Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  66 / 100 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 66 / 100 Next Page
Page Background

Using non-standard hiring practices to

bring in staff to encumber positions

traditionally reserved for Foreign Service

officers has had a severe impact on the

career paths of our FSOs and dealt a

striking blow to workforce morale.

A Legislative North Star

Over the years, USAID has

resorted to more than 30 dif-

ferent hiring methods to keep

the agency on track to meet

its mission objectives. This

number shows how astonish-

ingly creative and tenacious

USAIDmanagement can be

when it comes to meeting its


While those traits are

admirable, USAID’s effort to

keep its work on behalf of the

American people on track

is precisely what has led it

astray. It happens to all of us.

We take shortcuts or, for bud-

getary reasons, cut back in

places that in the long run are

not in our best interest to cut

(e.g., healthy food, education,

exercise, vacation).

Like the proverbial frog

sitting in a pot of slowly boil-

ing water, USAID’s creative

hiring approaches will mean

that eventually we’ll come to

realize that we are all sitting

in a hot pool of trouble. As the

AFSAUSAID vice president, I

cannot stand idly by and allow

that to happen.

So how did we get here?

First and foremost, the short-

age of operating expense

funds required to hire and

train sufficient numbers

of Foreign Service officers

and civil servants led to the

practice of hiring personal

service contractors (PSCs)

and program-funded Foreign

Service Limited appoint-

ments. As of December 2015,

USAID reported 941 PSCs

and 228 FSLs on its roster.We

expect the number of FSLs


MARCH 2016



Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.


or (202) 712-1631



to go up after the HRConnect

system is updated to correct

for the large number of staff

that have been miscoded.

Using non-standard hiring

practices to bring in staff to

encumber positions tradi-

tionally reserved for Foreign

Service officers—followed

by repeat extensions of the

timeframes these temporary

hires are supposed to work—

has had a severe impact on

the career paths of our FSOs

and dealt a striking blow to

workforce morale.

It also represents a lost

opportunity to leverage the

skill and know-how of those

in whomUSAID has already

invested. Further exacerbat-

ing the situation is the fact

that now the agency lacks a

transparent mechanism to

account for the actual operat-

ing expenses needed for staff

and training.

Fortunately, a legislative

“north star”—in the form of a

series of laws passed over the

past 92 years—exists to help

guide USAID back from the

brink. There is much wisdom

within the texts of the follow-

ing laws:

• The Rogers Act of 1924

recognized the need for a

strong, professional Foreign

Service by establishing it as a

career requiring competitive

examination, worldwide avail-

ability, commissioning and

merit-based promotion. The

Foreign Service Institute was

founded a year later to provide

specialized training.

• The Foreign Service

Buildings Act of 1926 autho-

rized the purchase, con-

struction or lease of Foreign

Service housing abroad, since

the Rogers Act had eliminated

personal wealth as a require-

ment to join the Service.

• The Foreign Service Act

of 1946 further improved,

strengthened and expanded

the Foreign Service. ADirector

General position, along with

the Foreign Service Board

and Board of Examiners,

was created to improve its

administration and uphold

the principle of competitive

entry. The legislation also

called for maximum compat-

ibility among the various U.S.

Foreign Service personnel


• The Foreign Assistance

Act of 1961 unified existing

non-military U.S. aid efforts

and established the Agency

for International Develop-

ment to provide a program of

assistance to underdeveloped

nations with reporting back

from the field.

• The Foreign Service Act

of 1980 created a Senior

Foreign Service and stipulated

that the president should

normally appoint FSOs,

not political supporters, as

ambassadors. To do other-

wise has a corrosive effect on

the career Service and is an

unfortunate squandering of

the efforts that went into their

careful selection, as well as of

the long and varied experi-

ence that professional career

officers bring to senior assign-

ments. Also, Foreign Service

pay and allowances were

raised and the career aspect

was re-emphasized with entry

capped at the FS-4 rank.

As is evident, great minds

across many generations have

repeatedly come to the same

conclusion: A strong, profes-

sional, career Foreign Service

is required to fulfill its mission

and meet its congressionally

mandated obligations.

Following this legislative

“North Star”will help USAID

get back on track. It will take

some time to address the

consequences of the hiring

decisions that got us to this

point. However, assuming

the agency can combine its

creativity and tenacity with

the commitment that the

agency’s leadership now

has, USAID’s FSOs can again

emerge as the top develop-

ment cadre they were created

to be.