State Magazine April 2014 : Page 21

Clockwise from upper left : Priscilla Linn, curator of the United States Diplomacy Cen-ter, explains the history of the Great Seal of the United States to visiting students. Photo by Mark Stewart ; Deputy Director Steven Burback meets with the author in his office; Presidential Appointments Technician Marie Dorsey displays an Ambas-sadorial Commission document. Photos by Ed Warner The office is well-known for its role in guiding the Department’s senior-level presidential appointees, career and non career, through the extensive appointment and confirmation process. The year immediately following a Presidential election is particularly busy, given the significant changes in Department leadership domestically and overseas, and the high number of non-career appointees. In 2013, HR/PAS supported more than 160 presidential candidates. HR/PAS Director Jennifer Wicks and her team help each presidential candidate navigate the process. During the initial vetting, the candidates undergo a thorough background investigation, review of any potential conflicts of interest and ethics considerations, and a vetting interview. Overseas positions also require a medical clearance. HR/PAS fields questions, especially from non career candidates, regarding such topics as the hiring and confirmation process, the Department’s organization and culture, and the logistics of moving, including taking pets to post and finding schools. Once vetting is successfully completed, the White House may, in the case of chief of mission candidates, authorize HR/PAS to request agreement from the relevant foreign government. HR/PAS also introduces candidates to regional or functional bureau contacts who play a critical role in preparing them for their potential positions and confirmation hearings, and schedule consultations with key offices. For chief of mission candidates, the White House makes an announcement and sends the nomination to the Senate after the host government agrees with the proposed candidate. After announcement and nomination, the Bureau of Legislative Affairs works with the nominee and bureau to begin preparations for the Senate confirmation hearing, which may entail making courtesy calls at senators’ offices. Once confirmed and attested or appointed by the President, the nominee works with HR/PAS on planning his or her swearing-in ceremony. “The best part of this job is working with each of these candidates and guiding them through what can be a lengthy and confusing process,” Wicks said. “It’s truly a pleasure to shake someone’s hand at their swearing-in ceremony and congratulate them on their new position.” Finally, when chiefs of mission retire, HR/PAS prepares commemorative flags to honor their service. Its work then comes full circle: It’s one of the first offices to congratulate a new appointee, and it’s where the flag is readied to commemorate the appointee’s service. “This job is challenging, but interesting,” said HR/PAS staff member Steven Kot. “I enjoy working with the White House and people from agencies across government, as well as teaching others about the history of the Great Seal and showing them how we create presidential commissions.” Longtime HR/PAS employee Marie Dorsey agreed, saying she learns something new every day. More information about HR/PAS is on its SharePoint site, http:// hr.m.state.sbu/office/MDGHR/HRPAS/default.aspx. STATE MAGAZINE // APRIL 2014 19

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