Senate Confirms Joel Danies (Gabon) and Peter Vrooman (Rwanda)

Posted: 1:03 am ET

 

On February 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following career nominees to be U.S. Ambassadors to Gabon and to Rwanda:

Executive Calendar #617 – Joel Danies, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Executive Calendar #667 – Peter Hendrick Vrooman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.

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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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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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WH’s Pick For Barbados Ambassadorship “Should Feel Free to Put on His Tinfoil Hat” Sez @SenSasse Spox

Posted: 1:08 am ET
 

 

The WH announced the Rizzuto nomination early last month (see Prominent Businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr to be Ambassador to Barbados, But Wait – #ForgotSomething?). Now CNN’s @KFILE has a piece about the nominee’s um … colorful Twitter history. Senator Cruz’s wife Heidi is an architect of the North American Union? Whoa-ha-ha! Who knew about the NAU? We’d like a job there as long as we’re posted in Canada.

GOP Senator Ben Sasse’s spox released a statement saying the nominee “should feel free to put on his tinfoil hat and visit our office with evidence for his salacious conspiracy theories and cuckoo allegations.” Oh, wow! Is he just saying that, and then the Senator will later vote to confirm the nominee? As of this writing, the SFRC does not have a schedule for Mr. Rizzuto’s confirmation hearing.  But we should be ready with the popcorn, anyway.  There will be a hearing, unless he withdraw his name for consideration, which happens with more frequency these days by the way, but it’s not a bad thing, really. Or he doesn’t, and then there will be a cliffhanger on whether he gets the Barbados post or not. It’ll be a ratings bonanza.

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Oil Executive Francis R. Fannon to be Asst Secretary For the Bureau of Energy Resources

Posted: 3:25 am ET

 

On January 12, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate Francis R. Fannon to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources (. The WH released the following brief bio:

Francis R. Fannon of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources). Mr. Fannon has been a businessman in the global energy and resources industries, an attorney, and a senior staffer in the U.S. Senate. He became partner of the Coefficient Group in Washington, D.C. in 2017. Before that, Mr. Fannon was head of corporate affairs at BHP Billiton and senior director of Murphy Oil Corporation, both in Washington, D.C. A senior staffer in the U.S. Senate, he served as counsel to the Committee on Environment & Public Works (2003-2007), where he assisted in the drafting, negotiation, and ultimate passage of the seminal Energy Policy Act of 2005, senior legislative assistant in the Office of U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (2001-2003), and legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Pete V. Domenici (2000-2001). Prior to joining the Senate, he worked as an attorney in Washington D.C.

Mr. Fannon earned a B.A. from Radford University, a M.A. from the Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, and a J.D. from Sturm College of Law, University of Denver.

If confirmed, Mr. Fannon would become the first Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources. Two prior nominees to this position were not acted by the Senate in 2012, and again in 2015.

  • Carlos Pascual (Nominations of February 17, 2012; April 23, 2013; and January 6, 2014, not acted upon by the Senate.)
  • Amos J. Hochstein (Nomination of October 8, 2015, not acted upon by the Senate.)

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Trump’s Year 2: Government Shutdown Starts and Ends With Bang Your Head on the Wall

Posted: 2:09 am ET

 

A follow-up to our post,@StateDept Tells Employees There’s “Enough Time” and It’s Updating Contingency Plans For “Orderly Shutdown”, the Senate voted to end the government shutdown by midday on January 22 and sent the bill to the House. After COB on January 22, President Trump signed the Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act 2018. The government is now funded until February 8th, but who knows what happens after that …. will there be another stopgap funding bill then or are going to see another shutdown in time for Valentine’s Day? Some countries somewhere are laughing at this, our great spectacle.

The following memo was sent out by SecDef Mattis the day before the shutdown.

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@StateDept Tells Employees There’s “Enough Time” and It’s Updating Contingency Plans For “Orderly Shutdown”

Posted: 9:59 am PT
Updated: Jan 22, 2018; 3:12 pm PT

 

Update: Late January 19, the State Department released its Guidance on Operations during a Lapse in Appropriations which supersedes the previous guidance issued December 9, 2017. USAID’s guidance released at 7:30 pm on January 19 is available here

Related to our prior post — As Govt #Shutdown Looms Large, @StateDept Still “Reviewing All Available Options” #MissingGuidance — we’ve learned that Acting DGHR and “M Coordinator” Bill Todd sent out a message to State Department employees this morning concerning planning for a potential lapse in appropriations.

