THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
from such contacts seem inescapable.
First, appeals from leaders who seek
our help and offer us friendship should
be thoroughly vetted instead of being
ignored or dismissed outright.
The price for not having done so
in terms of the potential avoidance of
military involvement and its enormous
cost in blood and treasure is a matter of
record in the case of Vietnam.
Second, a people’s struggle for inde-
pendence from oppression, foreign or
domestic, may be considered legitimate
regardless of how closely the political
philosophy of their leaders resembles
And finally, the enemy of a friend or
ally (in this case, the French) may not
prove to be our enemy unless having
been forced into being one.
Ironically, a half-century later we
enjoy cordial relations with our erst-
while foe and even find ourselves
aligned with Vietnam in facing the
expansionist aspirations of its historic
enemy and increasingly assertive neigh-
USAID SFSO, retired
Sun City Center, Florida
The State Department’s attempt to
avoid payment of 2013 and 2014 Merito-
rious Step Increase financial awards is a
public relations and staffing mistake. Inresponse, AFSA filed an implementation dispute that is entering its final stages.
I want to thank AFSA for fighting
this fight. It is not just about the money.
Rather, it is a fight on principle; the
department should demonstrate that
it stands by its employees and wants to
hold onto them. While I am grateful to
the department for my employment and
for the myriad opportunities it continues
to provide me professionally, I feel that
in this case, it has come up short.
In an economic environment where
the public sector is fighting to retain
employees of quality, simple measures
such as financial incentives can help.
Furthermore, reneging on a fundamen-
tal agreement to pay out performance
awards sends a message to all employ-
ees, not just MSI recipients, that good
work is not valued or rewarded.
This is a message that the federal
government can ill afford as unemploy-
ment drops and private-sector hiring
State Department employees, like all
employees, value recognition, respect
and rewards for performance. However,
over the past 30 years, federal employees
have endured the screeds of politi-
cians and media pundits vilifying us as
inefficient, wasteful and undeserving of
proper financial compensation.
When public employees leave
government employment tired and
embittered, they are then criticized for
walking through the “revolving door” of
public and private employment.
In my experience, morale has taken
a severe hit due to these attacks, and
our best employees are expressing their
sentiments not only with their voices,
but with their feet, moving to the private
The department should view the MSI
financial award as a tool to maintain
and motivate a cadre of high-performing
employees working at the forefront of
diplomacy where our country needs
I encourage my colleagues to stand
in solidarity with AFSA in requesting
that all MSI recipients from 2013 and
2014 promotion boards receive the
financial awards they are due. Whether
you received an MSI during these years
or not, this serves as a test case that
will affect all MSI recipients in years to
Foreign Service Special Agent,
Diplomatic Security Service
Attention fellow information technol-
ogy managers, especially those of you
(and your families) who have dedicated
more than two decades to the Foreign
Service and are still at the FS-2 rank.
You may find State’s 2014 promo-tion statistics sad and depressing (see “By the Numbers” in the April edition of State magazine).
You may get the impression that the
State Department does not fully appreci-
ate or value your sacrifices, dedication or
the documented evidence that you are
ready to serve at the next higher pay grade.
In my opinion, based on the num-
bers, you would be right.
According to the 2014 promotion
statistics, the average time in service
for an information technology manager
(ITM) to make FS-1 is 17.7 years. Feeling
the pain yet? The average time in grade
at FS-2 is 6.8 years.
If these stats were a one-off, maybe
even a two-off, we might accept that
during that panel’s review the other
employees simply told a better story.
But, no, this is the reality for ITMs.
Across the board, we FS-2 ITMs with
more than 20 years of service and 10
years in grade have apparently failed to
tell our own story and convince panels
that we are ready for the next level.
The good side of this is that the
people we have mentored, trained and
counseled are doing very well. In fact,
you can now work for someone who was
once a new hire working for you at their