@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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American Diplomacy: What Went Wrong and What Can Be Done About It? (WhirledView)

Posted: 1:16 am EDT
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Via WhirledView with Patricia H. Kushlis:

What ever happened to the professional American diplomat?  Or can the world’s second oldest profession even still be considered a profession in these United States?

Is the State Department, the country’s oldest cabinet department which is tasked with the recruitment, training, education and professional development of America’s diplomats, run by the gang who can’t shoot straight or a corrupt in-crowd of long time bureaucrats entrenched in the department paying just enough tribute to the proliferating number of political bosses to stay in power far past their prime?  Or are they one and the same?

The story told in the recent Academy of American Diplomacy report “American Diplomacy at Risk” is that of a once venerable department that has lost much of its relevancy and expertise in the making and implementing of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War encroached upon by the National Security Council, the US military, the CIA, the National Security Agency and even the Foreign Commercial Service.
[…]

Much has been made of “diplomatic readiness” – but how “ready” are American diplomats today?  A wise linguist once told me that “it takes twenty years to grow a tree and it also takes twenty years (or more) to develop the skills required to be a consummate diplomat.”

Nearly 60% of the Foreign Service today is composed of officers who have had less than ten years experience and their first three years are spent working entry-level positions often on the Visa Line or in the war zones of Afghanistan or Iraq. What kind of expertise – or diplomatic readiness – does that translate into?

Continue reading “American Diplomacy: What Went Wrong and What Can Be Done About It?”

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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
202-647-4282

 

<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: Time To Fix The State Department (via WhirledView)

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— Domani Spero

We have previously posted about the case of FSO Joan Wadelton. (See Joan Wadelton’s Case: That’s One Messy Promotion Scorecard, Next Up – It’s GAO Time!Joan Wadelton’s Appeal Makes it to FSGB 2011 Annual Report to CongressGAO Examines Foreign Service Promotion Process — Strengthened But Documentation Gaps Remain). She is now on her tenth year of a legal dispute with the Department of State’s Bureau of Human Resources (HR). She recently guest posted at WhirledView and put her views on the record  “about how to correct the systemic failings that I have encountered over the last 10 years in the Bureau of Human Resources, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of the Legal Advisor.” Quick excerpt below:

The pervasive lack of oversight has led to near total impunity for those guilty of incompetence, cronyism and corruption within State.  A small group of career officials has taken advantage of this to gain control of the bureaucracy’s administrative functions.  Their pernicious influence has persisted for years.

The longevity of the group has been made possible by its control of the personnel system.  Senior managers at State stay in place for years – and when they do retire, they are rehired in a lucrative pay status, allowing them to remain in senior positions for more years.   Thus, the same people turn up repeatedly in ambassadorships and assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary jobs.

Not only does this discourage fresh thinking, it has bottled up the personnel system at the top.  With the jobs at the higher ranks endlessly filled by the same people, the cohort five or 10 years behind them in the career service cannot move up to become the next generation of leaders.  And as a consequence, many FSOs are forced to retire at the peak of their expertise.

Members of this inner circle have used their control of HR to give themselves and their friends promotions, prestigious assignments, cash bonuses and jobs for family members.  Conversely, they have used HR as a weapon against employees they dislike – including removing them from promotion lists and blocking plum assignments and cash bonuses – no matter how qualified those disfavored people might be.

Ms. Wadelton  was a Foreign Service Officer from 1980-2011.  She served in Africa, Latin America, Russia and Iraq.  In addition to assignments in the State Department, she was an advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a director of the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Continue reading Time to Fix the State Department.

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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.

Seriously.

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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Farris v. Clinton: Race/Gender Discrimination Case Going to Trial

With “Stretch” and “Cede” Policies Up Front

On March 12, in a civil action lawsuit Farris v. Clinton, the United States District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina granted the defendant’s (Clinton/State Department) renewed motion for summary judgment with respect to Virginia Loo Farris’ retaliation claims but denies it with respect to the her discrimination claims. So there will be no trial for the retaliation claims but I understand that if no motion is filed, then it looks like this discrimination case proceeds to trial.