He tells employees that “The Administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur. There is enough time to prevent a lapse in appropriations.”

He talks about “prudent management” and working on updating the agency’s contingency plans for “executing an orderly shutdown” should there be a lapse in appropriations:

“… prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding, and that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.”

The potential shutdown is tonight and Tillerson’s godpod people are still working on guidance that should have been out a week ago?

For posts whose workday doesn’t start on Monday but starts tomorrow and Sunday, what are they supposed to do with less than 12 hours to go? The December 2017 guidance says that “Posts that normally operate on Saturdays or Sundays will immediately commence procedures.”

But … but … what procedures are they supposed to commence immediately if/when the shutdown happens tonight?

The message from A/DGHR and M Coordinator Bill Todd ends with “The uncertainty of the current circumstances puts our workforce in a difficult situation, and should a lapse occur, it could impose hardships on many employees as well as the people that we serve every day.”  Apparently, he also expressed commitment to providing employees “with updated and timely information on any further developments.”

Uh-oh.  Remember how many folks were furloughed in 2013?

We’ve heard that there are overseas posts already telling employees to just show up on Monday and that they will be told then who will be furloughed. We have not heard yet what will happen to posts that opens tomorrow and Sunday. Are we going to see updated guidance at 11:59 pm tonight? Will folks be working on those furlough lists/letters after midnight tonight?

Related posts:

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SFRC Clears Brownback, Poblete, Grenell, Evans, Danies, Trujillo, Plus Four Foreign Service Lists

Posted: 1:07 am ET

 

On January 18, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared some State Department nominees recently renominated by the White House, as well as four Foreign Service lists (see White House Sends @StateDept Renominations to the Senate).

 

STATE DEPARTMENT

The Honorable Samuel Dale Brownback, of Kansas, to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Dr. Yleem D. S. Poblete, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance).

 

AMBASSADORS

Mr. Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mr. James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg.

Mr. Joel Danies, of Maryland, 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 Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

The Honorable Carlos Trujillo, of Florida, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

FSO LIST:

PN1433 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (6) beginning Marc Clayton Gilkey, and ending Mark A. Myers, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1434 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (90) beginning Alyce S. Ahn, and ending Michele D. Woonacott, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1435 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (118) beginning Priya U. Amin, and ending Erik Z. Zahnen, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.
PN1436 – 1 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (93) beginning Angela P. Aggeler, and ending Mari Jain Womack, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 8, 2018.

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As Govt #Shutdown Looms Large, @StateDept Still “Reviewing All Available Options” #MissingGuidance

Posted: 8:23 pm PT

 

On January 18, the State Department spokesperson was asked about the the preparations for a potential government shutdown and the impact on the State Department. Here is one part of the response:

MS NAUERT: Yeah, well, first let me start off by mentioning to everyone here the current continuing resolution expires at midnight tomorrow, January the 19th. We are putting in place prudent management of this. Our Secretary’s office right now is reviewing all the available options as to how we should handle some of the decision-making going forward, if this were to happen, if there were to be a government shutdown. We will be prepared for all contingencies – I want to make that clear – including the possibility of a lapse. That would mean a government shutdown.

OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, has requested that all agencies determine ways to minimize the impact on the American people. Matt, I think that would fall under visas and passports and the like. This is what we’re doing here from the State Department. Some of those decisions are still being made, exactly what services we will be able to provide and which ones we will not.

The State Department spox and her bosses do not realized that passports and visas are fees-funded and not appropriated funds?

After the spox talked about the Secretary having “quite a bit of leeway” and embassies having “a lot of discretion over how they will handle their staffing”, she was asked “You sound very reassuring, like the Secretary has lots of leeway, the embassies have some leeway. It sounds very peaceful in your view. But does the State Department view this looming prospect as dangerous to national security on its face?”

MS NAUERT: Look, national security, and keeping the security and the safety of Americans is always a top priority. We will not pull back on that in any way, shape or form. We will continue to follow those things. We’re not going to get all excited about what may or may not happen. We will have contingency plans that we put in place, and we will adhere to those. Okay.

A State Department official cited by vox.com notes that “US missions usually designate people as essential employees who must work during government shutdowns; others are considered non-essential and therefore can’t work. As of Thursday, no such list has been created.”

Are they going to come up with the furlough lists after the actual shutdown occurs?

