Senate Confirms @StateDept Officials and Ambassadors Before Leaving Town #MoreStillWaiting

 

The U.S. Senate adjourned on Thursday, October 11, to reconvene on November 13. Before leaving town, it confirmed three assistant secretaries for the State Department (WHA, CSO, H), four ambassadors (all career diplomats), and one ambassador at large. In late September, the Senate also confirmed two nominees for the United Nations.

The list below includes ten other nominees who already had their confirmation hearings and are pending on the Executive Calendar. There is no schedule for a full Senate vote for them at this time, although that could still happen after the Senate reconvenes next month.

Note that there are only 19 work days left for the year in the Senate’s tentative schedule (PDF). There are approximately 60 nominees pending in the Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and “currently undergoing committee consideration” as of October 14, 2018;  at least three have been nominated in 2017 and renominated in January 2018. Tick-tock.

STATE DEPARTMENT

2018-10-11 PN1708 Department of State | Kimberly Breier, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs)

2018-10-11 PN2030 Department of State | Denise Natali, of New Jersey, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations)

2018-10-11 PN2386 Department of State | Mary Elizabeth Taylor, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Legislative Affairs).

 

AMBASSADORS

2018-10-11 PN2239 SURINAME | Karen L. Williams, of Missouri, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Suriname.

2018-10-11 PN2267 NICARAGUA |Kevin K. Sullivan, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Nicaragua.

2018-10-11 PN2278 SOMALIA | Donald Y. Yamamoto, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

2018-10-11 PN2324  BANGLADESH | Earl Robert Miller, of Michigan, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

 

AMBASSADOR AT LARGE

2018-10-11 PN2236 Department of State | John Cotton Richmond, of Virginia, to be Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, with the rank of Ambassador at Large.

 

UNITED NATIONS

2018-09-24 PN1448 United Nations | Jackie Wolcott, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-09-12 PN2019 Department of State | Cherith Norman Chalet, of New Jersey, to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-09-12 PN2020 Department of State | Cherith Norman Chalet, of New Jersey, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform.

 

PENDING NOMINATIONS ON THE EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

2018-05-22  PN1280 Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia.

2018-06-26 PN1768 Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

2018-06-26 PN1762 Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-07-26 PN1638  Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.

2018-07-31 PN2140 Ellen E. McCarthy, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research).

2018-08-22 PN2022 Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.

2018-09-18 PN2206 Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.

2018-09-18 PN2237  Daniel N. Rosenblum, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan

2018-09-18 PN2277 Kip Tom, of Indiana, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

2018-09-26 PN2235 Francisco Luis Palmieri, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Honduras.

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Foreign Service Labor Relations Board Rules For @StateDept in 2014 MSI Case

AFSA has recently informed its members that the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board (FSLRB) has ruled for the State Department in the 2014 Meritorious Service Increase (MSI) dispute. The ruling affects approximately 270 Foreign Service employees: 

AFSA regrets to inform our members that on September 21, 2018, the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board (FSLRB) granted the Department of State’s exceptions (i.e., appeal) and set aside the Foreign Service Grievance Board’s (FSGB) December 8, 2017 Decision, which had found that the Department violated the procedural precepts by not paying Meritorious Service Increases (MSI) to approximately 277 Foreign Service employees who were recommended but not reached for promotion by the 2014 Selection Boards.  AFSA argued that the Department was required to confer MSIs on all eligible employees (up to the 10% limit set forth in the precepts) who were recommended but not reached for promotion.  The Department argued that it had the unilateral discretion to give MSIs to only 5% of employees ranked but not reached for promotion, since 5% was below the 10% limit.

Rather than give substantial deference, as is normally the case, to the FSGB’s interpretation of the parties’ agreement (i.e., the promotion precepts), two of the three FSLRB members (including the Administration’s appointee to the FSLRB) agreed with the Department’s arguments and found that the FSGB had misinterpreted the precepts.  The third member, Retired Ambassador Herman Cohen, dissented from the majority decision.  When a party seeks to establish that an arbitrator (in this case, the Grievance Board) misinterpreted an agreement, the party must provide that the decision “fails to draw its essence from the agreement.”  This is an extremely high burden to meet.  According to the case law, “great deference” is given to the arbitrator’s interpretation of the agreement “because it is the arbitrator’s construction of the agreement for which the parties have bargained.”   In this case, however, the FSLRB chose not to defer to the Grievance Board, ignoring the “great deference” practice.  Unfortunately, the FSLRB’s decision is not subject to judicial review.