The original defendant to this action was Secretary Rice when this action was instituted. The court has substituted the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton as the defendant in this action when she became SoS.

Virginia Loo Farris is an Asian-American woman formerly employed by the U.S. Foreign Service under the U.S. Department of State (“the Department”). She was a thirty-four year veteran of the Foreign Service.Ms. Farris alleges that the State Department unlawfully discriminated against her based on her race and gender and then retaliated against her for complaining about the discrimination. The Department previously filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied in June 2007 after determining that the plaintiff was entitled to discovery to develop the factual record. Following the close of discovery, the Department filed the instant motion for summary judgment. Because Ms. Farris has produced enough evidence to withstand summary judgment on her discrimination claims but not on her retaliation claims, the court grants in part and denies in part the Department’s renewed motion for summary judgment.

 

The plaintiff claims the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her race and gender by denying her bids for two positions: one as a USNATO Political Counselor, a principal adviser to Ambassador Vershbow, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.S. Mission toNATO (“the USNATO position”), and another as the Political Advisor to the NATO military commander in the Hague (“the Hague POLAD position”). Compl. ¶ 11; Def.’s Mot. at 5.

In denying the State Department’s renewed motion for summary judgment with respect to Ms. Farris’s race and gender discrimination claims, the Court states that its central task is to determine “whether the plaintiff has produced evidence from which a reasonable jury could determine that the defendant’s asserted non-discriminatory reason for not hiring her was pretextual and that the defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff based on her race and/or gender.”

Ms. Farris offers four rationales in support of her contention that the Department’s asserted nondiscriminatory reason was a pretext for unlawful discrimination: 1) statistical evidence (which did not fly), 2) the candidates’ respective qualifications for the USNATO position (here the court decides that no reasonable jury could determine that the plaintiff was significantly more qualified than the other candidate), 3) preselection and 4) failure to follow established procedures.

I am not surprised to hear that there is a dearth of Asian American women at the highest level of the State Department but it is still kind of shocking to see it in stark numbers:

 

 

“The statistics that the plaintiff offers, viewed in the light most favorable to her, show that as of 2000, while women were heavily represented among the civil service employee base of the Department, men comprised 72% of the senior ranks of the Foreign Service. The plaintiff also proffers statistics concerning the representation of Asian-American women in particular among the senior ranks of the Foreign Service: at the plaintiff’s seniority level, only 4 officers out of 390 were Asian-American women.”

The Court did note that what Ms. Farris’ statistics fail to address, is the only comparison relevant to this action, namely, the proportion of qualified Asian-American candidates to those chosen for senior-level Foreign Service positions.

Now, items #3 and #4 are where this gets rather interesting — but more so when this gets to trial. Why? These may cast some bright sunshine on a few things that are particularly vexing in the Foreign Service when folks are “bidding” for their forward assignment every 2-3 years – oh, just things like preselection, “fair share,” “stretch” and “cede” policies.

I should note here that according to AFSA some 12 percent of overseas Foreign Service positions (excluding Iraq and Afghanistan) are now vacant, as are 33 percent of domestic Foreign Service positions. Furthermore, 19 percent of the filled slots are held by employees “stretched” into a position designated for a more experienced person.

On preselection, this is what the court record says – “The plaintiff next claims that the defendant preselected Goodman for the USNATO position because he was a member of a “good old boy” network, and that consistent with Goodman’s preselection, Thomas Tiernan, a human resources representative, pressured the plaintiff to withdraw her bid for the position.”

The Court states that it is “undisputed that as early as April 2000, the Department’s EUR Bureau strongly endorsed Goodman for the USNATO position.[…] On May 12, 2000, Tiernan e-mailed the plaintiff urging her to reconsider her candidacy for the position, Pl.’s Opp’n, Ex. 9; when she declined his advice, the defendant selected Goodman for the post in June 2000, Tiernan Dep. at 105.”

On the charges of failure to follow established procedures– State maintains that “cedes are granted even when there are senior officers prepared to take the job. Simply put, plaintiff’s seniority does not trump the prerequisite experience for the position.”Apparently, it is the State Department’s view that “because the plaintiff was willing but not qualified to take the USNATO position, the defendant properly granted a cede to Goodman.”

