Godec has performed well as US envoy, State dept monitors say

What you need to know:

  • The four-month review process involved 372 interviews with staff members at the US embassy in Nairobi and US government employees in Washington.
  • The positive appraisal contrasted sharply with condemnations of alleged partisanship on Mr Godec’s part, that were levelled by National Super Alliance (Nasa) figures during the protracted 2017 election process.
  • In his response to the monitors’ findings, Ambassador Godec accepted recommendations for improving performance in some areas.
  • Mr McCarter’s nomination as Mr Godec's successor has been stalemated for the past three months. It is not clear when — or even if — he will be approved to serve as US ambassador to Kenya.

US Ambassador Robert Godec has been given a generally positive job evaluation in a comprehensive review by State Department performance monitors.

Most of the 380 US citizens working in the embassy “found the ambassador to be well-informed, engaged, forward-looking and able to communicate his strategic vision”, concludes the recently released 61-page assessment by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

ELECTIONS ROLE

The four-month review process involved 372 interviews with staff members at the US embassy in Nairobi and US government employees in Washington. Hundreds more personnel completed pertinent questionnaires.

“Embassy staff credited the ambassador with using his extensive contacts with all elements of Kenyan society to help shape and facilitate the relatively free and fair electoral process in late 2017, which had less violence than previous elections,” the review states.

“They also commended him for using his credibility with both the ruling and opposition parties to facilitate the mid-April 2018 rapprochement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga that ended election-related violence.”

Ambassador Godec was further credited with leading a group of diplomats from other embassies in Nairobi to “shape international messaging on the conduct of Kenya’s elections".

The positive appraisal contrasted sharply with condemnations of alleged partisanship on Mr Godec’s part, that were levelled against him by National Super Alliance (Nasa) figures during the protracted 2017 elections.

STAFF ISSUES

Mr Godec got high marks for his efforts to ease tensions between the US direct-hire staff members and the 1,004 Kenyans and other Africans locally hired for embassy positions.

The ambassador “recognised that open dialogue about race was needed at the embassy,” the monitors state.

Mr Godec's office then launched a “cultural dialogues forum, in which US direct-hire and LE [locally employed] staff addressed common cultural miscommunications and misperceptions,” the appraisal recounts.

The envoy also responded favourably to requests by the embassy’s local employees to address tribal-based tensions among the multi-ethnic Kenyan staff members.

These initiatives were originally spurred by a discussion in 2016 involving the ambassador and Kenya-based African-Americans, who identified with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the review relates.

CRITICISM

The State Department review, however, found that staff members’ opinions of Ambassador Godec’s performance are not uniformly positive.

Some of the US citizens working in the Nairobi embassy told inspectors that they found Ambassador Godec to be “dismissive or unappreciative of their work and contributions, and felt marginalised or demoralised,” the review notes.

Mr Godec was also criticised for deficiencies in his office’s management of embassy property and its handling of inventory.

The State Department performance-monitoring unit advised the envoy to express a willingness to “listen to all viewpoints” and recognise the contributions of all personnel in achieving the embassy’s goals.

In his response to the monitors’ findings included in the review document, Ambassador Godec accepted recommendations for improving performance in these areas.

He also concurred with a recommendation by the inspection team to correct cyber-security deficiencies that left information technology systems vulnerable to interference.

GRATION'S REVIEW

A similarly wide-ranging review carried out by State Department inspectors in 2012 led to the resignation of US Ambassador Scott Gration.

In contrast to the evaluation of Mr Godec’s job performance, Mr Gration was found to have exhibited “uninspired and uninvolved leadership.”

Mr Gration’s management of the Nairobi embassy proved “divisive and ineffective,” the evaluators said.

Mr Godec succeeded Mr Gration in 2012, and has held the ambassador post for a longer time than is often the case for US envoys.

President Trump nominated a political ally six months ago to take over from Mr Godec the job of running what is the largest US embassy in Africa. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must approve ambassadorial appointments, held a hearing in late July on Mr Trump’s choice of Kyle McCarter, an Illinois state legislator who founded a charity in Kenya.

Democratic members of the committee found fault with Mr McCarter’s views on a variety of issues, in particular his tweet on the night of Mr Trump’s election calling for Hillary Clinton to be put in jail.

Mr McCarter’s nomination has been stalemated for the past three months. It is not clear when — or even if — he will be approved to serve as US ambassador to Kenya.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.