New USAID appointee’s transfer is “being greeted with all the excitement of a root canal”

 

 

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Ambassador Mark Green Steps Down as USAID Administrator

On March 16, 2020, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced his plans “to leave USAID and return to the private sector next month.” He served for two and a half years at USAID. He said “With the vision and dedication of the men and women of USAID, the Agency has done unceasing and robust work to change and improve the power of foreign assistance to help our partner nations on their Journeys to Self-Reliance. The purpose of foreign assistance is to end the need for its existence. The work of USAID every day provides a powerful return on investment to the American taxpayers for our national security, our economic growth – this generosity is simply in our DNA as a country.”
Ambassador Green officially ended his tenure on April 10, 2020. Three names have been reported as potential successor:¬† Jim Richardson (currently State/F)¬† and Pompeo’s chief of staff when he was at the U.S. House of Representatives; Rep. Ted Yoho, a Republican from Florida; Ed Royce, the former Republican congressman from California and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC).

Related posts:

 

Snapshot: USAID’s Program Cycle Framework

Via state.gov

USAID implements an integrated Program Cycle Policy (Automated Directive System [ADS] 201), USAID’s framework for planning, implementing, assessing, and adapting programs that support countries to advance their journey to self-reliance. The Program Cycle provides policy and procedures for making strategic programming decisions to ensure effective use of foreign assistance resources. The guidance integrates continuous learning throughout all Program Cycle components to inform adaptive management and improve achievement of results. Robust monitoring and evaluation practices provide feedback on progress in achieving short- and long-term objectives.

Related post:
Snapshot: StateDepartment’s Managing for Results (MfR) Framework 

@StateDept Appoints Ex-Pompeo Chief of Staff as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources

 

Secretary Pompeo recently informed State Department employees that they just swore in a new Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, Jim Richardson. “Most recently, Jim served as the Assistant to the Administrator in USAID‚Äôs Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning and the Coordinator of USAID‚Äôs Transformation Task Team. In his new role, he‚Äôll guide the F Bureau in helping both the State Department and USAID connect the resources to our foreign policy objectives.”
Mr. Richardson succeeds Eric M. Ueland who was appointed as F Director in October 1, 2018 but has since been appointed to the WH as head of legislative affairs.  Mr. Ueland is however, still listed as F Director on state.gov.
While Pompeo did not mention that Richardson was his former chief of staff when he served in the Congress, the state.gov bio did mention the work he did for the former congressman:

James ‚ÄúJim‚ÄĚ Richardson is the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the U.S. Department of State, where he coordinates the allocation of more than $35 billion in foreign assistance resources.

Previously, Jim served as Assistant to the Administrator in USAID‚Äôs Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) and Coordinator of USAID‚Äôs Transformation Task Team, where he led the Agency‚Äôs historic reorganization to reshape the Agency around the principle of ‚ÄėEnding the Need for Foreign Assistance‚Äô.

Jim has nearly 20 years of government experience. Prior to joining the Trump Administration, he was Chief of Staff for then-Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS-04)‚ÄĒoverseeing Pompeo‚Äôs offices in Washington, DC and in Wichita, Kansas, as well as the campaign organization.

Throughout his years in Washington, Jim spearheaded numerous complex operations and developed an extensive background in public policy and the legislative process. Prior to leading Congressman Pompeo‚Äôs staff, Jim worked with the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee for Congressman Todd Tiahrt (KS-04), the House Armed Services Committee for Congressman Jim Ryun (KS-02), and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO). He started his government career with Christopher ‚ÄúKit‚ÄĚ Bond (R-MO).

Jim holds a Bachelors of Science in Government from Evangel University and a Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies from Missouri State University. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College (ACSC).

 

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@USAID May Get a New Logo For ‘America First’ Era, Then What?

 

 

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GAO to @StateDept: Psst! Leadership Attention and Focus, Please!

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its report¬† on Tillerson’s redesign projects (although those projects were no longer called that).¬† GAO looked into the status of the reform efforts that the State Department reported to Congress in February 2018 and also looked at the extent to which State addressed key practices critical to the successful implementation of agency reform efforts.
GAO has determined that “State leadership has not provided the focus necessary to support the officials responsible for implementing all these reform projects.”
Uh-oh! Some excerpts below.

Remember the Listening Tour?

In response to the March 2017 Executive Order 13781 and the ensuing OMB memo, State launched a ‚Äúlistening tour‚ÄĚ intended to gather ideas and feedback from State and USAID employees. As a key component of this outreach effort, State hired a contractor to design and administer a confidential online survey, which was sent to all State and USAID employees in May 2017. According to the contractor‚Äôs report, the survey had a 43 percent response rate, with 27,837 State employees and 6,142 USAID employees responding to the survey. The contractor also conducted in-person interviews with a randomly selected cross section of personnel, which included 175 employees from State and 94 from USAID.

