@VP Kamala Harris Swears-in New @USAID Administrator Samantha Power

The life of a blog has no certainty. In most cases, a blog has a lifespan better than that of a mayfly. A day. But most blogs do not make it longer than winter bees (six months). We have to-date survived through 26 winter bee seasons! So that’s amazing! Whatever is in the horizon, we are thankful to all of you who made these seasons possible. We are on the last few days of our eight-week annual fundraising. We are grateful to over 400 readers who pitched in since we launched a few weeks ago. If you care what we do here, and you are able to help, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your support.  ❤️❤️❤️ D!

 

 

U.S. Senate Confirms Former @USUN Amb. Samantha Power as 19th @USAID Administrator

Once a year, we ask for your support to keep this blog and your dedicated blogger going. So here we are on Week #7 of our eight-week annual fundraising. Our previous funding ran out in August 2020. We recognize that blogging life has no certainty, and this year is no exception.  If you care what we do here, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your help. Grazie!  Merci! Gracias!

On April 28, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power as the 19th USAID Administrator. She succeeds Mark Green who served as USAID Administrator under the Trump Administration from August 7, 2017 – April 10, 2020.
Excerpt below from her prepared testimony at her confirmation hearing:

“If confirmed, I will work to strengthen the institution of USAID and invest in the capabilities of the Agency’s dedicated 10,000 foreign service officers, civil servants, locally-employed staff, contractors, and other personnel. This means seeking out and amplifying their insights, learning about specific local needs, and adapting our programs. It means urgently addressing the issues relating to diversity, equity, inclusion, and advancement within USAID’s workforce. And it means emphasizing what President Biden himself has stressed: Development is critical to America’s ability to tackle the toughest problems of our time—economic, humanitarian and geopolitical. 

In consultation with you and others in Congress, I will aim to ensure that USAID enhances its longstanding leadership in food security, education, women’s empowerment, and global health, while also addressing four interconnected and gargantuan challenges confronting the world at this moment:

● The COVID-19 pandemic: With decades of development gains shattered by COVID, imperiling progress on everything from food security to gender equality and access to education, USAID’s support to partners will be vital for recovery, including by building more robust and durable health infrastructure for the future.

● Climate Change: With the surge in droughts, storms, food shortages, and climate-associated humanitarian emergencies, USAID can help countries become more resilient, while supporting their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

● Conflict and state collapse: With more conflicts occurring today than at any point since the end of the Cold War, USAID assistance will continue to mitigate suffering, while working with US diplomats and our international partners to address the root causes of such crises.

● Democratic backsliding: With freedom declining around the world for the fifteenth year in a row, USAID’s democracy, rights, anti-corruption, and governance programming must nimbly support democratic and civil society actors as they push back against creeping authoritarianism and seek to build lasting democratic institutions.

In tackling these and other challenges, I want to assure the Committee that I will work every day to expand burden-sharing in the international system. At the United Nations, working with my administration colleagues, I was able to help secure major commitments from other countries to care for refugees, respond to the Ebola epidemic, strengthen peacekeeping, and adopt the Sustainable Development Goals. US investments are catalysts that can be used to mobilize governments, international organizations, foundations, and businesses to help countries achieve their own development goals.

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Marcela Escobari to be USAID’s Asst Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean

Once a year, we ask for your support to keep this blog and your dedicated blogger going. So here we are on Week #7 of our eight-week annual fundraising. Our previous funding ran out in August 2020. We recognize that blogging life has no certainty, and this year is no exception.  If you care what we do here, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your help. Grazie!  Merci! Gracias!

 

On April 12,  President Biden announced his intent to nominate Marcela Escobari to be USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. The WH released the following bio:

Marcela Escobari, Nominee for Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, USAID

For over two decades, the Hon. Marcela Escobari led organizations that help regions chart a path towards prosperity. She served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. During her time there, Escobari reinforced U.S. support for Peace Colombia, established a long-term development plan for Haiti, and prepared a proactive strategy to confront the humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela. In response to Congress’ doubling of funding to Central America, she led changes in strategy, organization and execution to combat root causes of poverty and migration in the region.

Prior to serving in government, Escobari was Executive Director at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. During her tenure, the Center launched projects in 17 countries across five continents focused on unlocking constraints to economic growth. Most recently, as a senior fellow at Brookings, she created the Workforce of the Future initiative and applied international economic development models to map the industrial path of American cities and identify policies to help workers prosper in the face of evolving labor markets. She worked with US local leaders, companies and policy makers, including in Idaho and Texas, to strengthen paths to the middle class.

