The Foreign Service Journal - December 2013 - page 41

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
DECEMBER 2013
41
AFSA NEWS
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.
Contact:
or (202) 712-1631
USAID VP VOICE
| BY SHARON WAYNE
USAID Foreign Service officers are deeply proud of the work
they do. Thankfully, we have that pride and dedication to moti-
vate us, as recognition via promotions and respect via clear
agency communication is not always forthcoming. The 2013
promotion lists have been released, and I offer my heartfelt
congratulations to all that found their name on that anxiously
awaited list.
It didn’t take long for me to start receiving calls from
officers who did not make the cut. Most asked how the agency
decides the number of yearly promotions it will grant, how
long it usually takes to be promoted and how far they were
from making the cutoff.
Some promotion information is easy to access in the
Automated Directives System, such as eligibility requirements
and information on evaluations and performance boards,
but other relevant information seems to be kept under lock
and key. It is understandable that aspects of the process
must be closely held; for instance, the promotion boards are
sequestered with no knowledge of the “cutoff number” so they
remain untainted by any outside influence when ranking the
individual performance evaluations.
The concerns mainly surface after the promotions are
announced. The major complaint has been that information
describing the procedure to determine the number of promo-
tions and other related statistics are never divulged. Appar-
ently, the agency’s current standard operating procedure
dictates that the process and details are not shared.
Today’s work force expects more transparency and engage-
ment from its employer. In contrast to USAID’s limited com-
munication, the State Department publishes yearly promotion
data broken down into cones (what we call “backstops”) by
grade. The data show the number of officers competing, the
number promoted, the percent promoted, the average time in
class of both those competing and those promoted, and the
average length of service of both those competing and those
promoted. State also publishes insight into how the number of
promotions is determined, including promotion statistics by
gender, ethnicity and race.
USAID does not publish any of the above data, thereby con-
tributing to lower morale and leading some to believe that the
entire exercise is arbitrary. Poor communication is frustrating
for staff and a source of conflict and turnover. USAID has an
extremely bright and committed work force, but when basic
guidance on how to manage one’s career and respect from
one’s employer are lacking, even the most dedicated employ-
ees may begin to consider leaving.
Overall morale and relations with the Office of Human
USAID Needs a Transparent Promotions Process
Resources would both improve if USAID increased transpar-
ency in how it makes decisions that affect the lives of its staff.
Agency officers want to make the Foreign Service a career,
but they also want an idea of what that career might look
like. Without clear communications regarding realistic career
paths, the agency unwittingly facilitates the rumors that fuel
unrealistic expectations—ranging from unrealistically high to
cynically low.
The good news is that the dialogue has begun, as shown by
the release of the 2013 promotion statistics. Let us hope this
marks the beginning of a more open flow of information from
HR to staff. (Note: The promotion cutoff number was often
increased to account for those ineligible for promotion.)
Please continue to submit your questions and comments
to me at
. AFSA is the voice of the Foreign
Service, but to serve you effectively, I need to know what is on
your mind. I look forward to a continued, open dialogue.
n
Program Operations and Management Board
(Backstops 10, 11, 12, 21, 25, 40, 50, 60, 76)
Grade
Promoted
FS-2 to FS-1
23
FS-3 to FS-2
19
FS-4 to FS-3
31
Program Direction and Development Board
(Backstops 1, 2, 85, 94)
Grade
Promoted
FS-2 to FS-1
9
FS-3 to FS-2
9
FS-4 to FS-3
9
Program Support Board
(Backstops 3-7, 93)
Grade
Promoted
FS-2 to FS-1
6
FS-3 to FS-2
4
FS-4 to FS-3
11
Senior Threshold Board
Grade
Promoted
FS-1 to FE-OC
29
Consolidated Senior Foreign Service Board
Grade
Promoted
FE-OC to FE-MC
10
FE-MC to FE-CM
5
1...,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40 42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,...104
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