Pompeo Lands in Israel in Red, White and Blue Mask

Pompeo via Twitter:

Some Dings and Cheers For the Bureau of Counterterrorism in New OIG Report

State/OIG recently released its inspection report of the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

“At the time of the inspection, the bureau’s authorized staffing included 112 Foreign Service and Civil Service positions, augmented by 53 contractor positions and 43 additional personnel and detailees from other U.S. Government agencies. The bureau has 13 offices in addition to the Front Office. Nine offices support policy issues, such as counterterrorism finance, aviation security, collection of biometric information, foreign terrorist fighters, and bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement. Two offices carry out operational responsibilities related to the Department of Defense, and one office designs and manages CT-funded assistance programs. Finally, the Office of the Executive Director focuses on bureau administrative requirements and also provides support to the Office of the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs. The bureau managed $642 million in active foreign assistance program funds that spanned multiple fiscal years, including through annual and multiyear projects involving other Department bureaus and Federal agencies.”

The report says that the CT Coordinator “exhibited decisive leadership” but apparently, CT bureau employees and senior officials from other Department bureaus “told OIG about occasions on which the Coordinator lost his temper in meetings with U.S. Government officials and foreign partners. When OIG spoke with the Coordinator about the issue, he acknowledged the problem and responded positively to OIG’s suggestions for improvement.”
The report notes that “staff in interviews and in responses to OIG questionnaires gave the Coordinator lower marks for adherence to leadership principles found in 3 FAM 1214b(6) and (9) regarding self-awareness and managing conflict.” 
The Bureau concurred with all 11 recommendations and the OIG considered all recommendations resolved.
Summary of OIG Findings:

• The Coordinator for Counterterrorism exhibited decisive leadership, marked by setting clear strategic goals and communicating them effectively to staff. This enabled the Bureau of Counterterrorism to navigate major shifts in its mission since 2016.

• At times, the Coordinator engaged in conduct that negatively affected employee morale and productivity.

• The bureau established effective internal policy coordination and communication processes.

• Employees from other Department of State bureaus and Federal agencies expressed differing opinions about the bureau’s effectiveness in promoting its policy goals in interagency processes.

• The Bureau of Counterterrorism did not provide sufficient policy guidance, training, and administrative support to overseas employees responsible for coordinating and reporting on regional counterterrorism issues.

• Vacancies in 22 percent of the bureau’s Civil Service positions hampered operations.

• The bureau’s Office of the Executive Director did not have systems in place to measure the results of key administrative activities and efficiently communicate with customers. As a result, bureau staff expressed dissatisfaction with the administrative and support services delivered by the office.

• The bureau did not follow Department procedures for software development.

•The lack of information technology contingency plans placed at risk the bureau’s ability to support these functions in the event of an unplanned disruption.

Executive Direction:

Tone at the Top and Standards of Conduct : The Coordinator assumed his position in August 2017. At the time of the inspection, he also served as acting Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Prior to joining the Department, the Coordinator was a law professor. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security and worked on counterterrorism policy and judicial confirmations in the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice. The Principal Deputy Coordinator, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, arrived in 2016, after having previously served as Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, among other senior positions in the Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Coordinator Decisively Led Bureau During Major Mission Shifts, but Travel Schedule and Temperament Issues Resulted in Employee Stress: The Coordinator exhibited decisive leadership during a major expansion of the bureau’s counterterrorism efforts. CT employees and others interviewed by OIG described the Coordinator’s operating style as decisive, strategic, and action-oriented — qualities that are consistent with leadership principles in 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 1214(2) and (3). The Coordinator demonstrated a command of complex technical and diplomatic policy issues in meetings OIG observed, consistent with responsibilities outlined in 1 FAM 481.1. Since 2016, the bureau had broadened its efforts to counter violent extremism, launched the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) initiative, 9 assumed responsibility for aspects of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and took over responsibility for the sensitive policy area of terrorist detentions. OIG concluded the Coordinator took appropriate steps to set and communicate policy priorities for these new responsibilities.

Nonetheless, despite positive comments regarding his decisiveness, staff in interviews and in responses to OIG questionnaires gave the Coordinator lower marks for adherence to leadership principles found in 3 FAM 1214b(6) and (9) regarding self-awareness and managing conflict. Staff described the Coordinator as unaware of the demands his travel schedule placed on employees and said that at times they lacked a clear understanding of the purpose and outcomes of the Coordinator’s travel, which included 21 international trips in FY 2019, of which 1 was to a CTPF focus country.10 Additionally, the Coordinator’s practice of scheduling trips on short notice burdened staff, who had to put regular duties on hold to prepare briefing documents and handle travel logistics. OIG advised the Coordinator to share readouts of the outcomes of his travel with his staff to broaden their understanding of the purposes and results of his trips. Although it is within the Coordinator’s discretion to determine the extent and nature of such readouts, providing at least some information would be consistent with the Department’s leadership principles in 3 FAM 1214(4) and (7) pertaining to communication and collaboration.