Her career has spanned the private sector, government and academia, with a common thread of producing growth that is inclusive and sustainable.  She began her career as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and worked across the globe on export competitiveness projects as a strategy consultant.  The World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader in 2013. She co-authored the book “In the River They Swim: Essays from around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty,” holds a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College and an M.A. in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

 

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Samantha Power Before SFRC on 3/23, USAID Announces 19 New Biden-Harris Appointees

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On Tuesday, March 23, former USUN Ambassador Samantha Power will have her confirmation hearing as President Biden’s nominee to be the next Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A live video of the hearing will be available to watch here.  
Meanwhile, on March 15, 2021, USAID announced almost two dozens new Biden-Harris appointees at the agency:
Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) welcomes Gideon Maltz as the Agency’s Chief of Staff. Gideon joins the growing body of Biden-Harris appointees that continue to build out the Agency with wide-ranging expertise. They look forward to contributing to the world’s premier development agency as part of a vibrant, dedicated workforce, representing the best of the American people.
Together, the team, celebrating 60 years of successes, will build the USAID of tomorrow, leading and always innovating international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty and strengthen democracy.
Senior Staff
      • Travis Adkins, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa
      • Jeremy Bernton, Executive Secretary, Office of the Executive Secretariat
      • Natasha Bilimoria, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Global Health
      • Nikole Burroughs, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning
      • Sarah Charles Phillips, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
      • Gabi Chojkier, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs
      • Megan Doherty, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Middle East
      • Mileydi Guilarte, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean
      • Diala Jadallah-Redding, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs, Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs
      • Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia
      • Jeremy Konyndyk, Executive Director for COVID-19, Office of the Administrator
      • Zeppa Kreager, White House Liaison
      • Mike Michener, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
      • Raj Panjabi, President’s Malaria Initiative Coordinator, Bureau for Global Health
      • Neilesh Shelat, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
      • Michele Sumilas, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning
      • Margaret Taylor, General Counsel
      • Rebecca Wexler, Special Advisor, Office of the Administrator
Click on the hyperlinks to view their bios.
With the exception of Jeremy Konyndyk who previously served in the Obama Administration from 2013-2017 as the director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), all are new political appointees to USAID; some previously worked on the Hill, NGOs, consulting firms, or  think tanks.
Also Rebecca Wexler who is the new Special Advisor to the Office of the Administrator previously served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. when Samantha Power was at USUN.
We’re still looking for the career appointees but where are they hiding them? We haven’t found them yet!

 

 

 

Judicial Actions Involving Foreign Service Grievance Board Rulings

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The Foreign Service Grievance Board’s Annual Report for 2020 was released on March 1, 2021. It includes a summary of judicial actions involving the Board’s decisions:
Two decisions were issued in 2020 in court cases related to appeals from Board decisions:
FSGB Case No. 2017-014

The grievant in FSGB Case No. 2017-014 was denied tenure and scheduled for separation from the Foreign Service. Consequently, the Department ordered her to leave her overseas post and assigned her to a position in Washington, D.C. The grievant filed a grievance challenging the reassignment. The Department denied the grievance, and the Board affirmed the Department’s decision. The grievant appealed the Board’s decision to the U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix Division, which upheld the Board’s ruling in a decision issued September 24, 2018. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the lower court decision, in an order issued January 8, 2020.

FSGB Case No. 2012-057

USAID OIG had recommended that the grievant in FSGB Case No. 2012-057 be separated for cause. The Board approved the agency’s decision in 2017, and she was removed for knowingly submitting false vouchers over a six-month period. The grievant appealed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and in a decision issued October 12, 2018, the judge upheld the Board’s decision on summary judgment, and affirmed the Board’s decision rejecting grievant’s whistleblower retaliation claim. The grievant appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which in an unpublished judgment on July 24, 2020 affirmed the District Court’s dismissal, validating the Board’s decision.

Pending court cases:
Consolidated cases 2013-031R and 2016-030

In a long-running case, an appeal by the State Department and USAID/OIG of the Board’s 2017 decision in consolidated cases 2013-031R and 2016-030 remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case concerns the calculation of a Foreign Service Officer’s retirement annuity. As described in previous annual reports, the grievant in those cases contested the Department’s decision to calculate his retirement annuity based on the application of a pay cap on his special differential pay that had not been applied when his salary was paid. The Board initially upheld the agency’s decision in 2014. Grievant appealed, and in Civil Action No. 14-cv-1492, the District Court vacated the Board’s decision and remanded the case to the Board for further review. On remand, the Board issued a decision granting grievant the calculation and payment of his annuity that he sought. The Board denied the Department’s request for reconsideration of that decision. The Department and USAID/OIG jointly appealed the Board’s decision on remand to the District Court in Civil Action No. 18-cv-41, where it remains pending.

