Page 48 - Foreign Service Journal - March 2013

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MARCH 2013
USAID VP: Helping Even More Members
The recently completed Development Leadership Initiative
brought in more than 800 new Foreign Service ofcers, most
of whom joined AFSA. As a result, our ofce has seen a signif-
cant increase in the pace and volume of requests for services
and assistance, both here and in the feld. While a great
amount of our time is spent on negotiating policy, program
and organizational issues, we also became closely involved in
personal, one-on-one assistance to our new and old members.
A sampling of our successes in 2012 follows:
• At our behest, USAID overturned an African post’s unfair
demand that FSOs accept personal liability for auto accidents
ocurring during in-country car trips lasting more than 10
• We helped a member receive Virtual Separate Maintenance
Allowance, which had been unfairly denied.
• Through our intervention with USAID’s Ofce of Human
Resources, a member was allowed to ship all of his personal
efects, including his car, back to his home of record when he
had to leave post on compassionate travel.
• In monitoring the evaluation and promotion process, we
discovered that the line drawing exercise could include several
more promotions due to special circumstances.
• Some fnancial institutions, mortgage lenders, tax authori-
ties and state and local governments are interpreting post
mailing addresses as evidence that the employee is not a
resident of the U.S. Several employees have experienced this
situation, which required us to provide certifcation of their
residency status to resolve the problem.
• In one case, we overturned the agency’s previous denial of
eligibility for a recruitment incentive payment worth several
thousand dollars; helped another member to fnd a missing
federal student loan check; and established that another
member’s service computation date of employment was
The AFSA member meetings in April, May, June, July and
October set the agenda for much of the last year, with frustra-
tion over the current promotion system a constant theme.
FAS has been shrinking the Senior Foreign Service and FS-01
ranks in recent years and using upward stretches to fll numer-
ous positions overseas, fueling this discontent. There was
improvement in 2012 as more ofcers were promoted than
in previous years, but we still have a long way to go to ensure
that stafng decisions are based on a long-term assessment
of personnel needs, rather than short-term fscal concerns.
FAS will continue to be under budget pressure, so we have
an obligation to make the agency run better, which includes
treating its employees to the highest standards possible. In
2012, we clarifed gray areas in the rules on time-in-class and
time-in-service extensions for service in Afghanistan, Pakistan
and Iraq, and agreed to open the Foreign Service recruitment
process to a wider range of applicants to ensure that the
agency can continue to bring in the highest-quality ofcers
Late in the year, the Promotions Precepts Working Group
started a review of the AFSA contract provisions covering
career advancement, so we expect to make progress on this
and other facets of the process during 2013.
The FAS Foreign Service faces issues that afect all FS
employees. Despite the bad reputation of the much-maligned
Partnership Councils of the 1990s, the latest incarnation—
now labeled the Labor Management Forum—is actively press-
ing for a better work environment. FAS was ranked just 282nd
out of 292 agencies in the 2012 ranking of “Best Places to
Work in the Federal Government,” leaving room to improve.
I am particularly concerned that more than half the
employees surveyed felt that the leadership did not generate
high levels of motivation and commitment in the work force. I
am pushing for signifcant improvement in 2013.
FAS VP: Progress, But Still a Lot to Do