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.

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@StateDept Transition Names: Jim Carafano, Kristie Kenney, Patrick Kennedy, Joseph MacManus

Posted: 1:58 am ET
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Per State Department, three senior State Department career officials have been designated several months ago by Secretary Kerry to ensure a professional and orderly transfer of power at the State Department.  The three experienced senior career officials tasked to oversee that transition are Counselor Kristie Kenney and Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, and they’re working closely with Executive Secretary Joseph MacManus.

On November 15, the State Department was asked if it is normal that at this stage the agency does not yet have any contact with the Trump transition team.  The State Department spox Elizabeth  Trudeau said that “It’s up to the president-elect and his team. We stand ready to welcome them, provide the briefing materials, the facilitation, as we look towards inauguration in January.”

The NYT published a list of the Trump Transition team and assignments. The list names Jim Carafano, the director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies and the deputy director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation as the transition person for the State Department. Here he is talking about an August meeting with the president-elect.

Here is the transition list via the NYT, although given that it has apparently been re-shaped, the list might be OBE already:

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More transition news:

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Meet the State Department’s Next Executive Secretary — Ambassador Joe Macmanus

— Domani Spero
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Vienna Office Joe Macmanus - who is the State Department's incoming Executive Secretary - before addressing staffers from the three Department missions in Vienna, Austria, during a break in the Iran nuclear talks on July 14, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Vienna Office Joe Macmanus – who is the State Department’s incoming Executive Secretary – before addressing staffers from the three Department missions in Vienna, Austria, during a break in the Iran nuclear talks on July 14, 2014.

 

Ambassador McManus will succeed Ambassador John Bass who was appointed Executive Secretary of State in October 2009. Last month, Ambassador Bass was nominated by President Obama  to be our next ambassador to the Republic of Turkey.

A career member of the Foreign Service holding the rank of Minister Counselor, Ambassador McManus served as the Executive Assistant to Secretary Clinton from May 2012 until November 2012, and from January 2009 until April 2011. As the senior professional aide to Secretary Clinton, he helped to manage the Secretary’s professional office and staff, and accompanied her on foreign travel. From June 2008 until January 2009, he served in the same capacity under former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. More from state.gov:

Ambassador Macmanus was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs from April 2011 until May 2012. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs from 2005 until 2008, managing an office of 30 liaison officers responsible for the Department’s day-to-day relationship with Congress on legislation, budget and appropriations, and foreign policy. He has served in this and other capacities in the Department since 2003.

Ambassador Macmanus entered the Foreign Service in 1986 as a Public Diplomacy Officer at the United States Information Agency (USIA). From 1986 until 2003, he served in various Public Diplomacy positions in Mexico, El Salvador, Poland, Belgium, and at the U.S. Information Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Macmanus served as Assistant to the Deputy Director of USIA from 1995 until 1999, where he worked on a number of initiatives in democracy, human rights, and the consolidation of the U.S. Information Agency into the Department of State.

Ambassador Macmanus has a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Information Science from the State University of New York.

 

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SFRC Clears Villarosa, Liberi, Mull, North, Olson, Macmanus with Looming Senate Holds

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee(SFRC)  cleared the following ambassadorial nominations on September 19, 2012.

  • Sharon English Woods Villarosa, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mauritius, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles.
  • Dawn M. Liberi, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.
  • Stephen D. Mull, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland.
  • Walter North, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
  • Richard G. Olson, of New Mexico, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.
  • Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the rank of Ambassador

Two nominees for UNGA were also cleared:

The Honorable John Hardy Isakson, of Georgia, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, of Vermont, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

The nominations will now go to the Senate for the full vote.

The SFRC, by the way,  just held its confirmation hearing for Ambassador Robert Beecroft (US Embassy Iraq) on September 19, so he was not included in the cleared nominees on Wednesday.  The Cable says that according to committee aides, “there was broad support for dispatching the Beecroft nomination out of committee without a formal vote so he could be confirmed this week before the Senate leaves town.”

However, all these nominees could get entangled in Senator Rand Paul’s hold.  He has reportedly placed a hold on the Olson nomination over Pakistan’s Afridi case. And according to The Cable, there is also the the ongoing dispute between Senate leadership and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over Paul’s demand for a floor vote on his amendment to cut off all U.S. aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt.

We don’t think Dr. Afridi should be in jail, but taking away what, $33 million from over a billion US aid to Pakistan, and a very public congressional pressure to released the good doctor — is not going to help much. No country, particularly one like Pakistan would like to be seen as publicly relenting to such foreign pressure, especially one coming from the United States, a perceived enemy by a great number of its population. To do so is contrary to the laws of political self preservation.  Can you imagine any US President acceding to a foreign senator’s demand to release a prisoner from one of our jails?  Of course not.

Senator Paul says, “If Pakistan wants to be our ally — and receive foreign aid — then they should act like it, and they must start by releasing Dr. Afridi.” He has more here.

Even if the elected Government of Pakistan may be amendable to releasing Dr. Afridi, it would be foolish to do so now, in the most public way. Or if it does, and it falls, who would we have next to deal with?

If screaming from the Senate chamber works perfectly in conducting foreign relations, why the heck do we have a diplomatic corps?  More congressional shock and awe is not going to help the cause of Dr. Afridi, it just drags it longer.  Senator Paul should understand this.  It’s not about him, it’s about them.  He should lift his hold so Ambassador Olson can join his embassy in Islamabad and our diplomats can do the work they need to do.

 

 

Pending State Department Nominations as of August 2012

Below is a list of nominees submitted by the President to the Senate for confirmation during the current congress and was still undergoing SFRC consideration when the Senate took its break on August 2, 2012:

Aug 02, 12     PN1876    United Nations
Patrick J. Leahy, of Vermont, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Aug 02, 12     PN1875    United Nations
John Hardy Isakson, of Georgia, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Jul 18, 12     PN1827    Department of State
Richard G. Olson, of New Mexico, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. (reportedly discharged from committee but still listed as “pending” in the SFRC)

Jul 11, 12     PN1802    Department of State
Walter North, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.

Jul 11, 12     PN1801    Department of State
Stephen D. Mull, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland.

Jul 11, 12     PN1800    Department of State
Dawn M. Liberi, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.

Dec 05, 11     PN1171    Department of State
Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency,
with the rank of Ambassador.

Dec 05, 11     PN1170    Department of State
Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations,
with the rank of Ambassador.

Oct 17, 11     PN1047    Department of State
Sharon English Woods Villarosa, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of  Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mauritius, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador  Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles.

Shari Villarosa‘s nomination for Mauritius has been pending in committee since October 2011. And then there’s also Joseph Macmanus for IAEA and UNVIE, pending since December 2011.  Ms. Villarosa was Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism when she was nominated last year.  Mr. Macmanus on the other hand was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs when his nomination was announced last year.

Don’t know why these two nominees have been stuck in committee for the last 8-10 months. Mr. Macmanus is heading to IAEA and the UN, the later, of course a favorite pet peeve for some folks in Congress.  Could be that.  Mauritius as you may already know is an island in the Indian Ocean (also the only known habitat of the extinct Dodo bird). Nothing controversial there. She’s a career diplomat who was previously chargé d’affaires for the US Embassy in Rangoon from August 2005 to September 2008.  There was that OIG report while she was CDA in Burma (mostly redacted, of course!).   But that’s not it, is it?

I don’t think these two even had their confirmation hearings put on the calendar at the SFRC.  Interesting, huh? Anybody know why these two nominations have been glued to the SFRC welcome mat for months without action?

Domani Spero