On December 4, 2017, the State Department released its Guidance on Operations During a Lapse in Appropriations. The guidance was prepared in anticipation of the lack of appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017. As of this writing, we have not seen an updated guidance for the looming shutdown tomorrow. We’ve asked the A/DGHR if this same guidance would apply if there is no CR by midnight Friday, January 19, the deadline to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the U.S. government open and avoid the shut down of federal agencies, but our question has so far been ignored.

Below is an excerpt from the December 2017 guidance that has not been updated for 2018 but potentially relevant to how the State Department will manage the agency in a shutdown.

Appropriated Funds: 1-Year, 2-Year, No-Year Funds

Departmental entities will continue to operate until their respective balances are insufficient to continue. While many appropriated funds expire after one year, the Department has some accounts that are 2-year funds or no-year funds.

If there is no appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017, Department elements using multi-year or no-year appropriations (with remaining available balances), trust funds, other permanent appropriations, fees, and the Working Capital Fund will fund and continue operations as long as this funding is available. Please note that due to reduced funding or revised authorities, such availability for FY 2018 may be different than what was in place for the previous lapse in appropriations.
[…]
If there is no appropriation or continuing resolution before midnight on December 8, 2017, posts and offices supported by single-year appropriations will immediately commence procedures [/] on the first business day following that date, i.e., Monday, December 11, 2017. Posts that normally operate on Saturdays or Sundays will immediately commence procedures [/] on Sunday, December 10, 2017.

Determination of Excepted Functions and Positions

A. Definition of Excepted Functions: “Excepted” functions that may be continued in an absence of appropriations include those necessary for emergencies involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property,” and those necessary for activities essential to national security, including the conduct of foreign affairs essential to national security. Employees performing “excepted” functions will continue to report to work and perform their duties.

B. Chief of Mission (COM) Authority Regarding Other U.S. Government Agency Employees Abroad: Under a lapse of appropriations, each U.S. government agency at post must determine which positions meet the criteria of “excepted” in the absence of appropriations. If an agency has determined that certain of its positions abroad do not meet those criteria, and that determination conflicts with the views of the Chief of Mission, then the Chief of Mission should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the parent agency concerned. Based on COM authority and the Department’s foreign affairs responsibilities, the COMs and Department’s judgment about what functions constitute the conduct of foreign relations essential to national security carries great weight. If the COM is unable to reach agreement with another agency on what functions should continue to be performed during a lapse of appropriations, the COM may refer the matter to Washington to see if the Department is able to reach an accommodation with the other agency.

The COM will be responsible for informing the most senior officials of other agencies at post immediately upon notification by OMB that we are to implement shutdown procedures.

C. Consular Operations Domestically and Abroad: Consular operations domestically and abroad will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported. The continuance of consular operations in such instances will be treated on a case-by-case basis by the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.

D. Use of E-Mail/Telegrams/Remote Access/Mobile Applications: The Department will be minimally staffed if a shutdown occurs. Department managers and post managers are asked to reduce message traffic to include only the most urgent need. Remote access and mobile programs, to include fobs, secure laptop services, and centrally managed Blackberry support services will be minimally staffed. Additionally, due to reduced domestic staff levels, all personnel should be cognizant that there are fewer personnel available to respond to incoming messages.

Non-excepted employees should turn off all Department-provided mobile devices, and excepted personnel should not communicate with non-excepted employees. For purposes of communicating work status to non-excepted employees, supervisors should have employee personal contact information on file.

Personnel

U.S. Direct Hires Employees

An immediate hiring freeze will apply during a lapse in appropriations. Entry-on-board dates for prospective employees with employment offers are suspended until the funding lapse is over. No new job offers may be made.

We will need to examine the text of any subsequent appropriation or continuing resolution to determine if the Congress has authorized retroactive pay and allowances. All non-excepted personnel support activities, such as unfunded security investigations, should be suspended.

Family Members and Locally Employed (LE) Staff at Post

Eligible Family Members employed at post follow the furlough procedures of other direct-hire U.S. government employees unless paid on the local pay plan. Application of the furlough to LE staff (including foreign nationals and locally resident U.S. citizens, whether on personal services agreements (PSA) or direct-hire appointments) depends on local labor laws in each country. In general, Department LE staff will be required either: a) to report to work as directed by their supervisor (i.e., if “excepted,” or if treated as “excepted” because these LE staff legally must be paid, provided that in no event may LE staff report to work if adequate supervision is unavailable); b) to be on excused absence leave per 3 FAM 7451, if LE staff must be paid under local labor law but may not actually work because, for example, adequate supervision is not available; or c) to be placed on ordinary furlough status.

