USCCR will accept public comments by an anonymous author in #sexualharassment inquiry

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This is a follow-up post to USCCR extends comment period for sexual harassment inquiry to Monday, June 25th and U.S. Civil Rights Commission Examines Sexual Harassment in Federal Govt (State, NASA) #FedMeToo.

We asked the USCCR how federal employees can protect themselves from potential retaliation from their agencies, and still be able to contribute to the Commission’s inquiry on sexual harassment in government offices. We understand that some State Department employees may also be tied  up with NDAs that may prevent them from discussing some details (for instance sensitive or classified locations, etc). We were also interested in learning if the Commission is also looking into practices at other agencies, and if so, which agencies are also being looked at (besides NASA and the State Department).

Below is the response we received from USCCR:

The US Commission on Civil Rights will accept public comments by an anonymous author. In regard to the application of non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) the Commission cannot provide legal advice. We recommend that an individual who is a party to an NDA consult an attorney.

As far as what our investigation entails we are looking at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) enforcement efforts to combat workplace sexual harassment across the federal government, including the frequency of such claims and findings of harassment, the resources dedicated to preventing and redressing harassment, and the impact and efficacy of these enforcement efforts. The investigation and subsequent report will also examine agency-level practices to address sexual harassment at the U.S. Department of State and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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FY2018 Trump Budget Word Cloud: Cuts, Reduction, Elimination

Posted: 10:23 am PT
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President Trump’s FY2018 federal budget was rolled out today. Here’s the first of the highlights as we’re combing through the document.

Via FY2018 Budget Proposal

Request For Diplomatic Engagement

The FY 2018 Request for Diplomatic Engagement is $12.3 billion in discretionary enduring and OCO appropriations, $4.7 billion in fee-based spending, and $159 million in mandatory funding for the Foreign Service Retirement Disability Fund. The FY 2018 Request focuses on key Presidential and Departmental priorities including defeating ISIS and other terrorist groups; strengthening our borders; enabling our allies and partners to defend shared interests; ensuring operational and personnel safety at posts; strengthening cybersecurity; and ensuring accountability and efficiency with taxpayer resources.

Reduction of State’s on-board employment by nearly 2,000 through FY18

The Department is implementing the principles outlined in the Administration’s plan for reforming the Federal government and reducing the Federal civilian workforce. This includes a detailed review of State and USAID’s core missions, personnel, programs, and operations. The results and recommendations of this reform process will be released no later than February 2018. In the meantime, the Department is responsibly reducing its Foreign Service and Civil Service workforce through ongoing attrition and anticipated targeted (FY 2018) buyouts, which are projected to reduce State’s on-board employment by nearly 2,000 through September 2018.

Reduction of Funds for the UN

The FY 2018 Request proposes to reduce funding for the UN and affiliated agencies as well as other international programs and organizations that do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests, fail to demonstrate effectiveness and transparency, and/or for which the funding burden is not fairly shared amongst members. The FY 2018 Request sets the expectation that these organizations rein in costs, and that the funding burden be shared more fairly among member states.

Facility Upgrades in Somalia, Turkey, Afghanistan

The Department appreciates Congressional support for security investments in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017 (SAAA), which provided a combined $1.7 billion for Diplomatic and Consular Programs – Worldwide Security Protection (WSP) and Embassy Security Construction and Maintenance (ESCM). These resources are enhancing security protection and facilities for civilian personnel on the front lines against ISIS and other terrorist organizations. As the WSP funding supports expanded Diplomatic Security operations through FY 2018, those funds are largely non-recurred in this request. Within ESCM, $0.6 billion of the SAAA is being applied towards State’s share of the FY 2018 Capital Security Cost-Sharing and Maintenance Cost-Sharing program, including facility upgrades for Somalia, Turkey, and Afghanistan. This reduces the level of new FY 2018 ESCM appropriations needed to sustain the $2.2 billion interagency level recommended by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

Elimination of Funds for East West Center and Asia Foundation

As part of the Administration’s plans to move the Nation towards fiscal responsibility and to redefine the proper role of the Federal Government, the budget proposes to eliminate earmarked appropriations for the East-West Center (EWC) and The Asia Foundation (TAF). Elimination of line-item Federal funding will not terminate these organizations, due to their non-profit status, and they remain eligible to apply and compete for federal grant funding opportunities, as well as receive private sector contributions.

Cuts Direct Funding in Half for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) 

The request cuts direct funding in half for the Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs from the FY 2017 Estimate. In a fiscally constrained environment, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will focus its support on core global programs such as Fulbright and the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

New “Consular and Border Security Programs” (CBSP) Account

The FY 2018 President’s Budget proposes creation of a new fund in which to deposit the receipts from retained consular fees. The new fund, known as the “Consular and Border Security Programs” (CBSP) account, will consist of the fees listed under the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and will support the provision of consular services, with expedited passport fees continuing to support the Department’s information technology programs. The CBSP chapter will continue to include the H and L Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, but as the CBSP’s only collection scored as mandatory, the H and L fee will continue to be collected in a standalone account outside of the new CBSP account.