AFSA says that it is “extremely disappointed by this decision.” Its notice to members notes that it prevailed in two earlier cases, the 2013 and 2014 MSI disputes. It also informed members that despite this ruling, it plans to proceed with the 2015 and 2016 MSI cases before the Grievance Board.

Excerpt from FSLRB ruling says:

The Grievance Board stated that it was “indisputably true” that, by its plain terms, the phrase “no more than [10%]” in the agreement means that the Agency may award MSIs to “10% or less” of eligible employees.29 As discussed above, the Grievance Board should have ended its analysis there, with the agreement’s plain wording. Instead, the Grievance Board found that, because the parties had different interpretations, the wording was ambiguous.30 But wording that is clear on its face does not become ambiguous simply because the parties disagree as to its meaning.31 Rather, a contract is ambiguous if it is susceptible to two different and plausible interpretations, each of which is consistent with the contract wording. 32 The interpretation adopted by the Grievance Board – that “no more than [10%]” means the Agency must award MSIs to no less than 10% of eligible employees33 – is not consistent with the plain meaning of the agreement’s wording. Consequently, it is not a plausible interpretation of the agreement.

FLRA Chairman Colleen Duffy Kiko who was confirmed by the Senate in November 2017 serves as the Chairperson of the FSLRB. The two other members of the FSLRB are Stephen Ledford, who previously served as the Director of Labor and Employee Relations at the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and was sworn on his third term with FSLRB in 2015, and Ambassador (ret.) Herman J. Cohen, a career diplomat and specialist in African and European affairs who was appointed to his first term with the FSLRB in October 2015.

In his dissent, Ambassador Cohen writes:

For five years prior to 2014, the year covered by this case, the promotion precepts, negotiated between management and the union, were always the same: MSIs will be awarded to those recommended for promotion at a maximum of ten percent of those on the list, in rank order. With this practice having been followed year after year, it is quite normal that the union had the right to believe that the number would never be less than ten percent pursuant to the negotiated precepts. Ten percent was not part of a sliding scale. It was an agreed amount.

If management had changed that number from year to year, the situation for 2014 would have been totally different. The union would have demanded the right to negotiate that number.

For this reason, management’s decision to unilaterally change the number of MSIs was contrary to the precepts, despite the ambiguous language. Historical practice said that ten percent of those recommended, but not promoted, would receive MSIs. Secondly, management gave a reason for awarding only five percent MSIs in 2014. Management said it was “exercising its budgetary authority” to make the reduction. In other words, the funds were needed elsewhere.
[…]
In the specific year 2014, it appears that the need to save money by reducing MSIs had no relationship to overall budgetary needs. In short, management was saving money on MSIs, and using that “salary money” to pay for 35 sets of ambassadorial furniture, as one possible example. In 2014, management provided no reason to justify this reduction in this highest priority “salary” by higher priority needs elsewhere. Neither, to my knowledge, was there an overall government-wide freeze in MSIs that year.

The case is U.S. State Department v. AFSA. The FSLRB decision is available to read here or see this link: FS-AR-0007Dec 9-21-18

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@USUN Amb Nikki Haley Resigns, Replacement Audition Now On!

 

 

 

Related posts:

@StateDept’s Aviation Program Down to Just 206 Aircraft, Also Spends $72M on Unnecessary Services

Per 2 FAM 800: INL/A serves as the Departments aviation service provider (with the exception of aircraft charters managed by A/LM/OPS for logistics support of nonrecurring and unpredictable requirements like oddly-sized shipments, evacuations and other emergency assistance to Posts) and is coordinator of all aviation related to AGB [Aviation Governing Board] approved acquisitions.  INL/A is responsible for complying with the provisions of this chapter as well as OMB Circulars A-126, A-76, A-11, and A-94 and Federal Management Regulation 10233. Additionally, as part of the Departments Management Control Plan (see 2 FAM 020), INL/A must establish cost-effective management control systems to ensure that aviation programs are managed effectively, efficiently, economically, and with integrity.