HROs at each post will examine local labor law and make appropriate, post-specific determinations in conjunction with post management. The COM should inform other U.S. government agencies at post that, as in the past, the Department plans generally to treat those LE staff members as excepted whom the Department believes must be paid under host state labor laws regardless of attendance. HR/OE will be in touch with those posts that indicated during sequestration planning that their host country local laws allow personnel to be furloughed.

Part-Time Employees

Part-time employees should follow the same guidance as full-time employees.

WAE Employees and Seasonal Employees

Employees with a When-Actually-Employed (WAE) work schedule and seasonal employees are called to duty at identified periods of the year in accordance with pre-established conditions. WAE employees are non-full-time employees without a regularly scheduled tour of duty. A seasonal employee is an employee hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less. Whether either group is called for work during the period in which furloughs are scheduled is discretionary with agencies, but those personnel must be performing excepted functions.

Rotation of Personnel

The decision to rotate personnel to perform excepted functions may be made at bureau and post discretion in unique and compelling circumstances. However, the following should be taken into consideration when making a decision on rotations:

  • Managers should take into account the potential impact on unemployment compensation eligibility for the employee, based on local jurisdictions’ unemployment insurance policies.
  • Decisions on rotations for specific positions should balance the Department’s need for continuity and equity to the employees.
  • Posts may determine on what basis rotations may take place (based on increments of at least one week), but due consideration should be given to continuity and fairness.
  • Personnel rotated into and out of an excepted function must have the requisite qualifications to perform the function.

All decisions to rotate employees must be documented by the bureau or post.

Details

Detailees follow the furlough policies and procedures of their home agencies because they remain officially employed by their home agencies. If you are detailed from the State Department to another federal agency, the State Department will determine if and how you are affected. If you are detailed to the State Department from another federal agency, your home agency will determine if and how you are affected. For more information and for details involving non-Federal agencies, refer to OPM guidance.

Specific Situations

The following are typical bureau/post obligation/payment categories and how they should be handled:

LE staff pay/allowances: Standard procedures to process LE staff payroll must be followed. Under no circumstances should alternate means be used to pay LE staff salaries, such as using petty cash. As per the above general guidance for obligations after a lapse in appropriations, no obligations for payroll after that date should be recorded on official accounts or in RFMS and GFMS, even for excepted activities. More detailed guidance on submitting time and attendance during the period of the lapse will be provided prior to the deadline for the next submission of time and attendance.

American Salaries, Benefits, and Allowances: While obligations may continue to be established for employees on US-based salary schedules performing “excepted” and shutdown activities, payments for salaries and allowances may only be made for services rendered prior to the lapse in appropriations.

Travel: Only travel in fulfillment of excepted activities can be initiated after a lapse of appropriations. Per guidance above, even in cases of travel in this category, obligations made after any lapse of appropriations should not be recorded on official bureau or post accounts even though obligations have been incurred. Blanket travel orders issued prior to the lapse in appropriations are not valid during the lapse period, unless in the case of travel abroad, travel commenced or any cost was incurred for that travel prior to the shutdown. No travel advances can be issued unless the obligation for travel abroad was incurred prior to the lapse in appropriations. Travel voucher reimbursements can be processed only if against obligations incurred and recorded for prior years, or for the current Fiscal Year (if obligated prior to the lapse in appropriations) multi-year or no-year appropriations for which funds remain available. Travelers who hold Citibank Travel Cards may charge advances against these cards for any approved trips as travel card advance charges do not create advances to official accounts. As part of GSA Smart Pay cards, Citibank Travel Cards will continue to function normally and banks will continue to provide service. Cardholders, as usual, should contact the bank customer service organization should they experience problems with their cards.

Utilities: As with other categories of payments, utility payments for obligations established prior to the lapse in appropriations can be processed and sent to CGFS for payment or entered in RFMS. Obligations for utility costs after the lapse in appropriations should not be recorded even though incurred, and utility payments for periods after that cannot be made from lapsed appropriations. Posts confronted with any emergencies in this regard should contact the Department as soon as possible (see paragraph 13 below).

OBO Allotment Activities: Since OBO activities abroad (e.g., rents, maintenance and repair, fire/safety and capital projects) are paid from the no-year OBO appropriation, these activities can be obligated and paid if the post has sufficient funds in its OBO allotment. Salaries for facility managers and OBO direct-hire project staff at post are funded domestically from the no-year OBO appropriation; therefore, those personnel will continue to report to work and perform their duties. Salaries for locally-hired OBO project staff are funded from post-held OBO allotments and can therefore be obligated and paid as long as post has sufficient funds in its allotment.

