FROM: M – William E. Todd
DS – Michael T. Evanoff

SUBJECT: Approval for DS to Hold a Worldwide Senior Executive Leadership Forum

BLUF: DS seeks your approval to hold a worldwide senior executive leadership forum at the Department May 21-23. By approving this request, you are required to waive OMB guidance, which caps net expenses for a single event at $500,000.


That you authorize DS to hold a worldwide senior executive leadership forum at the Department May 21-23 and waive guidance outlined in the 2012 OMB Memorandum 12-12 (M-12-12) that limits net expenses for one event to $500,000.
(Approve/Disapprove by 04/11/19)


DS last held a worldwide senior executive leadership forum at the Department in May 2016. Attendees included the DS Assistant Secretary, PDAS, all DAS, RSOs, senior security engineers, couriers, agents-in-charge of field and resident offices, liaison officers to combatant commands, domestic office directors, and division chiefs. In total, approximately 450 DS Foreign and Civil Service employees attended the event. If you approve a conference for 2019, DS expects employees of similar rank and number to participate. As with the 2016 forum, DS will ensure no overseas post will be left without an acting RSO or post security officer for the duration of the event.

The total cost for the event is estimated at $1.03 million, based upon the nearly $1 million in costs incurred for the last DS forum. DS has sufficient funds to pay for this event within available worldwide security protection levels. Before DS can initiate any planning for a forum of this size, you must waive the M-12-12 that prohibits any executive branch agency from incurring costs in excess of $500,000 from its own funds on a single forum or conference, including one that is self-sponsored. The same memo authorizes the agency head to waive this limitation if “he or she determines that exceptional circumstances exist whereby spending in excess of $500,000 on a single conference is the most cost-effective option to achieve a compelling purpose.” A waiver must be signed in the same calendar year the conference is held.

DS believes a periodic senior executive leadership forum affords the bureau a unique and compelling opportunity to present major new initiatives, discuss current and emerging threats, review best practices in leadership, and address operational issues in one gathering. The results

achieved will include unity of purpose, increased synergy, and greater collaboration in support of facilitating the safe conduct of diplomacy. Current topics under consideration include:

  • outlining the Secretary’s vision and Department priorities;
  • highlighting the new ethos statement the Secretary will launch April 26;
  • providing details on new DS initiatives such as the soon-to-be completed Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC), the creation of an Open Source Intelligence/Social Media monitoring office, and new emergency action planning software;
  • discussing emerging threats in the cyber realm;
  • reviewing ongoing efforts to counter potential risks from unmanned aerial systems;
  • updating DS missions in war zones and its expanding relationship with DoD; and
  • detailing DS Fitness for Duty and Peer Support Group programs.

The bulk of the $1.03 million estimated cost is related to travel, lodging, and meal and incidental expenses. Non Washington-based attendees will be authorized to travel May 20, attend the forum May 21-23, participate in mandatory scheduled consultations/meetings at DS headquarters May 24, and return to their duty station May 25. Lodging will be arranged under a central contract; rooms will be consolidated in a limited number of hotels in the Northern Virginia/Washington area.

Several options and alternatives were considered before arriving at the current recommendation. These included smaller regional events, cost sharing with regional bureaus, as well as shorter event duration and participant de-scoping. These options are not viable, do not meet DS leadership’s intent, do not provide significant cost savings, and/or do not meet overall event goals and objectives.

You have the authority to approve this memorandum pursuant to Delegation of Authority 245-2. Additionally, DS intends to submit a separate invitation request asking for the Secretary to open the event.

U.S. Department of State

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