Secretary Pompeo swore-in Stephen E. Biegun as Deputy Secretary of State on December 21, 2019. The State Department has posted his official bio on state.gov (see below). No word yet on when he will start on his new role as Acting Secretary of State (word on Twitterverse seems to be “when” not “if”). Without a nominee for Deputy Secretary for Management, it is likely that the new deputy secretary will be dual-hatted, unless, management has been delegated to Pompeo-pal and Under Secretary for Management, Brian Bulatao.
On August 23, 2018, Secretary Pompeo appointed Stephen E. Biegun as the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, responsible for leading U.S. efforts to achieve President Trump’s goal of the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit. As Special Representative, on behalf of the Secretary of State he directed all U.S. policy on North Korea, led negotiations, and spearheaded U.S. diplomatic efforts with allies and partners.
Biegun has three decades of experience in government in the Executive and Legislative Branches, as well as in the private sector. Through his extensive career in foreign policy and business, he has excelled in tough negotiating settings. Most recently, Biegun was vice president of International Governmental Relations for Ford Motor Company, where—as a third generation Ford employee—he oversaw all aspects of Ford’s international governmental interactions including throughout the Indo-Pacific Region.
Previously, as national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, he provided analysis and strategic planning for the U.S. Senate’s consideration of foreign policy, defense and intelligence matters, and international trade agreements. Prior to that, Biegun worked in the White House from 2001-2003 as Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. He served as a senior staff member to the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and performed the function of chief operating officer for the National Security Council.
Before joining the White House staff, Biegun served for 14 years as a foreign policy advisor to members of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. During this time, he held the position of Chief of Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1999-2000. In addition, he served as a senior staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs for 6 years.
From 1992 to 1994, Biegun served in Moscow, Russia, as the Resident Director in the Russian Federation for the International Republican Institute, a democracy-building organization established under the National Endowment for Democracy.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1963, Biegun graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Political Science and Russian Language. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served on the boards of the National Bureau of Asian Research, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, and Freedom House.
It's official: Stephen Biegun is the new Deputy Secretary of @StateDept. Honored to swear him in today. As I’ve said before, he’s exactly what we need to maintain our momentum executing a foreign policy that advances America’s interests and ensures our security. pic.twitter.com/e8AGVBAO8u
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 21, 2019
Steve Biegun confirmed in a 90-3 vote to become Trump's No. 2 diplomat at State pic.twitter.com/rxCMIhsHs1
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) December 19, 2019
🚨 Maximum intrigue: State Department agreed to release a portion of an internal legal opinion that says U.S. has the right to demand that all U.N. sanctions on #Iran be reinstated in exchange for Ted Cruz lifting a hold on Steve Biegun's nomination.https://t.co/J4sgu91l9d
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) December 15, 2019
"We are fully aware of the strong potential for North Korea to conduct a major provocation in the days ahead. To say the least, such an action will be most unhelpful in achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," Biegun says. https://t.co/EKenGUdV5S
— Kim Gamel (@kimgamel) December 16, 2019
On Thursday, December 19, the U.S. Senate adjourned for the 116th Congress, First Session. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will reconvene for the 116th Congress, 2nd Session, at 12:00 pm on Friday, January 3rd, 2020.
Prior to leaving town, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Stephen Biegun as the State Department’s Deputy Secretary. It also confirmed the nomination of 11 ambassadors, one USAID Assistant Administrator, and three Foreign Service lists.
