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Assignment Restrictions Programs:

A Discussion on Reform





July 1

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

July 3

Independence Day:

AFSA Offices Closed

July 15

New AFSA Governing

Board Takes Office

July 30

12:45-2:00 p.m..


138th Specialist Class

August 5

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

August 11

10-4 p.m.


Associates Program:

“Inside the World of


September 2

9th Annual Adair Lecture

at American University

featuring Ambassador

Johnny Young

September 2

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

September 7

Labor Day:

AFSA Offices Closed

September 20-24

AFSA Road Scholar Program

Washington, D.C.

More than 50 colleagues

packed into an overflow-

ing room on May 21 to learn

about and offer feedback on

the Department of State’s

assignment restriction and

pass-through programs,

which govern how and when

an employee’s security clear-

ance may be restricted to

preclude them from serving in

certain countries or working

on certain issues.

These programs are

driven by the department’s

interest in protecting employ-

ees from potential undue

foreign influence. However,

their execution often has

undesirable effects on the

lives and careers of Foreign

Service employees (see the

November 2014 AFSA News)


The event—sponsored by

the American Foreign Service

Association, the Asian-

Americans in Foreign Affairs

Association and the Equal

Employment Opportunity

Commission—came on the

heels of an exclusive May 13

briefing on the same issue

for the Diversity Governance

Council and Deputy Secretar-

ies of State Antony Blinken

and Heather Higginbottom.

This second gathering

brought together represen-

tatives from the Bureaus

of Diplomatic Security and

Human Resources, the Office

of Personnel Management’s

Diversity and Outreach Office

and theWhite House Initia-

tive on Asian-Americans and

obtaining the reasons for

assignment restrictions is

challenging because DS

policy requires employees to

submit Freedom of Informa-

tion Act requests to release

their information.

For some, the event repre-

sented their first opportunity

to speak directly with DS

and HR representatives. One

officer said she found out

she was not able to serve at

post the very day she was

supposed to fly out. Another

reported that he underwent

extensive training, only to be

held at the Foreign Service

Institute without explanation

for over a year and then told

he was no longer eligible to

serve in his assigned country.

A third explained how, due to

her changed marital status,

she was barred from serving

Pacific Islanders.

AFSA State Vice President

Matthew Asada, EEOC Associ-

ate Director Dexter Brooks

and AAFAA President Tom

Wong led the conversation.

While all three supported

DS’s ability to apply height-

ened security screening, they

urged that improvements be

made to the current system

(e.g., creating robust appeal

mechanisms and making

information regarding the

basis for restriction decisions

available to employees). The

three expressed a willingness

to work with the department

to find constructive solutions.

Foreign Service attendees

of diverse national origin

spoke up about the lack of

transparency in the process.

Many said the department

never bothered to notify them

of their preclusion. Further,


Continued on page 83

Foreign Service members packed into the Marshall Center briefing room

listen to colleagues’ personal experiences with the assignment restriction

and pass-through programs. At table, from left: AAFAA President Tom

Wong, AFSA State Vice President Matthew Asada and AFSA Staff Attorney

Andrew Large.