Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  67 / 100 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 67 / 100 Next Page
Page Background

The Foreign Agricultural

Service is among the smaller

foreign affairs agencies,

with Foreign Service offi-

cers accounting for only 20

percent of its total workforce.

And despite widespread

agreement within the agency

that there should be bal-

ance between the Foreign

Service and Civil Service,

there appears to be a growing

imbalance as it relates to

Washington positions—of

which few are designated for

FSOs—and overall influence.

For FAS FSOs, this balance

usually amounts to parity

in the number of deputy

administrator positions and

other good jobs available

to FSOs during their rota-

tions in Washington. In fact,

FAS has developed several

mechanisms to maintain this

balance, the main one being

the placement mechanism

for returning FSOs and the

Off Balance?



MARCH 2016


fact that FSOs are generally

expected to spend two-thirds

of their career overseas.

There is little disagree-

ment that providing mean-

ingful Washington-based

positions for FSOs and the

“cross-pollination” that

comes frommixing rotat-

ing Civil and Foreign Service

employees offer valuable

learning experiences for

all involved. However, this

sentiment can fall apart at

the individual level when

desirable jobs are at play and

when civil servants view any

open position as an exclusive

promotional opportunity.

FSOs are beginning to

see the balance change—not

because the system has

changed, but because of

shifting FSO demograph-

ics. As noted in my previous

columns, FAS has a desper-

ate shortage of higher-level

officers, and recent fixes

won’t begin to alter the sys-

tem for as much as a decade.

Consequently, Senior Foreign

Service officers and those

at the FS-1 and FS-2 levels

have to spend significantly

more than two-thirds of their

careers overseas.

At the same time, baby

boomers are retiring and

management has to fill

domestic slots with civil ser-

vants, who encumber posi-

tions for much longer periods

of time than FSOs.

In addition, the few FSOs

in Washington, D.C., are now

very concentrated in the

Office of Foreign Service

Operations, which deals

exclusively with overseas

issues and is itself isolated

from the rest of FAS. This

means the presence of FSOs

in the rest of the agency is

dangerously low and shrink-


As a result, opportuni-

ties for “cross-pollination”

between the Foreign and

Civil Services are shrink-

ing; many of the best jobs

will be encumbered by civil

servants for years to come;

the number of Senior Foreign

Service officers staying in

Washington is diminishing;

and the Civil Service culture

is starting to predominate.

FSOs are in danger of find-

ing ourselves “out of sight,

out of mind” as our unique

experiences and points of

view become increasingly

out of step with an agency

that focuses inward, rather

than outward. If FSOs cease

to be embedded in posi-

tions throughout the agency,

we may very well lose what

connects us to our non-FS

colleagues in FAS—and FAS

risks losing the perspectives

that, by definition, make it a

Foreign Service agency.


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


or (202) 720-2502




AFSAWelcomes Spring Semester Interns

We are pleased to welcome

our latest crop of interns to


• Advertising:

Koen Valks,

of Baarn, Netherlands, is a

graduate student in inter-

national affairs at American

University. JeongEun “Jes-

sie” Shin is also a graduate

student at American Univer-

sity. She joins us from Seoul,

South Korea.

• Awards:

Atlanta native

Marcy O’Halloran is a senior

international affairs major

at The GeorgeWashington


• Communications:


Blount hails all the way from

Queensland, Australia. She

is studying criminology and

international relations at Bond


• Executive Office:


Bailey, of Webster City, Iowa,

is a junior political science

major at Coe College in Cedar


• Labor Management:

Blake Ladenburg is a junior

at Whitman College inWalla

Walla,Washington, where he

majors in economics. He is

from Columbia Falls, Montana.

• Professionalism and


John Balle comes to

us from Detroit, Michigan. He

recently graduated from the

University of Michigan-Ann

Arbor with a degree in policy,

economics and development.

• Scholarships:


McGirk is a senior politics

major at The Catholic Univer-

sity of America. She is from

Elmhurst, Illinois.

We thank departing interns

Devon Fitzgerald, Quinn

Stevenson,William Roberson,

Dastan Sadykov and Milo

Opdahl for their great work

this past fall and wish them

the best. Long-term intern

Shannon Mizzi has moved

over to a contract editorial

assistant position.