Why no appropriate staffing for High Threat Posts? Here is one answer; you may not like it!

Posted: 3:14 pm PT
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Updated: 9:25 pm EST
HTP/Africa #1:  One high threat post in Africa should have 3 Regional Security Officers (RSOs).  One rotated out of the position with no replacement. Then there were 2 RSOs. One went on medical evacuation. Then there was 1 RSO. “D.C. Has sent some TDY support when they can, but another permanent RSO is not coming for months.”

Updated: Oct 16, 2016 6:55 pm EST
HTP/Africa #2:  Serving at an HTP Africa post and our Regional Security Office is understaffed and has been for ages. For a while we had the ARSO as our only full time RSO with a lot of TDY coming through but we never had the mandated three RSOs in the office. It would seem the ARSO is good at their job but don’t we deserve an actual RSO at the helm if we are a High Threat Post?

Last week, we received a Burn Bag asking, “Why are our most threatened missions not getting appropriate security staffing?” We are reposting the Burn Bag item below:

“Someone  needs to ask DS leadership why the bureau with the greatest growth  since Nairobi and Benghazi is not fully staffing it’s positions at High Threat  Posts.  I mean DS created an entire new office to manage High Threat posts so  why are our most threatened missions not getting appropriate security staffing? At my post, which is designated as Hight Threat, the two ARSO positions have  been vacant for more than a year.   I understand from colleagues that numerous  other posts have similar significant security staffing gaps.  DS agents leaving for agencies (as reported by Diplopundit) is not going to help what appears to be a significant DS personnel shortage.  Does DS  or the Department have a plan to fix whatever the issues are?”

One reason why Diplomatic Security is not fully staffing its vacancies at High Threat Posts maybe that it is refusing to panel agents who came back through the reinstatement process. Even if those agents have apparently told DS that they are willing to fill these critical need vacancies.

We are now just learning that prior to this mass departures of DS agents for the U.S. Marshals Service (where there was a warning that departing agents will not be allowed back) Diplomatic Security has already refused to panel agents who came back to Diplomatic Security through the reinstatement process. We understand that the Bureau of Human Resources has processed these employees for reinstatement, but Diplomatic Security is refusing to panel the reappointed employees for High Threat priority staffing positions where there are unfilled positions. For those not in the FS, an Assignment Panel is established for the  purpose of reviewing the bids and qualifications of employees for assignment to domestic and overseas positions, and make recommendations on who should go where.

So there are HTP posts with vacancies, there are folks willing to go, but DS refuses to consider these folks for the HTP vacancies. Does that even make sense? We would loved to have Diplomatic Security elaborate their thinking on this. No, not because we are nosy but because even insider folks cannot make heads or tails of what’s going on. And because we have reporting from at least one HTP post saying hey, we are in an HTP post and our two vacancies for security officers have been unfilled for over a year!  Over a year! How many other HTP posts are in a similar pickle? We are collecting information on how many HTP posts  have not been fully staffed. Contact us here.

 

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IG Inspection of Diplomatic Security’s Directorate of International Programs: After Benghazi Chaos, Nothing to See Here

Posted: 2:52 am EDT
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State/OIG inspected the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Directorate of International Programs (State/DS/IP) from June 2 through July 2, 2015.  The February 2016 report was posted online on February 22, 2016. International Programs is tasked with “managing and directing all Bureau of Diplomatic Security programs and policies that protect the Department of State’s international missions and personnel from the threats of terrorism, espionage (human and technical), and crime.”

The directorate has been headed by DAS Christian Schurman, a Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Agent with 27 years of service since September 2014.  In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, the State Department created a new Directorate of High Threat Programs which carved out from DS/IP approximately 30 overseas missions and the liaison and coordination responsibilities for 4 of the 7 DoD combatant commands: U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Structure:

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) International Programs Directorate (DS/IP) provides leadership, support, and oversight of security and law enforcement programs for 199 regional security offices overseas. A Deputy Assistant Secretary leads a staff of approximately 227 Foreign Service, Civil Service, contract, and retired annuitants and oversees an annual budget of more than $1.6 billion for local guard and personal protective services task orders in the Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract at U.S. missions overseas. The directorate consists of three offices with oversight and responsibility, as follows:

— The Office of Special Projects and Coordination provides global oversight of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program and emergency planning for all U.S. diplomatic missions overseas.

— The Office of Overseas Protective Operations (DS/IP/OPO) provides funding, administrative and management oversight, and operational guidance for local guard and surveillance detection contracts, local guard and surveillance detection forces employed under personal service agreements, as well as the WPS contract and the residential security programs at overseas missions.

–The Office of Regional Directors serves as the directorate liaison between Regional Security Offices in the field, other DS directorates, and regional and functional bureaus.

Leadership:  OIG personal questionnaire results scored the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs within the range of scores for the 66 Deputy Assistant Secretaries in 21 domestic inspections conducted during the past 5 years, in 10 of the 13 leadership attributes. He scored well above the prior averages in the areas of vision and goal setting, clarity, and problem solving.

Screen Shot

Summary of Findings:

  • Eighty-three percent of the Regional Security Officers who responded to an OIG field survey expressed satisfaction with timely guidance, direction, and coordination by the Directorate of International Programs on their behalf.
  • Seventy-nine percent of the Deputy Chiefs of Mission who responded to the field survey expressed satisfaction with the frequency and timeliness of communications and guidance from the Directorate of International Programs relating to Deputy Chief of Mission supervision of Regional Security Officers.
  •  Officials interviewed in five of the six regional bureaus stated that communications and coordination with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security have much improved in the aftermath of the attack on Benghazi in September 2012.
  •   The directorate is in the process of coordinating the updates of memoranda of understanding between the Department and the Department of Defense concerning Force Protection Detachments under Chief of Mission authority and the Marine Security Guard detachments.
  •   The Office of Acquisition Management and the Directorate of International Programs entered into an informal agreement to assign contracting officers and contracting specialists within the directorate Office of Overseas Protective Operations 8 years ago to help desk officers and acquisition management specialists oversee more than $1.6 billion in local guard and personal protective services contracts. However, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Office of Acquisition Management have no service level agreement defining the roles and responsibilities of both staffs, which has caused confusion and some misunderstanding.

State OIG made the following recommendations:

OIG made three recommendations to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security that include establishing or updating memoranda of agreement between the Department and the Department of Defense pertaining to the Marine Security Guard program, issuing guidance to Chiefs of Mission on the availability of U.S. military assets during emergency situations and implementing an orientation program for directorate acquisition staff.

OIG also made two recommendations to the Bureau of Administration relating to the implementation of a service level agreement pertaining to the administration of local guard and personal protective services contracts and updating the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System with timely contract performance data.

Read the full report here:

 

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