Excerpt below via State/OIG:  Audit of the Department of State’s Administration of its Aviation Program (Sept 2018).

The Department is not consistently administering its aviation program in accordance with Federal requirements or Department guidelines. Specifically, OIG found instances in which significant aviation operations were undertaken without the knowledge or approval of the AGB, which is required by Department policy. In addition, the AGB is not fulfilling its responsibilities to evaluate the usage and cost effectiveness of aircraft services, as required by Office of Management and Budget Circulars and Department guidance. Furthermore, INL administer ed country-specific aviation programs differently depending on whether a post used the worldwide aviation support services contract. As a result of limited AGB oversight and the absence of evaluations to determine the appropriate usage and cost effectiveness of the Department’s aircraft operations worldwide, the Department is not optimally managing aviation resources and spent $72 million on unnecessary services from September 2013 to August 2017.

Snapshot: The Department’s aviation program was created in 1976 to support narcotics interdiction and drug crop eradication programs. The aviation program has since grown to a fleet of 206 aircraft and aviation operations that extend from South America to Asia and include transportation services for chief of mission personnel. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Department owned more aircraft than any other non-military agency and was one of three agencies with the most “non-operational” aircraft. At the time of GAO’s analysis, the Department had 248 aircraft; the Department has since decreased that number to 206. As shown in Figure 1, as of January 2018, the aircraft inventory included airplanes (fixed-wing), helicopters (rotary-wing), and unmanned aircraft.

As of January 2018, the Department had aviation operating bases overseas in five countries —Colombia, Peru, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq —and a support base at Patrick Air Force Base located in Melbourne, FL. The Department closed aviation programs in Cyprus and Pakistan during 2017. The Department plans to re-open an operating base in Guatemala. In addition, the Department has two dedicated chartered aircraft located in Cartersville,GA, and Nairobi, Kenya.

The Department’s Aviation Governing Board (AGB) is responsible for providing oversight of aviation activities, including approving policies, budgets, and strategic plans. The AGB was established in 2011. It is chaired by the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and has three other voting members—the Assistant Secretaries (or designees) from the Bureaus of Diplomatic Security, South and Central Asian Affairs, and Near Eastern Affairs.

INL/A consists of approximately 60 Civil Service personnel and 13 personal services contractors. To carry out the Department’s aircraft operations, maintenance, and logistics for the country-specific aviation programs, INL/A administers and oversees a worldwide aviation support services contract that provides a contract workforce of more than 1,500 personnel. According to an INL/A official, starting November 1, 2017, DynCorp International began its fifth extension of a $4.9 billion worldwide aviation services contract.

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Present at the Creation Also (Our Years of Wrecking Ball Diplomacy and Swagger) #grabthisbooktitlenow

 

On October 3, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations issued a ruling on the Alleged Violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America).  Excerpt via:

(1) unanimously, that the United States of America, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, must remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May 2018 to the free exportation to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran of (i) medicines and medical devices; (ii) foodstuffs and agricultural commodities; and (iii) spare parts, equipment and associated services (including warranty, maintenance, repair services and inspections) necessary for the safety of civil aviation;

(2) unanimously, that the United States of America must ensure that licences and necessary authorizations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the goods and services referred to in point (1);

(3) unanimously, that both Parties must refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.

The Trump Administration responded by pulling out the United States from the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran  (PDF) and from the 1961 Optional Protocol on Dispute Resolution to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (PDF). The latter in connection with a case that challenges the USG’s move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to NSA John Bolton. Per transcript of the WH Briefing, Mr. Bolton said that “The United States remains a party to the underlying Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and we expect all other parties to abide by their international obligations under the Convention.”

