After Congressional Queries, @StateDept to Mandate Sexual Harassment Training

Posted: 3:31 am ET

 

On January 11, Deputy Secretary Sullivan held a session “Harassment in the Workplace” at the State Department (see @StateDept to Hold “Harassment in the Workplace” Session But First, Read This FSI Sexual Harassment Case).  The following day, Secretary Tillerson delivered his remarks on values, also specifically addressing sexual harassment.

We understand that for a while there on January 12, Secretary Tillerson’s Conversation on the Value of Respect was reportedly the “tip of the day” when you log in to the Department’s OpenNet. That’s right, just mere hours after the President of the United States was reported to call certain countries “shitholes” during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. Click here for reactions from different countries.

We’re not sure why both Deputy Secretary and the Secretary talked about sexual harassment two days in a row. Our most charitable take is that this is something the State Department cares very much, and the senior leadership would like to impress upon employees the  importance it places on sexual harassment (see our posts on sexual harassment here).  The less charitable take is that they’ve heard about folks talking to Congress about sexual harassment at the State Department, and they did not want to be perceived as not doing anything. (See Senators Seek Review/Analysis of @StateDept and @USAID Sexual Harassment and Assault DataCongress Seeks Info on @StateDept Senior Executives Who Are Subjects of Multiple ComplaintsInbox: “State Department absolutely deserves to have a trial by media”).

Of course, we also have our jaded take and we’re not alone on this — that Tillerson’s folks had atrocious timing, and did not want to seem like the Secretary was criticizing his boss on the day when the “shitholes” comment was  bouncing around the globe.

Fast-forward to February 12, Tillerson has now reportedly announced mandatory sexual harassment training for State Department employees. Reuters reports that the mandatory training is supposed to be completed by June 1:

“There is no form of disrespect for the individual that I can identify, anything more demeaning than for someone to suffer this kind of treatment,” he said. 

“It’s not OK if you’re seeing it happening and just look away. You must do something. You must notify someone. You must step in and intervene,” Tillerson added, speaking in Cairo to about 150 U.S. embassy staff outside the ambassador’s residence.

We’d be interested to know who provides the training, and what’s the source of the training material. For those who experienced sexual harassment first hand, we’d like to know if you think this mandatory training would help remedy the problem.

AND NOW THIS — Randy Rainbow’s ‘Stand By Your Man’ is quite memorable.

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A Look at @StateDept Staffing Losses Between FY2016-FY2017 #ThisCouldGetWorse

Posted: 12:28 pm PT
Updated: Feb 13, 2:02 pm PT

 

We’ve written previously about staffing and attrition at the State Department in this blog. We’ve decided to put the staffing numbers in FY16 and FY17 next to each other for comparison. The numbers are publicly released by State/HR, and links are provided below.

Since the State Department had also released an update of its staffing numbers dated December 31, 2017 for the first quarter of FY2018, we’ve added that in the table below.

FY2016 saw a high water mark in the total number of State Department employees worldwide at 75,231.  There were 13,980 Foreign Service employees (officers and specialists), 11,147 Civil Service employees and 50,104 locally employed (LE) staff members at 275 overseas posts.

The Trump Administration took office on January 20, 2017. On February 1, 2017, Rex W. Tillerson was sworn in as the 69th Secretary of State. With the exception of the month of January, note that Secretary Tillerson was at the helm at State for eight months in FY2017 (February-September 30, 2017), and the first three months of FY2018 (October 2017-December 2017).

With 75,231 overall number as our marker, we find that the State Department overall was reduced by 351 employees at the end of FY2017.  On the first quarter of FY18, this number was reduced further by 476 employees.  Between September 30, 2016, and December 31, 2017 — 15 months — the agency was reduced  overall by 827 employees (including LE employees).

FY2017 did see six, that’s right, six new FS specialists, and 256 LE staffers added to its rolls (see That FSS Number for additional discussion on that six FSS gains). Note that LE staffers are generally host country nationals paid in local compensation plans with non-dollarized salaries.

