The Foreign Service Journal, November 2023

14 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL his new job “one of the most important diplomatic assignments in Washington at a time when the State Department has faced staffing issues and criticism from Capitol Hill over its management of China-related policies.” In other staffing news, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has been nominated by President Biden to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, replacing Tom Nides. David Huitema, a State Department ethics official, has been nominated to lead the Office of Government Ethics. USAID Hiring Practices Prompt Senate Concern On Sept. 8, three U.S. senators wrote to USAID Administrator Samantha Power to express concerns about hiring practices at USAID. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) wrote of their “concerns about long-standing workforce challenges and the increasing reliance on non-career, temporary hires.” The senators quoted AFSA’s position, as published in a Foreign Service Journal article by then–USAID Vice President Jason Singer: “Decades of hiring workarounds and the agency’s patchwork, fragmented, and seemingly ad hoc approach to strategic workforce planning have diluted USAID’s career employee workforce, complicating operations, management, and agencyunion relations.” The senators asked a series of questions regarding USAID’s failure to provide a Workforce Report addressing the issues already raised by Congress, the agency’s failure to follow workforce recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office, its failure to consider Confirm State Department Officials The scenes in Israel are devastating beyond comprehension. … This is an all hands on deck moment in history, and the administration needs a Senate-confirmed American diplomat present in every capital in the region as soon as possible. Right now, we don’t have a U.S. Ambassador in place in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, or Kuwait. USAID hasn’t had an Assistant Administrator for the Middle East for nearly three years—a role that will be essential to the deployment of emergency economic and humanitarian aid in response to this crisis. The State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism—which leads the Department’s efforts to defeat terrorism abroad—has been awaiting confirmation for nearly two years. Now is not the time for politics. The Senate should confirm those awaiting votes the day we are back in session, and immediately schedule committee hearings to expedite confirmation of the remainder. Democrats and Republicans must work together to support our ally Israel. The nominees for U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait and the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism await a vote on the Senate floor. The nominees for U.S. Ambassadors to Israel and Egypt, and the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East await committee hearings. —Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in an Oct. 8 statement. HEARD ON THE HILL JOSH AFSA’s recommendations for addressing workforce problems, its extensive use of noncareer staff, and more. The senators asked Power to respond to their questions in writing by Oct. 31. Read the entire letter at Power-ask. AI and the Future of Diplomacy Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic in the world of diplomacy as the department and others look at ways to use AI to streamline their workload while combating improper use and maintaining security. Earlier this year, the State Department added a new section to the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) addressing AI policy, 20 FAM 200. During a Sept. 7 meeting of the FOIA Advisory Committee, Giorleny Altamirano Rayo, chief data scientist at the State Department’s Center for Analytics, said that the department would launch its first-ever “enterprise AI strategy” in October, “laying out the framework so that the department can responsibly, safely and securely harness the capabilities of AI to advance our work.” Eric Stein, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Global Information Services, told the audience that State is working on a pilot program that uses AI to reduce the yearslong Freedom of Information Act backlog. The department also recently began using AI to help with the declassification process for old documents. In June, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy hosted a virtual conference to discuss the use of AI in public diplomacy. More than 200 people logged on to hear from panelists Alexander Hunt, a public affairs officer at U.S. Embassy Conakry; Jessica Brandt, policy director for the Brookings