@StateDept Launches Gender Mainstreaming Assessment, and Let’s Give These Folks a Poke, Hey?

Posted: 2:58 pm EDT
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Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources (D-MR) Heather Higginbottom and the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell (S/GWI) recently announced the “first-ever Department Assessment on the Implementation of the Secretary’s Gender Guidance” (18 FAM 003).  The assessment will reportedly be conducted by Department contractors Dynamo Technologies, and its subcontractor, Blue Compass, LLC.

Some background:

In June 2014, Secretary Kerry released policy guidance on “Promoting Gender Equality and Advancing the Status of Women and Girls” which expands upon the previous gender policy released in 2012 (18 FAM 003).  Together, the two outline guidance for integrating the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of the status of women and girls into the full range of Department planning and activities. The Gender Integration Assessment will focus on the four key areas of Department operations as identified in 18 FAM 003: 1) Strategic and Budget Planning, 2) Management & Staffing, 3) Monitoring& Evaluation, and 4) Training & Knowledge Management.

What can you expect?

In support of this assessment, Department leadership is asked to designate key focal points in offices and bureaus who will work with Dynamo and Blue Compass to present on efforts in the aforementioned four key areas.  D/MR and S/GWI are reportedly asking for full cooperation in providing the assessors access to personnel and documents — as relevant and appropriate — to facilitate their work.

“In addition, S/GWI will consult with bureaus to identify up to 50 missions that will provide the representative sample of how the Secretary’s Gender Guidance is implemented overseas.  A separate communication will then go to those missions identified to introduce Dynamo’s work.  In coordination with the regional bureaus, the contractors will then visit a sampling of these missions to assess gender integration in the four areas noted above.  The contract companies are charged with interviewing key personnel from embassies, consulates, offices, and bureaus and will also conduct surveys of Department employees.  A separate notice will go out to inform employees about this survey.”

These contractors will provide recommendations to Department senior officials based on this assessment on diplomatic engagement efforts undertaken since 2012 in support of the gender guidance, identify challenges to implementation of the policy guidance, and provide recommendations to build on successes and best practices.

The internal announcement says that for  additional information on the Secretary’s Gender Guidance, to please see 14 STATE 38129 and 18 FAM 003. Look it up!

18 FAM 003 is behind the firewall and we could not find the secretary’s gender guidance but the Office of Global Women’s Issues did issue the U.S. Department of State Policy Guidance: Promoting Gender Equality and Advancing the Status of Women and Girls dated July 3, 2014.

A side note — what else is behind the firewall?  Lots, but don’t forget — the State Department’s promotion statistics by gender and race, as well as its breakdowns by grade level for FSOs and specialists by gender and race, are still behind the firewall.  Any good reason why the State Department continues to put its gender and ethnicity/race promotion data beyond public reach? We heard through the grapevine that there is legislation pending in both Hill and Senate to force the Department to publish these statistics. We gotta look that up.  Also, go read Patricia Kushlis in More than undiplomatic moments: State’s diversity record remains behind a hard line.

Okay, back to — below is Dynamo Technologies via USASpending.gov

Screen Shot


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Dept of Correction for the Record Fail — Diversity Statistics Still in Jaws of SBU Chupacabra!

— Domani Spero
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Last week, we blogged about the State Department’s missing diversity stats from the FS promotion results (see Foreign Service 2013 Promotion Results — Gender, Ethnicity, Race Stats Still Behind the Great Firewall).  Previously, WhirledView’s Patricia Kushlis blogged about the State Department’s abysmal Hispanic record and gender inequality at the State Department (see  Unfulfilled Promises, Ignored Mandates: State’s Abysmal Hispanic Record and  State’s Female-Proof Glass Ceiling: Breaking into the Good Old Boys Diplomatic Club is Still Hard to Do).

Yesterday, WhirledView posted a new question: What’s the big secret with the State Department’s diversity statistics and why?  Patricia also  shared a fan mail from the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources.

Via WhirledView:

From: State/HR – Greenberg
To: WhirledView-Kushlis

Regarding: “Going back to 2000, the only year that State published promotion figures based on gender and ethnicity was in 2012, when they appeared in the June 2012 issue of State Magazine.  Those statistics disappeared from State Magazine in 2013 and 2014. “

The 2013 promotion statistics are available on page 32 of the June 2014 online issue of State Magazine at http://digitaledition.state.gov/publication/ and the 2013 Foreign Service promotion statistics will also be published in the July-August 2014 print and digital issue of State Magazine.

The 2014 promotion statistics are simply not out yet.  The promotion boards have just convened.

Brenda Greenberg
HR Public Affairs


<RANT>Why … why… why … in heaven’s name are you wasting your time and other people’s time with this kind of mush?!</RANT>

The italicized portion above is a paragraph in Patricia’s blog post on State’s abysmal record on Hispanic hiring available here.   It is clear that Patricia is  referring to the published promotion figures based on gender and ethnicity. Which are, by the way, while mentioned on State magazine, are actually not included in the published edition. So the HR spox wrote to point out that the stats is you know, available on page 32!

