Passport boss’s departure intricately planned

Outgoing assistant Secretary of State Janice Jacobs high-fives staffers on her last day on the job. (Photo: Al Kamen/Washington Post
Outgoing assistant Secretary of State Janice Jacobs high-fives staffers on her last day on the job. (Photo: Al Kamen/Washington Post

 Seems Janice Jacobs’s surprise sendoff Thursday morning took planning and subterfuge worthy of Eisenhower’s landing at Normandy.

On the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs’s last day in office, some 200 applauding, cheering staffers lined the 4½- block route from the bureau’s building on F Street NW to her office at the State Department.

Visa Office (VO) chief Don Heflin proposed the event last week, we’re told, along with a five-point implementation plan.

It was to be a surprise. So first they had to “create a ruse to keep” her in the bureau for a half-hour after the usual morning staff meeting so everyone could get ready. The Visa Office would host a “farewell coffee,” Heflin told other officials and “that should do the trick.”

Second, five offices within the bureau would “start round up . . . 60+ people per block to line the route,” he said.

Third, he instructed, “maintain opsec” (operation security), “not a word to Janice, no use of e-mail distribution lists she might be on.”

Fourth, each office would be given block assignments, with the Visa Office taking the last leg along 21st NW as she headed to old AID entrance to the State Department.

Fifth, office heads should “begin exfiltrating people” to their designated blocks as soon as Jacobs went upstairs for the coffee and Heflin would e-mail “coordinators as soon as she comes upstairs. VO will make sure that Janice is not early.”

A 90-minute “happy hour” was scheduled in a conference room “to make posters with the leadership and management  tenets” of the office, such as “Think Globally,” “Lead by Example” and “Follow Creatively.”

Jacobs, wearing a tan trench coat and sneakers, carrying a Blue Cross-Blue Shield tote bag and walking quickly, appeared a bit stunned.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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