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MAY 2015



State Proposes Changes to Danger Pay,

Hardship Differentials

The State Department is pro-

posing changes to its method

for determining danger pay at

all overseas posts. In a recent

cable (STATE 25786), Under

Secretary for Management

Patrick Kennedy writes that

the changes will be made to

ensure compliance with the

law governing allowances (5

USC 5928) and to promote an

implementation process that

is “consistent, transparent, fair

and repeatable.”

The proposed process

for calculating danger pay

will make use of the existing

security environment threat

list (SETL) process. Under

the new system, a post would

be considered for danger pay

based solely on that coun-

try’s SETL scores for political

violence and terrorism.

According to a briefing

State officials recently con-

ducted for AFSA’s leadership,

the new systemwould replace

the current danger-pay struc-

ture—5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and

35 percent—with levels of 15,

25 and 35 percent.

Conditions no longer evalu-

ated under the new definition

of danger pay will now be con-

sidered under the category of

hardship differentials, which

is also under review. The net

effect on posts’ overall allow-

ances (danger plus hardship)

is not yet clear, although it

appears that the impact will

be negative.

AFSA is concerned about

how elimination of the danger

pay incremental levels might

affect negotiated conditions

of employment: e.g., benefits

(Student Loan Repayment

Program), bidding (fair share

and equity) and Senior For-

eign Service eligibility (Career

Development Program).

Under the Foreign Service

Act of 1980, the State Depart-

ment is required to consult

AFSA on matters affecting the

rights, benefits or obligations

of individuals, and to negotiate

the impact and implementa-

tion of changes to conditions

of employment.

AFSA is concerned about

these proposals, both in

process and substance, and

will continue to engage with

State’s leadership on this


The world is not getting

any less dangerous, and it is

important that benefits reflect

that harsh reality.


—Stephan Skora, AFSA

Labor Management Intern

American Academy of Diplomacy Releases Report:

‘American Diplomacy at Risk’

The American Academy of

Diplomacy released a major

report, titled “American

Diplomacy at Risk,” on April

1 at a press conference held

at The GeorgeWashington

University’s Elliott School of

International Affairs. Ambas-

sador Ronald Neumann,

president of the AAD, as well

as report co-chairs Ambas-

sador Thomas Pickering and

Ambassador Marc Grossman,

presented the document.

“A strong State Depart-

ment, based on a strong

Foreign Service and a strong

Civil Service, is a critical com-

ponent of America’s security,”

the report states in its open-

ing paragraph. “But America’s

diplomacy—the front line of

our defenses—is in trouble.”

The report details the

threat: “There is an increas-

ingly politicized appointment

and policy process in the

State Department, resulting in

a steady decrease in the use

of diplomacy professionals

with current field experience

and long-term perspective

in making and implementing

policy,” it asserts.

“This is reversing a

century-long effort to create a

merit-based system that val-

ued high professionalism. It is

both ironic and tragic that the

United States is now moving

away from the principles of a

career professional Foreign

Service based on ‘admission

through impartial and rigor-

ous examination’ (as stated in

the [Foreign Service] Act [of

1980]), promotion on merit,

and advice to the political

level based on extensive expe-

rience, much of it overseas, as

well as impartial judgment at

a time when we need it most.”

The second factor AAD

identifies is the department’s

effort to “break down all

institutional, cultural and legal

barriers between the Foreign

Service and the Civil Service.”

The report says this effort

was identified in official press

guidance issued by the State

Department in April 2013.

“The Academy calls on the

Secretary and his manage-

ment team to honor the

distinction in law and practice

between the Foreign Service

and the Civil Service,” the

report states. “We call upon

those in the department who

have misused calls for unity of

effort as a chance to promote

their vision of amalgamation

to end this campaign to un-

name the Foreign Service and

de-commission FSOs. These

actions weaken the Foreign

and Civil Services. Both ser-

vices are indispensable to a

strong State Department and

the proper conduct of foreign


The report also highlights

Continued on p. 62