FSGB Case No. 2016-063

The grievant in FSGB Case No. 2016-063 challenged a one-day suspension based on three specifications of a charge of Improper Personal Conduct – two involving alleged inappropriate comments, and a third involving an alleged physical touching of another employee. The Department denied the grievance, and the Board affirmed in part, sustaining specifications of misconduct pertaining to one of the alleged comments and to the alleged touching, and holding that the suspension was reasonable in light of the two specifications that were sustained. The grievant appealed the decision to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case is pending in District Court.

FSGB Case No. 2014-003

As discussed in previous annual reports, the grievant in FSGB Case No. 2014-003 filed an appeal of the Board’s decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia. She claimed that the Department violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act when it failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation when she was separated for failing to meet the running requirement for newly-hired DS agents and by failing to assign her to a different, available position. On May 2, 2019, the Court referred the case to a magistrate for mediation and on May 7, 2019, the magistrate ordered appointment of counsel for the grievant. The parties began mediation at the end of 2020 and are still engaged in mediation efforts. No trial date has been set.

Pending with the Board
FSGB Case No. 2014-018

Also as described in previous reports, the appellant in FSGB Case No. 2014-018 had requested a waiver of collection of a substantial overpayment of her deceased mother’s survivor’s annuity. The Department contended that she was not entitled to consideration of a waiver because the overpayment was made to her mother’s estate, and under Department regulations, estates are not entitled to waivers. The Board concurred and grievant appealed. In a decision issued March 23, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the Board had erred in determining that the overpayments were made to the mother’s estate rather than to grievant as an individual. The court remanded the case to the Board for consideration of the merits of the waiver request. The Department moved the court for reconsideration. The court denied the Motion for Reconsideration in an order dated January 19, 2018, and again remanded the case to the Board. The Board remanded the case to the Department for a determination in the first instance as to whether the appellant’s request for a waiver should be granted. On August 6, 2019, the Department’s Associate Comptroller denied the waiver request and the parties entered into settlement discussions, requesting a stay in the proceedings in the interim. The stay has since expired and the appellant’s appeal to the Board is now pending.

 


 

SFRC Pending Nominations: Nuland, McKeon, Power, Sherman

Update 3/3/21 12:09 AM: The March 3 confirmation hearing at 10 AM now lists Wendy Sherman and Brian McKeon, nominees for State/D and State/DMR  respectively, as witnesses. Click here to watch.
The following State Department and USAID nominees are currently pending at the Foreign Relations committee. There is a March 3 confirmation hearing but it does not list the nominees who will be considered as of this writing.
  • 2021-02-13 PN120  Victoria Nuland, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs), vice David Hale
  • 2021-02-13 PN119  Brian P. McKeon, of the District of Columbia, to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, vice Heather Anne Higginbottom
  • 2021-02-04 PN114  Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Mark Andrew Green, resigned.
  • 2021-01-20 PN79-12  Wendy Ruth Sherman, of Maryland, to be Deputy Secretary of State, vice Stephen E. Biegun

 

 

@Transition46 Releases Names of Agency Review Teams For @StateDept, @USAID, @USAGM, and @USUN

The Biden-Harris Transition has released the names of Agency Review Teams for the State Department, USAID (which includes MCC, Peace Crops, IDFC),  the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. A lot of familiar names here. Note that all members are currently listed as “volunteers”. According to Transition46, these are individuals who are volunteering for the Transition in their personal capacity. For these team members, their current or most recent employer is listed (for informational purposes only), and their source of funding is listed as “Volunteer.”
We have added a countdown to Inauguration Day on our right sidebar.

 

EEOC: @StateDept Improperly Dismissed Complaint Over EEO Counseling Process

Via EEOC:
Complaint Improperly Dismissed for Raising Matter Not Brought to Attention of EEO Counselor. The Commission reversed the Agency’s dismissal of Complainant’s complaint on grounds that it raised a matter that was not brought to the attention of an EEO Counselor. In dismissing the complaint, the Agency relied on Complainant’s failure to participate in the EEO counseling process, stating that the assigned Counselor attempted to engage Complainant multiple times by email and telephone, but was unable to do so. Complainant stated, however, that he did not receive an initial or final interview or counseling to attempt to informally resolve the matter. The assigned Counselor stated that she could not engage Complainant to conduct counseling, so she issued Complainant a notice of right to file a formal complaint, which he timely did. The Commission found that, contrary to the Agency’s assertions, Complainant raised the instant issues with an EEO Counselor even though no actual counseling sessions occurred, and timely filed a formal complaint when given the opportunity to do so. The Commission noted that it is the Agency’s burden to provide evidence to support its final decisions.