Data also shows that there were 68 more FS/CS employees overseas. We interpret this to mean 68 more FS/CS employees assigned overseas, and not/not necessarily new hires. The FSO ranks were reduced by 107 officers, and the Civil Service corps was reduced by 500 out of a total of 25,127 American employees by September 2017. The Foreign Service was further reduced by 197 employees, and the Civil Service reduced by 144 employees by December 31, 2017.

Tillerson on Track

Mr. Tillerson goal is reportedly to reduce the department’s full-time American employees by 8 percent by the end of September 2018, the date by which Mr. Tillerson has purportedly promised to complete the first round of cuts. A November 2017 report  calculated the 8 percent as 1,982 people with 1,341 expected to retire or quit, and 641 employees expected to take buyouts. The data below indicates that the State Department’s American FS/CS employees at 25,127 in FY2016 was reduced by 948 employees by December 31, 2017, a reduction of 3.8 percent.  If the buyouts, as reported, occurs in April 2018, Tillerson would be at 6.3 percent reduction by spring, with five months to get to the remaining 1.7 percent to make his 8 percent target by September 30. And this is just the first round.

Projected Attrition

In 2016, the State Department already projected that between FY 2016 and FY 2020, close to 5,400 career FS and CS employees (21 percent) will leave the Department due to various types of attrition (non-retirements, retirements, voluntary, involuntary). That’s an average of 1,080 reduction each fiscal year from FY2016-FY2020.  Even without a threat of staff reduction, it was already anticipated that the State Department was going to shrink by 1,080 employees every year until 2020.  We think that part of this estimate has to do with the graying of the federal service, and the mandatory age retirement for the Foreign Service, but also because of the built-in RIF in the Foreign Service with its “up or out” system. Anytime we hear the State Department trimming its promotion numbers, we also anticipate more departures for people who could not get promoted.

It’s Not a RIF, Just Shrinking the Promotion Numbers

Tillerson made the staff reduction his own by announcing a staffing cut and a buyout. This was obviously a mistake, but what do we know? What this signals to us is a lack of understanding of how the system was intended to work most especially in the Foreign Service. This is a mistake that he could have easily avoided had he not walled himself away from career people who knew the building and the system that he was trying to redesign.

Yes, the reduction in State Department workforce was in the stars whether Tillerson became Secretary of State or not. There is a regular brain drain because the Foreign Service is an “up or out” system. Some diplomats who are at the prime of their careers but are not promoted are often forced to leave.  But to get more people to leave, Tillerson does not even need to announce a RIF, he only need to shrink the promotion numbers. A source familiar with the numbers told us that in 2017, 41 FSOs were promoted from FS01 to the Senior Foreign Service (SFS), down from an average over the past five years of 101, or a 60% decrease. Across the Foreign Service, we understand that the average decrease in promotion numbers is about 30% percent.

In the rules books, the Director General of the Foreign Service is supposed to determine the number of promotions of members of the Foreign Service reviewed by the selection boards by “taking into account such factors as vacancies, availability of funds, estimated attrition, projected needs of the Service, and the need for retention of expertise and experience.” This decisions is based on “a systematic, long-term projection of personnel flows and needs designed to provide: (1)  A regular, predictable flow of recruitment into the Service; (2)  Effective career development to meet Service needs; and (3)  A regular, predictable flow of talent upwards through the ranks and into the SFS.”

The State Department does not even have a Senate-confirmed DGHR. The last Senate confirmed Director General Arnold Chacon left his post in June 2017 (see DGHR Arnold Chacón Steps Down, One More @StateDept Office Goes Vacant). Bill Todd who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary is now acting Director General of the Foreign Service & acting Director of Human Resources, as well as “M” Coordinator. The Trump Administration has nominated ex-FSO  Stephen Akard to be the next DGHR (see Ten Ex-Directors General Call on the SFRC to Oppose Stephen Akard’s Confirmation).

Burning Both Ends of the Candle

The surprise is not that people are leaving, it is that people that you don’t expect to leave now are leaving or have left. An ambassador who retires in the middle of a three-year tenure. The highest ranking female diplomat who potentially could have been “P” retired. A senior diplomat retiring while at the pinnacle of his diplomatic career five years short of mandatory age retirement. A talented diplomat calling it quits while there’s a whole new world yet to be explored. The highest numbers of departures are occurring at the Minister Counselor level, and at the FS01s and below level (PDF). That said, these numbers as released and shown below, are still within the previously projected attrition numbers for FY2017. The FY2018 numbers is the one we’re anxious to see.

