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White House to Post Ambassador Nominee Qualifications Online

Vacclav/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration will start posting proof of their ambassadorial nominees’ competency online in an effort to stanch criticism that their political appointees are not qualified to represent the United States abroad.

The change in policy, which was announced by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on Friday, comes months after a slate of confirmation hearings in which nominees appeared to have little understanding of the political and cultural dynamics of the countries to which they were being sent.

Previously, “Certificates of Demonstrated Competence,” which will be posted on the State Department website, were only available to senators in charge of confirming nominees.

Last month AFSA, the trade association for foreign service members which had filed several Freedom of Information Act petitions for past certificates, threatened to sue the State Department if they did not provide them the documents.

The State Department did end up providing AFSA the documents it requested, and Friday’s announcement will cover all future nominations.

“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” AFSA President Robert Silverman said in a statement. “We all agree that it is essential that these individuals are able to advance the president’s policies and protect U.S. interests around the globe.”

In addition to being posted online, future certificates will abide by AFSA’s new, more stringent standards for ambassadorial nominees, including the need to have an “understanding of high level policy and operations and of key U.S. interests and values in the country,” “understanding of host country and international affairs” and “relevant management experience.”

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