PN1266 Confirmed, 90-3: Executive Calendar #550 Stephen E. Biegun to be Deputy Secretary of State
Confirmed, 90-3: Executive Calendar #550 Stephen E. Biegun to be Deputy Secretary of State @StateDept
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) December 19, 2019
PN834 Executive Calendar #521 Kelley Eckels Currie to be Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues
PN617 Executive Calendar #519 Morse H. Tan to be Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice
PN1047 Executive Calendar #529 Peter M. Haymond, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
PN1046 Executive Calendar #528 Kelly C. Degnan, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to Georgia
PN1038 Executive Calendar #527 Alina L. Romanowski, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the State of Kuwait
PN1036 Executive Calendar #526 Robert S. Gilchrist, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of Lithuania
PN965 Executive Calendar #524 Carmen G. Cantor, of Puerto Rico, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Federated States of Micronesia
PN902 Executive Calendar #523 Yuri Kim, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of Albania
PN891 Executive Calendar #522 Leslie Meredith Tsou, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Sultanate of Oman
PN703 Executive Calendar #520 Roxanne Cabral a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of the Marshall Islands
PN121 Executive Calendar #518 David T. Fischer to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Kingdom of Morocco
PN614 Executive Calendar #411 Michelle A. Bekkering to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
FOREIGN SERVICE LISTS
2019-12-02 PN1318 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Shon Stephen Belcher, and ending David Mango, which 41 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.
2019-12-02 PN1319 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kara Miriam Abramson, and ending Megan Elizabeth Zurowski, which 154 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.
2019-12-02 PN1321 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jenny U. Abamu, and ending Hamda A. Yusuf, which 119 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.
Foreign Service promotions confirmed by consent:
PN 1318 (41 nominations)
PN 1319 (154 nominations)
PN 1321 (119 nominations)
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) December 20, 2019
#Senate stands adjourned and will convene at the following dates/times for pro forma sessions:
Monday, December 23 at 10:00 AM
Thursday, December 26 at 3:15 PM
Monday, December 30 at 2:00 PM
Thursday, January 2 at 6:30 PM
— Senate Periodicals (@SenatePPG) December 20, 2019
Leader McConnell has announced that the Senate will reconvene for the 116th Congress, 2nd Session, at 12:00 pm on Friday, January 3rd.
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) December 19, 2019
Confirmed, 70-22; Executive Calendar #530, John Joseph Sullivan, of Maryland, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.
— Floor Monitor (@senategopfloor) December 12, 2019
The Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee John Sullivan to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia. His confirmation has been closely watched as one of the key steps needed to pave the way for a possible Senate run by Mike Pompeo in Kansas. https://t.co/w18ccnQ54f
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 12, 2019
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, speaking in a closed door State Department town hall, acknowledged his failure to protect career officials from political retaliation and pledged to make amends. https://t.co/st6OLrvK81
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) September 4, 2019
- SFRC Clears Sullivan For Moscow, Other Ambassador Nominations, Foreign Service Lists Nov 2019
- D/Secretary John Sullivan on the Effort to Smear Former US Amb to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Oct 2019
- Trump to Nominate @StateDept Deputy Secretary John Sullivan to be U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Oct 2019
- Report: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Lacks Authority to Fire a Political Appointee #DeptofSwagger Sept 2019
- Who’s Going to be the Next @StateDept Deputy Secretary? Two Names Floating Around: Biegun, Bulatao Aug 2019
- Deputy Secretary John Sullivan Visits Thimphu, Bhutan Aug 2019
- D/Secretary John Sullivan Swears-in New U.S. Ambassador to OSCE James Gilmore June 2019
- House Foreign Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on @StateDept ReDesign With
TillersonOops, Sullivan Sept 2017
- D/Secretary Sullivan Touts 500 Additional Comments Submitted to Redesign Portal Aug 2017
- Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s Town Hall With @StateDept Employees Now in Gifs Aug 2017
- Why Tillerson Not Sullivan Needs the Town Hall: Morale Is Bad, “S” is Accountable Aug 2017
- SFRC Grills D/S Sullivan About @StateDept FY18 Reauthorization Bill and Reorganizational Plans July 2017
- @StateDept Deputy Secretary of State Nominee John Sullivan Gets a Senate Hearing May 2017
- U.S. Senate Confirms John J. Sullivan to be Deputy Secretary of State May 2017
- Chief Justice Roberts Swears in John J. Sullivan as New Deputy Secretary of State June 2017
- Trump to nominate John J. Sullivan to be @StateDept’s No.2 and to also serve as No.3 Apr 2017
- Previously Announced DOD Nominee John J. Sullivan Now Slated to be @StateDept’s No. 2 Mar 2017
On October 31, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Stephen E. Biegun of Michigan, to be Deputy Secretary of State. The WH released the following brief bio:
Stephen E. Biegun is the United States Special Representative for North Korea at the Department of State, where he directs all United States policy on North Korea. Prior to returning to government service in 2018, Mr. Biegun served as Vice President of International Governmental Relations for Ford Motor Company, where he was a third-generation Ford employee. At Ford, he led an 80-person team located across 20 countries and was responsible for global trade strategy and international risk assessment. Mr. Biegun has more than two decades of service in the Executive and Legislative Branches of government. In Congress, he served as national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, as Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and as a senior staff member of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. At the White House, he served as the National Security Council Executive Secretary, a senior staff position under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Mr. Biegun is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served on the boards of the National Bureau of Asian Research, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, and Freedom House.
