The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 12

MARCH 2014
it just can’t be me. That would be a
conflict of interest.” My colleagues and I
were shocked and disheartened by that
comment. No matter how committed
and effective we were, we had to accept
this inequity, a lukewarm evaluation
and a promotion culture of “wait your
turn.” We wondered with every work
assignment whether we were being set
up for success or failure. Suspicion and
mistrust quickly became the USAID mis-
sion’s culture.
This inequity is not limited to a
specific FS rank, and it may be growing.
Many of the more than 500 New Entry
Professionals hired since 1998 at the FS-4
level are now FS-3s, who are supervising
and evaluating other FS-3 officers. The
nearly 900 Development Leadership Ini-
tiative FSOs hired and quickly promoted
may face the same situation before long.
Concerned about the culture of com-
petition at USAID, I wrote to Administra-
tor Rajiv Shah when I retired, but got no
response. Moreover, even though senior
agency leaders have the authority to
make a quick and meaningful fix, they
have not yet taken the necessary steps.
Addressing the inequity would reduce
the plethora of supervisory and deputy
director positions (54 percent), and a
flatter agency would provide staff greater
access to, engagement with and mentor-
ship by senior, experienced leaders.
Evidence of employee dissatisfaction
with the promotion and evaluation pro-
April 30 and June 14, 2013. That dissatis-
faction may be reflected in survey results
showing that 34 percent of employees
are considering leaving USAID in the
next year.
USAID Administrator Shah and the
U.S. Congress have worked diligently
over several years to bring talented
and committed FSOs into the agency.
For that, they should be commended.
However, such progress could easily be
squandered if FSOs discouraged by the
inequity of the promotion and evalua-
tion systemmake the difficult decision to
leave USAID.
Chris O’Donnell
USAID FSO, retired
Founder, Development Essentials
Alexandria, Va.
Hiring Domestic Workers
As a Foreign Service labor officer who
worked to combat trafficking in persons
and child labor and employed domes-
Over the years I have seen and heard
many cases of abused domestics and
workers—male and female, and some
still children—and understand her con-
cerns about the practice. However, I must
disagree with her conclusion that we
should not hire adult domestic workers
overseas because doing so perpetuates
an abusive system.
As an economic officer focused on
development, I would argue that Ameri-
cans serving overseas make a valuable
contribution to the local economy when
they hire local domestics and house-
hold workers. Our family has hired such
employees in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire,
Poland, South Korea and Kenya, and
brought them with us to the United
When we first hired live-in help, we
felt the same concerns as Fabrycky about
privacy and whether our children would
grow up spoiled and unable to keep a
neat house. However, the ability to hand
the baby over to someone at 10 p.m. and
get a good night’s sleep, to come home
to a cooked meal after work and to have
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