Advertisements

@StateDept v. @USAID: Reconciling Interagency Priorities Remains a Top Management Challenge

Posted: 2:14 am ET

 

USAID/OIG reported on its Top Management Challenges for FY2017.  The following is an excerpt on one of its challenges, reconciling interagency priorities with examples from the Arab Spring and operations in Pakistan:

Contingency operations and other efforts require coordination with multiple U.S. Government agencies, yet USAID’s development priorities do not always align with other agencies’ priorities, making it difficult for USAID to achieve its core development mission. In particular, coordination with the State Department, which leads multiagency operations that respond to political and security crises, has presented challenges to USAID’s project planning and execution. Despite broad interagency guidance on State’s role in politically sensitive environments, USAID employees are sometimes unclear as to how to manage additional layers of review, respond to changing priorities, and balance short-term and long-term priorities. Lack of knowledge about other agencies’ processes exacerbates these challenges.

Arab Spring

To identify the challenges USAID faced during the early part of the protest movement that came to be known as the Arab Spring (December 2010-June 2014), we surveyed 70 USAID employees working on programs for Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen.1 According to USAID staff, the State Department’s influence over USAID programs increased after the Arab Spring began, creating additional challenges. For example, a USAID employee in Egypt noted that State’s control “severely constrains USAID’s ability to design and execute technically sound development projects,” stating that agreed-upon steps to design activities and select implementation mechanisms abruptly change. USAID staff pointed out that State’s added layer of review slowed operations, and USAID employees had to dedicate additional time to building consensus and gaining external parties’ approval. USAID employees also said State officials, unfamiliar with the Agency and its different types of procurement, made requests that were difficult to accommodate under USAID procedures.

In a more recent audit in Pakistan, we also found challenges in reconciling short-term political goals with long-term development goals.

Pakistan

Our audit of the $7.5 billion aid package authorized under the Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act (EPPA) found that USAID’s programs there have not achieved intended development objectives, in part because of competing priorities between State and USAID. The State Department has the lead role for assistance activities in Pakistan, making it responsible for budget and project decisions.2 At the outset, USAID/Pakistan followed State’s initial strategy, which lacked long-term development outcomes and goals. In 2013, USAID/Pakistan implemented a formal strategy that linked activities to a long-term development goal but lacked indicators to measure progress. The strategy also focused on repairing and upgrading Pakistan’s energy infrastructure—mirroring State’s focus on energy as key to long-term growth—but not on other priority areas, such as health, education, and economic growth. According to USAID staff, implementing a development strategy under State Department control was challenging.

As a result of our EPPA audit, we made recommendations to improve USAID’s development implementation in an interagency environment, including that USAID revise its policies to (1) clearly define USAID’s roles and responsibilities for designing and implementing development when it is subject to State Department control and (2) provide alternate development strategies when a country development cooperation strategy3 or a transitional country strategy is not an option. We also recommended that the Agency institute an interagency forum where USAID can better present its development per- spective in countries where the State Department takes the lead. In response, USAID’s Administrator has engaged the State Department leadership to discuss solutions, including better reconciling interests at the beginning of planning and programming, so that USAID and State leadership can help staff pursue both agencies’ objectives simultaneously.

USAID/OIG notes that USAID has begun actions to address OIG’s recommendations to address this challenge. However, until corrective actions are fully implemented and realized, reconciling interagency priorities to advance inter- national development will remain a top management challenge.

USAID/OIG indicates that it interviewed 31 USAID officials who worked on activities in these countries, and administered a questionnaire. In all, 70 employees from USAID either had interviews or responded to the questionnaire.

 

Related OIG items:

  • “Competing Priorities Have Complicated USAID/Pakistan’s Efforts to Achieve Long-Term Development Under EPPA” (G-391-16-003-P), September 8, 2016
  • “Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges for the U.S. Agency for International Development,” October 15, 2015
  • “Survey of USAID’s Arab Spring Challenges in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen” (8-000-15-001-S), April 30, 2015

#

Advertisements

New Faces at U.S. Mission Pakistan: Raymond McGrath, Grace Shelton, Yuriy Fedkiw

Posted: 1:29 am ET

 

This year’s rotation brought new faces to the three constituent posts in Pakistan.  Senior FSO Raymond McGrath is the latest to join the US Mission in Pakistan as he became Consul General in Peshawar last month.  In September, FSO Grace W. Shelton assumed charge of Consulate General Karachi while in August, FSO Yuriy Fedkiw took charge of Consulate Genera Lahore.

U.S. Consulate General Peshawar: Raymond McGrath

Raymond McGrath assumed his post as Consul General in Peshawar, Pakistan in November 2016.  Mr. McGrath joined the U.S. Department of State in June 1986.  He is a member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister Counselor.  He most recently served in the Bureau of Human Resources in Washington, first as coordinator of a project to redesign the Foreign Service personnel evaluation and promotion systems, and then as a Career Development Officer with staff responsibilities for the high-level committee that identifies Chief of Mission candidates for consideration by the Secretary and President.  Mr. McGrath’s other Washington assignments include those of financial economist in the Office of Investment Affairs; Deputy Director in the Office of West African Affairs; and Coordinator for Cuban Affairs.  His overseas assignments include Hermosillo, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; Manila, Philippines; Lima, Peru; Havana, Cuba; Bogota, Colombia; and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (where like in Peshawar he served as Consul General and Principal Officer).  Mr. McGrath holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Arizona.  He is married and has two teenage children.