Tillerson’s staff reduction is not even the most glaring problem he gave himself. Basically, Tillerson’s State Department is burning both ends of the candle. The diplomatic ranks were reduced by 225 in December 31 last year but State will reportedly only hire a hundred in FY2018. There are rumors of only hiring at 3 for 1 to attrition. If this is the plan, Tillerson will surely shrink the diplomatic service but by not ensuring a smooth flow of new blood into the Service, he will put the institution and its people at risk. For instance, there are about 2,000 Diplomatic Security agents. Let’s say 21 percent or 420 agents leave the agency between now and 2020, and the State Department hires 140 new agents during the same period. The work will still be there, it will just remain unfilled or the positions get eliminated. A three-person security office could shrink to two, to one, or none. In the meantime, the United States has 275 posts overseas, including high threat/high risk priority posts that require those security agents.  What happens then? Are we going to see more contractors? Since contractor numbers are typically not released by the State Department, we won’t have any idea how many will supplement the agency’s workforce domestically and overseas.

The Foreign Service Specialists (FSS) Count

So if we look at the first table below (thanks JR), note that the total Foreign Service Specialists (FSSs) number is 5,821. A State Department release in November 29, 2017 confirms the 5,821 figure. But this figure as you can see here (PDF) includes Consular Fellow gains (previously known as Consular Adjudicators) in FY2017 (231), FY2016 (141), FY2015 (70), FY2014 (35) and FY2013 (37). The numbers are not clear from FY13 and FY14 because the counts were not done at the end of the fiscal year but midyear and end of the year. As best we can tell, the State Department HR Fact Sheet counts Consular Fellows as part of its FSS count in fiscal years 2015-2017.

The result is that the career FSS count is artificially inflated by the inclusion of the Consular Fellows in the count. While the first table below shows an FSS gain of six specialists, in reality, the CF inclusion in the count hides the career FSS losses in the last three fiscal years that ended. Why does that count matter? Because the Consular Fellow LNA appointments max out at 60 months.

11/29/17  Department of State Facts About Our Most Valuable Asset – Our People (September 30, 2017 Counts) 

Consular Fellows are hired via limited non-career appointments (LNAs). The Consular Fellows program, similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program, is not an alternate entry method to the Foreign Service or the U.S. Department of State, i.e. this service does not lead to onward employment at the U.S. Department of State or with the U.S. government. In fact state.gov notes that Consular Fellows are welcome to apply to become Foreign Service Specialists, Foreign Service Generalists, or Civil Service employees, but they must complete the standard application and assessment processes. So for Congressional folks keeping track of the career Foreign Service numbers, this would be a notable distinction.

Trump’s 2019 Budget and the Next 27% Cut

Trump’s fiscal 2019 proposed budget includes a 27% cut to the State Department. This potentially could get a lot worse; when the Administration starts shrinking programs, and priorities at this rate, it will inevitably create a cascading effect impacting overseas presence and personnel. State Department officials may say no post closures, and no reduction-in-force now but we probably will see those down the road, even if not immediately.  Remember when State was shrunk in the early 1990’s? It took a while before people could start picking up the pieces, and the replenishment for the workforce did not happen until almost a decade later. (see The Last Time @StateDept Had a 27% Budget Cut, Congress Killed ACDA and USIA).

Still, we have to remind ourselves that the budget proposal is just that, a proposal, and that Congress has the power of the purse. Is it foolish to hang our hopes on our elected reps?

HR Fact Sheet as of December 31, 2017 (PDF)

HR Fact Sheet as of 9/30/2017 (PDF)
Oops, looks like this file was subsequently removed after post went up.
See copy via the Internet Archive

HR Fact Sheet as of 9/30/2016 (Archived PDF)

HR Fact Sheet as of 9/30/2015 (PDF)

Below is a bonus chart with the FY2015 staffing numbers (yellow column#1), and the gains/losses between September 2015 to December 2017 (yellow column ##2). We’re sure that Mr. Tillerson’s aides would say that yes, there are staffing losses but look, the State Department’s overall workforce is still larger at the end of 2017 when compared to 2015. And that is true. Except that if you look closely at the numbers, you will quickly note that the gains of 1,346 employees are all LE staffers on local compensation.