Bureau employees and senior officials from other Department bureaus also told OIG about occasions on which the Coordinator lost his temper in meetings with U.S. Government officials and foreign partners. When OIG spoke with the Coordinator about the issue, he acknowledged the problem and responded positively to OIG’s suggestions for improvement. OIG advised the Coordinator to review the Leadership and Management Principles for Department Employees in 3 FAM 1214, which he agreed to do.

The Coordinator delegated many operational and policy tasks to the Principal Deputy Coordinator, with whom he had a productive relationship. In responses to OIG’s questionnaire, bureau staff gave the Principal Deputy Coordinator strong scores on her performance and leadership. In addition, several bureau employees cited her improvements to, and transformation of, the bureau’s budget and program management functions as positive developments for the bureau. Outside observers also noted the Principal Deputy Coordinator’s leadership and support for CT staff as being essential to the bureau’s success at a time of rapid change and significant pressure.

The CT Coordinator is Nathan Sales. The Principal Deputy Coordinator at the time of this review was Alina Romanowski. She was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait in December 2019. The inspection team was headed by Ambassador Joseph Macmanus, former U.S. Ambassador to UNVIE and Executive Secretary of the State Department from 2014-2017.

Career Diplomat Jonathan Pratt to be U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti

Via WH:

Jonathan Pratt, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.

Mr. Pratt, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs for the State Department.  Mr. Pratt has also held assignments as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Office Director for Pakistan Affairs in the State Department.  He served earlier as the Political Counselor at the United States Embassy in Islamabad, as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and as the Political and Economic Section Chief at the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.

Mr. Pratt’s other assignments include service at the United States Embassies in Angola, Jordan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Mr. Pratt earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego.  He is the recipient of the State Department’s James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence and the Director General’s Award for Reporting.  He speaks Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Related post:

Career Diplomat Melanie Harris Higgins to be U.S. Ambassador to Burundi

 

Via WH:

Melanie Harris Higgins, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.

Ms. Higgins, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Director of the Office of Central African Affairs at the State Department.  Previously, she was the Principal Officer of the United States Consulate General in Auckland, New Zealand and was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Throughout her two decades of service, Ms. Higgins served as the Acting Director and Acting Public Affairs Advisor for the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  She also held a number of other positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C., Jakarta, Indonesia, Canberra, Australia, and Yaounde, Cameroon.

Ms. Higgins earned a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.  She is the recipient of the Sinclaire Language Award from the American Foreign Service Association.  She speaks French, Indonesian, and some Bosnian.

 

Career Diplomat Jeanne Marie Maloney to be U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini (Formerly Swaziland)

Via WH:

Jeanne Marie Maloney, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Ms. Maloney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Army Africa in Vicenza, Italy.  Previously, she was the Director of the Office of Security Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

Ms. Maloney has served in various leadership positions at the State Department over the course of her career, including as Career Development Officer in the Bureau of Human Resources, Director of the Office of Terrorist Screening and Interdiction in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, and Deputy Political-Military Counselor at the United States Embassy Baghdad in Iraq.  Ms. Maloney was also the Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention Programs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ms. Maloney earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa.  She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and basic Arabic.

On Eswatini, via state.gov:

The official name of the Kingdom of Swaziland was changed to the Kingdom of Eswatini, or Eswatini, in April 2018. The U.S. and Eswatini have had good bilateral relations since Eswatini’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1968 and establishment as a constitutional monarchy. Five years after independence, the country’s ruler, King Sobhuza II, repealed the constitution and began to rule by decree. In 2006, under Sobhuza’s son King Mswati III, the country implemented a new constitution that enshrined broader political freedoms, expanded the roles of the legislative and judicial branches, and established Eswatini as an executive monarchy ruled by Mswati alongside traditional parliamentary and bureaucratic structures. U.S. policy seeks to maintain and strengthen bilateral relations, and stresses Eswatini’s continued political and economic reform.

 

Related posts:

Executive Secretary Lisa S. Kenna to be U.S. Ambassador to Peru

 

Via WH:

Lisa S. Kenna, of Vermont, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Peru.

Ms. Kenna, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, is the Executive Secretary of the Department of State and a Senior Advisor.  She previously served as a Political Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and before that she was chief of the political section of the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Ms. Kenna was previously Director of the Iraq office in the National Security Council at the White House following a tour as Deputy Director of the Iraq Political Office in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department.  She served as a political/military officer at the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  Other assignments overseas included the United States Embassy in Mbabane, Swaziland, and the United StatesConsulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Before joining the State Department, Ms. Kenna was an attorney in private practice.  A graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, she speaks Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

 

 

Related post:

First Person: DSS Agent Assaulted By Spouse Says “Our HR process is garbage”

 

The following is a first person account shared by a Diplomatic Security agent who was assaulted twice by his spouse in USG quarters temporary housing located in the Washington DC area.  He wrote that he wanted  to call attention to a situation he faced in the hope that “others who find themselves in similar circumstances know what to expect.”  He added that “with the ongoing pandemic and quarantine other employees may find themselves in similar situations as they are trapped with their spouses under stressful circumstances.” He told us he was a DS Agent with a few years on the job.  “Despite being relatively junior, I was a good agent that made tenure, had no disciplinary issues, and I received several awards.” 
The individual who wrote this told us that he resigned from the State Department and is now employed by another agency in his home state.
This is his story, as sent to us. We’ve added links in [brackets] for the relevant offices:  