- Who’s Going to be the Next @StateDept Deputy Secretary? Two Names Floating Around: Biegun, Bulatao .
- Trump to Nominate @StateDept Deputy Secretary John Sullivan to be U.S. Ambassador to Moscow
- Trump to nominate John J. Sullivan to be @StateDept’s No.2 and to also serve as No.3 April 2017
- Previously Announced DOD Nominee John J. Sullivan Now Slated to be @StateDept’s No. 2 March 2017
- @StateDept Deputy Secretary of State Nominee John Sullivan Gets a Senate Hearing .
- William J. Burns — to Move Up as Deputy Secretary of State
NEW: Trump has nominated U.S. envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun for deputy secretary of statehttps://t.co/gLu7hUEKM1
— Axios (@axios) October 31, 2019
Politico is reporting that Steve Biegun, President Trump’s special representative for North Korea, is being seriously considered for the No. 2 job at the State Department, according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the matter.
This follows an NYT report on August 20 concerning the expected nomination of Deputy Secretary John Sullivan to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.
The new report from Politico also says that “The whole building is vying for the job,” citing another senior administration official. But only one other name, so far, has been mentioned besides Biegun. A former State Department official told Politico that “one of the contenders could include Brian Bulatao, the undersecretary of state for management, who was chief operating officer of the CIA when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was CIA director.
Note that Bulatao was confirmed as “M” just this past May after the nomination languished in the Senate for several months.
The Deputy Secretary serves as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State …
Christopher (1993-1997) and Albright (1997-2001) had Strobe (Nelson Strobridge) Talbott III (1994–2001) although Clifton Reginald Wharton Jr. did serve as Deputy Secretary on the first year of Christopher’s tenure. Powell (2001-2005) had Richard Lee Armitage (2001–2005) for his entire tenure at State. Rice (2005-2009) had Robert B. Zoellick (2005–2006) and career diplomat John Dimitri Negroponte (2007–2009). Clinton (2009-2013) had James Braidy Steinberg (2009–2011) and career diplomat William Joseph Burns (2011–2014). Kerry (2013-2017) kept Burns as Deputy Secretary after taking office then had Antony Blinken (2015–2017) as Deputy for the remainder of his tenure.
John Sullivan was originally nominated for a post at DOD (see Previously Announced DOD Nominee John J. Sullivan Now Slated to be @StateDept’s No. 2). On April 2017, he was nominated to be Deputy Secretary at State (see Trump to nominate John J. Sullivan to be @StateDept’s No.2 and to also serve as No.3. He got his confirmation hearing in May 2017, and was confirmed the same month as Deputy Secretary of State in a 94-6 vote. He went on to serve as Rex Tillerson’s deputy, and subsequently as Acting Secretary of State after Tillerson’s firing. If he is nominated for the ambassador’s post in Russia, we expect that he’ll sail quickly through the confirmation process.