 

Related posts:

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Senate Confirms Four Foreign Service Lists Including Two Pretty Thin Promotion Lists (Updated)

Posted: 3:43 am ET
Updated 2:04 pm PT

 

On January 30, the U.S. Senate confirmed four Foreign Service lists including two promotion lists that look pretty thin.  Are these all the names of FSOs/FSSs who got promoted, 98 in all? There were no promotions to the Career Ambassador (CA). or the Career Minister (CM) ranks, hey? How normal is that? 

According to State/HR’s count from last year (PDF), there were  19 Career Ministers in the entire Foreign Service at the end of FY2017. Unless there’s a separate list floating around, we’re not seeing the CA/CM promotions. There could also be a reduction in the Minister Counselor (MC) and Counselor numbers given that the count published by State was dated September 30, 2017 (Department of State Facts About Our Most Valuable Asset – Our People (September 30, 2017 Counts) and we have no idea how many departures by rank had occurred between October to January 2018.

Update: On November 16, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed four nominees to the rank of Career Minister (see PN 2100). 

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Career Minister:

  • John R. Bass II, of VA (current ambassador to Kabul)
  • John D. Feeley, of DC (will retire effective March 2018)
  • Judith G. Garber, of VA (current Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science (OES)
  • Sung Y. Kim, of VA (current ambassador to Manila)

With the promotion of 4 career employees into the Career Minister rank, the State Department now appears to have 23 Career Minister rank members (4 new promotions, 19 FSOs, 0 FSSs). See PDF. That’s the same low number as in 2012, but will dipped to 22, same as in 2009, when Ambassador Feeley retires in March 2018. The lowest dips occurred at 19 both in 2008 and 2017.

With the promotion of  33 career employees into the Minister Counselor rank, the State Department now appears to have 447 Minister-Counselor rank members (33 new promotions, 384 FSOs, and 29 FSSs with Minister-Counselor rank).  See PDF.

With with promotion of 64 career employees into the Counselor rank, the State Department now appears to have s 611 Counselor-rank members (64 new promotions, plus 431 FSOs, and 116 FSSs with Counselor rank). See PDF.

This is our best guess at this time given the published numbers available and the congress.gov data.

2018-01-30 PN1434 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Alyce S. Ahn, and ending Michele D. Woonacott, which 90 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 8, 2018.

2018-01-30 PN1435 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Priya U. Amin, and ending Erik Z. Zahnen, which 118 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 8, 2018.

2018-01-30 PN1433 Foreign Service |Nominations beginning Marc Clayton Gilkey, and ending Mark A. Myers, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 8, 2018. (5 PROMOTIONs)

The following-named Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of Agriculture for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Minister-Counselor:

Marc Clayton Gilkey, of CA

The following-named Career Members of the Foreign Service for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Counselor

Deanna M. J. Ayala, of MN

Darya Chehrezad, of CA

Morgan A. Perkins, of MD

Stanley Storey Phillips, of MT

/4

2018-01-30 PN1436-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Angela P. Aggeler, and ending Mari Jain Womack, which 93 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 8, 2018. (93 PROMOTIONS)

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Minister-Counselor:

Angela P. Aggeler, of DC

Peter H. Barlerin, of MD

Colombia A. Barrosse, of VA

MaryKay Loss Carlson, of VA

Julie J. Chung, of CA

Karen Kaska Davidson, of TX

Kelly Colleen Degnan, of DC

Chayan C. Dey, of FL

John E. Fitzsimmons, of MD

Eric Alan Flohr, of FL

Anthony Godfrey, of VA

Peter T. Guerin, of NM

Lisa Kennedy Heller, of VA

Nicholas Manning Hill, of NY

J. Baxter Hunt III, of VA

Henry V. Jardine, of VA

Lisa A. Johnson, of VA

Steven C. Koutsis, of MD

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, of DC

Karin Melka Lang, of VA

Jeanne Marie Maloney, of VA

Ervin J. Massinga, of WA

Brian David McFeeters, of VA

Karen E. Mummaw, of VA

Richard Carl Paschall III, of VA

Lisa J. Peterson, of VA

Jo Ann E. Scandola, of DC

Mark Toner, of MD

Frank J. Whitaker, of SC

Michael L. Yoder, of VA

Andrew R. Young, of CA

David J. Young, of VA

Stephen Arthur Young, of FL

/33

The following-named Career Members of the Foreign Service for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Counselor:

Begzat Bix Aliu, of VA

Robert Lloyd Batchelder, of VA

Andrea Renee Brouillette-Rodriguez, of VA

Rachel L. Cooke, of VA

Susannah E. Cooper, of MD

Jason Richard Cubas, of FL

Abigail Lee Dressel, of CT

Marion Johnston Ekpuk, of VA

Jill Marie Esposito, of VT

Daniel J. Fennell, of FL

Eric Vincent Gaudiosi, of MD

William Robert Gill Jr., of VA

Ryan M. Gliha, of AZ

David J. Greene, of DC

Keith Lee Heffern, of VA

Elizabeth K. Horst, of MN

Martin T. Kelly, of FL

Angela M. Kerwin, of VA

William H. Klein, of CA

Kimberly Krhounek, of DC

Christopher A. Landberg, of DC

John David Lippeatt, of VA

Gregory Daniel LoGerfo, of VA

Ian Joseph McCary, of NY

David Ray McCawley, of CA

John W. McIntyre, of TX

Heather Christine Merritt, of VA

Mario McGwinn Mesquita, of VA

Marcus Robert Micheli, of CA

Andrew Thomas Miller, of VA

Mark David Moody, of MO

Joyce Winchel Namde, of VA

Scott McConnin Oudkirk, of VA

Jonathan G. Pratt, of CA

Jose Kieran Santacana, of DC

Jennifer L. Savage, of FL

William Steuer, of TX

Donn-Allan G. Titus, of FL

Christina Tomlinson, of VA

John E. Warner, of VA

Kami Ann Witmer, of PA

/41

The following-named Career Members of the Foreign Service for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, and a Consular Officer and a Secretary in the Diplomatic Service of the United States of America:

Paul Avallone, of FL

Philip Karl Barth, of VA

Wade L. Boston, of VA

David L. Duncan, of UT

Vida M. Gecas, of VA

Glenn E. Harms, of VA

Joy D. Herrera-Baca, of VA

Tuan Q. Hoang, of WA

Jason R. Kight, of VA

Jacqueline Levesque, of VA

Luis A. Matus, of VA

Chanda C. McDaniel, of MO

William I. Mellott, of AZ

Thad Osterhout, of VA

Michael C. Ranger, of VA

Paul L. Schaefer, of VA

Robert A. Solomon, of PA

Mark A. Wilson, of VA

Mari Jain Womack, of TX

/19

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Clueless @StateDept: Come Up With Leadership Precepts? #LookIntheFAM

Posted: 1:45 am ET
 

 

Back in November, following the departure of Maliz Beams as State Department Counselor and redesigner-in-chief, the State Department released a statement on who takes over her role in leading the redesign efforts: “Effective immediately, Christine Ciccone will step in to lead the redesign effort and manage its daily activities.”

Politico recently reported about the State Department’s rebranding of Tillerson’s redesign; it will now be called “The Impact Initiative.” (see Tillerson’s #Redesign Gets Rebranded as “The Impact Initiative” or TII But Why Not TELII?).

We understand that Christine Ciccone is no longer leading the redesign effort. Career diplomat Dan B. Smith is reportedly now tapped as the head of The Impact Initiative. Ambassador Smith was previously a U.S. Ambassador to Greece. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research on February 14, 2014, and serves in that position to-date.

The Impact Initiative recently meet, and apparently the space aliens running the “leadership coalition” meeting (attended by a group of ambassadors, former ambassadors, and a few mid-levels) asked the senior officials to come up with “leadership precepts.” The group pointed out to the space aliens who landed in Foggy Bottom that the State Department already have them.

And the best news is — they’re already in the Foreign Affairs Manual!

