State/OIG: EUR’s Workforce Diversity Data-Below Department Averages #42outof43

 

Via State/OIG:

 

BUT the seats in question are 0.3 inches wider than regular economy seats!!!

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) is an independent tribunal housed within the General Services Administration. The CBCA presides over various disputes involving Federal executive branch agencies. Its primary responsibility is to resolve contract disputes between government contractors and agencies under the Contract Disputes Act. In addition to contract disputes, the Board also adjudicates cases related to travel and relocation.
The following case relates to a Department of State employee assigned overseas who requested reimbursement of travel expenses for extended economy seating (EES) which was authorized on his orders. The agency denied his request after determining that the circumstances of his travel did not meet the agency’s requirements for reimbursement. The Board granted the claim.
This was a claim from a few years ago, but we were tickled by the 0.3 inches wider economy seat argument. Given what we’re seeing these days, my gosh!
Via CBCA 5686-RELO
Claimant is a foreign service officer currently assigned to Vietnam. On August 15, 2016, claimant and his spouse traveled twenty-three hours from Washington, D.C. to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam pursuant to permanent change of station (PCS) orders. Claimant’s orders authorized extended economy seating at the rate of $300 per person. Although the trip was booked on American Airlines,1 the leg from Boston, Massachusetts to Tokyo, Japan was operated by Japan Airlines (JAL). At the ticket counter in Boston, claimant inquired about upgrading his seats to extended economy, consistent with his authorization. The agent confirmed that such seats were available and reassured claimant that the seats were located in economy class. Claimant upgraded his seats for the sum of $600. His request for reimbursement of the cost of extended economy seating was denied.

I understand that you were authorized extended economy seating on your [travel orders], however, per guidance set forth by TTM-A/LM Transportation Branch and the guidance cable you have attached, not all airlines have economy seating available. In addition, TTM informed us that “premium” economy [programs] are not reimbursable as we are not reporting this under the Department’s mandatory annual Premium Class Travel Report. Based on our research on the Japan Airlines website and the seat guru site, Japan Airlines offers “premium” economy with extra services . . . and the seat guru showed that all Japan Airlines aircraft[] have [a] distinct premium economy cabin.

In response to the denial, Claimant requested a review of the decision, stating:

JAL Extended Economy is still Economy Class seating in [an] economy cabin with additional leg room, and seems to fit within [the] definition . . . My travel was over 14 hours at the allowable cost, and I did not take a rest stop or purchase business lounge [access]. . . The claim reviewer has only stated her reason [for denial] as JAL providing additional entertainment services in extended economy. Nowhere does the [Foreign Affairs Manual] or guidance mention entertainment services as something to preclude use of extended economy seating.

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State/OIG Questions $201.6M in AF’s Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Spending

 

Via State/OIG:

“AF is not monitoring TSCTP contracts in accordance with Federal and Department requirements. Specifically, OIG found that contracting officer’s representatives (COR) had approved invoices for four contracts without adequate supporting documentation. In addition, they relied on Department of Defense (DoD) partners to monitor contractor performance; however, these DoD partners were not delegated authority to serve in this role, nor were they trained to be government technical monitors or alternate CORs. Furthermore, none of the six TSCTP contracts reviewed had the required monitoring plans, and five contracts were missing Government quality assurance surveillance plans; both plans are essential oversight tools. Lastly, AF was not ensuring that the assistance provided to the host countries was being used to build counterterrorism capacity. AF officials stated that the lack of clear guidance and limited staff contributed to these weaknesses. Because of these weaknesses, OIG considers the $201.6 million spent on these six contracts as potential wasteful spending due to mismanagement and inadequate oversight. OIG is specifically questioning almost $109 million because the invoices lacked supporting documentation. With respect to the grant and cooperative agreement reviewed, both had required monitoring plans included in the files.

OIG also found that AF is not effectively coordinating with stakeholders to execute a whole-of-government initiative. Although TSCTP partner agencies meet to formulate strategic priorities, the execution of activities among the partners in the host countries receiving assistance is insufficient. For example, U.S. Air Force officials said they were not consulted on the plans and construction of a C-130 aircraft hangar on a base that they share with the Nigerian military. Government officials stated that undefined roles and responsibilities, the lack of knowledge management, and staffing shortfalls hinder effective coordination.

