The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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Assignment Restrictions: An Update

An assignment

restriction can

be placed on any

Foreign Service

employee’s secu-

rity clearance by

the Bureau of Dip-

lomatic Security

to prevent target-

ing and harass-

ment by foreign


services and to lessen foreign

influence and/or foreign pref-

erence security concerns.

For example, DS might

impose such a restriction in

a case where an employee

and/or his or her family

members are citizens or

dual citizens of another

country or have substantial

financial interests in that

country. The assignment

restriction would prevent

the employee from serving

in that country.

While AFSA recognizes

that assignment restrictions

can be a useful tool to pro-

tect U.S. national security

interests, we have pushed

for greater transparency in

how assignment restriction

determinations are made,

as well as for the introduc-

tion of an appeals process

for the initial assignment

restriction determination.

Last September, AFSA

and DS completed nego-

tiations on revisions to the

Foreign Affairs Manual,

specifically 12 FAM 233.5 (Personnel Security), whi


included new provisions

regarding assignment


procedures. The

revised regula-

tions were issued

on Oct. 21, 2016.

AFSA suc-

cessfully pushed

for two changes

in the regula-

tions: access

for employees

to the informa-

tion/grounds for imposition

of the assignment restric-

tion (specifically, the adju-

dicative analysis), and cre-

ation of an appeals process

for employees who wish to

challenge the initial decision

to impose a restriction.

Under the revised

regulations, within 30 days of

receiving a decision from the

director of the Office of Per-

sonnel Security and Suitabil-

ity to impose an assignment

restriction, employees may

request a review of the deci-

sion by the director of the

Diplomatic Security Service.

On Feb. 22, AFSA and

the Asian-American Foreign

Affairs Association co-spon-

sored a well-attended panel

discussion where officials

from the DS PSS office

answered questions from

employees regarding the

new assignment restriction


Since publication of

the regulations, AFSA has

received many questions from

employees. Some submitted

a request for reconsideration

prior to the FAM provisions

taking effect, and are wonder-

ing if they can still obtain the

adjudicative analysis.

Others who filed a

request for reconsideration

and have already received

a decision prior to the FAM

provisions taking effect are

wondering whether they can

still request the adjudica-

tive analysis. Still others

have not yet filed a request

for reconsideration, but

received an assignment

restriction more than 30

days ago and are concerned

that they have missed a

deadline under the new


AFSA reached out to the

director of PSS, and he has

confirmed that adjudica-

tive analysis requests from

employees who have already

filed for reconsideration,

as well as those who have

already received a recon-

sideration decision, will be


Employees who received

a restriction before the the

revised FAM was published,

but who had not filed a

request for reconsideration,

will not be subject to the

30-day timeline specified in

the FAM and may request

the adjudicative analysis.

Employees in this situation

should be aware, however,

that their request will trigger

the 30-day deadline for an

appeal submission.

Recently, AFSA met

with PSS to discuss those

cases where an assignment

restriction was imposed

after a recent security clear-

ance update, even though

an assignment restriction

had not been imposed at the

time of the employee’s initial

security clearance adjudica-

tion (i.e., at the time they

were hired).

Of particular concern are

cases in which the restric-

tion was imposed after the

employee had been selected

for his or her next assign-

ment, but before departing

for post. Barring a suc-

cessful appeal (which can

take several months), the

employee would be forced to

break the assignment, with

fewer assignment opportu-

nities remaining late in the

cycle. PSS assured AFSA

that it is giving top priority

to these types of appeals.


—Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan

Esq., Labor Management


Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan.

Since publication of the regulations,

AFSA has received many questions

from employees.