We’ve previously written about this in 2014, but looks like the FAM cite was updated in 2015, so we’re republishing them below (see Leadership and Management Principles for State Department Employees).  

 

3 FAM 1214
Leadership and Management Principles for State Department Employees
(CT:PER-771; 06-03-2015)
(Uniform State/USAID/BBG/Commerce/Foreign Service Corps-USDA)
(Applies to Civil Service and Foreign Service Employees)

a. The Department relies on all employees to represent the U.S. Government in the course of carrying out its mission. The Foreign Service Core Precepts and the Office of Personnel Managements Executive Core Qualifications, in addition to existing Leadership and Management Tenets, such as those established by Consular Affairs, Diplomatic Security, Economic and Business Affairs, and Public Diplomacy, set clear expectations for their employees. Additionally, the Department as an institution embraces an overarching set of Leadership Principles. The established Department-wide Leadership Principles apply to and can be used by anyone, regardless of rank or employment status (e.g. Civil or Foreign Service, Locally Employed Staff, or contractors).

b. Supervisors and managers have a unique opportunity and responsibility to lead by example and foster the highest attainable degree of employee morale and productivity. However, you do not need to be a manager to be the leader. The following principles reflect the values the Department believes are important for all employees to cultivate:

(1) Model Integrity Hold yourself and others to the highest standards of conduct, performance, and ethics, especially when faced with difficult situations. Act in the interest of and protect the welfare of your team and organization. Generously share credit for the accomplishments of the organization. Take responsibility for yourself, your resources, your decisions, and your action;

(2) Plan Strategically Develop and promote attainable, shared short and long term goals with stakeholders for your project, program, team, or organization. Provide a clear focus, establish expectations, give direction, and monitor results. Seek consensus and unified effort by anticipating, preventing, and discouraging counter-productive confrontation;

(3) Be Decisive and Take Responsibility Provide clear and concise guidance, training, and support, and make effective use of resources. Grant employees ownership over their work. Take responsibility when mistakes are made and treat them as an opportunity to learn. Formally and informally recognize high quality performance;

(4) Communicate Express yourself clearly and effectively. Be approachable and listen actively. Offer and solicit constructive feedback from others. Be cognizant of the morale and attitude of your team. Anticipate varying points of view by soliciting input;

(5) Learn and Innovate Constantly Strive for personal and professional improvement. Display humility by acknowledging shortcomings and working continuously to improve your own skills and substantive knowledge. Foster an environment where fresh perspectives are encouraged and new ideas thrive. Promote a culture of creativity and exploration;

(6) Be Self-Aware Be open, sensitive to others, and value diversity. Be tuned in to the overall attitude and morale of the team and be proactive about understanding and soliciting varying points of view;

(7) Collaborate Establish constructive working relationships with all mission elements to further goals. Share best practices, quality procedures, and innovative ideas to eliminate redundancies and reduce costs. Create a sense of pride and mutual support through openness;

(8) Value and Develop People Empower others by encouraging personal and professional development through mentoring, coaching and other opportunities. Commit to developing the next generation. Cultivate talent to maximize strengths and mitigate mission-critical weaknesses;

(9) Manage Conflict – Encourage an atmosphere of open dialogue and trust. Embrace healthy competition and ideas. Anticipate, prevent, and discourage counter-productive confrontation. Follow courageously by dissenting respectfully when appropriate; and

(10) Foster Resilience Embrace new challenges and learn from them. Persist in the face of adversity. Take calculated risks, manage pressure, be flexible and acknowledge failures. Show empathy, strength, and encouragement to others in difficult times;

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GodPod Denizen About to Spend More Time With Family? #GoodbyeFoggyBottom

Posted: 1:34 am ET
 

 
 
The hills are alive with the sound of leaving
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The Hill fills the hearts with the sound of leaving
And hearts wants to sing every song it hears …
*

via reactiongifs.com

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Tillerson’s #Redesign Gets Rebranded as “The Impact Initiative” or TII But Why Not TELII?