We were kind of perplexed why he would take this Moscow job, which is a step down from his current position in Foggy Bottom. As chief of mission at the US Embassy in Moscow, his reporting chain would be to the EUR bureau, an office under the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P), a position that reports to the Deputy Secretary (his old job) and to the Secretary. Of course, he is a political appointee so we expect that he’ll go where they send him but we’re really curious why or how this came to be.
CNN cites two sources saying that “Sullivan is well-liked at the State Department but is not inside Pompeo’s inner circle. Sullivan has often felt out of the loop and wanted a new post. Despite having little experience when it comes to Russia, Sullivan lobbied to get this job and Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton ended up supporting him. The sources said Pompeo and Bolton recognize that the US ambassador to Russia is a challenging role, but not one that holds a lot of significance in this administration.”
Hmmnn…. he could have also picked Japan, Brazil, Canada or Gabon and São Tomé & Príncipe among a host of capitals with no ambassadors! We’ll have to wait for Mr. Sullivan’s oral history, hey?
Special Envoy for North Korea Steve Biegun is being seriously considered to replace deputy secretary of state John Sullivan https://t.co/vUCrRsyCxv
— POLITICO (@politico) August 26, 2019
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 20, 2019
President Trump is expected to select Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to replace Jon Huntsman as US Ambassador to Russia, according to a White House official https://t.co/ohwHyiE6hY
— CNN (@CNN) August 21, 2019
Back in July, we blogged that State/OIG cited a State Department’s revocation of an employee’s security clearance in retaliation for whistleblowing in its Semi-Annual Report to Congress for October 2017-March 2018. State/OIG recommended that the whistleblower’s security clearance be reinstated (see State/OIG Finds @StateDept Revoked Security Clearance in Retaliation For Whistleblowing). Retaliatory revocation is not an unheard of practice but we believed this is the first time it’s been reported publicly to the Congress.
Also in July, there was a joint OIG-State memo noting that “Whistleblowers perform a critically important service to the Department of State and to the public when they disclose fraud, waste, and abuse. The Department is committed to protecting all personnel against reprisal for whistleblowing. This summer OIG told us that Congress enacted a new provision in 2017 that requires an agency to suspend for at least 3 days a supervisor found to have engaged in a prohibited personnel practice, such as whistleblower retaliation, and to propose removal of a supervisor for the second prohibited personnel practice. (see @StateDept’s Retaliatory Security Clearance Revocation Now Punishable By [INSERT Three Guesses].
In September, we note the time lapse since the official report was made to the Congress and wondered what action the State Department took in this case. If the State Department believes, as the memo states that “Whistleblowers perform a critically important service to the Department of State and to the public” we really wanted to know what the State Department has done to the official/officials responsible for this retaliatory security clearance revocation.
We also want to see how solid is that commitment in protecting personnel against reprisal — not in words, but action. So we’ve asked the State Department the following questions:
1) Has the security clearance been reinstated for the affected employee, and if so, when?
2) Has the senior official who engaged in this prohibited personnel practice been suspended per congressional mandate, and if so, when and for how long? and
3) Has the State Department proposed a removal of any supervisor/s for engaging in this prohibited personnel practice now or in the past?
As you can imagine, our friends over there are busy swaggering and to-date have not found the time to write back.
Folks, it’s been eight months since that annual report went to the U.S. Congress. If you’re not going to penalize the official or officials who revoked an employee’s security clearance out of retaliation, you were just wasting the letters of the alphabet and toner in that darn paper writing out a whistleblower protection memo.
And the Congress should be rightly pissed.
In July, we blogged about a short item in the latest State/OIG Semi-Annual Report to Congress that indicates it substantiated an allegation of a security clearance revocation in retaliation for an employee’s whistleblowing activity under PPD-19. State/OIG recommended that the whistleblower’s security clearance be reinstated. See State/OIG Finds @StateDept Revoked Security Clearance in Retaliation For Whistleblowing
On July 20, 2018, an unclassified memo jointly signed by Deputy Secretary John Sullivan and State/OIG Steve Linick was released by the Deputy Secretary’s office (with a Whistleblower Info flyer). The memo says in part:
Whistleblowers perform a critically important service to the Department of State and to the public when they disclose fraud, waste, and abuse. The Department is committed to protecting all personnel against reprisal for whistleblowing.
