Once-confidential ambassador nominee documents to go public

April 4, 2014

The Obama administration, roundly criticized in recent months for ambassadorial nominees who were fine mega-bundlers for Obama’s campaigns but lacking in knowledge of the countries in which they were to serve, has agreed to start posting nominees’ credentials for the jobs online.

The move follows embarrassing testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by nominees for Norway, Hungary and  Argentina, prompting the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), which is the foreign service employees union, to demand access to the “certificates of demonstrated competence” that are part of the documents sent to the Senate to justify the nominations.

Under an agreement with the administration, announced Friday by AFSA, the State Department will publish those certificates on the department’s Web site when a nominee is announced.

UPDATED: There may a bit less here than meets the eye. With fewer than three years left in Obama’s second term, the number of nominees affected is likely to be quite small.  In fact, other than garden spots like Sudan or Syria, there are  only a couple primo embassies (Ireland and France) left for mega-fundraisers nominees.

Other major vacancies in India and Russia are, given current friction between Washington and New Delhi and Moscow, are likely to go to career Foreign Service Officers or to what’s been dubbed “securocrats,” meaning national security policy folks who travel the think tank and academia paths to government jobs and then to embassies.

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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