Diplomatic and Consular Programs – Enduring

The Department’s FY 2018 Request for D&CP Ongoing Operations is $3.9 billion and includes $3.5 billion for Program Operations and $452 million for PD. The request is -$283 million below the FY 2017 estimate of $4.2 billion, and includes $42 million for the American pay raise, -$97 million to absorb all other current-services adjustments, such as overseas and domestic price inflation, base adjustments, GSA rent and Locally Employed (LE) staff wage increases, and -$325 million in program changes.

The Department has begun engaging its entire workforce with a listening tour to provide the Secretary with input for a broader reorganization proposal to be released in 2018. The Department has begun to reshape its workforce and will reduce staffing levels through attrition and anticipated targeted buyouts. By the end of FY 2018, the Department anticipates reducing its workforce by approximately 8 percent. The D&CP request for American Salaries funding reflects this projected attrition, as adjusted for the American pay raise. However, this Request generally does not show reductions in bureaus’ authorized position levels, as Department’s strategic workforce analysis is still underway. Detailed information regarding personnel adjustments will be provided once the comprehensive plan to reorganize the Department is finalized.

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@ClintonFdn, @StateDept, @HillaryClinton Get on Twitter Moments

Posted: 3:50 am ET
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Snapshot: Top Recipients of U.S. Assistance — FY1995, FY2005, FY2015

Posted: 1:35 am ET
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Via CRS:

In FY2015, the United States provided some form of bilateral foreign assistance to about 144 countries. The following identifies the top 15 recipients of U.S. foreign assistance for FY1995, FY2005 and FY2015. Assistance, although provided to many nations, is concentrated heavily in certain countries, reflecting the priorities and interests of United States foreign policy at the time (via – PDF)

Screen Shot

 

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Career @StateDept Nominees Remain Stuck in Senate Confirmation Purgatory

Posted: 12:15  am ET
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Senators hope to rename some more streets?

President Obama’s nominations of eight career diplomats for ambassadorships and one development professional for an assistant administrator position for USAID remain stuck in the Senate as of Friday, May 13, 2016. The nominee for Ambassador to APEC has now waited for over 220 days. The nominees for the Marshall Islands and Micronesia have each waited over 190 days.

The Senate’s second session calendar is getting shorter. It will be on recess from May 30 – June 3 (Memorial Day); July 1 – 5 (Fourth of July); July 18 – September 5th (reconvene Tuesday September 6);  and has the target pre-election adjournment on October 7th.

This has now become the new normal.  Even non-controversial career diplomats routinely get stuck for months in confirmation purgatory.  What crises would nudge these senators to confirm these nominees? Wasn’t there a U.S. airstrike west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu this past week?  A coup somewhere? A hurricane?

Maybe some senators hope to rename some more streets in exchange for the confirmation of these ambassador nominees?

This must be laughable to look at from overseas. Here is the United States, a global power, and this is how our Senate functions; must be quite simply the envy of the world 🙃.

But in this article about Merrick Garland’s nomination for SCOTUS, part of “Confirmations: The Battle Over the Constitution,” and also relevant to ambassador-rank appointments, the author Michael D. Ramsey — a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and a former judicial clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia — notes:

The relevant text is the appointments clause of Article II, Section 2, which provides: “[The president] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States…” This language makes the Senate’s consent a prerequisite to presidential appointments, but it does not place any duty on the Senate to act nor describe how it should proceed in its decision-making process. Even if the word “shall” in the clause is read as mandatory, “shall” refers only to things the president does. Instead, the Senate’s core role in appointments is as a check on the president, which it exercises by not giving consent—a choice it can make simply by not acting. 
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The Senate’s practice, under both Democrats and Republicans, shows that it thinks the appointments clause does not impose a duty to take formal action.

It remains to be seen if these executive nominees will survive the Senate obstacle course this year.

The 2016 Election Day is in 175 days.

PN933 | Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, 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 Federated States of Micronesia

PN934 | Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, 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 the Marshall Islands

PN895 | Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

PN1041 | Adam H. Sterling, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Slovak Republic.

PN1054 | Kelly Keiderling-Franz, of Virginia, 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 Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

PN1055 | Stephen Michael Schwartz, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

PN1154 | Christine Ann Elder, of Kentucky, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Liberia.

PN1155 | Elizabeth Holzhall Richard, of Virginia, 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 Lebanese Republic.

PN1139 | R. David Harden, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

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