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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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MARCH 2017

55

agonizing. Says one agent who is currently on his third overseas

tour, “This is the first year of the ‘new shortened bidding season.’

Yeah, right. The department apparently forgot to tell the DS

seniors, because it seems to be business as usual on the bidding

front.”

Kurt Rice has an explanation: Foreign Service officers “are

writers. They talk to people.” They can do that at any post,

whereas “specialists have to bring specific backgrounds to each

post. We have to put people in who have the right skills. We need

to put people where they can flourish.” Greg Batman agrees

that DS leadership considers “where the need is, and where the

person fits.”

Batman thinks people need to look at “realistic bidding and

the overall numbers.” There are “a finite number of jobs for

people at the FS-3 level,” he says, and the process itself takes

bidders out of DS. To become an RSO, for example, you have to

lobby with the regional bureau. “You go outside of DS,” explains

Batman. “If they’re bidding on RSO jobs, we have to wait for that

regional input.”

What holds the process up, explains Batman, is this: “Every-

one is bidding on the same 10 positions. We had more than 60

bidders for Oslo, Skopje, Sydney. That’s not hard to fill.” But at

some point, he adds, “you have to go to African posts, Mos-

cow, headquarters. Right now we have over 30 jobs in Baghdad

alone. We have jobs with a service need to fill, but we can’t make

people bid on them.”

Spend a few minutes talking

to a DS employee or

spouse about the job,

and you’ll most likely get

an earful about bidding.