March 5th 2014 AFSA Governing Board Resolution

Whereas, the Governing Board of AFSA has an interest, on behalf of its membership, in ensuring that all nominated and confirmed as ambassadors are well qualified;

Whereas, in order to try to ensure that chief of mission and ambassadorial nominees are well qualified, AFSA recently released its Guidelines for Successful Performance as a Chief of Mission;

Whereas, the President of AFSA has publicly registered concern regarding the three recent ambassadorial nominations for Norway, Hungary, and Argentina;

Whereas, AFSA believes it important to review the qualifications for all chief of mission positions, including by examining the Certificates of Competence, which the Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires for each chief of mission nominee;

Whereas, AFSA believes the Certificates of Competence should be made publicly available in real time to ensure transparency of the nomination and confirmation process;

and

Whereas, AFSA formally requested that the Department of State release to AFSA the Certificates of Competence twice in the past year (July 29, 2013 and February 28, 2014) for all chief of mission nominees during a six month period;

Therefore:

The AFSA Governing Board resolves to instruct AFSA’s General Counsel to file suit in US district court at a time of her discretion, to compel the immediate release of the first tranche of Certificates of Competence as requested on July 29, 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act, if the State Department does not produce the documents by close of business on Thursday, March 6.

AFSA calls on the State Department and the administration to make public all Certificates of Competence for chief of mission positions, consistent with the principles of openness, transparency and good governance. Pending receipt of these Certificates of Competence, AFSA will send letters to the Senate and the White House expressing concern that the recent nominations for chief of mission positions in Norway, Hungary and Argentina appear to be based primarily on their status as financial contributors to political campaigns, which is in violation of the Foreign Service Act of 1980.

The AFSA Governing Board further resolves to examine closely the qualifications for chief of mission of each of the three nominees of recent concern, including by reviewing the Certificates of Competence for these individuals once they are released to AFSA, and comparing their qualifications with the Guidelines for Successful Performance as a Chief of Mission.

The AFSA Governing Board finally resolves to ask its Professionalism and Ethics Committee to make recommendations to the Board on longer-term measures that AFSA could take, in conjunction with other organizations, to review Chief of Mission nominations.