Nope, the promotion figures based on gender and ethnicity are not available on page 32. Here is what State, June 2014 says:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25

Neither the original State mag publication of the promotion stats in June nor the corrected version in July/August 2014 include the gender, ethnicity and race statistics. They are available at http://intranet.hr.state.sbu/offices/rma/Pages/DiversityStats.aspx.  Let’s click on it, just for fun:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25

Ay, caramba! They’re still in the jaws of the SBU Chupacabra (pdf) ?!!

Look — SBU or “sensitive but unclassified” information must not be posted on any public Internet website, discussed in a publicly available chat room or any other public forum on the Internet. You folks know that, right?  Disposition of SBU documents is also important; it includes shredding or burning, or by other methods consistent with law or regulation like chewing and swallowing (Note: Perfectly okay to do this with beer 😉).

Hey, if a State Department HR official can cite a non-existent public report, we, too, can cite a non-existent citation on the FAM that goes well with beer. Because why not?

Also this via WhirledView:

“Why HR even needs its own Public Affairs Office is beyond me but that’s another question for another day er post.  Rumor has it that a piece of the incumbent’s job is to  block relevant WV posts and likely Diplopundit ones too keeping them from Bureau higher ups and staff supposedly under the ignorance is bliss category.” 

Oh, no — no need to block us, we are quite entertaining at times.

Subscription is easy and painless and we occasionally deliver sweet and sour news and opinion!

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Joan Wadelton’s Appeal Makes it to FSGB 2011 Annual Report to Congress

In May, we posted about the case of FSO Joan Wadelton from Patricia Kushlis’ troubling blog post (see Joan Wadelton’s Case: That’s One Messy Promotion Scorecard, Next Up – It’s GAO Time!).  Ms. Wadelton’s case made it to the FSGB’s 2011  Annual Report to Congress:

Appeal of Joan Wadelton. On January 7, 2011, Joan Wadelton, a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, filed a Complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia, asking that it review the Board’s decision resolving a 2008 grievance appeal. Ms. Wadelton had filed three grievances prior to the 2008 appeal contesting the results of six selection boards which had not promoted her. As a result of those grievances, all six boards were reconstituted and Ms. Wadelton’s file was again reviewed for promotion. None of the six reconstituted boards promoted her. Ms. Wadelton then challenged the results of the reconstituted boards in the 2008 follow-on grievance. In its decision, the Board found deficiencies and irregularities in the operations of all six reconstituted boards, rebutting the presumption that they were conducted with regularity, and ordered that six new reconstituted selection boards be convened. Ms. Wadelton’s complaint challenges the Board’s decision to order a new round of reconstituted boards, rather than direct a promotion, as she had requested.

So Ms. Wadelton contested the results of the six selection boards, and State reconstituted all six boards.

Then Ms. Wadelton challenged the reconstituted boards, and FSGB ordered State too reconstitute six new selection boards.

The Grievance Board “found deficiencies and irregularities in the operations of all six reconstituted boards” so it ordered State, that is, the same HR Bureau to reconstitute six new selection boards.  Because that makes a lot of sense. It did not say if the deficiencies and irregularities were isolated to these six reconstituted boards or if they are systemic to the bureau and the process.

Hopefully the new boards are better at math so the promotion scorecards won’t be as messy, yes?  Or maybe, since this is now a case in the District Court for the District of Columbia, we’ll hear much more about the perplexing promotion scorecard process and how they get so messy.

Domani Spero



Joan Wadelton’s Case: That’s One Messy Promotion Scorecard, Next Up – It’s GAO Time!

In March 2012, Patricia Kushlis of WhirledView published a blog post titled, State Department Human Resources — A System Run Amok. Excerpt below: 

I have been writing about corruption and cronyism in the State Department’s Human Resources Bureau for the last several years .

My reporting has consistently led to one conclusion — that State’s personnel system — which affects both Civil and Foreign Service employees — has run amok.  Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the case of Joan Wadelton.
Joan’s troubles began in 2000.  That was 12 years ago.  Her case is complicated.  I have followed its macabre twists and turns since 2008.  They never cease to amaze.  I have not written about them until now, however, because Joan preferred that her story remain private — she had hoped to settle quietly — until, that is, now.

