THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2018 21 picked up somewhat as spring gave way to summer. During April andMay, 14 ambassado- rial nominations were sent to the Sen- ate, while five other nominations were confirmed. Among the nations to finally receive a Senate-confirmed ambassador were Germany, Hungary and South Sudan. At press time, AFSA was tracking a total of 42 ambassador vacancies. Vacant, in this instance, means that no one has been nominated or con¬firmed for the position of ambassador and the previous incum- bent has left post. As of mid-June, nominees for vari- ous senior posts at State and USAID were awaiting confirmation, including the under secretary for management, seven assistant secretaries, the CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the nominee for the deputy administrator position at USAID. Only one of the six under secretary positions at the State Department has a Senate-confirmed incumbent following the retirement of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon in June. Just 13 of 24 assistant secretary slots are filled, and only two of USAID’s 11 Senate- confirmed leadership positions have an incumbent. Notably, AFSA lists eight nominations that have been withdrawn since January of last year, which is an unusually high number. Most recently, the nominations of political appointees Edward Masso to be ambassador to Estonia and Eric Ueland to be under secretary of State for manage- ment were pulled back. Embassies without an ambassador—in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Jordan and Egypt, to name but a few—are still being ably led by career diplomats acting as chiefs of mission or chargés d’affaires. But foreign govern- ments do take note when the ambassador post in their capital remains vacant for a long period. Hiring Freeze Lifted W ithin hours of starting his new job, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted the hiring freeze on eligible family members (EFMs). A few days later, he lifted the departmentwide hiring freeze as well, sending the note below to all State employees: FROM THE DESK OF Mike Pompeo Team, Earlier this month, I directed that our employed family members would be treated fairly in seeking to use their skills to delivery our mission. Today, I am lifting the department’s hiring freeze on Foreign Service and Civil Service and authorizing the Department of State to hire to current funding levels. This will give our domestic bureaus and missions overseas the flexibility to fill positions that are essential to promoting the department’s mission and the United States’ foreign policy goals worldwide on behalf of the American people. The department’s workforce is our most valuable asset. We need our men and women on the ground, executing American diplomacy with great vigor and energy, and representing our great nation. By resuming hiring of the most gifted and qualified individuals, we will ensure that we have the right people with the right skills working to advance our U.S. national interests and executing the department’s mission in an increasingly complicated and challenging world. Mike n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Donna Gorman, Dmitry Filipoff, Ásgeir Sigfússon, Shawn Dor- man and Jacob Borst.