17 Reform Projects Plus

The planning teams developed specific reform projects, listed below in table 2 (17 reform projects, see page7-8 of report), which State described in the fiscal year 2019 budget justification it submitted to Congress in February 2018.9  According to implementing officials, all these projects predated the Executive Order and OMB memo issued in the spring of 2017. They also noted, however, that the administration’s reform-related directives helped advance State’s preexisting efforts by focusing management attention and agency resources on these projects.  (9 In addition to these reform projects, State’s Congressional Budget Justification also reported seven changes related to its reform efforts that are complete or underway. State reported that it is (1) expanding employment opportunities for eligible family members; (2) implementing cloud-based email and collaboration; (3) increasing flexibilities for employees on medical evacuations; (4) streamlining the security clearance process; (5) simplifying the permanent change-of-station travel process; (6) improving temporary duty travel options and experience; and (7) integrating USAID and State global address lists.

Status: Completed-1, Continuing-13, Stalled-2, Discontinued-1

As of April 2019, according to State officials and status reports, State had completed one of its 17 reform projects; 13 projects were continuing; two projects were stalled pending future decisions or actions; and one project was discontinued.
[…]
According to State officials, as of April 2019, although 13 of the reform projects described in the fiscal year 2019 Congressional Budget Justification were considered by State to be continuing, some had been scaled back, slowed down, or both as a result of senior leadership’s shifting priorities and attention.

Leadership Focus and Attention

In February 2018, State reported to¬† Congress in its fiscal year 2019 budget justification that it was pursuing the reform projects we described above. In March 2018, the first transition affecting the implementation of those projects occurred when the President removed the then Secretary of State and nominated the then CIA director to replace him; in April 2018, the Senate confirmed the current Secretary. According to senior State officials, when the new Secretary took office, his top priority was ending the hiring freeze and restarting a concerted recruitment effort because vacancies in key positions and a general staffing shortfall would otherwise have led to what one senior official described as a ‚Äúcataclysmic failure‚ÄĚ at State. These senior officials noted that the new Secretary decided some of the existing reform projects were not well designed and that he wanted greater emphasis on cybersecurity and data analytics. They said he also wanted to pursue other initiatives, including a new proposal to create a Global Public Affairs Bureau by merging two existing bureaus. The senior officials told us that the Secretary authorized responsible bureaus and offices to determine whether to continue, revise, or terminate existing reform efforts or launch new initiatives. However, State did not formally communicate other changes in its reform priorities to Congress, such as its plan to no longer combine State and USAID‚Äôs real property offices.
[…]
State initiated another transition in leadership of the reform efforts in April 2018 when it disbanded the dedicated planning teams overseeing the reform efforts and delegated responsibility for implementing the reform projects to relevant bureaus and offices. As the planning teams finished working on their particular reform efforts and prepared to transfer these projects to the bureaus, some planning teams provided memos and reports on the status of their efforts and offered recommendations for the bureaus to consider when determining next steps in implementing the projects. Some implementing officials, however, reported that they received little or no direction regarding their projects or any other indication of continued interest in their project from department or bureau leadership aside from the initial notification that the project had been assigned to them.
[…]
Various State officials noted that the prolonged absence of Senate confirmed leadership in key positions posed additional challenges. We have previously testified that it is more difficult to obtain buy-in on longterm plans and efforts that are underway when an agency has leaders in acting positions because federal employees are historically skeptical of whether the latest efforts to make improvements are going to be sustained over a period of time

Leadership Transition Effects:

Taken together, the leadership transitions at State had two significant effects on State’s reform efforts. First, the transition of departmental leadership and lack of direction and communication about subsequent changes in leadership’s priorities contributed to uncertainty among implementing officials about the future of individual reform projects. Second, according to implementing officials, the transition of project responsibility from dedicated teams to bureau-level implementing officials resulted in fewer resources and a lack of senior leadership involvement and attention for some projects. Absent leadership decisions, implementing officials will continue to struggle with understanding leadership priorities with regard to State’s reform efforts. Similarly, for any projects that are determined to be leadership priorities, day-to-day implementation activities will continue to be hampered by the lack of a dedicated team to guide and manage the agency’s overall reform effort.

