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SFRC Grills D/S Sullivan About @StateDept FY18 Reauthorization Bill and Reorganizational Plans

Posted: 4:22 am ET

 

Deputy Secretary John Sullivan appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 18 for a hearing intended to Review the State Department Reauthorization Bill for FY 2018 and the State Department Reorganization Plans. As we expected, the deputy secretary cited the “listening tour” as the “cornerstone” of the agency’s redesign efforts:

In the 21st century, the United States faces many evolving threats to our national security. As the Committee knows well, the State Department – with a workforce of more than 75,000 – must respond to these challenges with the necessary speed and the appropriate resources. In other words, the nature of our work at the State Department demands flexibility and adaptability to an ever-changing world. We ask that the Committee keep this in mind as you continue to evaluate proposals for the Authorization Bill.

We also appreciate the great interest and support the Committee has shown to the Department’s efforts to make our programs and organizations more efficient and effective. The cornerstone of this redesign effort has been the input and feedback received from State Department employees.

Our main take away from watching the hearing is that D/Secretary Sullivan is a more personable and reassuring presence when talking about the State Department and USAID. He comes across as a champion of his agency without contradicting his superiors. He sounded reasonable and accommodating to the requests of the senators. At one point during the hearing, Senator Udall (D-NM) complained that he sent the Department a letter asking for specific information but has not received a response in four months. D/Secretary Sullivan quickly apologized, saying this is the first he’s heard of it, and he will make sure it is acted soonest.

There were lots of concern about the reported merger of State and USAID.  D/S Sullivan assured the senators that there is no predetermination in absorbing USAID to State. He also told Senator Menendez that there is no intention to fold USAID into State. He explained that the merger is a proposal made by people outside of the State Department but that there has not been an intention to absorb USAID to State.

He was also asked about the idea floated by the WH of moving CA and PRM functions to DHS. He told the panel that it is not the intent of the Department to move these functions.  He told the senators that it is something that if it were raised, they would  consider it but that it would be from a position that the two are vital to the mission of the State Department. Senator Shaheen (D-NH) informed him that if this  happens, she would be one of those leading the charge against it.

Senator Udall said the panel need significant oversight language in the bill to ensure that Congress has a say on the reorganization at State. Senator Cardin said that he expect State to implement what Congress has authorized and wanted some some assurance that when Congress passes the appropriation and authorization that it would be carried out. D/S Sullivan assured him that his agency will comply with the law, execute the law, and follow the instructions of Congress.

Special envoys is a big topic for the panel. Apparently there are about 68 special envoys; of that 7 are permissive positions (Congress uses may instead of shall) and 11 are mandated positions.  The senators worry that they all come with large staff. One senator wanted to know — if Congress is the authorizing body, do they have to put these positions in a statute? And should the Senate provide advice and consent for all of them. Senator Corker notes that despite the complaints about the multiple special envoys, Secretary Tillerson had recently appointed a Special Envoy for Ukraine. He notes that if we have somebody working on policy that the individual should go through confirmation.

In addition to the budget request and the reorganization, other topics discussed include diversity, employee welfare (Mission Juba got a mention from Senator Coons), Global Engagement Center (a mention from Senator Portman), morale problems and isolated leadership (Senator Udall’s concerns), hiring freeze, and the Russian diplomatic properties.

Senator Corker closed the meeting with a compliment for D/S Sullivan about the latter bringing a lot to the Department at the time when it is most needed.

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Tillerson Appoints Ex-USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations

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Posted: 12:49 am ET

 

On July 7, the State Department announced Secretary Tillerson’s appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker served at USNATO from July 2, 2008 to May 15, 2009.  He was reported in spring as in the running for the position of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR). This is Secretary Tillerson’s first special rep appointee.

