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50

DECEMBER 2014

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

AFSAActs to

Protect Integrity of

FS Assignments System

BY MATTHEW ASADA, STATE VP

AFSA is concerned by recent

State Department actions

that undermine the integrity

of the Foreign Service Assign-

ments System, specifically its

violation of the procedures

governing the pilot Overseas

Development Program negoti-

ated between AFSA and the

department.

In October, AFSA sent a

message by telegram (State

11312), AFSA email and

Department Notice calling

on the department to list the

FS-2 Iran Watcher position

in London during the current

bidding season because the

position does not fit the crite-

ria governing the Overseas

Development Program.

As of publication, the

department had not yet

listed the position in the

summer bid list despite the

fact that there are a number

of qualified Foreign Service

employees, several of whom

already have the required

language proficiency and

regional experience.

Some Background

Two years ago, AFSA

agreed to the State Depart-

ment’s proposal to establish

a two-year pilot Overseas

Development Program. This

program would designate a

small number (20) of over-

seas Foreign Service posi-

tions for one-time fills by Civil

Service employees without

requiring a “certificate of

need.”

A certificate of need,

which states that there is

no qualified Foreign Service

employee with required

knowledge, skills and abilities

available to fill the par-

ticular position, is normally

a pre-requisite for placing a

Civil Service employee in a

Foreign Service position (see

sidebar).

AFSA has consistently

supported this pilot program

for Civil Service employees

as a way to provide them

with overseas experience to

strengthen their Civil Service

careers.

In accordance with the

ODP agreement, AFSA

approves each and every

position before the depart-

ment may designate it as an

ODP position. In return, the

department does not require

a “certificate of need” for the

pre-approved positions.

AFSA has applied con-

sistent criteria in evaluating

positions for inclusion based

on position uniqueness, lan-

guage designation, respon-

sibilities, and overall Foreign

Service position supply and

demand.

The Foreign Service Act

provides that positions des-

ignated as Foreign Service

positions “normally shall be

filled by the assignment of

members of the Service to

those positions.” Over the

years AFSA has negotiated

the FAM provisions governing

the assignment of persons

from outside the Foreign Ser-

vice to FS positions overseas

(see 3 FAM 2293).

These provisions protect

the integrity of the assign-

ments process and ensure

that the department com-

plies with the requirements

of the Foreign Service Act.

AFSA monitors the num-

ber of assignments, overseas

and domestic, and the num-

ber of bidders to ensure that

there are enough opportuni-

ties to meet the personal and

professional development

needs of members of the

Service.

The London Iran

Watcher Position

At its Oct. 1 meeting,

AFSA’s Governing Board

passed a unanimous motion

strongly objecting to the

department’s decision

regarding the FS-2 Iran

Watcher position in London

The Foreign AŽairs Manual regulation regarding the Cer-

tificate of Need clearly states that the department must

provide AFSA, which is “the Foreign Service’s exclusive

representative,” with a signed Certificate of Need before

the selected non-Foreign Service candidate is paneled.

3 FAM 2295 CERTIFICATE OF NEED

(CT:PER-726; 04-18-2014)

(State Only)

(Applies to Foreign Service and Civil Service employ-

ees)

a. A Certificate of Need is required when the Depart-

ment fills a position with an exceptional circumstance

candidate or fills a volunteer cable position with a Civil

Service employee.

b. The Certificate of Need must:

(1) Describe the measures taken to find Foreign Ser-

vice candidates to fill the position;

(2) Acknowledge that no bids were received from

members of the Foreign Service when the position

was advertised for 15 days or, alternatively, provide an

explanation by the Director General as to why he or she

determined the Foreign Service bids received were not

from suitable bidders; and

(3) Explain why the Director General found that the

selected candidate was best suited to fill the position.

c. The Department will provide the signed Certificate

of Need to the Foreign Service’s exclusive representative

two working days in advance of the selected candidate’s

being paneled into the position.