The Foreign Service Journal - October 2014 - page 51

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2014
51
The June AFSA survey of
Foreign Agriculture Ser-
vice o•cers went beyond
the general assessment
of employee morale in the
Federal Employee Viewpoint
Survey and identified specific
policy changes that AFSA can
work with FAS management
to implement.
The topics includedWash-
ington assignment policies,
promotion and time-in-class/
time-in-service rules, and
employment opportunities
for retirees. For the first time,
employees were also asked
to assess the relative perfor-
mance of the main program
areas in FAS.
Washington assignments
have been a long-standing
issue, because Foreign Ser-
vice o•cers are expected to
spend a third of their career in
Washington.
While not perfect, the
current policy of having
o•cers compete with Civil
Service employees for rota-
tion assignments at grade
received the most support
from survey respondents.
There was very little sup-
port (only 11 percent) for
a proposal by Civil Service
employees to expand this
process beyond rotations to
o‹er promotion opportunities
for Civil Service employees.
FAS TIC and TIS policies
have evolved di‹erently from
those at State, so there was
interest in moving in the
direction of State’s policies
in some cases. In particular,
employees supported adopt-
Member Survey Identifies Needed Changes
DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS MEETS
AFSA GOVERN I NG BOARD AND COMMI TTEE MEMBERS
Deputy Secretary of State William “Bill” Burns met with AFSA Governing Board and committee members at a
breakfast held at AFSA headquarters on July 31. After more than three decades in the Foreign Service, Deputy
Secretary Burns is retiring this fall. He is the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy
Secretary. Above, from left: AFSA President Robert J. Silverman, Burns and AFSA State VP Matthew Asada.
AFSA/ÁSGEIRSIGFÚSSON
FAS VP VOICE
| BY DAVID MERGEN
AFSA NEWS
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP.
Contact:
or (202) 720-3650
ing the State policy of giving a
TIC/TIS extension to employ-
ees in long-term language
training.
There was also support for
allowing o•cers who retire
due to mandatory TIC or TIS
limitations to depart during
the regular summer rotation
to the extent possible.
One of the proposals
with greatest support was
changing the current pro-
motion rules to require the
FAS administrator to set the
number of promotions at
each grade prior to the delib-
erations of the promotion
boards, rather than determin-
ing the number of promo-
tions after seeing the board
rankings.
Equally popular was the
proposal to increase the use
of retirees for temporary
assignments by establish-
ing a reemployed annuitant
program in FAS.
For the first time, members
were given the opportunity
to assess the relative per-
formance of theWashington
program areas that support
them overseas.
Overall, members were
reasonably happy, with most
program areas receiving a
median score of 7 or 8 (on a
scale of 1 to 10).
The O•ce of the Chief
Operating O•cer, which
provides budgetary oversight
for the agency, was a notable
exception with a median
score of 3. The comments
indicated dissatisfaction with
delays in receiving budgetary
resources and with micro-
management of how the
funds are spent—problems
that AFSA has raised with
management.
We were very pleased with
the high participation rate in
the survey (75 percent) and
will be working with manage-
ment over the next months
to implement the changes
identified.
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