U.S. Consulate General Karachi: Grace W. Shelton

Grace W. Shelton assumed charge as the U.S. Consul General in Karachi on September 8, 2016. A career diplomat in the United States Foreign Service, she most recently served as the Director of the Office of Central Asian Affairs in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. She also served as the Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Hamilton, Bermuda. Her other previous assignments include Slovenia, Nepal, Belarus, Malaysia and Washington DC. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Shelton was an attorney with Bouhan, Williams & Levy in Savannah, Georgia and a law clerk to the Honorable Duross Fitzpatrick, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.  She has a J.D. and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University. Ms. Shelton was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina.

U.S. Consulate General Lahore: Yuriy Fedkiw

Consul General Yuriy Fedkiw is the 29th American diplomat to lead the U.S. post in Lahore, where the United States has maintained a diplomatic presence and built a strong relationship with the people of Punjab since 1947.

Yuriy Fedkiw was most recently the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan and previously served in Iraq, Ukraine, Slovenia, China, Tokyo, and Washington, DC. Prior to entering the Foreign Service, Consul General Fedkiw coordinated international relations for the City of Oita. He received his B.A. in East Asian Studies from Wittenberg University, an M.A. in International Affairs from American University, and an M.A. in International Relations from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.

#

FBI to Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel: “Do you know any foreigners?” #criminalizingdiplomacy

Posted: 1:29  pm ET

 

We’ve posted previously about Ambassador Robin Raphel in this blog. See Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who’s Gonna Say Sorry?. Also below:

Today, the Wall Street Journal runs an extensive account of what happened and why this case is a concerning one for American diplomats:

The NSA regularly swept up Pakistani communications “to, from or about” senior U.S. officials working in the country. Some American officials would appear in Pakistani intercepts as often as once a week. What Raphel didn’t realize was that her desire to engage with foreign officials, the very skill set her supervisors encouraged, had put a target on her back.

The FBI didn’t have a clear picture of where Raphel fit on the State Department organizational chart. She was a political adviser with the rank of ambassador but she wasn’t a key policy maker anymore. She seemed to have informal contacts with everyone who mattered in Islamabad—more, even, than the sitting ambassador and the CIA station chief.

[…]
State Department officials said that when they spoke to the FBI agents, they had the feeling they were explaining the basics of how diplomats worked.

At times, Raphel’s colleagues pushed back—warning the FBI that their investigation risked “criminalizing diplomacy,” according to a former official who was briefed on the interviews.

In one interview, the agents asked James Dobbins, who served as SRAP from 2013 to 2014, whether it was OK for Raphel to talk to a Pakistani source about information that wasn’t restricted at the time, but would later be deemed classified.

“If somebody tells you something in one conversation, you might write that up and it becomes classified,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean the next time you see them that you can’t talk about what you’d already talked about.”

[…]

Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.

“What happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,” said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department’s most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.’s growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, “we will know less and we will be less secure.”

“Look what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,” said Dan Feldman, Raphel’s former boss at State. “Does that not become a cautionary tale?”

[…]

Diplomatic Security had yet to restore her security clearance. Some of her friends at the State Department said they believed the FBI opposed the idea.

Kerry and Raphel stood close together for only a couple of minutes. On the sidelines of the noisy gathering, Kerry leaned over and whispered into Raphel’s ear: “I am sorry about what has happened to you.”

Read in full below:

#

Trump-Sharif TelCon Jolts World, India Issues Deadpan Response

Posted: 3:30 am ET

 

President-elect Trump had a chat with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, see the read out below.  After Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan, Mr. Trump reportedly said he would love to come to Pakistan, “a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” According to The Times of India,  the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup issued a deadpan response: “We look forward to the President-elect helping Pakistan address the most outstanding of its outstanding issues – terrorism.” 

The Trump Transition has released its own sober readout of the telephone conversation on November 30, but Pakistan’s version got all the eyeballs.

For comparison, click here for the WH readout of the phone call between President Obama and PM Sharif on November 21, 2014.  Click here for the readout of that same phone call from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

#

Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Up For Grabs on eBay For a Limited Time

Posted: 2:48 am ET

 

Over 200 people from Pakistan have been named as having offshore companies in the Panama Papers.  Media reports say that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is linked to 9 companies connected to his family name. He has faced strong criticism for it at home while he is reportedly in London for a medical checkup. On April 13, somebody with no apparent separation anxiety put up the prime minister for sale on eBay UK with a startling beginning price of £99.99.  There are currently 100 bids from 12 bidders.    The latest bid as of this writing is £66,200.00.

