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16

SEPTEMBER 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Over the past five to 10 years, State has

reduced overseas officer positions with

the knowledge that qualified and talented

EFMs could fill these positions with sav-

ings to the department. For example, the

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

abolished the U.S. direct-hire HR deputy

position for Japan and replaced it with

an EFMHR assistant position (under

the Expanded Professional Associates

Program).

That EFM just left post, and we cannot

refill behind her; she handled some criti-

cal portfolios (e.g., employee evaluation

reports, EFM employment, duty roster,

seasonal hire program, bidding coordi-

nation and VIP control room coordina-

tion, among others). This work will now

fall, along with everything else, on one

human resources officer. Around the

world, a similar story is playing out across

many embassy offices.

From a personal perspective, my wife

applied for an EFM position, and her

nepotism review was complete and clear-

ance investigation ongoing when the hir-

ing freeze took effect. Now she is unable

to follow through with her appointment

and, as a result, will not be able to join

the Family Reserve Corps when we leave

Tokyo. Many other families have similar

concerns.

Ken Meyer

Tokyo, Japan

We are being discarded

I am a proud father and a “trailing

spouse.” I am also a business execu-

tive with more than 20 years of experi-

ence. During our family’s first three

assignments—in Seoul, New Delhi and

Frankfurt—I was fortunate to maintain

my own career, successfully transition-

ing from Canon USA to Canon Korea,

then to Canon India and later, during our

assignment in Frankfurt, working under

contract for Canon India.

This all changed when my wife was

assigned to Beijing. According to State

Department regulations, family mem-

bers are not allowed to work on the local

economy there because there is no bilat-

eral work agreement.

I recognized that my only opportu-

nity to be employed during our four-year

assignment would be to work within the

embassy. I embraced this opportunity

and successfully completed the Basic

Consular Course. I had applied for,

interviewed and accepted a job offer

from the Consular section in Beijing

prior to the federal hiring freeze taking

effect.

EFMs are proud trailing spouses,

yet we are also professionals, possess-

ing a sense of devotion to the mission

and a desire to be productive members

of society. We feel let down. We have

proudly served and endured sacrifices,

but now we feel that we are being dis-

carded.

Eugenio Otero-Meléndez

Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Waiting it out in Baghdad

I am serving as Embassy Baghdad’s

Security Force branch chief in Iraq.

My wife planned to join me—it’s part

of the reason why we bid on the position.

She is still waiting on the next round of

EFM waiver positions to be filled with a

January 2018 start date. If she decides to

take one of these positions, we will have

to extend for her to complete her manda-

tory 10 months of employment.

I understand the reasons behind the

hiring freeze, but it seems that State has

taken it further than needed. I hope that

we can get this resolved soon.

Tony Pate

Baghdad, Iraq

Should we stay

in the Service?

My wife is assigned to a communist

country where there are obvious security

reasons for cleared Americans to perform

a range of functions. We bid on this post

in part because of its reputation for offer-

ing solid EFM employment.

I have more than 20 years of experience

in a field analogous to a general services

officer, and secured a job prior to arrival

at post, pending a security clearance.

The revalidation of my clearance was not

completed before the hiring freeze took

effect. The job I was to fill remains empty,

and the work undone.

We are now trying to sort out the best

course of action for our family. Should

my wife curtail and return to the United

States? Does it make sense for our family

to remain in the Foreign Service?

Recent FLO statistics indicate that

just 25 percent of EFMs are male, which

tells me that even in 2017, men are still

reluctant to be the “trailing spouse.” As

with our family, I can’t help but think

a prolonged hiring freeze will have a

disproportionate impact on retention of

women in the Foreign Service.

Not for attribution

Personnel and personal

The EFM hiring freeze has greatly

affected me, both personally and profes-

sionally.

Professionally, we are short-staffed

in our Consular section, where both

American Citizen Services and visa

applicant numbers continue to rise. One

of our consular assistant EFM hires had

received her clearance, and we were just

about to bring her onboard, but have not

been able to do so because of the freeze.

We had also just received qualified

candidates for a consular associate posi-

tion, but have not been able to continue