The deficiencies identified in this audit have occurred, in part, because AF has not adequately attended to longstanding challenges with the execution of foreign assistance, including the TSCTP. AF officials acknowledged the lack of progress made to address these challenges but stated that the Department has not appropriately prioritized the bureau’s needs. Until these deficiencies are addressed, the Department will have limited assurance that TSCTP is achieving its goals of building counterterrorism capacity and addressing the underlying drivers of radicalization in West and North Africa.”

EFM Gets Ceremonial Office in Chief of Mission Residence at US Embassy Luxembourg

U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg James Evans announced the ceremonial office for Newt Gingrich at the ambassador’s residence in Luxembourg. The former Speaker of the House is the eligible family member of the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Callista Gingrich.
Why? Because he can. The designated room is the library to the left of the foyer in the ambassador’s residence. The room shall be marked with appropriate signage as “Speaker Newt Gingrich Ceremonial Office” according to the framed designation tweeted by US Embassy Luxembourg.
It looks like Embassy Luxembourg also has a room designated for RBG from when she visited post last.

*EFM – Eligible Family Member
*CMR – for Chief of Mission Residence (the ambassador’s official residence)

 

 

 

Foggy Bottom Blues: Why did the chicken cross the road?

 

photo via pexels

 

Secretary (speaking in his personal capacity):

To conduct in-chicken campaign on the other side. Nowhere is chicken freedom under assault more than it is inside of Gyyyyyna today; that state works day and night to scratch out and snuff out the lights of chickens everywhere on a horrifying scale.

Special Assistant to the ‘Force Multiplier’:

The chicken is worried about asking others for personal things.

Very Senior Advisor:

To deny accusations of covering-up for a possibly radioactive chicken and avoid a congressional subpoena.

Under Secretary: 

To manage all cluck and scope of all chicken-related investigations.  

Assistant Secretary:

The chicken crossed the road so as not/not to comply with depositions demanded of the gallinaceous tribe.

Staff Assistant:

The chicken crossed the road to find a personal lawyer and comply with deposition requests.

Ambassador to Agonistan:

So the chicken can get confirmed as quickly as possible, get to post with three suitcases, and preen for three months.

Special Envoy: 

The chicken statute allows us to scratch the necessary designations that we need to to protect the fowls’ security interests while at the same time not impeding our crispy diplomacy.

Ethics Officer:

The chicken crossed the road to avoid puking on the FAM which prohibits subjects from implying that a donor will receive any advantage or preference as a result of the donation, including a commitment to invite the donor to official functions, or an assurance that the donor will have preferential access to official facilities or persons.

Legal Officer:

The chicken crossed the road to obtain the necessary experience, then try to circumvent Congress on the sale of billions of American-made weapons in an air war that killed thousands of civilians.

Data Advisor:

To intelligently leverage data as a strategic asset, the chicken crossed the road to transform data into bold insights about chicken agility and flexibility in the field. 

Health Advisor:

So the chicken can use trusted sources for information and updates on COVID-19 and did not have to listen to a $250M propaganda to “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the pandemic.

Inspector General:

To continue the scratch and cluck of all ongoing investigations without interference. 

Acting Inspector General:

The chicken crossed the road to avoid a range of potential conflict of interest issues.

Acting Inspector General #2:

To make way for another acting inspector general who needs scratch and cluck training. 

Also Acting Inspector General:

The chicken crossed the road to inspect who cluck-clucked about the coronavirus town hall to that blog. 

 
Related post:
Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? The Must-Read Embassy Edition

 

 

 

 

USCG Guangzhou: Gender Disparity in the Awards Nomination Process #FAST

Excerpted from State Department/OCR – FY2019 EEOC Management Directive 715 (MD-715) Part I.1 Report:
PART I, EEO Plan to Eliminate Identified Barrier, requires agencies to report specific plans of action aimed at identifying and removing barriers from their policies, procedures, or practices that limit or restrict free and open competition for groups involving race, ethnicity, and sex groups. To address barriers involving disability status, agencies must establish plans in PART J.
An employee notified S/OCR of an allegation of gender disparity in the awards nomination process for entry level officers in Guangzhou’s consular section. The complaint is that male entry-level officers were nominated for awards but not women. After checking the records, Post HR discovered that this is correct. Of the 21 individual award nominations for entry-level Consular officers, only one was for a female.
The Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) worked with Human Resources staff in Consulate General (CG) Guangzhou (hereafter referred to as “Post”) to identify possible reasons for the identified trigger. Post has 50 “entry-level officers” (ELOs). The focus of this barrier analysis is first or second tour, tenured or untenured, generalists and specialists as well as Consular Fellows/other limited non-career appointments and Consular Adjudicator-eligible family members employed in the Consular Section of the CG. This pool of employees comprise 35 male employees and 15 female employees. The trigger indicates that 17 out of 35 men (49%) received an award and that 3 out of 15 women (20%) received an award.