Below is the released statement:

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson announced today his appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker, who has served previously as the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and as Director for NATO and Western Europe on the National Security Council, will take responsibility for advancing U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements. He will accompany the Secretary to Kyiv on Sunday, July 9, and is expected to continue to hold regular meetings with Ukraine and the other members of the Normandy Format: Russia, Germany, and France.

“Kurt’s wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace,” said Secretary Tillerson. “The United States remains fully committed to the objectives of the Minsk agreements, and I have complete confidence in Kurt to continue our efforts to achieve peace in Ukraine.”

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@StateDept Special Envoy Positions Could Be in Trump’s Chopping Block — Which Ones?

Posted: 1:42 am  ET

 

Via Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump is proposing major defense spending increases and big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and other federal agencies in a proposed budget to be presented soon to Congress, said a person familiar with the plan.[…] But the State Department will not share in the largesse. One of the agency’s deputy secretary positions, in charge of management and resources, is expected to be eliminated and its staff reassigned, people familiar with the plan said. Trump and his aides also are reviewing whether to eliminate many special envoy positions, the people said — diplomatic staff assigned to key regions and issues, including climate change, anti-Semitism and Muslim communities.

Back in September 2015, we blogged that Congress has been looking into the special envoys/reps, etc, at the State Department (see Congress Eyes @StateDept’s Special Envoys, Representatives, Advisors, and Coordinators).  Last December, Congress sent then President Obama the first State Department authorization bill sent by Congress to the President in 14 years.  Section 418 of that bill requires a one-time report on the special envoys, representatives, advisors, and coordinators of the Department, including details related to the individuals rank, position description, term in office, justification of authorization for the position, any supporting staff or resources of the position, and other related details (see Congress Sends President Obama First State Department Authorization in 14 Years).

Per state.gov, the following is a list of special envoys, special representatives, ambassadors at large, coordinators, special advisors, senior advisor, senior official, personal representative, and  senior representative positions that could be in the chopping block.

Special Envoys

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (Brett McGurk)
Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (James O’Brien)
Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs (vacant)
Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center (vacant)
Special Envoy for Climate Change (vacant)
Special Envoy for Closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility (vacant)
Special Envoy for Global Food Security (vacant)
Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues (vacant)
Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons (Randy Berry)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor)
Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations (vacant)
Special Envoy for Libya (Jonathan Winer)
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (vacant)
Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (vacant)
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues (Robert R. King)
Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks (vacant)
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan (vacant)
U.S. Special Envoy for Syria (Michael Ratney)

Special Representatives

Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation (rank of Ambassador) (vacant)
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma (vacant)
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (vacant)
Special Representative for the Arctic Region (vacant)
Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Issues (Robert A. Wood)* (Also Permanent Representative for Conference on Disarmament)
Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs (vacant)
Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy (Deborah Birx, M.D.)* (also Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally)
Special Representative for Global Partnerships (vacant)
Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa (vacant)
Special Representative for International Labor Affairs (vacant)
Special Representative to Muslim Communities (vacant)
Special Representative of North Korea Policy (Joseph Yun)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau)
Special Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (Michael Scanlan)
U.S. Special Representative to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (Linda S. Taglialatela)* (also Ambassador to Barbados)
U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs (vacant)

Ambassadors at Large

Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally (Deborah Birx, M.D.)* (also Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy)
Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice (vacant)
Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues (vacant)
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (vacant)
Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (Susan Coppedge)

Coordinators

U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, with the rank of Ambassador (vacant)* (also DAS in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs)
Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation (Stephen D. Mull)
Coordinator for Cyber Issues (Christopher Painter)
Coordinator for Sanctions Policy (Dan Fried)
Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs (rank of Ambassador) (vacant)
Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (vacant)
Fissile Material Negotiator and Senior Cutoff Coordinator (Michael Guhin)
International Information Programs Coordinator (vacant)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority, U.S. Security Coordinator (Lieutenant General Frederick S. Rudesheim)
Senior Coordinator for International Information Technology Diplomacy (vacant)* (Also Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment)
Senior Coordinator for Knowledge Management (vacant)
Special Coordinator for Global Criminal Justice (Todd F. Buchwald)
Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues (Sarah Sewall)* (also Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights)
Transparency Coordinator (Janice Jacobs)