Posted: 4:01 am ET

 

Via Politico’s Nahal Toosi:

“State Department officials say that talk of closing down entire wings of the department has been replaced with narrower plans to upgrade technology and improve training. Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have declared dead on arrival a Tillerson-supported White House plan to cut State’s budget by 30 percent.
[…]
State Department staffers expect to receive an update as early as this week on a new phase in Tillerson’s organizational plans, according to senior department official. Out is the term “redesign” — which spawned confusion, dissent and leaks. The new stage is being called “The Impact Initiative,” which will implement changes that Tillerson has deemed achievable priorities in the face of bureaucratic and congressional hurdles. (Tillerson aides insist he’s not rebranding the overall effort, just moving from the poorly named “redesign” phase, which gathered ideas, to a new one that implements them.)
[…]
The senior State Department official said Tillerson also is planning to select someone to oversee the Impact Initiative but declined to say whom. (The Impact Initiative is shorthand for a longer moniker that Tillerson, an engineer by training, signed off on: “Leadership + Modernization = Greater Mission Impact.”)

Oh, dear, that longer moniker was worth the brainstorming.

Let’s see if they’re going to insist on hiring another outside overseer who will stick around for three exciting months.

Tillerson’s aides may not call TII or “The Impact Initiative” a rebranding effort but who are they actually kidding, pray tell?  TII can also be called ‘Tillerson Impact Initiative’ and they can even keep the same acronym, hey?!  It is what it is, a rebranding effort because very few are buying what they’re selling.

Actually, we’re curious why no one came up with calling this TELII or ‘The Employee-Led Impact Initiative.” Or ‘The Agile Employee Impact Initiative’ (TAEII). Or why settle with “greater” and not just call this ‘The Greatest Mission Impact Initiative’ (TGMII)?

Take it, it’s free. You’re welcome!

Tillerson will reportedly testify about the status of this new TII before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the end of February. Help us contain our excitement, please.

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Career Diplomat Philip Goldberg to be Charge d‘Affaires at U.S. Embassy Havana

Posted: 2:06 am ET

 

Reuters is reporting that Cuba has granted a visa to senior career diplomat Philip Goldberg who will soon take up post as  charge d‘affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana,  “He will head a mission that Washington stripped of many staff four months ago amid a dispute over mystery illnesses among its diplomats on the Communist-run island. He is likely to spend about six months in the position though the length of his stint is not certain, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Ambassador Goldberg was previously Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Bolivia) 2006-2008Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (2010-2013) and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Philippines) 2013-2016.

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Trump Orders the Establishment of a National Vetting Center to “Identify Individuals Who Present a Threat”

Posted: 2:56 am ET

 

The Presidential Memorandum is titled “Optimizing the Use of Federal Government Information in Support of the National Vetting Enterprise”. On February 6, Trump ordered the establishment of an interagency National Vetting Center “to identify individuals who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security, or public safety.”

Border and immigration security are essential to ensuring the safety, security, and prosperity of the United States. The Federal Government must improve the manner in which executive departments and agencies (agencies) coordinate and use intelligence and other information to identify individuals who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security, or public safety. To achieve this goal, the United States Government must develop an integrated approach to use data held across national security components. I am, therefore, directing the establishment of a National Vetting Center (Center), subject to the oversight and guidance of a National Vetting Governance Board (Board), to coordinate the management and governance of the national vetting enterprise.

The National Vetting Governance Board will have the following composition:

The Board shall consist of six senior executives, one designated by each of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The chair of the Board will be rotational:

The chair of the Board shall rotate annually among the individuals designated from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  The director of the Center shall serve as an observer at Board meetings.

More:

(a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish the Center to support the national vetting enterprise.

(i)    The Center shall coordinate agency vetting efforts to identify individuals who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security, or public safety.  Agencies may conduct any authorized border or immigration vetting activities through or with the Center.  Agencies may support these additional activities, provided that such support is consistent with applicable law and the policies and procedures described in subsections (b) and (d) of this section.

(ii)   The Secretary of Homeland Security shall designate a full‑time senior officer or employee of the Department of Homeland Security to serve as the director of the Center.  The Secretary of State and the Attorney General shall detail or assign senior officials from their respective agencies to serve as deputy directors of the Center.

