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APRIL 2015




assignment system.

The majority of respon-

dents indicated that they

think AFSA is well-balanced

and places proper emphasis

on labor-management activi-

ties, congressional advocacy,

member services, profes-

sionalism, retirement issues,

scholarships, communica-

tions and financial strength.

The overwhelming majority

of respondents feel connected

to, but not active in AFSA (67

percent). The write-in com-

ments to this question have

given us some indication of

the reasons for this feeling,

including “not sure of ways to

engage” and “being overseas

makes it hard to engage.”AFSA

is now looking for additional

ways to create opportunities

for its members to remain

active in association affairs

while serving overseas or living

outside of theWashington,

D.C., metropolitan area.

The survey also identified

areas where our members

feel AFSA should improve and

develop. Some respondents

noted that the association

is not always as responsive

to individuals as they would

like, and that AFSA seems to

be more concerned about

generalists’ issues than those

of specialists.

The survey also showed

that AFSAmust do a better

job of informing members

of the work it does on their

behalf. Fully 53 percent of

active-duty members were

not aware of AFSA’s Strategic

Plan; an additional 36 percent

grades and years of service. It

was open to all categories of

membership and non-mem-

bers. The survey response

rate was very high by industry

participation standards, with

3,478 individuals respond-

ing and the responses were


Significantly, 44 percent of

active-duty members believe

AFSA is balanced between

being a professional associa-

tion and serving as a union.

(AFSAwas created as a pro-

fessional association in 1924,

a role it continues to play,

and also became the official

bargaining unit of the Foreign

Service in 1973.)

The survey showed that

the main issues active-duty

respondents want AFSA

to address are: Overseas

Comparability Pay (67 per-

cent), employee benefits (53

percent), legislative issues (43

percent), professionalism and

ethics (39 percent), working

conditions (36 percent) and

family/dependent issues (23


When offered a chance

to write in additional priority

issues, survey respondents

submitted more than 4,000

free-form text comments.

Many urged AFSA to pursue

raising the mandatory retire-

ment age and equalizing pay

and benefits across agencies.

Other topics included Foreign

Service appropriations, bud-

get and pay issues; overseas

security and safety; the evalu-

ations and promotion system;

parental leave and the FS

were aware of it, but unclear

about its priorities. Fortu-

nately, we have the commu-

nications tools in place to get

the information out. Ninety

percent of survey respondents


The Foreign Service


; more than half report

that they read the AFSANews

section and AFSAnet emails.

The challenge and oppor-

tunity exist for AFSA to find

ways to communicate that the

association is taking steps to

confront and address these

issues in a manner that will

have a valuable impact on our

members’ lives, careers and

satisfaction with the foreign

affairs profession.

AFSA has already taken

steps to address some of

the concerns brought to its

attention by this survey (while

mindful that the process will

not be completed overnight).

For example, AFSA has

increased support of and

funding for advocacy efforts

and labor management issues

in the 2015 budget.

We will continue to use

these results as we plan for

the coming year, and as we

direct resources toward the

priorities the survey showed

respondents want AFSA to

address: Overseas Compara-

bility Pay, employee benefits,

legislative issues, profes-

sionalism and ethics, working

conditions and family and

dependent issues.

You may view select survey

responses frommembers at Survey. n





In AFSA’s 2014 survey, 1,600

active-duty State members

answered additional, State-

specific questions. These

results are summarized in

the infographic on the oppo-

site page, and can be read as

a complement to the State

Department’s own 2014

Federal Employee Viewpoint


The survey results

affirmed many of AFSA’s pri-

orities. Overseas Comparabil-

ity Pay continues to be the

number one legislative goal,

followed closely by FS-rele-

vant provisions of the Service

Members Relief Act.

More than a third of

active-duty respondents

encouraged AFSA to reform

the FS bidding and assign-

ments process.

On security, an over-

whelming majority believe

that the department has

not struck the right risk/

reward balance, and that it

has become more difficult to

safely and effectively engage

post-Benghazi. Many DS

respondents, in particular,

expressed the need for an

under secretary for Diplo-

matic Security.

Finally, while members

are very satisfied with

AFSA’s communications on

workplace, management

and employment issues, too

many are unfamiliar with

AFSA’s strategic plan and

overall labor management