The Foreign Service Journal - April 2014 - page 48

APRIL 2014
The budget music and hand-
wringing never seems to stop
in Washington, D.C., but the
last two to three months has
brought some good news to
This year, the Commercial
Service received an increase
in funding over 2013 levels,
and the federal debt ceiling
was raised.
By the time you read
this, the president’s Fiscal
Year 2015 budget will have
just come out and hearings
will be underway. If (as in
the past) AFSA is given the
opportunity to comment
or testify, we will; but in the
meantime, let’s savor the
The Commercial Service
Fiscal Year 2014 budget
contains $23 million for
new activities, including
$16 million for international
operations. Most likely, all of
this amount will not find its
way overseas, but it’s a good
start. Credit the new leader-
ship team of Acting Direc-
tor General of the U.S. and
Foreign Commercial Service
Judy Reinke, Acting Assistant
Secretary for Global Markets
John Andersen and Acting
Under Secretary for Interna-
tional Trade Ken Hyatt—along
with a renewed spirit of com-
promise—for the increase.
Just as my predecessor
Keith Curtis and I fought
hard for increased resources
during all of the reorganiza-
tions and shifting of respon-
sibilities, so have AFSA FCS
Representative Barbara
Farrar and I sought to project
a spirit of cooperation and
trust, even as everything was
shifting around us. Our strat-
egy—based on the budget
numbers, at least—appears
to be working.
When asked to comment
on the FY 2014 budget, Sena-
tor Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.,
chairwoman of the Senate
Appropriations Commit-
tee, said: “The Consolidated
Appropriations Act puts
money in the Commercial
Service’s checkbook to hire
more people, helps to fill key
vacancies in crucial overseas
markets, and allows for an
increase in training the men
and women who are serv-
ing their country around the
globe. I support the Com-
mercial Service so they can
support American jobs and
products everywhere.”
Following the results of
the most recent selection
boards, many of you have
asked, “Why so few Senior
Foreign Service, FS-1s and
FS-2s promotions?”
Basically, for AFSA to
support the reorganization, a
key condition required eight
senior positions in Washing-
ton, D.C. Now that that has
been done—and with the
increased resources—we
hope to see the lid lifted a
little further to allow for an
increase in promotions, as
One of AFSA’s main tasks
is to impress on our decision-
makers the importance of
flow-through at all levels of
the organization. If you take
away even one high-grade
position, you eventually
negatively affect four or five
officers at each respective
lower grade.
As for hiring, a lot will
depend on the upcoming
Urgent Vacancy Position
process and the Commercial
Service’s ability to entice
individuals on the rank order
register to join us. It is a com-
mitment well worth making
and central to our up-or-out
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP.
or (202) 482-9088
The Budget Resource Merry-Go-Round
The Commercial Service Fiscal Year
2014 budget contains $23 million for
new activities, including $16 million for
international operations. Most likely, all of
this amount will not find its way overseas,
but it’s a good start.
Personnel and congressional
staff from both sides of the
aisle—with a focus on the
Senate Foreign Relations
The next step was to
share the document widely
in Washington, D.C. AFSA
executed a major media roll-
out and received extensive
coverage from both domestic
and international outlets. The
message was clear—all chiefs
Guidelines continued from page 45
of mission should be held to
the same high standards.
During its March 5 meet-
ing, AFSA’s Governing Board
passed a resolution (avail-
able on the AFSA website
aimed at furthering AFSA’s
engagement on the issue of
ambassadorial qualifications.
This story is by no means
over. AFSA’s aim remains the
same: to ensure that stake-
holders adopt our guidelines
and apply them throughout
the nomination and confir-
mation process. All nominees
then share the same starting
point and are measured by
the same standards.
AFSA members have a
vested interest in ensur-
ing that only the best and
brightest are selected to
lead embassies abroad.
However, the same applies
to the public at large, as well
as our partners abroad, who
deserve qualified interlocu-
tors speaking on behalf of
the United States.
We invite you to follow this
issue with us, read the media
coverage, learn more about
the working group members
and access a downloadable
version of the guidelines at
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