Special Advisors

Science and Technology Adviser (vacant)
Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues (Andrew Rabens)
Special Adviser for Holocaust Issues (Stuart Eizenstat)
Special Advisor for International Disabilities Rights (vacant)
Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (Robert J. Einhorn)
Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia (Knox Thames)
Special Advisor for Secretary Initiatives (vacant)

Senior Advisor

Senior Advisor (vacant)

Senior Official

U.S. Senior Official to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (Matthew Matthews)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs)

Personal Representative

Personal Representative for Northern Ireland Issues (Gary Hart)

Senior Representative

Senior Representative to Minsk (vacant)

 

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@StateDept: That’s a question we ask ourselves every day: where is Brett today?

Posted: 2:41 am ET
Updated: 9/14/16 1:30 am ET – Where is Brett today? Now in Baghdad, scroll below.

 

Via the DPB on 9/12/16:

QUESTION: Could you update us on Brett McGurk’s travels? Yesterday, he tweeted a photo of the sun setting in Syria. Was he recently in Syria? And last night, he tweeted that he was flying overseas. Where is he going?

MR KIRBY: That’s a question we ask ourselves every day: where is Brett today? I actually don’t have an update for his – on his schedule, so we’ll see if we can get his staff to give us something we can provide to you. I just don’t have the details on exactly where he is right now.

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Sung Y. Kim — From North Korea Special Rep to the Philippines

Posted: 1:21  am ET

On May 18, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Sung Y. Kim as his nominee to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. The WH released the following brief bio:

Sung Y. Kim, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, positions he has held since 2014.  Previously, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2011 to 2014, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks with the rank of Ambassador from 2008 to 2011, and Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Kim was Political-Military Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea from 2002 to 2006.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Mr. Kim has also held positions at posts in Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Kim was a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Kim received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy (Photo via US Embassy/FB)

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy
(Photo via US Embassy/FB)

If confirmed, Ambassador Kim would succeed career diplomat, Philip Goldberg who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Manila in December 2013.

 

Related posts:

 

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Heritage: How to Make the State Department More Effective at Implementing U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted: 1:52 am ET

 

Via heritage.org:

In January 2017, the next President of the United States will enter office facing as daunting and diverse a set of challenges as any President in recent times. In order to address these challenges and threats, the next President will need more than new polices; he or she will need an effective and capable Department of State to implement his or her vision, including carrying out presidential instructions. The State Department, however, is not nearly as effective as it should be, to the detriment of American standing and effectiveness in the world. The Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer details the steps that would better equip the State Department to focus on its traditional mission, and be of true value to future U.S. foreign policy.

Below is a quick excerpt:

When the President relies too often or too heavily on individual “czars” or “envoys” to address discrete issues, however, he risks undermining clarity and consistency of policy, distorting the importance of issues in the overall spectrum of U.S. foreign policy interests, and confusing both U.S. and foreign officials about the chain of command through the multiple lines of communication to the President.

Historically, the most prudent and effective approach is to allow the Secretary of State to be the chief foreign policy adviser and diplomat with appropriate input from other advisers and, when their equities are involved, other departments and agencies. To address this issue, the next Administration should:

  • Appoint the appropriate Secretary of State for the President.
  • Reduce the operational role of the NSC and place those responsibilities chiefly on Under and Assistant Secretaries of State. 
  • Return the Policy Planning Staff to its original purpose, or eliminate it. 
  • Refuse to accord cabinet rank to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
  • Curtail the use of special envoys and special representatives.
  • Ensure that all candidates for ambassadorial appointments are qualified.
  • Reinforce the authority of U.S. Ambassadors. 
  • Increase Foreign Service assignments from three to five years. 
  • Conduct an in-depth evaluation of standards, training, and qualifications for both the Foreign Service and Civil Service.

