Report finds ambassador caused 'dysfunction' at embassy in Luxembourg

What makes a president turn his back on one of his biggest donors and allow her to resign from a plum diplomatic post she was offered in return for her generosity?

According to a State Department report on outgoing Luxembourg Ambassador Cynthia Stroum, an "abusive management style" and the purchase of $3,400 in wine and liquor using embassy funds, for starters.

Stroum -- who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats and bundled more than $500,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign -- spent just over a year in her post as ambassador before abruptly resigning effective January 31. According to reports in the Luxembourg media, she wanted to spend more time with her family and on her business in Seattle. She was nominated to the post in September 2009 as a reward for her financial prowess during the campaign, and was sworn in that December.

A report released Thursday by the State Department Office of Inspector General found her behavior to have left the embassy in a "state of dysfunction."

"Morale among Americans and local staff is very low, and stress levels are high. Most employees describe the Ambassador as aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating, which has resulted in an extremely difficult, unhappy, and uncertain work environment," the report said.

Things were so bad, according to the report, that most of the senior staff in the embassy either curtailed their stays or volunteered for service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And in order to use up funding before it expired at the end of fiscal 2010, the embassy reportedly bulk purchased $3,400 in wine and liquor on September 29, which is strictly forbidden because it was not a bona fide need for the fiscal year.

In a search for temporary housing while the ambassador's residence was undergoing renovation, a procurement/housing employee was forced to screen 200 residences and visit 30-40 houses and apartments in Luxembourg with the help of two staff members from the U.S. embassy in Brussels. "The end-of-year procurements consumed virtually all of the procurement/housing employee's time as well as that of the management officer," the report said.

And as a result of "internal problems" like these, the embassy now "plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting, though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities," the report said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.