The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 46

46
MARCH 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
STATE VP VOICE
| BY MATTHEW ASADA
AFSA NEWS
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA State VP.
Contact:
or (202) 647-8160
AFSA’s
out-
lines how we are working to
make the department a bet-
ter, safer and more rewarding
place to serve. This month,
our efforts to improve ben-
efits and the quality of work/
life as it relates to employee
travel.
For several years now,
AFSA has advocated for
employee enrollment in
of employee travel, it is in
the government’s financial
interest to enroll employees
in two specific programs that
can same time and increase
productivity: Global Entry
and TSA Pre-Check.
G l oba l En t r y
d
to facilitate customs and
immigration clearance for
frequent, low-risk interna-
tional travelers. To enroll,
applicants must be finger-
printed and interviewed by an
immigration officer, and meet
strict eligibility criteria. On
return to the U.S., enrollees
may verify their identity and
complete the immigration
process at an electronic
kiosk without speaking with
an officer.
While traditional lines
can have waits of more
than 20 minutes before U.S.
citizens have the opportunity
to speak with an immigra-
tion officer, the expedited
immigration process at the
Working to Make Travel Easier
kiosk takes approximately
one minute, and the kiosks
are usually available without
a wait. The benefits of Global
Entry continue to grow as
the program partners with
foreign trusted traveler pro-
grams—now in the Nether-
lands and South Korea.
TSA Pr e - c he c k
facilitates passenger security
screening at airports. Pas-
sengers enrolled in TSA Pre-
Check may leave their belts,
shoes and lightweight jackets
on and do not have to remove
laptops from their bags.
These enhanced protocols
result in quicker and more
comfortable screening of
passengers who have already
been determined to have a
low-risk profile, thus enabling
TSA employees to focus on
less regular, non-vetted pas-
sengers.
En r o l lmen t Cos t s
Global Entry membership
costs $100 for five years,
and TSA Pre-Check is $85
for the same period. Global
Entry membership currently
includes membership in TSA
Pre-Check, making it a far
better value for the fre-
quent international traveler.
Several premium credit
cards reimburse Global Entry
enrollment fees, and some
airlines complimentarily
enroll frequent fliers in TSA
Pre-Check. The productiv-
ity savings realized through
participation in these two
programs quickly cover
the cost of the programs
themselves. For instance,
after just two trips, an FS-03
employee’s productivity sav-
ings exceeds the annualized
cost of membership.
An even better value than
Global Entry is enrollment in
the U.S.-Canadian trusted
traveler programs,
.
As members, individuals liv-
ing on or close to the border
are given expedited land
border crossing. The $50 fee
includes what is essentially
a “passport” card, in addi-
tion to membership in Global
Entry and TSA-Pre-Check.
(For me, as a Michigander,
the NEXUS card was the only
way to go—half the price
of Global Entry, and a free
“passport” card!)
AFSA Ac t i on s
AFSA has encouraged
the department to enroll
employees in TSA Pre-Check
and Global Entry. In late 2013,
TSA announced automatic
enrollment and expansion
of TSA Pre-Check to active-
duty members of the military
(in or out of uniform). We
understand the department
is working to extend this
benefit to our Foreign Service
colleagues holding security
clearances.
A larger challenge is
advocating for automatic
Foreign Service enrollment in
Global Entry. We are pursu-
ing a strategy directed at the
individual and institutional
levels.
The General Services
Administration’s current
travel circular prohibits
agency reimbursement of
an employee’s Global Entry
fees. This circular was issued
before Global Entry was
even a program, and cites
a privately administered
security clearance program
instead of a government-run,
trusted traveler, customs/
immigration program. We
this travel regulation.
At the same time, we
enrollment of Foreign Service
employees with security
clearances in Global Entry.
CBP explained that Global
Entry has more stringent
eligibility criteria than TSA
Pre-Check. These criteria
are not addressed by the
department’s employee
security clearance investiga-
tion program. We continue to
engage CBP and the depart-
ment to see if there is a way
to harmonize these require-
ments and facilitate auto-
enrollment.
We are also exploring a
third-party partnership to
bring the benefit of Global
Entry to members through an
AFSA-branded credit card.
Please think what you can
do to support AFSA in these
efforts.
n
Next month: AFSA Partners
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