The move comes after the American Foreign Service Assn., a group of over 16,000 foreign service employees, threatened to sue the State Department last month.
The AFSA had previously filed two
During a particularly rough January confirmation hearing, two nominees who had been top contributors to Obama’s reelection campaign botched their responses to relatively general questions from Sen.
George Tsunis, the ambassadorial nominee to Norway, characterized a member of the country's governing coalition as a "fringe element." Colleen Bell, nominated to serve in Hungary, struggled to cite American strategic interests there.
In another hearing, former Sen.
The AFSA said about 37% of Obama's ambassador appointments have been political picks, compared with an average of about 30% during the past three administrations. Looking only at Obama's second term, the ratio of political nominees is 53% so far, the group said.
"These are not start-up learner, beginner positions," said AFSA president Bob Silverman, adding that political nominees "must be as qualified as anyone else."
The AFSA proposed guidelines in February, urging that Chiefs of Mission – ambassadors and other top diplomats – be required to possess leadership skills, policy-making capacities, management experience and an "understanding of host country and international affairs."
Though the AFSA has received the certificates of competence on past Obama nominees from the State Department, they do not plan to release them to the public.
[For the Record, 8:32 a.m. PDT April 7: An earlier version of this post said the American Foreign Service Assn. had over 1,600 foreign service employees. It has 16,000 foreign service employees.]