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78

SEPTEMBER 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

Increasing Transparency and Accountability

in Assignment Restrictions

The issue of assignment

restrictions and advocacy

for a more transparent and

equitable process has long

been a priority for the Asian

American Foreign Affairs

Association. This is reflected

in the fact that not one, but

four former and current

presidents of the AAFAA

were honored with the Rivkin

Award for Constructive Dis-

sent by a Mid-Level Foreign

Service Officer.

The AAFAA presidents

argued that the assignment

restrictions process did not

have sufficient transparency,

accountability and oversight,

and was based on ill-defined

concerns regarding foreign

influence or preference.

They also noted that

employees of Asian American

dissent were disproportion-

ally affected by such restric-

tions, leading to a perception

of mistrust and a bias (con-

scious or otherwise) against

Asian American colleagues.

The disparate treatment

diverted careers and led

some to resign in disillusion-

ment and frustration.

Assignment restrictions

also hindered the depart-

ment’s efforts to utilize its

diverse workforce, and denied

employees the opportunity

to apply their language and

cultural skills to the depart-

ment’s benefit.

AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS

WILLIAM R. RIVKIN AWARD FOR CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT BY A MID-LEVEL OFFICER

MARI JU BOF I LL , CECI L IA CHOI , THOMAS WONG AND CHRISTINA LE

Mariju Bofill first raised the

issue with then-Secretary of

State Hillary Clinton in 2009.

The longest-serving president

of AAFAA, Ms. Bofill oversaw

a 300-percent increase in the

association’s membership,

and increased representa-

tion for Asian American and

Pacific Islander employees.

During her 2012-2013

term as AAFAA president,

Cecilia Choi worked with

the Bureau of Diplomatic

Security to try to come to a

fair solution on assignment

restrictions.

Thomas Wong (president

of AAFAA for two terms,

2014-2016) presented a white

paper to the Deputy Sec-

retary of State in 2015 and,

with current AAFAA president

Christina Le, worked with the

Bureau of Diplomatic Secu-

rity and AFSA to negotiate

the language for an appeals

mechanism.

Ms. Le continued to raise

the matter with the Deputy

Secretary throughout 2016.

She also brought the matter

to AFSA President Barbara

Stephenson and met fre-

quently with State Vice Presi-

dent Angie Bryan (and VP

Matthew Asada before that),

as well as with AFSA Labor

Management Counselor

Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan

to discuss the status of the

process.

Former AAFAA presidents (left to right) Mariju Bofill, Cecilia Choi and Thomas Wong, with current president Christina Le (far right) at the AFSA Awards

ceremony.

AFSA/TOYASOBINJORDAN