Under Strengthening the State Department’s Traditional Bilateral and Multilateral Diplomacy, the author proposes  the following:

  • Establish an Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs. 
  • Shift the responsibilities of most functional bureaus to the Under Secretary for Bilateral Affairs and the Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs.
  • Rename the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs as the Bureau for Economic Development. The new bureau should encompass USAID; many of the current responsibilities of the current Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; and primary responsibility (currently led by the Department of the Treasury) for U.S. policy at the World Bank and the regional development banks.
  • Eliminate the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
  • Eliminate the position of Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources.
  • Merge complementary offices and bureaus and emphasize their overarching purpose.
  • Reconsider lines of authority for non-U.N. multilateral organizations. 
  • Treat former U.S. territories as the independent nations they have become.

 

There’s a lot more!  The full report is available to read online here. Also available to read below or to download as PDF:

 

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Why the Secretary of State should be asked to account for these 7th Floor denizens

Posted: 4:19 am ET

 

In case you have not seen this, here is a piece via Politico about the State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, a position that was created during the Clinton tenure and one that appears  to no longer exist under the Kerry tenure (Gary Hart is listed as Kerry’s Personal Representative for Northern Ireland Issues). Excerpt:

Government employees are typically restricted in their ability to receive outside income. But Hillary Clinton’s State Department expanded the use of “special government employees,” a relatively rare status originally created for scientists and others with unusual technical expertise that cannot be provided in-house. This allowed certain workers chosen by her or her staff, including Kelly, to receive money from private firms, including those who might potentially have business before the federal government.
[…]
After his appointment in September 2009, Kelly quickly staffed up by making an unconventional move and hiring five employees using money out of his own pocket. One used the title “deputy to the U.S. State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland,” and, according to his current bio, was tasked with “helping to drive investment to the region from U.S. corporations and facilitate bilateral trade.”

Another “adviser” to the economic envoy, was “responsible for executing a number special initiatives to help drive economic development in support of the ongoing peace process,” according to his current bio. And a third was named “senior counsel,” according to her LinkedIn profile, working with two additional employees to start up a mentoring program placing Irish fellows at American companies.

Despite job titles that sounded like State Department positions, and despite their regular interactions with official State Department staff and Irish diplomats, none of them were official government employees, and thus they had no constraints on their outside activities.

“The State Department does not have a record of these individuals being employed by the Department,” reads a State Department statement for this story.

Some of Kelly’s envoy office employees were also doing consulting work for Kelly’s private firm, listing Declan Kelly Consulting on their résumés. They would become among the first Teneo employees. Because they weren’t officially on the State Department payroll, their work would not receive the typical oversight given to State employees. It’s unclear whether they were required to file any sort of disclosure forms, and the State Department would not comment on what obligations they may or may not have had to meet.

Related items:

 

Following the Clinton tenure, the proliferation of special envoys, special representatives, coordinators and special advisors continued in Foggy Bottom. As of this writing, the State Department has 18 special envoys, 17 special representatives, 6 ambassadors-at-large, 15 coordinators, 7 special advisors, 1 senior advisor, 1 senior official, 1 personal representative, 1 senior representative in addition to the many functional and geographic bureaus in the department. In less than a year, most of them will be gone with  Secretary Kerry.  But we are certain that all will be replaced by new faces, and next BFFs (or old ones, as the case may be) parachuting into Foggy Bottom’s top floors in January 2017.

We agree with Senator Corker that every secretary of state should be asked to account for these 7th Floor denizens/positions, most especially on their necessity to the effective conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.