S/OCR asked Post whether selection panels are utilized, whether they believe managers know the procedures for nominating employees, whether employees are aware of the awards program, whether panelists receive training, among other questions.

S/OCR also acquired a breakdown of Post by gender and award recipient, grouped by supervisors. The 50 employees were spread across eight supervisors with some sections as large as 12 and some as small as two. The different sections were usually similar in male/ female proportion.

S/OCR is pleased to see that Post has a very involved awards program. Not only do awards seem to be encouraged, but Post follows up with information sessions to help guide the process.

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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.

Snapshot: Top Five Bureaus & Posts With the Highest Number of Sexual Harassment Complaints (2014-2017)

Via State/OIG:

Related post:
State/OIG Releases Long-Awaited Report on @StateDept Handling of Sexual Harassment Reports

 

 

 

State/OIG Releases Long-Awaited Report on @StateDept Handling of Sexual Harassment Reports

On October 2, 2020, State/OIG released its long-awaited report on the State Department handling of sexual harassment, including sexual assault reports in the agency. The IG reviewed the extent to which employees report sexual harassment, how the agency addresses reports, and the extent that State ensures consistent outcomes for individuals found to have engaged in such harassment.
The report notes that both Acting IG Stephen Akard, and his replacement, Acting IK Matthew Klimow “recused themselves from this review and delegated final clearance authority to Deputy IG Diana Shaw.” It looks like this review as initiated by State/OIG in early 2018. The report says that the issuance of this report was delayed because of “the lapse in OIG’s appropriation that occurred from December 21, 2018, through January 25, 2019, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting operational challenges.” We’re curious what happened to this report after the shutdown in January 2019 and before the pandemic was declared on March 11, 2020.
The Office of Civil Rights’ (S/OCR) response to this IG report is dated August 24, 2020; DGHR’s response is dated September 8, 2020.
Sexual harassment, generally a violation of civil laws, while sexual assault usually a reference to criminal acts (penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape; attempted rape; forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetration of the perpetrator’s body; fondling or unwanted sexual touching.
Within State, per 3 FAM 1711.2 says sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment.  Per 3 FAM 1712.2-4, S/OCR has the responsibility for investigating or overseeing investigations of alleged sexual harassment, which may include sexual assault. OIG report notes that it does not generally investigate claims of sexual harassment itself because OCR is specifically designated in the FAM as the responsible entity for investigating alleged sexual harassment. If the allegations rise to the level of a sexual assault, S/OCR will refer the allegations to DS/DO/OSI.
This report is distressing to read, and the underreporting is understandable. Of the 24 cases where misconduct allegations including sexual assaults were substantiated, we don’t know how many were criminally charged. One? None?

(font in blue, lifted from the report)

Office of Civl Rights (S/OCR), Office of Special Investigations (DS/OSI), and Conduct, Suitability, and Discipline Division (GTM/CSD)

      • lacks coordination guidance
      • lacks inter-operability of reporting systems
      • tracking system sucks
      • lacks updated supervisory guides
      • lacks data on the consistency of investigative and disciplinary processes
      • lack timeliness standards 

“OIG could not assess the timeliness of sexual harassment cases because the offices did not have timeliness standards. Additionally, lack of reliable and comprehensive data hampers the Department’s ability to effectively oversee and administer efforts to address sexual harassment.”
[…]
OCR, OSI, and CSD have individual systems to track and monitor sexual harassment cases, but the systems do not track similar data or share data with each other. For example, each office uses different identification numbers for the cases and different names for the subject’s bureau, office, or post. Additionally, OCR and CSD use different definitions when tracking sexual harassment cases. […] the three systems do not share data among each other and the other offices relevant to the disciplinary process. OCR, OSI, and CSD officials stated that only staff of the individual offices have access to the office’s data system and that the offices do not grant access to each other.
[…]
Because the offices lack a mechanism for tracking sexual harassment cases from intake until the final disciplinary action, OIG was not able to determine the length and disciplinary outcomes of all sexual harassment and sexual assault reports to OCR and OSI from 2014 to 2017.

