Page 59 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2012
59
AFSA NEWS
As I write this column, the
Foreign Commercial Service
is facing the biggest pro-
posed change in its history:
the consolidation of the
International Trade Associa-
tion. The idea is to merge the
Department of Commerce’s
Market Access and Com-
pliance with sections of the
Commercial Service.
You might be asking your-
self, “Why would a govern-
ment agency take on such a
merger in the face of fscal
armaggedon, sequestration,
the end of the Bush tax cuts
and the debt ceiling crashing
around our heads?” And,
in case you didn’t notice, a
national election. Hey, you’re
not alone.
Is this really the time to
undertake a major reorga-
nization—which, no matter
Water Under the Bridge
what anyone tells you, always
costs money and produc-
tivity on the front end? Not
to mention the possibility
of being hit with 8-percent
mandatory cuts in January
and (assuming the candidate
remembers the name of our
department) our very elimi-
nation in a who-knows-what
political environment?
What’s the expression,
something about rearranging
deck chairs on the Titanic?
This is clearly no time to be
setting out to sea.
We have just ended a
60-day consultation with
management, which proved
to be frustrating and inefec-
tual. It was supposed to be a
decision-making discussion
in accordance with President
Barack Obama’s Executive
Order 12871, which directs
the management of each
federal agency to work with
their employee organizations
to enact change through a
process of organizational
buy-in that makes imple-
mentation smoother and the
new policy more efective.
Unfortunately, since nothing
was changed during the pro-
cess and the key decisions
seem to have already been
set in stone, the process was
in some ways worse than
the traditional bargaining
because it had no real legit-
imacy.
We fnd ourselves facing
one of the principal issues
our FS brothers and sisters in
State, USAID and FAS regu-
larly confront: the deprofes-
sionalization of the Foreign
Service. The proposed con-
solidation will eliminate what
is currently our most import-
ant regular FS job—the
Deputy Assistant Secretary
for International Operations
position—and replace it with
a Civil Service or, possibly, a
political position. That means
that the whole FCS feld will
be working for someone else;
someone who does not know,
at an experiential level, the
critical international issues
that drive our Service and
our careers.
We continue to hope that
someone in this town—be
they from the Hill, the White
House or the Secretary’s
ofce—will be able to under-
stand the key issues we face.
Sadly, it is more likely that
folks will remain ignorant of
the Foreign Service.
n
22 states and abroad. A
list of the 25 fnalists, as well
as current and past winning
essays and other informa-
tion about the contest, can
be found at www.afsa.org/
essaycontest.
AFSA’s National High
School Essay Contest is
governed by an advisory
committee chaired by retired
U.S. diplomat Dr. Eugene
Schmiel. Essays are judged
by teachers, staf and active-
duty and retired Foreign
Service members.
n
AFSA H I GH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST SPONSORS
AFSA’s essay contest is generously co-sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, an international
technology consulting frm, and the Institute for Shipboard Education’s Semester at Sea
study-abroad program. We are very grateful for their support.
Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting
for nearly a century. Today, the frm provides services primarily to the U.S. government in
defense, intelligence and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions and not-for-
proft organizations. Booz Allen Hamilton is headquartered in McLean, Va.
Established in 1963, Semester at Sea is a unique study-abroad program. Using the ship
M.V. Explorer
as its traveling campus, students, faculty and lecturers live and learn together
while circumnavigating the globe each fall and spring semester. Participants earn trans-
ferable credit from the University of Virginia, the program’s academic sponsor. More than
55,000 individuals representing 1,500 institutions have traveled to more than 60 countries
since the program’s inception. Semester at Sea is administered by the nonproft Institute
for Shipboard Education in Charlottesville, Va. For information on upcoming voyages and to
apply, please visi
t www.semesteratsea.org.
n
Essay Winner,
Continued from page 57
FCS VP VOICE | BY KEITH CURTIS
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP.