Page 61 - Foreign Service Journal - September 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
SEPTEMBER 2013
61
have criticized us as “elitist” for publicizing this reality demon-
strates the extent of this friction.
To point out that the Foreign Service is losing positions to
the Civil Service, including many civil servants who began
their government careers as political appointees, is to state
a fact. Whether it is a problem is a matter for discussion. We
contend that it is a problem for creating the truly exceptional
Foreign Service the nation requires. Te practice also hampers
eforts to assemble the best possible mix of Civil Service and
Foreign Service appointments, each with their specifc needs
and management requirements.
We also believe the Civil Service should enjoy more fex-
ibility and mobility in carrying out its professional develop-
ment. Some overseas experience is clearly a plus for those civil
servants wishing to advance their careers. We are grateful to
our many Civil Service colleagues who have volunteered for
difcult and dangerous assignments, even in the absence of
any requirement to be worldwide available or serve in hard-
ship posts.
A Call for Review and Reform
Finding ways to strengthen both the Civil Service and
the Foreign Service is excruciatingly difcult. Tat is why we
believe these issues need to be addressed carefully and sys-
tematically, not simply by converting Foreign Service jobs into
Civil Service ones that are very hard to convert back.
Perhaps it is time to consider setting up a specialized
National Security Civil Service to better utilize the talents of
current civil servants, while respecting the value of a Foreign
Service that serves overseas and brings the knowledge it gains
there back into the Washington policy process.
Only a truly merit-based, representative, professional
Foreign Service can carry out American diplomacy and grow
the broad leadership “bench” required to meet future needs.
Te Foreign Service’s structure, cone system and, especially,
its professional education, training and assignments systems
all warrant review. So, too, do the department’s twin personnel
systems.
Te board of the American Academy of Diplomacy is
moving to develop a broad study of these subjects. Secretary
of State John Kerry combines the understanding of having
grown up in a Foreign Service family with the broad political
perspective of his years in the Senate and his new stature as
American’s most-senior diplomat. We believe he is well placed
to lead a fundamental re-evaluation, and trust he will do so
expeditiously.
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