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78

SEPTEMBER 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

Diplomatic Security Begins Recording Interviews

As of June 27, following

negotiations between the

State Department, AFSA and

the American Federation

of Government Employees,

Diplomatic Security’s Office

of Special Investigations

initiated automatic audiovi-

sual recording of employee

interviews conducted in the

United States.

This is a major shift from

past practice, in which DS/

OSI had to obtain permission

from the employee to record

their interview.

This change applies to

both Foreign Service and Civil

Service employees who are

the subject of criminal and

non-criminal investigations.

The Background

In 2013, the department

authorized DS/OSI to begin

recording interviews of FS

and CS employees under

investigation. As this was

against the long-standing

department policy prevent-

ing the recording of employ-

ees without permission,

AFSA’s 2013-2015 Governing

Board fought to have the

authorization rescinded.

However, in 2015, the Deputy

Secretary for Management

and Resources upheld it.

Though AFSA was not

legally able to prevent DS/

OSI from recording inter-

views without permission,

we did have the authority

to negotiate the impact and

implementation of such

recordings.

Your Right to

Representation

Under the Foreign Service

Act of 1980, as amended,

Foreign Service employees

have the right (known as the

“Weingarten Right”) to be

represented by AFSA in an

interview if they reasonably

believe that it could result in

disciplinary action and they

request representation.

The investigating office

is not required to remind

employees of their right to

representation at the begin-

ning of the investigation.

We therefore urge all AFSA

members to reach out to

AFSA immediately on being

contacted for an interview.

Furthermore, if you have

agreed to be interviewed

and subsequently decide

that you would like an AFSA

representative present, it is

not too late to invoke your

Weingarten Rights.

What Can AFSA Do for

You?

The presence of AFSA

during interviews serves

several useful purposes. We

ensure that the investigator

affords you all of your rights

and conducts the interview

in an appropriate fashion.

We can confer privately with

you, if necessary, to answer

your questions or provide

guidance.

We clarify the investiga-

tor’s questions, when it

appears there is a misunder-

standing. We take notes dur-

ing the interview and review

any sworn statements.

If DS, the Regional Security

Office, the OIG or Office of

Civil Rights contacts you

requesting an interview, call

AFSA immediately at (202)

647-8160 or email us at afsa@ state.gov or member@afsa. org.

We also encourage you

to review our guidance on

investigations on the AFSA

website at www.afsa.org/ig- and-ds-investigation-guid ance. You can find the full

text of the agreement signed

at the conclusion of the

recent negotiations at www.

afsa.org/vancememo.

n

—Angie Bryan,

AFSA State Vice President

As the November election season approaches, overseas

Foreign Service members may need to make arrangements

for voting. With a presidential election, Senate and congres-

sional races, as well as state-specific contests, there will be

plenty of ballots to be cast this year.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program offers information

and instructions for registering and voting while living over-

seas under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee

Voting Act, which covers FS employees and their families.

At

www.FVAP.gov,

you can check the requirements for

your state of residence, register to vote and request a ballot.

Each state has different regulations on registration and sub-

mitting a voted ballot! Information is also available at the

AFSA website:

http://afsa.org/afsa-voter-registration-guide and from the Overseas Vote Foundation—www.overseas- votefoundation.org—a nonpartisan organization.

Don’t forget the Hatch Act!

All active Foreign Service employees are prohibited from

engaging in partisan political activities while “on duty.” For

information about the rules and regulations regarding politi-

cal actions while representing the U.S. government, check

out our Labor Management guidance page at www.afsa. org/rules-political-activites-federal-employees. n

Overseas Voting – Plan Ahead for November