(iii)  The director shall lead the day-to-day operations of the Center, communicate vetting needs and priorities to other agencies engaged in the national vetting enterprise, and make resourcing recommendations to the Board established pursuant to subsection (e) of this section.

(iv)   Agencies shall provide to the Center access to relevant biographic, biometric, and related derogatory information for its use to the extent permitted by and consistent with applicable law and policy, including the responsibility to protect sources and methods.  Agencies and the Center shall, on a consensus basis, determine the most appropriate means or methods to provide access to this information to the Center.

(v)    The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shall, on a continuing basis, work together to ensure, consistent with the authorities and available resources of each official’s respective agency, that the daily operations and functions of the Center, as determined by the Board, are supported, including through the assignment of legal and other appropriate personnel, and the provision of other necessary resources, consistent with applicable law, including the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535).  To the extent permitted by law, details or assignments to the Center should be without reimbursement.

(vi)   The day-to-day operations of the Center shall be executed by appropriate personnel from agencies participating in the national vetting enterprise, to the extent permitted by law, in a manner that adequately facilitates active and timely coordination and collaboration in the execution of the Center’s functions.  Agencies shall participate in the Center and shall provide adequate physical presence to enable the Center to effectively accomplish its mission.  To the extent appropriate, additional agency co-location may be virtual rather than physical.  Each agency shall fund its participation in the Center, consistent with the agency’s mission and applicable law.  There shall be no interagency financing of the Center.

(vii)  The Center shall not commence operations until the President has approved the implementation plan described in subsection (g) of this section.

Deliverable:

Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, shall, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and using the NSPM‑4 process, jointly submit to the President for approval a plan to implement this memorandum.

Read the full memorandum here.

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Jackie Wolcott to be U.S. Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UN Vienna (UNVIE)

Posted: 1:38 am ET

 

On January 12, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate Jackie Wolcott to be the next U.S. Representative to the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The WH released the following brief bio:

Jackie Wolcott of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States of America with the rank of Ambassador, on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Also, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the Rank of Ambassador. Ms. Wolcott has served as commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom since 2016, following service as the Commission’s executive director from 2010-2015. She served in the Department of State as Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation (2008-2009), Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador (2006-2008), U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and Special Representative of the President of the United States for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with Rank of Ambassador in Geneva, Switzerland (2003-2006) and Alternate Representative to the Board of Governors and General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria (2004-2005). Ms. Wolcott earned a B.A. from Bowling Green State University.

Ambassador Walcott was a member of the Trump transition team and was also part of the Agency Landing Team at the State Department following Trump’s election (see Trump Transition: Agency Landing Team For @StateDept Includes Old Familiar Names):

According to state.gov, Ambassador Wolcott was previously appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council. She also previously served as United States Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and as Special Representative of the President of the United States for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from December 2003 through February of 2006.  She had been Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (State/OI) from 2001 to 2003.  Ballotpedia says that she is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. Click here for her bio from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom where she is commissioner.

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@StateDept Runs Out of Sr. Officials to Swear-In New Asst Secretary For Public Affairs?

Posted: 3:32 am ET

 

On January 4, the WH announced the President’s appointment of Michelle Giuda, the former Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Ms Giuda has been  Senior VP for PR firm, Weber Shandwick (see PR SVP and Ex-Gingrich Aide Michelle Giuda to be Asst Secretary of State for Public Affairs). State/Flickr says the swearing-in photo was taken on Friday, February 2, but the caption itself says Saturday, February 3.  The State Department spokesperson who reports to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs tweeted a welcome to her new boss, who apparently was sworn-in on Saturday, February 3.

So the new Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs was not only sworn-in on a Saturday, she also did not have any senior State Department official to swear her in? Secretary Tillerson is on travel to Bariloche, Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; and Kingston, Jamaica. And it looks like Ms. Guida’s new boss U/S Steve Goldstein is also traveling with Secretary Tillerson.  Deputy Secretary Sullivan was spending his weekend somewhere, it was the weekend afterall. We’re sure the State Department has a reasonable explanation for this Saturday swearing-in across the park, it looks like, and also about those exciting red boxes on its org chart.

Jennifer Wicks from the Offie (sic) of Presidential Appointments officiates the swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Michelle Giuda in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 2018. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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