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14

SEPTEMBER 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

We have open positions that need

to be filled by cleared U.S. citizens; we

have U.S. citizens eager to do the work;

Consular Affairs has an operational

budget to support these positions; it’s

absurd not to allow us to hire them.

Not for attribution

Small posts lose highly

skilled workers

Obviously, the hiring freeze has a

negative effect on families. However,

I would say that posts are negatively

impacted even more—particularly

smaller posts.

EFMs work hard to make themselves

adaptable and may have experience

in many different disciplines. Aside

from the education and experience

they bring in the door with them,

many have taken FSI courses to learn

a specific State Department skill that

will best serve their gaining post. Many

have attended and passed multiple FSI

courses—the same courses direct hires

attend—and have worked in those disci-

plines for years.

That training and experience does not

disappear when they move on to their

next post. It is not uncommon for an EFM

to be the most experienced person at

post in a particular skill, either because

there is no direct-hire position allocated

to that post or because the position is

allocated to an entry-level officer.

In every position I have ever held

as an EFM (different at every post), I

have been called on to apply knowledge

gained from my previous EFM employ-

ment. I am certain that I’m not the only

LETTERS-PLUS

Impact of the Family Member Hiring Freeze:

Feedback from the Field

The July-August feature, “Out in the Cold,” amplified discussion of the curre

nt

family member hiring freeze. To better

understand its on-the-ground conse-

quences, the

Journal

invited readers to

share their own stories and experiences.

Given that some responses could have direct

consequences for an employee or family

member, we agreed to run some comments

from people who preferred to remain

anonymous. Each respondent is known to

the

Journal

.

The responses were varied and compel-

ling, but there were far too many to publish

them all. The following is a representative

sampling of the messages we received. Some

have been excerpted for space reasons; see the AFSA website for the full set of responses.

—The Editors

A manager’s perspective

I’d like to offer the perspective of a

manager. Our consular section is funded

for four EFM positions: Due to the hiring

freeze, one remains empty and unfillable

after a recent transfer, and the other is

filled but the EFM is awaiting a security

clearance. She’s been told that even after

her clearance is granted, she will not be

able to accept the position.

Our two remaining EFMs divide

their time between fingerprinting visa

applicants, observing DNA collection

and performing notary services, leaving

them little time to do anything else in our

busy section. We now send officers on all

prison visits and welfare/whereabouts

checks, causing visa and routine service

wait times in American Citizen Services to

rise dramatically.

one who has experienced this. Good

post management is well aware of the

resources their EFMs bring to the table.

Richard Arnold

Hermosillo, Mexico

Failing to serve Americans

in Europe

Simply put, for lack of a consular asso-

ciate, the quality of consular services for

U.S. citizens traveling and living in this

European country is compromised. The

hiring freeze is preventing a fully trained,

qualified and cleared EFM from starting

work.

The resulting American Citizen

Services staffing shortage means longer

waits for passports, birth and death

reports and notary services. It means

fewer visits to citizens in hospitals and

prisons, slower repatriations and less

attentive assistance to crime victims.

With Western Europe facing terrorist

threats, this is no time to cheat our tax-

payers out of the service they pay for.

Not for attribution

I’m not good enough

anymore?

As an Army reserve officer (veteran of

the Iraq War) and military spouse with an

undergraduate degree in economics and

an MBA, I find it incredibly difficult to be

in the position that I am due to the EFM

hiring freeze.

I have worked in the Political and

Economic sections at U.S. Embassy

Djibouti for more than 15 months; my

husband recently received his new assign-

ment to Addis Ababa. The hiring freeze