The seller’s description says “No box or instructions. Buyer must collect. Seller not prepared to touch item. Pick up from central London today, address will be supplied on completion of sale. Buyer must arrange own transport.” And that’s the nicer part of the description.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13

 

It looks like the idea started off with UK’s prime minister.  A couple of days previously, somebody also tried to sell Prime Minister David Cameron on eBay, although it looks like the listing had been taken down with 5 days to go. There were 153 bids before it was removed.

 

#

 

 

Suicide Attack in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park Kills 70, Injures 250 in Pakistan

Posted: 1:08 am ET

 

USCG Lahore released a emergency message on March 27 informing U.S. citizens that a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people outside of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore’s Iqbal Town neighborhood in the evening hours of Sunday. It urged U.S. citizens to avoid this area and if aware of any U.S. citizens injured in this attack, to please call the American Embassy in Islamabad at 051 201 4000. Media reports say at least 70 people have now been confirmed dead and about 250 people have been wounded.

 

 

#

 

 

Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who’s Gonna Say Sorry?

Posted: 7:59  pm EDT

 

Just saw the news that the Justice Department has closed its espionage investigation into former Ambassador Robin L. Raphel and will not file charges.

Via NYT:

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Ms. Raphel’s home and office in 2014 looking for evidence that she was spying for Pakistan, which Ms. Raphel adamantly denied.

“It was clear from the outset that this investigation was based on a fundamental misunderstanding,” Amy Jeffress, a lawyer for Ms. Raphel, said in a statement that sharply criticized government officials for revealing details of the investigation to reporters.

She added: “It is of the utmost importance to our national security that our diplomats be able to do their work without fearing that their routine diplomatic communications will subject them to criminal investigation.”

A message left with the Justice Department was not immediately returned, though officials there have consistently declined to comment publicly on the case.

The investigation began when American investigators intercepted a conversation in which a Pakistani official suggested that his government was receiving American secrets from Ms. Raphel, a conversation that led to months of secret surveillance.

The espionage case soon began to fizzle, however, leaving prosecutors to focus on the far less serious charge of keeping classified information in her home. Ms. Raphel, in negotiations with the government, rejected plea deals and has been adamant that she face no charges.

 

Related posts:

 

#

USCG Peshawar: Local Employees Faisal Khan and Abid Shah Killed in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Posted: 4:12 am EDT

 

On March 1, we woke up to a report that two locally employed staff of the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan were killed in Pakistan’s FATA area.  There were very few details. It looks like the source of the report was Secretary Kerry who talked about the casualties during his Remarks at the Strong Cities Network International Visitors Leadership Program for Municipal Leaders and Countering Violence Extremism Experts Event in Washington, DC.

The news nugget was in the 27th paragraph of his prepared speech at the CVE event:

I’ll tell you something, I’m always stunned by it. I mean, just this morning I woke up to the news that we’ve lost two local employees in Peshawar who work with our consulate there, who were going out on a effort to eradicate narcotics fields. And an IED exploded and several were lost and a few of the soldiers who were there to guard them also. Think about that.

We went looking for an official statement at state.gov and at U.S. Embassy Islamabad and its three constituent posts but there was none available.

We sent an email to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to see if the mission has any other details to share, but as of this writing we have not heard anything back.

Later on March 1, state.gov put out an official statement of the incident:

Earlier today, I learned that two locally employed staff with the U.S. Mission in Pakistan were brutally murdered in an attack against a Government of Pakistan Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) convoy in Ambar tehsil, Mohmand Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

On behalf of the Department of State, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of these brave individuals. I know nothing we say can adequately assuage their grief, but they should know we are thinking of them and share their profound sense of loss.

This senseless attack is a compelling reminder of the risk taken every day by our diplomats and the local staff around the world who make diplomacy possible. It also is a testimony to the courage and commitment shown by both Americans and Pakistanis who struggle to combat the scourge of terrorism and build a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for Pakistan. We have offered our assistance to the government of the region in investigating the incident and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The Department of State holds in the highest regard all our host country colleagues who serve in our missions around the world. These men and women choose a life of service to improve the lives of their families and citizens and are essential to helping implement our goal of promoting shared prosperity and values. They are our friends, our teachers, and our guardians, and we are profoundly grateful for the sacrifices they make every day.

 

The New York Times identified the two employees as Faisal Khan, an “anti-narcotics official,” and Abid Shah, a driver employed by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.  They were reportedly killed when the bomb detonated as their convoy was traveling in the Mohmand tribal region. Four other people, including two Pakistani security officials, were wounded. The anti-narcotics team had been reviewing poppy eradication efforts in the area.  According to the NYT, Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Express Tribune identified Faisal Khan as a project development specialist for the consulate; other local media has identified the casualties as employees of USAID.

State/INL has the following country program in Pakistan (INL/AP):

INL and the Government of Pakistan have collaborated on counternarcotics (CN) activities since the 1980s. INL’s counternarcotics portfolio includes training and operational support to law enforcement agencies as well as crop control and demand reduction projects implemented through local channels. Pakistan’s CN efforts are led by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) under the Ministry of Narcotics Control, but also include several other law enforcement agencies such as the Frontier Corps- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Frontier Corps – Baluchistan as well as the Home Departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.

#