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10

DECEMBER 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

LETTERS

alist” into the State Department’s human

resources lexicon.

A quick review of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 shows there is no

such position. The title is and

has always been “Foreign

Service officer.” FSOs are not

mere dabblers in diplomatic

and consular work, but like

their Foreign Service spe-

cialist counterparts have

honed skills. We should

use the correct term to

recognize that fact.

On another note, I enjoy your

monthly feature of a quote from the

Journal

, “50 Years Ago.” I suggest you

consider varying it with other periods

from the

FSJ

archives—e.g., “90 Years

Ago” or “75 Years Ago.”

Thanks for a fantastic magazine.

Stuart R. Denyer

FSO

Embassy Algiers

Civil Service-Foreign

Service Relations

With all due respect to Larry W.

Roeder Jr. (“Seeking Parity Between the Civil and Foreign Services,” October Speaking Out), he seems either ignoran

t

of or unwilling to acknowledge the

profound differences and conditions

of employment that distinguish the

rank-in-job, domestic Civil Service (GS)

personnel system from the rank-in-

person, worldwide-available, up-or-out

Foreign Service—or their very different

evaluation systems.

I also remain perplexed as to what

the career of his father has to do with Mr.

Roeder’s call for privileging domestic

employees at the expense of the Foreign

Service and those who comply with its

requirements. If Mr. Roeder and others

want to take FSO positions abroad, I sug-

gest they take the exam and enter into

the Foreign Service, with all its rigors and

sacrifice, as other FSOs do.

If Mr. Roeder finds Foreign

Service jobs so desirable—

especially at senior levels—

then perhaps he should have

chosen the more rigorous

personnel system designed

to prepare him for those jobs

years ago!

Stephanie Smith Kinney

SFS, retired

Washington, D.C.

Parity Is Not Equality

Larry W. Roeder Jr.’s Speaking Out column makes a compelling case that

foreign affairs officers (FAOs) like him

are a real asset to the Foreign Service, the

State Department and the other foreign

affairs agencies.

Speaking as a former Foreign Service

officer myself, I have never understood

the tendency of far too many

FSOs to disparage their

Civil Service colleagues.

As Mr. Roeder rightly says,

“modern diplomacy needs a

strong Civil Service as much

as a strong Foreign Service.”

Furthermore, as his own

career demonstrates, many

FAOs perform well in certain

overseas positions. For that

reason, in cases where no

qualified FSO has bid on such a slot,

FAOs should be considered for an excur-

sion tour to fill vacancies—as has been

State’s practice for at least 30 years that I

know of (and quite possibly longer).

In the process, however, we need to

preserve the fundamental distinction

between FSOs and FAOs, which is this:

Foreign Service members commit to

being available for worldwide service

throughout their careers, albeit with the

possibility of limited waivers because of

health or other factors. In contrast, FAOs

are not expected to serve overseas, and

are never penalized for turning down an

overseas assignment.

Moreover, until the Foreign Service

Act of 1980 is repealed or rewritten, there

is simply no legal basis for allowing FAOs

“the opportunity to convert directly to

the Foreign Service at equal rank”—

much less be considered for an ambas-

sadorship, as Mr. Roeder advocates.

All that said, I strongly support treat-

ing members of the Foreign Service and

Civil Service equally, valuing each cohort

for its respective contributions to diplo-

macy. But that is not the same as parity,

which would imply that the two person-

nel systems are functionally the same.

They are not.

Steven Alan Honley

Former FSO

Washington, D.C.

Yes to 360s

I write to disagree with Wil- liam Bent’s September Speak- ing Out column, “The State Department Needs to Reevalu- ate Its Use of 360-Degree Reviews.” His logic about

best practices in implement-

ing such reviews is seriously

flawed when applied to the

Foreign Service assignment process.

Few leaders, myself included, would

consider offering a position to an officer

with five or more years’ experience who

did not have at least four to six col-

leagues who could vouch for his or her

skills and experience.

Unlike the private-sector environ-

ment that Mr. Bent references, one-third

of the Foreign Service changes jobs

every year, based on many hundreds of