The Foreign Service Journal - April 2014 - page 12

APRIL 2014
FSA has kept track of ambassadorial appointments
for a very long time, but the possibilities that online
data collection and presentation bring enabled us to kick
our efforts into high gear in 2009. This issue is of signifi-
cant concern to our members and, increasingly, to the
public at large.
Our tracker began with a very basic—and mostly ad
hoc—collection of statistics on the numbers of career and
political ambassadors in the Ford, Carter, Reagan, George
H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. Our figures were
not entirely accurate, however, due to a paucity of data.
With the start of the Barack Obama administration
in January 2009, we re-energized the project. Thanks to
the fantastic online collection of the Office of the Histo-
rian at the Department of State, accurate information on
ambassadors through history has become much easier to
gather. So began a venture that has grown in breadth and
depth over the past five years.
Our chart shows the current ambassador or ambassa-
dor-designate to each country and international organi-
zation, totaling 187 positions. It goes into considerable
detail: Is the individual a career or political appointee?
Has each been confirmed or is the nomination still pend-
ing? Have they had a hearing before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee? A bio is attached to each listing for
additional information.
Once this basic chart had been established, we
updated our information and added the George W. Bush
administration. Recently, we added a new chart that
separates out Pres. Obama’s second-term appointments;
those data are the source of much of the media attention
this issue has received lately.
With this refined data, our statistics became more
reliable. We also have charts on each country going back
to 1960 and each continent going back to 1960 (no sur-
prises in the data on Western Europe and the Caribbean).
Our most recent update looks at the number of female
ambassadors in each country since the start of diplo-
matic relations with the United States.
Last year, as AFSA began looking more seriously at the
increasing politicization of positions at the Department
of State, we began tracking career vs. political appointee
statistics on deputy secretaries, under secretaries and
assistant secretaries of State, as well as directors, coor-
dinators and chiefs of major offices. As we go to press, we
are compiling data on senior positions at the U.S. Agency
for International Development, which we hope to post
later this year.
This project is a constant work in progress, and we
invite you to keep up with the evolving picture.
–Ásgeir Sigfússon, AFSA Director of New Media
AFSA’s Ambassador Tracker
larly the pages containing the guidelines
and our statistics on ambassadorial
nominations (see “Site of the Month,”
p.12)—saw a surge in visits in February,
tallying more than 28,000 hits.
sgeir Sigfússon,
AFSA Director of New Media
Ambassador Issue
Receives International
he most controversial of President
Obama’s 2014 ambassadorial draft
picks received intense media scrutiny
in the countries to which they are being
appointed following their nomination
More surprising, however, the issues
surrounding the U.S. ambassadorial
nomination process were covered
prominently in the press in at least 31
writes that
Colleen Bell, a businesswoman and
Hollywood producer, “earned her new
career move” as U.S. ambassador to
Hungary by raising some $2.1 mil-
lion for President Obama’s reelection
campaign. Hungary “does not seem to
be at the forefront of American diplo-
matic thinking,” the article states, noting
that the post has been vacant for six
months, and adding: “Other countries,
which use career diplomats, not political
appointees, usually have little or no gap
between ambassadors to Hungary.”
Noah Bryson Mamet, the ambassadorial
nominee for Argentina, citing the fact
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