Official (“DO”) sustained only two of these specifications, both dealing with alleged threats. With the dismissal of the third specification, all potential EEO violations were dismissed. The DO reduced the penalty from a two-day to a one-day suspension.”5

Grievant filed an agency-level grievance, alleging that the one-day suspension violated regulations; that his 2017 Employee Evaluation Report (“EER”) contained a falsely prejudicial statement based on the charge; that the RSO Report contained a falsely prejudicial statement that he had been counseled for anger management; that his curtailment was coerced and unlawful under 12 STATE 27212 (“Curtailment of Employee Based on Conduct or Disciplinary Issues”); and that his assignment to a non-supervisory, overcomplement6 position was based on a PPP. The grievance was denied by the Department.

Board found that the Department committed a PPP, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4). […]Moreover, even without the PPP finding, the Board found that the curtailment failed to comply with 3 FAM 2443.2, and the Department does not challenge that finding.

[…]
By inducing grievant’s “voluntary curtailment” on an unenforceable assurance, post avoided going through the procedural safeguards of 3 FAM 2443.2, which apply to voluntary curtailments that are initiated at the request of the COM. What the Department does not acknowledge is that the SRSO (importantly, grievant’s reviewing official, the official who had directed the ARSO’s investigation and notified DS/DO/OSI and a member of the A&SB advising the Ambassador) told grievant that if he voluntarily curtailed, it would be “as if he curtailed for family reasons.” That would mean a curtailment under 3 FAM 2443.1 with no prospect of discipline.

The Board denied in full the Department’s Second Motion for Reconsideration and issued six other orders related to back pay, reconstituted Selection Boards, promotion, and interest on back pay.
The Board ordered remedies for violations of 3 FAM 2443.2 and 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4) , remedies for falsely prejudicial language in Grievant’s EER; attorney’s fees request is held in abeyance until final resolution of the remedies.
The remedies ordered include:

2. The Department shall pay grievant “an amount equal to all, or any part of the pay, allowances, or differentials [including overtime], as applicable, which [he] normally would have earned or received” during the period of 18 ½ months of the remainder of his posting at post, had he not been improperly curtailed, less any amounts he earned through other employment during that period, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 5596(b)(1)(A)(i), 5 C.F.R. 550, Subpart H..

4. The Department shall hold four reconstituted Selection Boards for the years when grievant’s OPF contained the uncorrected 2017 EER.

5. If grievant is promoted by any of the reconstituted SBs, the promotion should beretroactive to the date a promotion would have been implemented by the SB for which it was reconstituted. The Department shall pay the wage differential from the date of any retroactive promotion.

6. The Department shall pay interest on any back pay awards due under this order.

The conduct of these government representatives at this post should be labeled “notoriously disgraceful conduct”. And the State Department should be shamed for defending this type of unacceptable behavior.  Oh, please don’t tell us these people all got promoted!
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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.

 

 

FSGB: When Voluntary Curtailment Is NOT Truly Voluntary

 

This is part 1 of two parts we want to post about this specific grievance case. We want to highlight this part of the curtailment process that’s called “voluntary” because it was not a voluntary one, but a “coerced voluntary curtailment”. We have no idea who are the individuals involved in this case, of course, but we are aware of how the so called “voluntary” curtailment has been misused and far from being voluntary in other cases in the past.
The chief of mission was supposed to “ensure that rigorous standards apply to curtailment requests.” Whatever standards were applied in this case could not be called rigorous by any stretch of the imagination. Good grief, the ARSO wrote a false report! As if that was not enough, a supervisor engaged in deceitful behavior. And State basically shrugged its admirable shoulders, and said who cares?
Record of Proceedings
FSGB Case No. 2019030 | September 30, 2020
INTERIM DECISION  (CORRECTED 10/05/2020)

We find here that the procedures for curtailing grievant violated 3 FAM 2443.2. The due process provisions of the regulation were not
followed. Grievant was given an ultimatum to voluntarily curtail, or he would be involuntarily curtailed, when the Ambassador had limited information and the grievant had not been given any of the due process rights outlined in 3 FAM 2443.2 and the guideline cables provided below.
The applicable FAM, 3 FAM 2443.2 Involuntary Curtailment at Request of Chief of Mission, reads:

a. If the chief of mission determines that curtailment of an employee’s tour of duty would be in the best interests of the post [or] the employee, the chief of mission may ask that the employee’s tour of duty be curtailed immediately.

b. If the employee is an employee of the Department of State, the chief of mission should submit a request through the DIRGEN [Director General] channel to the Director General of the Foreign Service requesting curtailment of the employee. The request must:


(1) Include background information on any incidents that support the request;

(2) Confirm that the employee has been informed of the request and the reasons therefore; and

(3) Confirm that the employee has been advised that he or she may submit comments separately.


c. If the employee requests curtailment, the chief of mission should use the DIRGEN channel to:


(1) Inform the Director General of the chief of mission’s support of the employee’s request; and

(2) Explain fully the circumstances that, in the chief of mission’s judgment, justify immediate curtailment.


d. Except in cases of serious misconduct, criminal activities, or actions that have serious security implications, a chief of mission may offer the employee the alternative of submitting a request for immediate voluntary curtailment. If the employee is an employee of another agency, the request should be submitted to [their appropriate officials]. … The same supporting information required in 3 FAM 2443.2 should be used in requesting curtailment.57

According to the Decision Memo, the Ambassador invoked 16 STATE 27226, issued on March 14, 2016, Chief of Mission Instructions Regarding Conduct and Discipline Abroad, to determine that curtailment was necessary in this case. The summary describes the cable as the
first of two issued that date to provide guidance on conduct and discipline issues. The cable notes that COMs have full legal authority for the supervision of all government executive branch employees in that country.

The other memo issued on the same date, 16 STATE 27212, Curtailment of Employees Based on Conduct and Disciplinary Issues (Checklist), provides detailed procedures for handling curtailments. Among the relevant paragraphs are:

Par. 1. Curtailment may include the employee’s immediate departure from post, and can be voluntary or involuntary. As COM, you must ensure that rigorous standards apply to curtailment requests. Curtailments disrupt lives of employees and entail high professional and monetary cost from the Service in terms of lost productivity, service, and frequently, investment in training. Therefore, this authority must be used with judicious care and restraint.

Par. 2. If you, as COM, determine that curtailment of an employee’s tour of duty would be in the best interests of the post [or] the Service … you may request that the employee’s tour of duty be curtailed immediately. Per 3 FAM 2443.2, you should submit a request through the DIRGEN [Director General] channel to the Director General of the Foreign Service. The curtailment cable request must:

o include background information on any incidents that support the request;

o confirm that the employee has been informed of the request and the reasons therefor; and

o confirm that the employee has been advised that he or she may submit comments separately.

..HR strongly encourages post to share the request cable with the employee so the employee has the full report on which he/she can send comments.

Par. 3. Except in cases of serious misconduct, … you may offer the employee the option to request immediate voluntary curtailment in lieu of involuntary curtailment. If the employee requests voluntary curtailment, he/she should request immediate curtailment through the HR channel in a message addressed to his/her Career Development Officer (CDO) in HR/CDA (see para. 19 [checklist]). As COM, please ensure that you use the DIRGEN channel to confirm your support, or opposition to, the employee’s request and explain fully the circumstances that justify immediate curtailment.


Par. 13. Curtailments should first be vetted by a management team at post. …. Proper vetting throughout the process then allows the COM to be better able to determine whether to move forward with the curtailment request.


Par. 14. In all cases, the DIRGEN cable must include background information on the incident (s) that supports post’s decision. Except for cases of directed curtailment, the cable must confirm that the COM has discussed the proposed action with the employee and also confirm that he/she may submit separately, either by cable via the DIRGEN channel or email to the DG Direct e-mail address, any comments about the curtailment. HR will not approve any curtailment request that comes without supporting information.

Par. 19. D. [H]as the employee had the opportunity to discuss the situation with the DCM?


Par. 20. As applicable, the above elements should be addressed in a DIRGEN cable. The Department is committed to making the curtailment system work for the good of the Service and our employees, protecting both the authority of management and the rights of employees.

Grievant’s decision to curtail was not truly voluntary. Grievant did not initiate the curtailment. The Ambassador, according to what the RSO and HR told grievant on January 12, had decided that grievant had a choice to either curtail voluntarily or involuntarily. In doing so, he was exercising his right under 3 FAM 2443.2d to give the employee the option of taking a voluntary curtailment in lieu of an involuntary one. Given that ultimatum, the only way to prevent the potential adverse career effect was to choose “voluntary” curtailment. According to grievant, he was also given the inducement that if he chose “voluntary” curtailment, “all this,” which he could reasonably understand to mean any type of charge against him, would be withdrawn. Given the lack of denials, we credit grievant that this statement was made. Yet we know that, on January 14, before the curtailment took effect, the ROI had been closed without action by DS and referred to S/OCR. The case was not going away.

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