The attached memorandum describes how to make a whistleblowing disclosure and the legal protections that exist for whistleblowers, including Foreign and Civil Service employees and employees of Department contractors and grantees. The memorandum also describes how to file a complaint if you believe you have been subject to improper retaliation.
The memo also identifies the Whistleblower Ombudsman for the State Department as Jeff McDermott:
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 requires Inspectors General to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman. Jeff McDermott has been designated as the Whistleblower Ombudsman for the Department. He is available to discuss the protections against retaliation and how to make a protected disclosure, but he cannot act as your legal representative or advocate. You may contact him atWPEAOmbuds@stateoig.gov.
The memo concludes with a reminder that State Department employees “have a right” to communicate directly with the OIG, and provides contact details:
Remember that Department employees always have a right to communicate directly with OIG. The OIG hotline number is 800-409-9926, and the hotline website is https://oig.state.gov/hotline. OIG’s main website is https://oig.state.gov/.
We suspect that this memo may have been prompted by the IG report to the Congress that an employee had his/her security clearance revoked in retaliation for whistleblowing.
So we wrote to the Whistleblower Ombudsman Jeff McDermott with our congratulations, and, of course to ask a couple of simple questions:
Citing the Sullivan-Linick memo, we asked how is this going to discourage retaliation on whistleblowers when we don’t know what consequences officials face when they are the perpetrators of such retaliation?
Given the latest example of an employee whose security clearance was revoked in retaliation for whistleblowing, we asked if anyone at the State Department has disciplined for doing so?
Since we did not get a response from the Whistleblower Ombudsman, we asked State/OIG for comment last month and was told the following:
Please note that there are different disclosure and review processes for contractor and employee whistleblower retaliation allegations. There is also a different review process for allegations of whistleblower retaliation in the form of actions that have affected an employee’s security clearance. OIG primarily reviews contractor whistleblower and security clearance retaliation allegations, while the Office of Special Counsel generally reviews employee retaliation allegations.
Congress enacted a new provision last year that requires an agency to suspend for at least 3 days a supervisor found to have engaged in a prohibited personnel practice, such as whistleblower retaliation, and to propose removal of a supervisor for the second prohibited personnel practice. OIG believes that these new provisions will demonstrate that there are serious consequences for whistleblower retaliation.
The case you are referring to is a retaliatory security clearance revocation case, and the decision about what action to take has not yet been determined by the Department.
Posted: 4:30 am ET
We recently blogged Why Tillerson Not Sullivan Needs the Town Hall: Morale Is Bad, “S” is Accountable. We also posted our comments on Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s on-the-record briefing with the State Department Press Corps (see Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s Town Hall With @StateDept Employees Now in Gifs).
We now understand that Deputy Secretary Sullivan had three reasons for holding a town hall with State Department employees. It appears like he missed some marks.
State/USAID full merger no longer in the planning?
The first reason for the town hall was reportedly to make clear to employees that for planning purposes there will not be a full merger between the State Department and USAID. All Working Groups (now known as “Workstreams”) involved in the redesign were previously instructed to assume that State and USAID will “remain separate” but be “mutually dependent” entities. That is, USAID will not be fully subsumed but it will also not be further separated from State. Our understanding it that the Working Groups would consider consolidation at the management and program levels if it is best or moving things from USAID or State depending on who has the expertise. The important point that folks expected Mr. Sullivan to clarify was to make clear that the full merger is no longer in the planning. Apparently, this he did not do.
Based on the on-the-record briefing with D/Secretary Sullivan, he only mentioned USAID once when he said, “Nothing’s off the table, everything is going to be evaluated by them, the Secretary has not given – other than a mandate to make a better State Department and USAID more efficient and effective for the 21st century, he’s not directed that any outcome result from this redesign.” During the town hall, he reportedly told attendees that “The redesign is not the dismantling of State and USAID.” Expectant folks were disappointed, and were perplexed why Mr. Sullivan did not mention that the full merger is no longer in the planning.
