Ambassador Daniel B. Smith to be Acting Secretary of State Pending Tony Blinken’s Confirmation

–Update below on State/M

The 70th Secretary of State left Foggy Bottom for good before the presidential swearing-in of January 20. Finally. A short clip here from CNN correspondent Kylie Atwood shows the now former secretary of state leaving through the empty halls of HST, apparently  “to a small round of applause from political appointees.” Whatever. We could see Foggy Bottom’s smoke of relief from our house.
We should note that Rex Tillerson got a polite goodbye when he left in 2018 (see Foggy Bottom Bids Goodbye to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson).
Soon after the now former secretary’s exit, the ‘ethos for some but not for others’ wall decors also came tumbling down.  The new State Department spokesperson Ned Price told the AP’s Matt Lee, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.
Excuse me, who inherited the swagger swags?
Also on January 20, President Biden announced the acting agency leadership across the Biden-Harris administration pending confirmation of permanent leadership by the U.S. Senate. For the State Department, the Acting Secretary of State is Ambassador Daniel Smith, one of the few senior career officials at the agency with the personal rank of Career Ambassador. Until his appointment to the acting position, he was the Director of the Foreign Service Institute. Prior to that, he was Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research from 2013 to 2018 and was Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic from 2010 to 2013.
Traditionally, the highest ranking career official, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P) is appointed as Acting Secretary of State pending confirmation of the new secretary of state.  This would have been David Hale, a career FSO (also with personal rank of Career Ambassador) who has been on that job since September 2018. That’s not the case this time. It is, of course, the administration’s prerogative who to appoint in an acting capacity.
We’ve seen one reporting that attributes the Hale skip over to the statements he made in December following the reported COVID-19 diagnosis of Pompeo’s wife. At that time, the State Department also “slammed the leak of Susan Pompeo’s diagnosis” according to Fox News. The person who spoke for the State Department and blamed his colleagues for “the persistent culture of leaks” was not the spokesperson.  Should be interesting to read the oral history related to this at some point.
Given that all but two of the under secretary and assistant secretary positions in the State Department were filled with political appointees, January 20 also came with the departure of the top functional and bureau officials in Foggy Bottom. The only two positions encumbered by Senate-confirmed career officials were U/Secretary for Political Affairs (David Hale) and the Director General of the Foreign Service (Carol Perez). As best we could tell, Hale is still U/Secretary for Political Affairs. DGHR, however, is now encumbered by Ambassador Kenneth Merten as the bureau’s senior official according to state.gov.  Update 1/21 11:32 am: Carol Perez is listed as senior official for the U/Secretary for Management (this also skips the Deputy M).
All regional bureaus under the U/Secretary for Political Affairs are currently headed by career officials designated as “senior official” or “senior bureau official.” The same goes for all functional bureaus. Overseas, it looks like all political ambassadors have stepped down, except for a few who are non-FS but are in the Civil Service. The US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan, a former Deputy Secretary of State appears to have remained at post as of this writing. When this happens during the transition, it is typically with the approval of the new administration.
President Biden has previously announced the nomination of the following senior officials:
Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman as Deputy Secretary of State
Brian P. McKeon as Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources
Dr. Bonnie Jenkins as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs
Ambassador Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Uzra Zeya as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Unless we’ve missed the announcement, the nominees for the following positions are still forthcoming:
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Under Secretary of State for Management
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

 


 

 

 

 

@StateDept Special Envoy Positions Could Be in Trump’s Chopping Block — Which Ones?

Posted: 1:42 am  ET
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Via Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump is proposing major defense spending increases and big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and other federal agencies in a proposed budget to be presented soon to Congress, said a person familiar with the plan.[…] But the State Department will not share in the largesse. One of the agency’s deputy secretary positions, in charge of management and resources, is expected to be eliminated and its staff reassigned, people familiar with the plan said. Trump and his aides also are reviewing whether to eliminate many special envoy positions, the people said — diplomatic staff assigned to key regions and issues, including climate change, anti-Semitism and Muslim communities.

