The Foreign Service Journal, March 2021

72 MARCH 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL This may be the first column in the Journal ’s 102-year his- tory written not for current readers but for future his- torians. My hope is that this column will turn up years from now in an internet search for “Mike Pompeo” so that the facts described herein are not lost to history. During his final year in office, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo failed to fulfill his statutory responsi- bility to make appointments to the Foreign Service Griev- ance Board. As a result, nearly half of the FSGB member positions fell vacant and remained so until the end of the Trump presidency. Pend- ing caseloads rose, and jus- tice was delayed for employ- ees who had appealed to the FSGB to review their cases. Government efficiency was also harmed by the delay in case decisions that some- times result in the separation of employees or the imposi- tion of other sanctions. The FSGB was created by Congress in 1980 to provide due process to Foreign Ser- vice members who believe they have been deprived of a right or benefit authorized by law or regulation. The board is supposed to be comprised of 19 distinguished citizens who serve in staggered, two- year terms. Federal law charges the Secretary of State with mak- ing FSGB member appoint- ments. Unfortunately, Congress did not anticipate that a head of our nation’s senior Cabinet department would refuse to fulfill that responsibility. More than a month before the Oct. 1. 2020 expiration of the terms of eight mem- bers of the FSGB, career management officials of the agencies utilizing the Foreign Service personnel system (State, USAID, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Foreign Commercial Service and the U.S. Agency for Global Media), along with AFSA (as the collective bargaining agent of the For- eign Service), unanimously selected a slate of nominees as required by law and sub- mitted those nominations to Secretary Pompeo. If Secretary Pompeo had adverse information on any nominees, he could have allowed the Foreign Service agencies and AFSA to submit replacement nominations prior to Sept. 30. Secretary Pompeo took no action, so the eight seats became vacant. As the months passed, Secretary Pompeo neither acted nor explained his inac- tion. With no legal author- ity to compel action, AFSA issued a press statement on Dec. 14 calling on Secretary Pompeo to act. The news media, strug- gling to keep up with the chaotic events of the Trump administration’s final months in office, did not report on the situa- tion. Secretary Pompeo left office without acting on the nominations, leaving it to his successor to fulfill that responsibility. Secretary Antony Blinken did so within two weeks of taking office. Perhaps by the time a future historian finds this column, Secretary Pompeo will have explained his fail- ure to act. But my impression today as the AFSA Governing Board member charged with overseeing the annual FSGB nomination process is that Secretary Pompeo’s derelic- tion of duty was of a piece with the arrogance and contempt for the rule of law that he frequently showed to committees of Congress, the media and others. Secretary Pompeo’s passive-aggressive eviscera- tion of the FSGB deserves to be recorded and remem- bered. n FS Grievance Board Appointments: Mike Pompeo’s Dereliction of Duty RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Contact: AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, Dec. 16, 2020 WAE Caps: The Governing Board agreed to include removal of When Actually Employed caps as a policy priority with the new administration, on Capitol Hill and in meetings with transition teams. Midlevel Entry: The Governing Board agreed that AFSA is opposed to midlevel lateral entry from outside the Foreign Service. n AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, Jan. 21, 2021 AFSA Memorial Plaques: The Governing Board agreed to include one new name on the AFSA Memorial Plaques. n