More than six months into the administration, a majority of positions requiring Senate confirmation – 86 out of 131 – remain not just unfilled, but without even a nominee. There are no Assistant Secretary nominees for the Middle East or Asia at a time of daunting new challenges from Russia, ISIS, and China. There is no nominee to serve as our Ambassador to South Korea even as we confront a deteriorating situation with North Korea. There is no Assistant Secretary nominee for Africa, which faces unprecedented humanitarian challenges.
At the same time, there are frequent reports about reshuffling and downsizing of key offices. There have also been reports that the Policy Planning office will see a considerable increase in size, indicative of a change in function and role ahead of any proposal on reorganization itself. . . . The absence of assistant secretaries means no one is at the helm to direct policy and set priorities toward which thousands of the State Department’s public servants can contribute their expertise in implementing on behalf of the American people. So long as the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security remains vacant, there will be no one charged with overseeing embassy security, leaving us vulnerable in an area that the Department’s Inspector General cited as the “number one priority,” and one that this administration had repeatedly highlighted as an issue of utmost importance. It also leaves an uncertain path forward for implementing the Benghazi Accountability Review Board recommendations.