The Foreign Service Journal, November 2022

16 NOVEMBER 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS Tracking Senior Staffing S ince our last update in the September FSJ , 10 ambassador nominations have been announced, all but one of which are career members of the U.S. Foreign Ser- vice. A political appointee was announced for Barbados, and career nominees were selected for Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, Guyana, Cabo Verde, Estonia, Timor-Leste, Ecuador, and Kuwait. Senior FSO Lynne Tracy, the nomi- nee for U.S. Embassy Moscow, received approval from the Russian government in mid-September, just before her nomina- tion was announced. Currently the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, she previously served as a senior adviser for Russian affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and as deputy chief of mission in Moscow; she has also held sev- eral posts in Central and South Asia. Her nomination is awaiting Senate action. The Biden administration’s record is now 56 percent career nominees versus 44 percent political appointees. AFSA is currently tracking 43 ambassador vacan- cies across the globe, 25 of which have a nominee. Follow the ambassador tracker for real-time updates at ambassadorlist. There have also been a few confirma- tions: career FSOs to Namibia, Nicaragua, and the Kyrgyz Republic, and the United Nations Special Political Affairs posi- tion at the U.N. mission in New York, as well as the assistant secretary of State for energy resources; and political appointees for Morocco, the Netherlands, Panama, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USAID assistant administrator position for Asia. NBC News reported on Sept. 16 that Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has placed a blanket hold on all ambassador nomi- nees in the Caribbean and Latin America, blocking the confirmation of at least 10 nominees, over objections to some of the Biden administration’s policies relating to Cuba. Nonetheless, four of those being blocked were confirmed on Sept. 29. Three senior positions at the State Department have nominees who have yet to be confirmed. AFSA remains concerned that no nominee has yet been announced for many positions, including for inspec- tor general. (See the President’s Views column on page 7. ) Notably, there is still no nominee for the post of ambassador to Italy, which, in late September, elected a coalition led by a political party that traces its origins to Benito Mussolini. The position has been vacant for almost two years. At USAID, two nominees remain unconfirmed, and one position lacks a nominee. One of the unconfirmed is the candidate for the role of inspector general, nominated more than a year ago. This delay is also cause for concern. Finally, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media was confirmed in late September. Blueprints for a More Modern Diplomatic Service A group of former ambassadors and foreign policy experts has released a new set of blueprints for change within the U.S. Foreign Service. Led by co-chairs Ambassadors Marc Grossman and Marcie Ries and Executive Director Ambassador Charles Ray, and coordinated by Ari- zona State Univer- sity’s Leadership, Diplomacy, and National Security Lab, “The American Diplomacy Project—Phase II” proposes a plan of action based on four key pillars, or blueprints, offering a concrete plan of action for a new generation of American diplomats. At the launch event held on Sept. 8 at ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Center in Washington, D.C., the blueprint authors presented their recommendations, as well as the proposed regulatory language, added by legislative drafter Charlie Armstrong, to help make the proposals a reality. Blueprint #1, “Mission and Mandate: Clarity, Strength, and Professionalism,” introduced by Ambassador (ret.) Michael Polt, addresses the mission and man- date of the Foreign Service. It proposes enhanced authority for chiefs of mission, including the introduction of a new presi- dential letter of authority. Blueprint #2, “State Department Professional Education and Training,” pre- sented by Ambassadors (ret.) Joyce Barr and Dan Smith, proposes an investment in more robust diplomatic education and the creation of a training complement that represents 8 percent of the total workforce. This float would prioritize mid-career and higher-level training to improve leader- ship skills. Blueprint #3, “Personnel,” presented by Ambassador (ret.) Jo Ellen Powell, dis- cusses establishing a personnel system to recruit and retain a modern and diverse workforce, and expand- ing professional opportunities for FS family members. Finally, Blueprint #4, “Diplo- matic Reserve Corps,” was intro- duced by Ambassador (ret.) Pat- rick Kennedy. It proposes building a 1,000-person reserve corps made up of retired State Department professionals and subject matter experts from outside of government, mod- eled after the U.S. Armed Forces reserves.