S/OCR investigated just 22% of complaints for possible violations of Department policy

Of the 636 complaints of sexual harassment that OCR received from 2014 to 2017, OCR investigated 142 (22 percent) as possible violations of Department policy.

Top Five Bureaus and Posts With the Highest Number of Sexual Harassment Complaints From 2014 to 2017

      • Consular Affairs
      • Diplomatic Security
      • US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
      • US Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
      • Foreign Service Institute

CA, DS, Embassy Kabul, Chennai Consulate, and the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations represented the five bureaus and posts with the highest number of investigations.

Top Five Sexual Assault Complaints by Regional Bureau From 2014 to 2017

      • South and Central Asian Affairs
      • European and Eurasian Affairs
      • Near Eastern Affairs
      • East Asian and Pacific Affairs
      • Western Hemisphere Affairs
      • African Affairs
      • Domestic

Of the 106 complaints received during the relevant time period, 16 were still under investigation; of the 90 investigations OSI had completed, 24 cases (27 percent) had some kind of substantiated misconduct. […] However, this does not mean that 24 cases of sexual assault were confirmed; rather, it means that during the investigation, OSI concluded that some type of misconduct or criminal activity occurred and it was referred it to CSD for possible disciplinary action. In other words, OSI may receive an allegation of sexual assault and, during the investigation, obtain evidence that some other form of misconduct occurred.

Reporting on sexual harassment (63%) and sexual assaults (71%) are up but there are concerns of significant underreporting

According to information obtained by OIG, both through data collection and through interviews with Department employees, reports of sexual harassment increased from 2014 to 2017. OCR officials told OIG that this trend appears to be continuing. Additionally, one employee group expressed concern that sexual harassment is significantly underreported at the Department.

According to OCR data, reports of sexual harassment increased by 63 percent from 2014 to 2017, from 128 reports in 2014 to 209 reports in 2017. An OCR official told OIG that this increase may reflect an increased willingness to report sexual harassment based on an increased focus within the Department on the issue.

Reports of sexual assault have increased as well; OSI data shows a 71 percent increase in the number of reports of sexual assault from 2014 to 2017.

For overseas employees, a bigger challenge

Current and former Department employees interviewed by OIG expressed the belief that, for employees serving overseas, there are no mechanisms in place to hold embassy management accountable for failing to address sexual harassment at post.
[…]
According to OCR data, OCR received 636 complaints of sexual harassment from 2014 to 2017. That’s an average of 212 complaints a year. Of the 636 complaints, 441 originated at overseas posts. An average of 147 cases a year.
[..]
From the beginning of 2014 until the end of 2017, OSI received 106 reports of alleged sexual assault. […] Of the 106 complaints received during the relevant time period, 16 were still under investigation; of the 90 investigations OSI had completed, 24 cases (27 percent) had some kind of substantiated misconduct.
[…]
For cases opened before 2018, OSI did not track substantiated sexual assault allegations as a separate category so OIG could not identify the precise number of sexual assaults.

Underreporting due to lack of confidence in its resolution, fear of retaliation

Based on interviews and the survey of Department employees, OIG identified a number of factors that may contribute to underreporting, including lack of confidence in the Department’s ability to resolve complaints, fear of retaliation, and reluctance to discuss the harassment with others. Of the 154 survey respondents who responded that they experienced or observed sexual harassment within the last 2 years, 73 responded that they did not report the incident to OCR or DS. When asked why they had not reported incidents, of those 73, 25 employees agreed that they did not think that reporting would stop the sexual harassment; 19 employees agreed that they were afraid of retaliation; and 25 employees agreed that they did not want to discuss the incident (see Table 2).

… of the survey participants who experienced or observed sexual harassment but did not report it to OCR or DS, 34 percent stated that they did not do so because they did not think reporting would stop the harassment.

Lack of protection for complainants

Employees who were interviewed and survey respondents stated that another likely cause of underreporting is fear of retaliation. Interviewees told OIG that they do not believe that OCR will protect their identities during the course of the investigation if they do decide to speak out.
[…]
According to the FAM, “the Department will seek to protect the identities of the alleged victim and harasser, except as reasonably necessary (for example, to complete an investigation successfully).” 3 FAM 1525.2-1(d). According to OCR’s guidance for harassment inquiries, however, upper-level management (such as CSD) may need to know the victim’s identity in order to assess the disciplinary action. CSD and L/EMP officials told OIG that employees accused of sexual harassment are entitled to procedural due process if CSD proposes discipline. For sexual harassment cases, this means that the accused receive the OCR investigative file that includes all victim and witness statements, including their names; for sexual assault cases, the discipline package includes OSI’s report of investigation.