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@StateDept’s Special Envoy For Climate Change Todd Stern in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ Photoshoot

Posted: 1:55 am EDT

 

Great photo by Annie Leibovitz in Vanity Fair:

Todd D. Stern has been the Special Envoy for Climate Change at the State Department since January 2009.  His official bio says he plays a central role in developing the U.S. international policy on climate and is the President’s chief climate negotiator, representing the United States internationally at the ministerial level in all bilateral and multilateral negotiations regarding climate change.

The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 climate science fiction disaster film by German film director Roland Emmerich who also directed  Independence day.

 

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“Experienced Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers” Thrown Under the Bus – Internal Screaming at 125 dB

Posted: 2:04 am EDT

 

A couple months ago, we saw HRC’s campaign talked to CNN about the controversies in the handling of classified material, called it “a gray area” and cited foreign service officers as part of its defense:

And the career foreign service officers that were often the originators of this e-mail, they know the difference between what’s classified and what’s not.   A lot of people, I think, are mistaken to suggest that Hillary Clinton originated many of these e-mails. In fact, they are chains that are ultimately forwarded to her after being bandied back and forth by career foreign service officers in the State Department. And these are people, like I said, that know the difference between what’s classified and what’s not.  So by the logic of what today’s announcement suggests, then there would be dozens of officials in the State Department that were completely negligent. Does anyone really think that’s what’s going on here? I don’t. 

On March 5, the AP posted Things we learned from 50000-plus pages of Clinton emails.  The Washington Post also has a report on its analysis of the classified content in over 50,000 publicly released Clinton emails  based on what the State Department has said contained classified information.  Excerpt from the WaPo piece:

“If experienced diplomats and foreign service officers are doing it, the issue is more how the State Department deals with information in the modern world more than something specific about what Hillary Clinton did,” said Philip H. Gordon, who was assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and was the author of 45 of the sensitive emails from his non-classified government account.
[…]
They said they never stripped classified markings from documents to send them through regular email, as Republicans have alleged occurred in Clinton’s correspondence.

Instead, they said, the emails largely reflect real-time information shared with them by foreign government officials using their own insecure email accounts or open phone lines, or in public places such as hotel lobbies where it could have been overheard.

In other emails, they said they purposely wrote in generalities. Numerous emails were labeled “Sensitive But Unclassified,” indicating those writing did not think the note was classified.

Former ambassador Dennis Ross, who has held key diplomatic posts in administrations of both parties, said that one of his exchanges now marked “secret” contained information that government officials last year allowed him to publish in a book.

The emails relate to a back-channel negotiation he opened between Israelis and Palestinians after he left the government in 2011.

“What I was doing was communicating a gist — not being very specific, but a gist. If I felt the need to be more specific, we could arrange a meeting,” Ross said.

Princeton Lyman, a State Department veteran who served under presidents of both parties and was a special envoy to Sudan when Clinton was secretary of state, said he has been surprised and a bit embarrassed to learn that emails he wrote have been classified. He said he had learned through decades of experience how to identify and transmit classified information.

“The day-to-day kind of reporting I did about what happened in negotiations did not include information I considered classified,” he said.

One former senior official who authored some of the now-classified emails referred to a “cringe factor” for officials reviewing their own emails with the benefit of time that was often not available in the middle of unfolding world crises.

The former official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed disagreement with the State Department’s decision to classify the emails. Still, the official said diplomats at the time believed they were sending the material through a “closed system” in which the emails would be reviewed only by other State Department officials. They are becoming public now, the official noted, only because of Clinton’s email habits and her presidential run.

“I resent the fact that we’re in this situation — and we’re in this situation because of Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private server,” the official said.

 

We completely understand if folks are screaming internally (or not) up to the pain threshold of 125 decibel.

 

 

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Update on Global Coalition to Counter ISIL – Short, Short Version

Posted: 1:36 am EDT

 

Remarks by Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk Before the Daily Press Briefing;  Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL Brett McGurk, Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL; Washington, DC (01/05/16)

Screencap via Word It Out

Screencap via Word It Out

 

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