AFSA reminds active duty Foreign Service employees that it is illegal to lobby congress using official time or government resources. If you write or call your congressional representative, do not use government time or resources (such as a government computer, letter head, telephone, etc). If you meet in person with a congressional representative, you must take annual leave or schedule the meeting on your lunch hour. In addition, make clear that you are writing or speaking in your individual capacity as a constituent and not as a representative of your agency. Please make sure to read up on the Hatch Act (rules governing political activity by federal employees) before acting, an addition to the regulations in the Anti-Lobbying Act.
STANDARD LETTER - AUGUST 2011
Dear Rep./Senator XXX
My name is XXXX and I am in the United States Foreign Service. I have served in XXXX and currently in YYYY. I am also your constituent.
I am writing in my individual capacity as a constituent. I support efforts to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending across all our federal agencies as part of the effort to reduce our national deficit. However, I am concerned by current legislative proposals that call for reversing a carefully considered bi-partisan plan to modernize and strengthen our diplomatic and development services – the United States Foreign Service. That plan has only partially been implemented.
I recognize that difficult budgetary decisions need to be made in the broader context of our national economic security. That is why enhancing the capability of our Foreign Service is so important and so timely. Effective diplomacy and development policy go to the heart of our national security readiness and defense and promotion of our national interests abroad. As compared to other elements of national power, enhancing the capabilities of our foreign services is cost effective and will save money in the long run.
Our military leaders are among the strongest advocates for stronger civilian foreign affairs agencies. They well understand that diplomacy and development are key instruments of national power and should be primary tools for advancing U.S. interests. Developments in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate how the loss of initiative can set back U.S. interests, when the essential proactive role of diplomacy is neglected.
Reducing support for the Foreign Affairs agencies at this crucial time will exacerbate the growing imbalance in resources devoted to costly wars instead of preventing conflict, will damage our national security by weakening two out of the three legs of Defense, Diplomacy and Development on which U.S. global interests rest, and will reduce the excellent return on investment that these agencies generate. We need to rebuild our Foreign Service through professional education and better training, as our military have done, in order to produce highly skilled and effective diplomats and development professionals who can ensure that America’s global leadership role remains vigorous and effective.
I am proud to be a public servant and honored to be a member of our [State Department, USAID, Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, IBB] Foreign Service. I hope that you will support diplomacy and development as the most frugal tools of our national power and to ensure our national security infrastructure remains sustainable and cost-effective in the 21st century. I would very much like to hear your priorities and perspectives on these issues.