Now, this is where I get confused. This seems to be saying that a “cede” occurs independent of any action from a specific candidate bidding on a specific position. But to cede means “to relinquish possession or control over something,” except in this case, the employer is the one granting the cede, not the impacted employee. But why was she asked to reconsider her candidacy if it were not up to her to cede?

On the fair share policy: Ms. Farris also claims the defendant violated the “fair share policy” as it is articulated in Department regulations. Pl.’s Opp’n at 28-30. “According to the plaintiff, the policy aims to prevent officers from “limit[ing] themselves to one geographic area and thus overly identify[ing] with such area; the rules also prevent an informal ‘revolving door’ that would deprive others of the opportunity to serve in more developed, favored posts.” Id. at 28.”

The Department’s response:“the policy is intended to ensure that it can staff its “hardship posts,” not to enable as many officers as possible to serve in favored posts, including those in Europe.”

The Court then says that to determine whether there is a genuine dispute as to whether the defendant violated the stretch policy by hiring Goodman, the court looks to the evidence proffered by both parties, viewing it in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.:

 

“Viewing the evidence in this light, the court concludes that there is a factual dispute with respect to whether the defendant’s decision to hire Goodman notwithstanding the plaintiff’s bid was consistent with standard practice within the Department. See Lathram, 336 F.3d at 1093-94. The court is in no position to resolve this dispute by crediting either party’s version of the facts, and contrary to the defendant’s assertions, it is far from clear from the evidence submitted that the decision to hire Goodman did not deviate from standard practice. Id. Thus, a reasonable jury could determine that the defendant failed to follow established procedures, which could in turn give rise to a determination that the defendant’s asserted nondiscriminatory justification for the hiring decision was pretextual. Brady, 520 F.3d at 495 n.3.

On The Hague POLAD position (see discussion starting on page 18). The Department does not contest the plaintiff’s account of the factual circumstances surrounding her requests to be considered for The Hague POLAD position. Id. At 13-15. Instead the Department exlains:

 

“that although it had already submitted its short list in November 1999, the position still appeared by mistake on the “open assignments” list. Id. at 13-14. Because Whitlock “did not have any involvement with [the Hague POLAD] placement,” he was unaware that bidding was closed on the position when he mistakenly told the plaintiff that the position was still open. Id. at 14. In December 1999, the position again erroneously appeared as an open assignment – this time on the “hard to fill” list – because the individual responsible for posting the “hard to fill” list was misinformed. Id. Finally, the defendant notes that the plaintiff would not have been offered the position even if she had been allowed to bid on it because she was less qualified than the successful candidate. Def.’s Mot. at 10, 29-30.”

Read the whole thing here.

I supposed that a lot of mid-level and senior officers would like to see how this case turns out. As well as junior/mid-level officers who may be interested in “stretch” and “double stretch” assignments. The entire assignment process could be on trial with this case. Who knows what will happen next? I happen to think that transparency in the bidding and assignment process is swell — if that elephant actually walks as well as it talks.

Is it time for State to rethink this whole process? Patricia H. Kushlis of Whirled View recently penned a piece entitled Clean Up Time at Foggy Bottom? It is a good read but you won’t see it published in the in-house magazines.

I can’t help thinking that the courts do have a way of inflicting change on organizations whether they are ready for it or not. In 1968, Foreign Service Officer Allison Palmer filed a sex discrimination case that she won three years later. Her victory, according to U.S. Diplomacy resulted in an order from management barring all discrimination in assignments.

As an aside, I ‘d like to note that the State Department did not overturn its ban on the marriage of female diplomats until 1972 1971. And until the early 70’s Foreign Service Officers were still evaluated partly on the performance and personal qualities of their wives. To think that this was considered normal in those days …

In 1977, another sex discrimination, this time a class action suit was filed by Carolee Brady Hartman against the U.S. Information Agency and the Voice of America. It was fought for 23 years and in 2000 finally resulted in a settlement that paid $532,000 to each of the nearly 1,100 women involved in the case.

I don’t know if this is the case that will break the transparent elephant’s back, let’s wait and see … shall we?

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