Joan has a stellar record — I have seen her personnel file which is filled with glowing performance reviews and awards — and nary a black mark in sight.  Her service includes two stints in Iraq — she was one of the first State employees on the ground in 2003 and was commended for taking the first economic reconstruction team into Fallujah.  She created the State Department’s Congressional Liaison Office — a project she started while on a detail to Senator Joe Biden and completed under the tenure of Colin Powell, for whom it was a high priority.  She also served as the first Iraq advisor to the Under Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs and reshaped the US government’s intellectual property policy while Director of State’s Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement.  Most recently, Joan was in the prestigious Office of Policy Planning, where she managed a program she had created to promote Africa’s businesswomen, drawing kudos from Secretary Clinton.  This last assignment is in itself a strong indication of her continued high value to the Department.

In the end, Joan’s accomplishments and successive strong recommendations for promotion in her annual performance reviews didn’t matter.  On December 16, 2011, the Department — based on evidence that could most charitably be described as irregular — fired her, claiming that she had not been promoted into the Senior Foreign Service.

In fact, Joan’s challenges to State’s antiquated and opaque personnel system and her whistleblowing about HR’s misdeeds were her undoing.   For years, a rotating case of Foreign and Civil Service employees have apparently used the personnel system for personal gain, to promote their friends, to punish those they dislike and to retaliate against anyone who defies them.  Joan’s refusal to hand off her prestigious Congressional liaison office project to HR to pass to its cronies, resulted in an immediate (although fortunately futile) retaliatory effort by HR to put her on leave without pay.  This conflict proved to be the start of years of run-ins with HR management who have blocked assignments, lost files, invented fraudulent documents and tampered with results of promotion boards to make it appear as if she had never been promoted.

Below is a screen grab of one of the score sheets. You can view the whole scorecard via WhirledView here.

Extracted from Promotion Score Sheet posted by WhirledView
(click image for larger, more messy view)

Read in full here.

On May 2, WhirledView has a follow up post with the new Director General of the Foreign Service and Human Resources, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in the mix:

By odd coincidence, HR contends that she sat on one of Joan’s 2006 reconstituted promotion boards.  What is claimed to be Thomas-Greenfield’s signature is shown on a document dated March 9, 2006, which — according to HR – is purportedly the final candidate rankings by that board.  And yet, we have e-mails between Melinda Chandler (an HR grievance attorney) and Thomas-Greenfield, in which Thomas-Greenfield does not recall participating in this 2006 board (although she is quite specific about her participation in a 2004 board).

In response to that e-mail, Chandler cites a commendation Thomas-Greenfield received for sitting on Joan’s 2006 board.  According to Chandler, this commendation was issued on March 1, 2006 — eight days before the board supposedly met (echoing HR’s formalization of the final results of three of Joan’s six reconstituted 2006 boards before those boards had supposedly met).  A rather unique soothsaying ability HR seems to possess.

Read the follow up post here.

One could argue that a case like this, as messy and as lengthy, going now for eight years, undermines not only the proper functioning of the Service, but also undermines trust and perception of the fairness of the promotion system in the Foreign Service.  Also, are the folks who sit in these boards really as bad in math as I am? I mean, look at those score sheets, any third grader can print and add more neatly than that.


It seems logical and rational to me that a bureau like Human Resources should not/not be allowed to investigate itself against claims of wrong doings.  Dude, that would be like having BP investigate itself over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, wouldn’t it?   And if the State Department Inspector General Office is similarly tainted with allegations of well, being missing in action, and all, there ought to be another option.

How much does this eight-year saga cost to the U.S. taxpayers? WhirledView counts that since 2004, there’s the salaries and other expenses by HR bureau attorneys, various managers and their staffs; investigators and other staff in the State OIG; attorneys, investigators and other staff in the Office of Special Counsel; judges and other staff at the Foreign Service Grievance Board; attorneys and other staff in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Advisor; attorneys and other staff at various levels of the Justice Department and a very senior federal judge and her clerks and other staff. Judges, lawyers, managers are all well-paid; eight years adds up to a nice bundle that could do a nice repair to my elementary school next door.

And there is that item about Ms. Wadelton who was reportedly asked “to report all contacts she has with the Hill concerning HR wrongdoing” to the HR Bureau. Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot! What FAM citation is that in?

Since the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, this seems like an excellent case for investigation; no not just this case but also the promotion and assignment system in the Foreign Service. Who seez that folks can’t get promoted without hardship assignments, or AIP-assignments, or whatevers?  Don’t look now but some ambassadorial appointees have skipped the traumatic tours on the way to their embassies!

The main reason why the GAO ought to take a look at this is — because you want the right people on the right bus, but —

–what if the bus seats are sorta reserved?

— or if drivers cannot even do simple math?

— or loud complainers get thrown in the ditches?

— so the peaceful bus can chug along, in peace….

— so complainers learn quickly that ditches are dark and dirty, and never to try that again?

— but if they do, then the fight goes on, and on, and gets litigated — to godawful death?

The State Department as a bureaucracy only responds to two things with some non-tortoise speed – the court system, and Congress. Without congressional brakes in place, cases like this will be litigated to yes, godawful death. Squish! And we, the people are the losers.

Domani Spero

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