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Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.


or (202) 712-1631



Should ConsultantsWrite Annual Evaluations?

In my column this month, I

want to address a disturb-

ing trend. AFSA has learned

from members recently that

several missions are hiring

expert consultants to fly out

and assist with writing their

annual evaluations.

Annual evaluations are

the single biggest factor

in determining whether an

FSO is promoted or tenured.

It is prudent that everyone

take the time to understand

what is needed to meet the

standards of their class and

that such achievements are

expressed in their annual

evaluation form (AEF).

But with so much at

stake, it is no wonder that

tensions rise high and it is

obvious that transparency

and fairness must be the

cornerstones of the evalua-

tion process. Members have

reported that the contracted

AEF “assistance” ranges

from reviewing already writ-

ten AEFs for clarity to actu-

ally taking raw information

directly from the employees

or supervisors and writing

the AEFs.

Although such actions

may have been well-inten-

tioned, they are nonetheless

shortsighted. The implica-

tions of sanctioned expert

consultants working on

some employees’ AEFs,

while others don’t receive

this benefit, are understand-

ably troubling (this poten-

tially gives select employees

an advantage in the perfor-

mance board review, promo-

tion ranking and tenure


On April 25, 2016, AFSA

requested that Human Capi-

tal and Talent Management

provide immediate clarity

on the situation and indicate

what mitigating steps would

be taken to eliminate any

unfair advantage.

HCTM’s initial response

was that they were not

aware of the trend, but

a later follow-up stated:

“Foreign Service Officers,

raters as well as the rated

employees, use a variety of

resources and techniques

to finalize their self-assess-

ments and/or manage AEF

evaluations. … However, in

all cases, the person sign-

ing the AEF as the rater is

ultimately responsible for

the content under their


In researching the topic,

AFSA notes that Automated

Directives Systems 461.3.6 Final AEF states: “Using mu


tiple sources of information

described in 461.3.5, the

rater of record must prepare

the final AEF.”

ADS 461.3.5 Gathering Appraisal Information stat


that rating officials must

base employee performance

appraisals on multiple

sources of information,

including the following:

a. Direct observation of

performance and evalua-

tion of representative work


b. The employee’s self-

assessment of performance;

c. Information solicited

from individuals who can

provide informed views of

the employee’s performance

during the rating cycle

(360-degree input sources);

d. If rating a supervisor,

the Rating Official must

receive comments from at

least two subordinates; and

e. All appraisal input

forms (AIFs) received from

Rating Officials.

According to ADS 461.3.5.2 360 Degree Input Sources, raters are allowed

to solicit 360-degree input

from other sources deemed

appropriate (however “c”

above states the source

should be familiar with the

employee’s work during that

rating cycle).

Further, ADS 461.3.1.5 Annual Evaluation Form (AID Form 461-1), Section 7 – Assessment of Perfor- mance, Skills, and Potential

prescribes: “Rating Officials

prepare a written assess-

ment of the employee’s

performance, skills, and

potential. Rating Officials

indicate the 360 degree

sources used. Rating Offi-

cials indicate whether or not

the employee met individual

work objectives.”

AFSA contends that

hiring consultants does not

conform to the meaning of

seeking input from “other

sources deemed appropri-

ate” under

ADS 461.3.5.2.

In any case, the rater is

required, per above, to indi-

cate the 360-degree input


If USAID’s efforts to

transform HCTM are to

be successful, trust and

transparency must be the


AFSA invites members

to send their thoughts on

these topics to ebethmann@


The implications of sanctioned expert consultants working on

some employees’ AEFs, while others don’t receive this benefit,

are understandably troubling.