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JUNE 2015





AFSA Submits Its View on State Department

Workforce Development to Congress

Every four years the Department of State submits a Section

326 report to Congress on the status of its Foreign Service

workforce. The department is obligated, per statute, to include

the views of the exclusive representative of the Foreign Service,

AFSA, “on any and all aspects of the report and the informa-

tion contained in such report.” Below, reprinted in full, is AFSA’s

addendum to the Section 326 report, which discusses career

path analysis, elimination of the mid-level deficit, peer-consti-

tuted Selection Boards, assignment process reform, retention

and diversity.

Report to Congress on Status of Workforce

Planning for Foreign Service Personnel

Addendum: View of Exclusive Representative

The State Department submits the following addendum

to its 2013 report, which represents the view of the exclusive

representative of the Foreign Service, the American Foreign

Service Association, on workforce planning as called for in

22 U.S. Code § 4173 (c). This report comments on informa-

tion contained in the original report as well as the Five-Year

Workforce and Leadership Succession Plan (Fiscal Years 2014-

2018) published in June 2014.

Career Path Analysis:

AFSA appreciates Congress’ previous

support for the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative and Diplo-

macy 3.0 hiring initiatives, which have enabled the agency to

nearly eliminate the well-documented mid-level deficits that

were created as a result of the downsizing in the 1990s. The

first DRI officer cohort is now approaching the FS-1 level, and

the initial D3.0 officer cohort is on the cusp of FS-2 eligibil-

ity. AFSA has focused its attention on the “Pig in the Python”

problem and on ensuring that the department is able to

provide a “regular, predictable flow of talent through the ranks

into the Senior Foreign Service” as mandated in Section 601

of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended. Two-thirds of

respondents to a recent AFSA member survey indicated that

they were concerned by the personal impact of the depart-

ment’s failure to fully recognize and address the “Pig in the

Python” problem.

One of AFSA’s seven Quadrennial Diplomacy and Develop-

ment Review thought papers addressed career paths and professional development. The department has begun to

address the impact of the DRI/D3.0 cohorts on promotions and

assignments in the Foreign Service. AFSA recommends that the

department continue its efforts to analyze and, for the first time,

publish the promotion projections for all cones and specialties.

A cursory review indicates that employees will spend more time

in grade, be faced with declining promotion rates and have more

limited upward mobility.While the department is meeting cur-

rent position and assignment needs at the mid-levels, the five-

year challenge is accommodating the DRI/D3.0 cohorts at the

senior levels (01 and beyond). AFSA recommends the depart-

ment review the positions and number of individuals serving

in Schedule B positions, which have increased significantly in

the last six years, to determine whether these positions are all

needed and, if so, convert them to the career Foreign Service as

part of a long-term structural fix.

Review Mid-Level Deficit Programs:

The elimination of the

mid-level position deficit provides AFSA and the department

an opportunity to review the status and structure of programs

created to address said deficits. In 2012, the Government

Accountability Office described several department efforts

to meet the temporary mid-level position deficit, including

an enhanced pilot program for Civil Service overseas excur-

sion tours (the Overseas Development Program) and relaxed

requirements for conversion from the Civil to the Foreign



. AFSA recommends that the rationale

and effectiveness for these two programs be reviewed in light

of the elimination of their raison d’être, i.e., the mid-level posi-

tion deficit. AFSA is concerned by the impact of conversions of

positions and people on existing members of the Service and

has submitted an information request to the department in

this regard

(see October 2014 FSJ )


Performance Management and Selection Boards:


is encouraged by the department’s efforts to improve per-

formance management policy and procedures, which are

currently being reviewed by the two parties. AFSA and the

department understand that the increased size of the Foreign

Service will impact the performance-related workload, with

a recommendation to review staffing included in the March

2010 OIG report


. AFSA wants to ensure that

employees continue to receive a full and comprehensive

review of their potential for increased levels of responsibility.

AFSA has filed implementation disputes against the depart-