Don’t Forget USAID: Continuing Projects? Where? What?
GAO has not made any recommendations to USAID and yet, the agency has submitted a written response to highlight the State Department‚Äôs unwillingness to coordinate with them. What’s this about? (see Appendix III-Comments from the U.S. Agency for International Development – PDF/page25-26):

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EEOC Sanctions USAID For Failing to Conduct Thorough Investigation in Disability and Age Discrimination Case

 

Via The Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law | Volume 1, Fiscal Year 2019

Commission Sanctioned Agency for Failing to Conduct Thorough Investigation & Found Evidence Would Have Established Discrimination.¬†Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that the Agency discriminated against her on the basis of disability and age when it terminated her contract employment. The Agency conceded, and the record supported a finding that Complainant established a prima facie case of discrimination, and the Commission found that the Agency articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the decision to terminate Complainant, that is its realignment of her office due to budgetary constraints. The Commission noted that while the EEO Investigator was thorough and pursued affidavits from both Complainant’s supervisor and the Assistant Administrator of her office, the Investigator only obtained a statement from the supervisor. The Assistant Administrator had moved to another agency and informed the Investigator, by email, that she would not cooperate with the investigation, did not supervise Complainant, and did not believe the questions posed by the Investigator were pertinent or applicable to her. The Commission stated that the Agency did not show good cause for its failure to engage in further efforts to obtain the Assistant Administrator’s affidavit. In addition, there was ample indication in the record that her testimony constituted highly relevant evidence, including a note by the EEO Counselor that the Assistant Administrator confirmed she made comments about Complainant’s health in the context of Complainant’s termination.

Therefore, the Commission concluded that the imposition of sanctions was warranted for the Agency’s failure to obtain testimony from the Assistant Administrator. While the Assistant Administrator moved to another federal agency, as a federal employee she retained the duty to respond to an EEO investigation, and the Agency provided no indication that it took any steps to obtain her cooperation. The Commission presumed that had the Assistant Administrator submitted an affidavit, she would have admitted she was directly involved in the decision to terminate Complainant’s contract, and that Complainant’s disability played a significant role in that decision. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to require Complainant’s contracting employer to reinstate her to her former position if possible or pay her one year of front pay if there was no position to which she could be reinstated; pay Complainant appropriate back pay; and investigate her claim for compensatory damages.¬†Aileen C. v. Agency for Int’l Dev, EEOC Appeal No. 0120170399 (Sept. 18, 2018).

According to the EEOC, sanctions serve a dual purpose: 1) they aim to deter the underlying conduct of the non-complying party and prevent similar misconduct in the future, and 2) they are corrective and provide equitable remedies to the opposing party. Given these dual purposes, sanctions must be tailored to each situation by applying the least severe sanction necessary to respond to a party’s failure to show good cause for its actions and to equitably remedy the opposing party.

Several factors are reportedly considered in “tailoring” a sanction and determining if a particular sanction is warranted:
(1) the extent and nature of the non-compliance, and the justification presented by the non-complying party;
(2) the prejudicial effect of the non-compliance on the opposing party;
(3) the consequences resulting from the delay in justice; and
(4) the effect on the integrity of the EEO process.

The EEOC‚Äôs sanctions in this case¬† include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, EEO site visit, and coverage of attorney’s fees and costs.

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USAID Prepares to Shrink #WestBank/Gaza Presence, Pompeo Visits @USAID HQ

 

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DHS PDAS John Barsa to be Asst Administrator for USAID/Latin America and the Caribbean

The WH announced the president’s intent to nominate John Barsa, currently with DHS to be the next USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Barsa of Florida, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean).

Mr. Barsa currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement (DHS OPE).  Previously, he served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for OPE. Mr. Barsa served with the United States Army Reserves for nearly a decade and was a member of the 11th Special Forces Group and the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. In the U.S. Congress, he worked for Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, focusing on foreign policy and national security issues.  During the Bush Administration, Mr. Barsa served in external engagement roles within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Florida International University and is a native Spanish speaker.

Reax:

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#2018Sammies: USAID’s Andrew M. Herscowitz and the Power Africa Team

 

The Service to America Medal’s (Sammies)¬†2018 WINNER FOR¬†NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS is USAID’s¬†Andrew M. Herscowitz and the Power Africa Team.

Congratulations!

Via the Partnership for Public Service:

Power Africa, an ambitious public-private partnership led by Andrew Herscowitz of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has worked with more than 20 African governments, 140 American companies and financial institutions,12 federal agencies and a host of international organizations to bring electricity to more than 50 million people.

Starting from scratch in 2013, Herscowitz and the Power Africa team built a solid foundation for this highly ambitious foreign policy initiative designed to advance U.S. national security interests while fostering economic development and stability in Africa.

To date, Herscowitz and his team of 56 people in the U.S. and South Africa have advanced 90 electric power projects worth more than $14 billion that will produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity. The U.S. government has disbursed about $500 million to help finance this effort, but Power Africa also has stimulated the export of an equal amount in U.S. goods and services, and helped secure thousands of jobs at American companies.

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