Back in September 2015, we blogged that Congress has been looking into the special envoys/reps, etc, at the State Department (see Congress Eyes @StateDept’s Special Envoys, Representatives, Advisors, and Coordinators).  Last December, Congress sent then President Obama the first State Department authorization bill sent by Congress to the President in 14 years.  Section 418 of that bill requires a one-time report on the special envoys, representatives, advisors, and coordinators of the Department, including details related to the individuals rank, position description, term in office, justification of authorization for the position, any supporting staff or resources of the position, and other related details (see Congress Sends President Obama First State Department Authorization in 14 Years).

Per state.gov, the following is a list of special envoys, special representatives, ambassadors at large, coordinators, special advisors, senior advisor, senior official, personal representative, and  senior representative positions that could be in the chopping block.

Special Envoys

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (Brett McGurk)
Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (James O’Brien)
Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs (vacant)
Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center (vacant)
Special Envoy for Climate Change (vacant)
Special Envoy for Closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility (vacant)
Special Envoy for Global Food Security (vacant)
Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues (vacant)
Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons (Randy Berry)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor)
Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations (vacant)
Special Envoy for Libya (Jonathan Winer)
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (vacant)
Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (vacant)
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues (Robert R. King)
Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks (vacant)
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan (vacant)
U.S. Special Envoy for Syria (Michael Ratney)

Special Representatives

Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation (rank of Ambassador) (vacant)
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma (vacant)
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (vacant)
Special Representative for the Arctic Region (vacant)
Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Issues (Robert A. Wood)* (Also Permanent Representative for Conference on Disarmament)
Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs (vacant)
Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy (Deborah Birx, M.D.)* (also Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally)
Special Representative for Global Partnerships (vacant)
Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa (vacant)
Special Representative for International Labor Affairs (vacant)
Special Representative to Muslim Communities (vacant)
Special Representative of North Korea Policy (Joseph Yun)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau)
Special Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (Michael Scanlan)
U.S. Special Representative to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (Linda S. Taglialatela)* (also Ambassador to Barbados)
U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs (vacant)

Ambassadors at Large

Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally (Deborah Birx, M.D.)* (also Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy)
Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice (vacant)
Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues (vacant)
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (vacant)
Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (Susan Coppedge)

Coordinators

U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, with the rank of Ambassador (vacant)* (also DAS in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs)
Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation (Stephen D. Mull)
Coordinator for Cyber Issues (Christopher Painter)
Coordinator for Sanctions Policy (Dan Fried)
Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs (rank of Ambassador) (vacant)
Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (vacant)
Fissile Material Negotiator and Senior Cutoff Coordinator (Michael Guhin)
International Information Programs Coordinator (vacant)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority, U.S. Security Coordinator (Lieutenant General Frederick S. Rudesheim)
Senior Coordinator for International Information Technology Diplomacy (vacant)* (Also Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment)
Senior Coordinator for Knowledge Management (vacant)
Special Coordinator for Global Criminal Justice (Todd F. Buchwald)
Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues (Sarah Sewall)* (also Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights)
Transparency Coordinator (Janice Jacobs)

Special Advisors

Science and Technology Adviser (vacant)
Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues (Andrew Rabens)
Special Adviser for Holocaust Issues (Stuart Eizenstat)
Special Advisor for International Disabilities Rights (vacant)
Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (Robert J. Einhorn)
Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia (Knox Thames)
Special Advisor for Secretary Initiatives (vacant)

Senior Advisor

Senior Advisor (vacant)

Senior Official

U.S. Senior Official to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (Matthew Matthews)* (also Deputy Assistant Secretary in Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs)

Personal Representative

Personal Representative for Northern Ireland Issues (Gary Hart)

Senior Representative

Senior Representative to Minsk (vacant)

 

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