ICYMI, read the following from Chimène Keitner who previously served as Counselor on International Law in the State Department:

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Ex-Amb. to Estonia James D. Melville Writes Why He Quit

 

On June 29, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James Melville announced on Facebook his intent to retire from the Foreign Service after 33 years of public service. See US Ambassador to Estonia James Melville Pens Resignation on FB Over Trump Policies.  On October 3, WaPo published his op-ed explaining his departure.

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Snapshot: NIV Adjudications For Student and Exchange Visitor Visas, FY2012-2017

Via GAO:

NIV adjudications for student and exchange visitor visas decreased by about 2 percent from fiscal years 2012 through 2017 (1.01 million to 993,000) overall, but experienced a peak in fiscal year 2015 of 1.2 million.

State officials partly attributed the overall changes in student and exchange visitor visa adjudications to the extension of the validity period of such visas for Chinese nationals, which represented the largest single country of nationality for student and exchange visitor visas in fiscal year 2017 (19 percent). In November 2014, the United States extended the validity period of the F visa for academic students from 1 year to 5 years. State officials noted that similar to tourist and business visitor visas, there was an initial surge in Chinese F-visa applicants due to the new 5-year F-visa validity period that began in fiscal year 2015, but the number dropped subsequently because Chinese students with such 5-year visas no longer needed to apply as frequently for F visas. State data for this time period indicate that the number of visa adjudications for F visas for Chinese nationals increased from about 267,000 in fiscal year 2014 to 301,000 in fiscal year 2015, followed by a decline of 172,000 in fiscal year 2016 and 134,000 in fiscal year 2017.

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Oh, don’t forget to give this a read. WH considered ban for Chinese students? They make up 19% of all student visas issued in FY2017.

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Snapshot: Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) Refusals/Issuances FY2012-2017

Via GAO:

The percentage of NIVs refused—known as the refusal rate—increased from fiscal years 2012 through 2016, and was about the same in fiscal year 2017 as the previous year. As shown in figure 8, the NIV refusal rate rose from about 14 percent in fiscal year 2012 to about 22 percent in fiscal year 2016, and remained about the same in fiscal year 2017; averaging about 18 percent over the time period. As a result, the total number of NIVs issued peaked in fiscal year 2015 at about 10.89 million, before falling in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to 10.38 million and 9.68 million, respectively.

 

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Amb Haley’s Take on UNGA Laughter Heard Around the World Generates More Laughter

 

BONUS tweets:

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US Embassy Senegal Inaugurates New Regional Tactical Training Center

On September 6, the State Department and the Government of Senegal inaugurated a new regional counterterrorism training facility in Thiès, Senegal.

U.S. and Senegalese officials formally dedicated the new Regional Tactical Training Center, which was funded, constructed, and equipped through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. The new center is ATA’s first regional training facility in West Africa.

Once fully operational, the training center, part of a pre-existing Senegalese training facility, will reportedly expand ATA’s capacity to train Senegalese and other West African partner nation law enforcement officers at this regional counterterrorism training hub. ATA will provide training in hard skills such as crisis response, explosive incident countermeasures, post-blast investigations, and rural border patrol operations.

Photo via US Embassy Dakar

Below via:

Senegal Regional Tactical Training Center

With the success and subsequent growth of its regional training program in Jordan, ATA determined there was an operational need and an opportunity in Senegal to develop a West African regional training center.

ATA conducted a site survey in March 2015 at the pre-existing Tactical Training Center in Zone 7 (CET-7) in Thiès, Senegal. In January 2018, officials from both nations laid the cornerstone to begin construction of the new facility.

The new construction combined with the tactical capabilities of the pre-existing facility provide a modern regional training hub capable of conducting up to four ATA training programs simultaneously and in a more cost-efficient manner.

The RTTC includes a 100-person-capacity conference room, two classrooms, and an adjacent 900-square-foot warehouse with a secured armory, storage and staging rooms, a workshop area, and office space. A modular shoot-house with movable and interchangeable walls, an observation catwalk, and roof is planned for completion by September 2019.

The location of the new training center at the CET-7 affords ATA the use of the pre-existing, on-site tactical training and life-support facilities, including a simulated urban village, pistol and rifle ranges, more than 25 kilometers of terrain for land navigation and tracking, and a demolition range.

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