“Corridor Reputation”

Employees in interviews also expressed fear that reporting sexual harassment could harm their careers, either through overt retaliation or through the creation of a negative stigma and damage to the reporter’s “corridor reputation.”

One group representing Department employees told OIG that employees who experience sexual harassment are fearful that reporting it will cause their colleagues to view them as “troublemakers.”

Another employee group told OIG that the Foreign Service is a fairly small organization and reporting sexual harassment could give employees a poor reputation that will “follow them to future posts.”

Advised Against Reporting Sexual Harassment

…some Department employees told OIG that they were advised not to report the harassment that they experienced. Four survey respondents who experienced or observed sexual harassment stated that they did not report after being told not to do so.

Intake until Final Action: Length Varied from 139 days to 1,705 days

On average, OIG’s selected cases took 21 months to move from intake to resolution.54 The length of cases varied from 139 days (i.e., almost 5 months) to 1,705 days (i.e., over 4 years)

Final Disciplinary Actions for Selected Cases Ranged from No Action to Suspension

Final disciplinary decisions for OIG’s selected sexual harassment cases ranged from no action to suspension. Although the Department had proposed discipline for 11 of the 20 cases, only 5 resulted in implementation of the disciplinary action.

For example, one case resulted in no action taken after FSGB overturned the Department’s disciplinary decision to issue a Letter of Reprimand. For the three cases resulting in resignations, CSD had decided on either suspensions or separations but ultimately reached negotiated settlements for resignation. One individual retired after receiving CSD’s proposed decision, and another retired as CSD was reviewing the case. According to CSD officials, individuals who retire before a final disciplinary decision do not have the proposal or disciplinary decision included in their official personnel file.

2010-2020! Hello!

CSD has not updated the Foreign Service supervisory guide since 2004 and the civil service supervisory guide since 2007 to reflect sexual harassment policy changes. The supervisory guides aim to help supervisors and managers identify and address conduct and performance problems. The guides discuss the supervisor’s responsibilities, the disciplinary process, and certain types of misconduct. The guides do not, however, explain that supervisors are required to report allegations or observations of sexual harassment to OCR, although doing so has been a requirement in the FAM since 2010.

State/IG surveyed 2000 randomly selected employees and got a 27% response rate

OIG randomly selected 2,000 Department direct-hire employees who were employed as of October 1, 2018. OIG conducted a pre-test of the survey with 20 of the randomly selected employees. OIG surveyed the remaining 1,980 employees and received “undeliverable” responses from 215 email accounts.  A total of 479 employees responded to the survey, accounting for a 27 percent response rate.
[…]
Several factors may have affected the response rate: lack of access to Department e-mail during the 5-week lapse in appropriations; the sensitive nature of the subject; and employees being out of the office during the timeframe.4 Additionally, due to limited resources, OIG did not select a sample of respondents to validate their survey responses. OIG’s statistician analyzed the data by reviewing the responses of survey respondents. OIG also interviewed 10 employees who contacted OIG to share their personal experiences with sexual harassment at the Department. Additionally, OIG interviewed employee groups representing Department employees for additional employee perspectives on sexual harassment.

Related posts from 2014-2016:

 

Mexico: US Consulate Tijuana Local Employee Edgar Flores Santos Found Dead in a Field

 

Fox 5 San Diego reported on October 2 that a local  employee of the US Consulate General in Tijuana, Mexico reported missing on September 30 was found dead in a field southeast of the city. The employee identified as Edgar Flores Santos worked on animal and plant inspection for the Department of Agriculture’s APHIS office in Tijuana.
The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau tweeted that US Mission Mexico is mourning the loss of Flores Santos and that the mission is grateful for his service. He also tweeted that post offers its sincere condolences to his loved ones and will work with law enforcement until he and his family receive justice. 
Fox 5 San Diego also published a statement issued by US Consulate Tijuana:
“The community of the U.S. Consulate of the United States in Tijuana deeply laments reports of the death of one of our local employees, a member of the Agricultural Department involved in the sanitary inspections of plants and animals with the office in Tijuana,” read the statement. “We are awaiting official confirmation, and we’ll continue working with local authorities investigating the case, out of respect for the family we will have no further comment.”