Ian G. v. Dep’t of State, EEOC Appeal No. 2019005132 (Jan. 8, 2020).

At the time of events giving rise to this complaint, Complainant worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development. On May 17, 2019, Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that the Department of State (hereinafter referred to as “the Agency”)2 discriminated against him on the bases of race (Asian), sex (male), national origin (Kashmir), religion (Islam), disability (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Fibromyalgia), and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity when:

1. in March and April 2019, the Agency denied Complainant reasonable accommodation for the FACT course, and

2. in April 2019, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (BDS) and the Agency subjected Complainant to hostile work environment harassment during the FACT course. Complainant alleged that he was repeatedly subjected to inappropriate “epithets and derogatory stereotypes.”

In his EEO complaint, Complainant stated “Counseling requested but not conducted.”

In a July 9, 2019 final decision, the Agency dismissed Complainant’s complaint pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(2). The Agency reasoned that, “[Complainant d]id not go through EEO Counseling” because his allegations of discrimination were not first discussed with an EEO Counselor. The Agency stated that the assigned Counselor attempted to engage Complainant multiple times (via email and telephone) but was unable to do so. The Agency noted that the Counselor issued the Notice of Right to File (NORF) on May 15, 2019.

The instant appeal from Complainant followed. On appeal, Complainant stated that although he initiated contact with the Agency’s EEO office on April 10, 2019, no counseling or initial/final interview took place and he informed the EEO Counselor that he would be overseas for an extended period. Also, Complainant stated that he learned that the Counselor issued a counseling report on May 17 and June 12, 2019, and the Agency only provided him the second report initially. Further, Complainant stated that the Agency misapplied the standard for dismissal under 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(2), and failed to conduct EEO counseling as required under federal regulations. Complainant stated that he raised his issues with an EEO Counselor in a timely manner.

The EEOC reversed the Department of State’s final decision dismissing the instant complaint and remanded the matter to the Agency for further processing consistent with the decision it issued. Read more here.

Confirmations: Ambassadors to Indonesia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Guatemala, Estonia, USUN, OPCW, FS Lists, More

The following nominations were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 6, 2020:

2020-08-06 PN967 INDONESIA | Sung Y. Kim, of California, 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 Republic of Indonesia.

2020-08-06 PN1035 UGANDA |  Natalie E. Brown, of Nebraska, 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 Republic of Uganda.

2020-08-06 PN1045 BURKINA FASO |  Sandra E. Clark, of Maryland, 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 Burkina Faso.

2020-08-06 PN1281 JORDAN | Henry T. Wooster, of Virginia, 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 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

2020-08-06 PN1941 GUATEMALA |  William W. Popp, 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 Guatemala.

2020-08-06 PN1426 ESTONIA | William Ellison Grayson, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia.

2020-08-06 PN1339 USUN | Richard M. Mills, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

2020-08-06 PN1340  USUN | Richard M. Mills, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be the Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and the Deputy Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.

2020-08-06 PN1229 Department of State/OPCW | Joseph Manso, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

 

USAID

020-08-06 PN1337 United States Agency for International Development | Ramsey Coats Day, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

2020-08-06 PN1427 United States Agency for International Development | Jenny A. McGee, of Texas, to be an Associate Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

2020-08-06 PN1296 Asian Development Bank | Jason Myung-lk Chung, of Virginia, to be United States Director of the Asian Development Bank, with the rank of Ambassador.

2020-08-06 PN1280 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development |J. Steven Dowd, of Florida, to be United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

 

FOREIGN SERVICE S LISTS

2020-08-06 PN2067 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Shefali Agrawal, and ending Michael B. Schooling, which 101 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2068 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Anna Mae G. Akers, and ending Ismat Mohammad G. Omar Yassin, which 214 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2069 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jonathan Paul Ackley, and ending Amanda B. Whatley, which 43 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2070 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeffrey Thomas Albanese, and ending Katherine Rose Woody, which 11 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2071 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Erin Elizabeth McKee, and ending Dana Rogstad Mansuri, which 5 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2072 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Lawrence J. Sacks, and ending Bruce F. McFarland, which 27 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2073 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Deanna Scott, and ending Christopher Walker, which 3 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-06-10 PN1704-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Michael J. Adler, and ending Ivan A. Wray, which 206 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on March 16, 2020.

Tired of the Reality Show, See USAID’s Bonkers Drama or #SkipForMentalHealth