Collections: Embassy cashiers can continue to process all collections normally.

Absolutely Necessary Payments: To reiterate, and consistent with OMB guidance, we have authority to incur obligations but cannot make payments for excepted activities after the lapse in appropriations. Because our accounting system pays for incurred obligations, we cannot post (record) obligations due to the lapse of appropriations even though obligations have been incurred, nor can we make payments against the incurred but not recorded obligations for current Fiscal Year lapsed appropriations. If it is necessary to make payments in emergency situations (e.g., to safeguard life and property), the bureau or embassy should send a memo or cable, respectively, on a case-specific basis to request use of funds that BP determines may be available for such purposes. Each request should provide details of the date the funds are needed, the amount, the justification, and any other relevant information. Requests of this type should be limited to extreme cases.

Repatriation Loans: Post authority to expend up to $2,000 per applicant without Department approval is temporarily rescinded. If a post determines that a repatriation loan is necessary during the period of a lapse in appropriations, the post should cable CA/OCS and CA’s Comptroller to request funding as mentioned in paragraph 11 above.

Emergency Medical Services: If the concurrence of MED is received, emergency medical travel and services obligations can be incurred but not recorded. Accordingly, payments against such obligations cannot be made. Please coordinate with MED and follow guidance in paragraph 11 in emergency situations where payment is required immediately. For medical services funding requests the post should cable MED and CGFS – USOFFICE Global Financial Services (not the regional bureaus).

Speech-Making and Media Engagement

As a general rule, all speeches to public audiences should be cancelled and no invitations to give speeches to public audiences should be accepted during the shutdown period. If you believe there are exceptional reasons to honor an existing speech commitment or to accept a speaking invitation, you should contact the Public Affairs (PA) Special Assistants at 202-647-6607 for guidance. No speeches to public audiences may be made during the shutdown period without explicit approval from the PA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.

The Bureau of Public Affairs may need to communicate with the media, via on-camera or off-camera briefings and/or the release of statements via traditional or social media means, for events and issues involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, or those necessarily related to national security, including the conduct of foreign affairs essential to the national security (“excepted activities”). This would include direct support to the Secretary of State for travel related to national security-related issues, and any news media and transcription support that would entail. Approval for such activities will rest with the Bureau Assistant Secretary or Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.

Non-emergency social media operations outside of flagship social media accounts must cease. Department flagship accounts managed by the Bureau of Public Affairs may operate in support of excepted activities.

Representation Events

Domestic Representation: As a general rule, no domestic representation events should be held during the shutdown period. Events already scheduled should be cancelled and no new events planned until the shutdown is over. If you believe there are truly exceptional circumstances that merit a representation event being held during the shutdown period, you should contact M/EDCS for approval.

Representation Abroad: As a general rule, no representation events should be held abroad during a shutdown period. Chiefs of Mission (COMs) may authorize a representational event abroad only if it is necessary to support excepted activities. COMs should consider the perception of a representational event during a Department shutdown.

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White House Sends @StateDept Renominations to the Senate

Posted: 3:15 am ET
 

 

On January 2, we blogged about the Senate requiring the renominations of State Department nominees stalled in 2017 (see Senate Requires the Renomination of @StateDept Nominees Stalled in 2017). On January 8, the White House sent the following State Department nominations back to the Senate:

AMBASSADORS

James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg.

Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Kathleen Troia McFarland, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Singapore.  

STATE DEPARTMENT

Eric M. Ueland, of Oregon, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy.

Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director General of the Foreign Service, vice Arnold A. Chacon, resigned.

Samuel Dale Brownback, of Kansas, to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, vice David Nathan Saperstein.

Susan A. Thornton, of Maine, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (East Asian and Pacific Affairs), vice Daniel R. Russel.

Yleem D. S. Poblete, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance), vice Frank A. Rose.  

It looks like everyone caught in limbo in the Senate in 2017 have been renominated except for one.  We have not been able to locate the renomination of Jay Patrick Murray who was nominated Alternate Representative for UNGA. Unless that renomination shows up at a later time …  that nomination is probably dead.

2018-01-03 PN410 Department of State | Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations. Returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

2018-01-03 PN409 Department of State | Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador. Returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

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