Preparation, Organization, Skepticism
The other two reasons were more challenging. One, he was supposed to impressed upon employees that the re-design process is “truly employee-led” and two, he was supposed to provide some motivation to the staff.
On the re-design, we understand that there are two issues. First, the issue with trust is reportedly a huge concern. In addition, employees also believe that the contracted firm has more access to Secretary Tillerson than all of the current leadership. The State Department leadership reportedly doesn’t understand why no one believes that the process isn’t rigged. So, they do all these things to try and convince folks that is not the case but without much success. Latest examples are the town hall with inadequate answers, and a stakeholder meeting last week with NGOs who do business with State/USAID. Both did not go very well. In the latter, the State Department representatives apparently tried to take a poll on foreign aid priorities. Sources told a reporter that the poll questions were dumb and the answer choices were often irrelevant. NGO representatives told the reporter that they felt like they were being talked down to and offered BS responses.
The second concern has to do with preparation and organization. Apparently USAID is seen as seeming more prepared and organized in these meetings and in the Workstreams. State reportedly appears seemingly scattered and State folks more likely to disagree with other State people. At this time, we only know that career employees are in these working groups. We don’t know if there are political appointees working with them and what roles are played by the consulting firms.
Below are the short and the long bits on D’s town hall.
Town Hall Feedback
One blog feedback we received: “I was there and DS Sullivan might as well have not showed up. 80 percent of the questions seemed out of his league. Huge disappointment!”
One State Department employee told us he/she gave Deputy Secretary Sullivan a “B” for effort and style, and a “D” for substance, as there were too many questions that he could not answer. If the questions were collected from the Secretary’s Sounding Board, he should have been prepped better.
We were informed that Mr. Sullivan did give a pretty good answer on diversity when he was asked if the Department was doing anything to help LGBT employees with the family member accreditation issue (now that State/HR has changed the Fair Share rule to 20% posts or greater, we’ve also learned that only 33% of posts are places where LGBT FSOs can serve accompanied by their families).
The Q&A from the town hall and a few comments in [brackets] below are provided anonymously through one of our contacts:
Q: When will the redesign be complete? “There are a couple of steps in that process…when will we get to the point where the redesign is implemented that requires steps from Congress and OMB…as soon as we get clearance from OMB we will start…”
“The redesign is not the dismantling of State and USAID” [he really felt he had to say that out loud]. “Despite what you might read in the newspaper”[….fake news!!]
Q: AFSA: …We found the same thing Insigniam did – we love our jobs but are driven to distraction by onerous process…but as to the hiring freeze and the FS…because it’s an up or out system, we have a built-in RIF…so we are RIFing right now unless we are hiring…what can you tell us about hiring ELOs next year so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past? “The issues you raise are important” [oh boy…] “that’s why we have ambassadors and career FSOs working on this in the working groups…it’s an important issue we’re working on.”
CA to DHS
Q: One recommendation from the listening tour report was to move CA to DHS? “Nothing is off the table – because this is a bottom up employee-led process, but I have told S how important CA is, it’s not his intent nor mine to move CA. But nothing is off the table.”
Q: Why are you preventing lateral moves for civil servants? He’s explaining the hiring freeze... “it’s not a sign of disrespect”. [OMG he just said] “I’ll give you two examples of great civil servants I know.”
Delegations of Authority
Q: Hiring freeze especially hard for EFMs. Will the freeze be reconsidered? “We will endeavor to lift the freeze as quickly as possible. In the interim there are waivers” [yeah but S insists on reading each waiver personally!!]