I was assigned to an HTP [High Threat Post] post in Africa and I was there for several months.  While there, a medical issue surfaced that couldn’t be treated at Post.  I went on leave to my home state (which was also the location of my previous assignment and where my spouse and child lived while I was at post) and saw a specialist.  While on leave, I was “caught out”-the medical condition I was diagnosed with while on leave prevented my return to post.  I was told by MED [Bureau of Medical Services] that I could not return to Post, my medical clearance was downgraded, and (after what seemed like an eternity), I was eventually assigned to a position in the DC/NOVA area.  Never mind that I burned through all my leave so that I could keep getting paid and the medical per diem that I was authorized didn’t pay out until the very end.  I rented out my house in my home state and prepared to move my family to the NOVA area.

 While in temporary housing at one of the Oakwood properties, my spouse assaulted me.  Our relationship had been badly strained by the long durations apart for training and an unaccompanied tour (while at post, things got so bad that I retained a lawyer and initiated divorce proceedings).  After the assault, my spouse was arrested by the local police-and after the mandatory separation period we decided to try to patch things up and try again.  Thankfully our child was not present when this happened; several weeks later we brought our child to Virginia.  I also started looking for a position with another agency knowing that the foreign service lifestyle was taking its toll.  We wound up buying a condo in one of the suburbs and moved in.

I went on a brief TDY and this separation caused issues to resurface to in our relationship.  I committed to restarting the divorce proceedings.  However, court proceedings, custody issues, and property would be decided in my home state-not in Virginia.  I could not afford another residence in Virginia, and I could not stay with my spouse due to the violent outbursts.  I was essentially homeless.  I reached out to Employee Consultation Services and my CDO [Career Development Officer] and asked about being transferred back to my home state.  At least in my home state I would be able to stay with family and see the divorce through.  Remaining in Virginia would mean continuing to “crash” at AirBnBs until my tour was up…another 18 months.  After several weeks, my spouse assured me that it was safe to return to the condo and I wanted to see my child.

Approximately 3 weeks after returning from this TDY things again took a turn for the worse and my spouse assaulted me-this time with a weapon.  I only sustained minor injuries, but my spouse was arrested and this left me responsible for taking care of our child alone.  My chain-of-command was incredibly understanding and supportive and I was able to meet family and work obligations without issue.  Unfortunately, or HR system was much less understanding and supportive. There were open positions in my home state that I wanted to return to.  However, it seems like it takes an act of God to get an employee to one of them.  I was told that my request to “the panel”…which was supported by police and court reports, and an affidavit from my attorney which explained the need to be in my home state for the divorce, may not be sufficient justification for reassignment.  According to one of the CDOs I was dealing with (more on that later), the panel is concerned that people may “take advantage of (domestic violence) situations” and try to get reassigned.  I guess that it is more career enhancing to just continue to get abused and windup losing custody than to transfer an employee.  Thankfully, I was able to secure a position with another agency in my home state.  I won’t be homeless and I can see the divorce through to the end.  Although the pay cut hurts, at least I am safe and will see my child again.

Overall, DS [Diplomatic Security] was a great experience.  The work and the people were great.  The same goes for all of the Foreign Service and Civil Service colleagues that I had the pleasure of working with.  We hire some very talented people, but we don’t do a good job retaining them.  Our HR process is garbage.  [HR office is now officially the Bureau of Global Talent Management].

I understand that everyone has unique circumstances but just be aware that the programs that you think can help you cannot be relied upon.  By all means, try to stay with the foreign service if you like the job…had they been able to accommodate me until my issue was resolved I’d have done 20 and retired.  Your DS experience, training, and security clearance make you marketable to other agencies….keep trying and one will come through.  If DS (and the Dept. as a whole) were serious about retaining employees, they would fix the HR system.  I am now looking to see if I have any legal recourse; others shouldn’t have to go through this.  As a wise person said, “at the end of the day it is just a job”.  It was an interesting and rewarding job-but still just a job.  There is other good work out there.  If you think things may go bad, get your applications in.  Constantly have applications going with other agencies so you always have a parachute…that is what saved me.

Below are his “lessons learned,” shared for those who may be in similar circumstances:

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SCA Acting Asst Secretary Alice Wells to Retire After 31 Years of Service

 

Pompeo Hosts Game of Distraction: From “Enormous Evidence” to “Somewhere in the vicinity of the lab” #cliffhanger

 

 

Pompeo, May 7, 2020:

“I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan.  Where exactly it came from, it matters.  We want to know the answers to that.  There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.”

Pompeo, May 3, 2020:

And Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  “Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began.  We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.  We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now.  Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.  These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.  And so while the Intelligence Community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

Burn Bag: Nomination For Most Self-Serving Vanity Cable of the Year

 

Via Burn Bag:

“The year’s not even half over, but here’s a nomination for the hands-down worst, most self-serving vanity cable of the year:  please see 20 REYKJAVIK 0266 . Yikes.”

Via reactiongifs.com