On June 1, 2020, the State Department updated its Foreign Affairs Manual (12 FAM 030) covering the Accountability Review Board (ARB). The chair of the ARB Permanent Coordinating Committee will now be the director of the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS). If we remember correctly, this used to be the director of M/PRI (Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation (M/PRI). Another update relates to the classification authority of Board Members; they have no original classification authority; M/SS will exercise original classification authority on the Board’s work materials. On the ARB’s findings, the Board submits its findings to the Secretary of State through M/SS. The updated regs make clear that “the report will initially be provided solely to the Secretary, who will determine its subsequent distribution.”
The updated regs has not eliminated 12 FAM 036.4 which refers to Reports to Congress (an update from 10-05-2017). “Per the ARB statute, the Secretary will, not later than 90 days after the receipt of a Board’s program recommendations, submit a report to the Congress on each such recommendation and the action taken with respect to that recommendation.”
The Secretary is required to submit “a report” to the Congress not later than 90 days but the regs does not require him/her to submit the ARB report. The new regs says the secretary of state will determine the report’s “subsequent distribution.”
12 FAM 035 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
12 FAM 035.1 Findings
a. Examination: A Board will examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the security-related incident or a visa incident.
b. Written submission: In its report to the Secretary, a Board makes written findings, which may be classified, as necessary.
c. Dissemination of findings: The board submits its written findings directly to the Secretary through the M/SS director, whose role is only to classify the document as appropriate (the Board members do not have original classification authority), and L, whose role is to offer legal advice about the report, including ensuring that the report meets the legal requirements laid out in 22 U.S.C. 4834. The report will initially be provided solely to the Secretary, who will determine its subsequent distribution. The Board’s written findings are distributed as directed by the Secretary following the Secretary’s receipt of the Board’s written findings.
12 FAM 034.2-5 Classification Authority
Members of the Board do not have original classification authority. The director of M/SS will exercise original classification authority for materials originating from Board activities.
12 FAM 032.1 ARB Permanent Coordinating Committee (ARB/PCC)
a. Purpose: The ARB/PCC will, as quickly as possible after an incident occurs, review the available facts and recommend to the Secretary to convene or not convene a Board. (Due to the 1999 revision of the law requiring the Secretary to convene a Board not later than 60 days after the occurrence of an incident, except that such period may be extended for one additional 60-day period, the ARB/PCC will meet within 30 days of the incident if enough information is available.) In addition, the ARB/PCC will meet yearly to review the ARB process, existing policies and procedures, and all past ARB recommendations, and ensure that any necessary changes are effected.
b. Membership: The ARB/PCC will be composed of the following members:
(1) The director of the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS), who will chair the ARB/PCC; or designee
(2) The Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security or designee;
(3) The Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research or designee;
(4) The coordinator for Counterterrorism or designee;
(5) The assistant secretary or designee of the relevant regional bureau(s)
(6) One representative designated by and representing the DNI; and
(7) The Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs or designee.
NOTE: Designees must have the authority to vote at ARB/PCC meetings on behalf of their principal; they may not defer decisions until they have briefed the principal.
c. Other participants: As a result of the State-Justice Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated September 20, 2001, the Department of Justice has attended PCC meetings. The Department’s Deputy Legal Adviser, director of the Bureau of Medical Services, and Executive Secretary of the Executive Secretariat, or his/her designees, will attend PCC meetings. Also, as determined by the chairperson, representatives of other offices and agencies may be invited to work with the ARB/PCC. Participants listed in this section do not vote.