Q: You began your speech with how important Tom Shannon is, but there are a number of other people who could be helping you and poor Tom – the empty AS and under secretaries – why aren’t these being filled? (Applause) “There is no delay or freeze on nominating political appointees though many think there should be...[silence]...that’s a joke!” [Ugh.] “The process is underway, hasn’t gone as quickly as we’ve hoped but it’s underway…I think it’s gaining steam…”
Posted: 5:07 am ET
Updated: Aug 11, 2:24 pm PT
We recently blogged about the rescinded delegations of authority at the State Department (see Tillerson Rescinds Delegated Authorities Department-Wide, Further Gums Up Foggy Bottom). A State Department official (SDO) told Politico that Tillerson only rescinded three delegations of authority. Just three. SDO frequently is the attribution used when the folks at the State Department press shop do not want to speak on the record. The same official who commented to Politico also said Tillerson has requested the Under Secretaries to undertake an immediate review of the remaining authorities. The SDO forgot to remind himself that the State Department currently do not have Under Secretaries but only one Under Secretary (P).
The sources who informed us of the rescinded authorities are SDOs but are not part of the agency’s press office. They are folks who are not known for running around with their hair on fire. One of them told us “all”, another confirmed that it was “department-wide,” and that’s the story we ran. One of our sources subsequently told us that decisions will be made quickly on which authorities will be redelegated. It was pointed out to us that some will be quick and obvious to make like authorities concerning consular services.
We understand that there is also a memo floating around outlining the delegations of authority that have been rescinded.
DA-14: Delegation of Authority to Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P) and the Under Secretary for Management (M), January 18, 2017
(no text publicly available)
One the three authorities the State Department said it rescinded was DA-14 dated January 18, 2017 granted by then Secretary Kerry to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P) and the Under Secretary for Management (M) that the State Department says “allowed for almost unlimited re-delegation of those authorities.” DA-14 has not/not been published in the Federal Register nor the GPO so we don’t know all the details that it covered.
A former State Department official (SDO) familiar with this issue, however, told us that the January 18 delegation was essentially envisioned as “a temporary, unlimited delegation of authorities to P and M because it was anticipated that there would be no “D” and perhaps no “S” for some period of time” and that its revocation “would not have a dramatic effect” on operations. According to the former SDO, the revocation of this specific DA is not surprising since the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary are now both in place. The former official further told us that rescission of ALL of the delegations of authority would be much more significant but said, “I can’t imagine that all of the delegations were rescinded.”
The former SDO added that “If the Secretary did revoke all of the delegations one would hope that this would be very temporary.” The former official explained that “Without delegations in place, any decisions that by law lie with the Secretary literally would need to be made by the Secretary. This could result in significant delays, including on decisions that are by and large technical.”
A piece published by the New York Times over the weekend notes that “all decisions, no matter how trivial, must be sent to Mr. Tillerson or his top aides: Margaret Peterlin, his chief of staff, and Brian Hook, the director of policy planning.”
A Foggy Bottom worker bee told us that whether or not Tillerson rescinded delegated authority “the effect is the same –the paper goes to him.” FBWB added that “In normal circumstances we would know the staffers in S, as we do in other 7th floor offices, and can keep paper moving with a telephone call” but that this is now “unknown” territory.
So what does it mean if ALL decisions must now go up to the Secretary of State?
Please don’t tell us that the next wrinkle we’re going to hear would be folks unable to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) because Tillerson is traveling and is unable to approve travel orders.
DA 284-1: Delegation of Authority to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Feb 13, 2009:
Text: Delegation of Authority No. 284–1
By virtue of the authority vested in me as Secretary of State by the laws of the United States, including 22 U.S.C. 2651a, I hereby delegate to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, to the extent authorized by law, all authorities and functions vested in the Secretary of State or the head of agency by any act, order, determination, delegation of authority, regulation, or executive order, now or hereafter issued. This delegation includes all authorities and functions that have been or may be delegated or redelegated to other Department officials but does not repeal delegations to such officials.
This delegation shall apply only when the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources are absent or otherwise unavailable or when the Secretary or either Deputy Secretary requests that the Under Secretary exercise such authorities and functions.
Notwithstanding this delegation of authority, the Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources may exercise any function or authority delegated by this delegation.
This is one of the three DAs cited by the State Department official to the press. The language is clear that this authority apply only when the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary are “absent or otherwise unavailable” or “when the Secretary or either Deputy Secretary requests that the Under Secretary exercise such authorities and functions.”
Excuse us, but this is perplexing to us, ok? If Secretary Tillerson and Deputy Secretary Sullivan are traveling who has authority over the State Department in their absence if it’s not going to be the third highest ranking person in the agency?
A separate source familiar with inner workings at State but has no direct knowledge of these developments suggested that the Delegation of Authority exercise exposes more than anything else “the profound lack of knowledge and grasp” on the 7th floor especially with the political appointees. This source says that there are practical and long standing reasons for delegations to D and P of certain things, such as making it possible for Tillerson to seamlessly have things done without having to go through the “Acting” designation every time he’s not around or unavailable. It appears that no one understood that.
And no one thought about asking the Office of the Legal Adviser?
DA 280-1: Delegation by the Secretary of State to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs of Authorities Regarding Congressional Reporting Functions, Feb 13, 2009:
Text: Delegation of Authority No. 28o–1
By virtue of the authority vested in me as Secretary of State by the laws of the United States, including 22 U.S.C. 2651a, I hereby assign to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to the extent authorized by law, the function of approving submission of reports to the Congress.
This delegation covers the decision to submit to the Congress both one-time reports and recurring reports, including but not limited to those recurring reports identified in Section 1 of Executive Order 13313 (Delegation of Certain Congressional Reporting Functions) of July 31, 2003. However, this delegation shall not be construed to authorize the Under Secretary to make waivers, certifications, determinations, findings, or other such statutorily required substantive actions that may be called for in connection with the submission of a report. The Under Secretary shall be responsible for referring to the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, or the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources any matter on which action would appropriately be taken by such official.
Any authority covered by this delegation may also be exercised by the Deputy Secretary and the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, to the extent authorized by law, or by the Secretary of State.
This is the last of the three DAs cited by the State Department as having been rescinded by Tillerson. According to Reuters, the authorities regarding congressional reporting functions will now go to the Office of Policy Planning (S/P), The current S/P head is a member of Tillerson’s inner circle, Brian Hook. The position does not require Senate confirmation. Three former officials told Reuters that giving the policy planning staff final sign-off on the reports could inject political considerations into their preparation. (For what it’s worth, a Foggy Bottom denizen who knew Mr. Hook during his prior stint at State during the Bush administration told us that he is “very smart and thoughtful — a good pick for the head of the policy shop — and also really a nice man.”)
S/P was created in 1947 by George Kennan at the request of Secretary of State George C. Marshall. The office serves as a source of independent policy analysis and advice for the Secretary of State. According to state.gov, the Policy Planning Staff”s mission is to take “a longer term, strategic view” of global trends and frame recommendations for the Secretary of State to advance U.S. interests and American values.
Note that there are at least 300 congressionally mandated reports required by Congress. So S/P will now have sign off on all those reports? The rumors of an expanding S/P empire is in all likelihood, true, because how are you going to clear all these reports? And if this is the case, who’s going to be doing “longer term, strategic view” for the State Department if S/P is signing off on all reports and every policy memo? What’s the career diplomat at “P” going to be doing?
One other thing pointed out to us, particularly on the delegation to P for signing off on reports to Congress is that these reports must have a “policy sign-off.” We understand that the Bureau of Legislative Affairs (H) never had this function which is primarily coordination of legislative activity/strategy and principally as liaison to Congress. Apparently, the 7th floor is not even aware of this and was under the assumption that the bureau’s responsibility to “transmit” reports is the same as responsibility to “sign-off” for policy purposes.
Did somebody send the Office of the Legal Adviser (L) a smoke signal for help?
NOTE: Delegation of Authority: 245-2 Delegation from the Secretary to the Deputy Secretary, July 31, 2017 to be published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2017. This DA supersedes Delegation of Authority 245-1, dated February 13, 2009. PDF
AND NOW THIS —