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department denied the dispute. This move prompted AFSA

to file an appeal with the Foreign Service Grievance Board on

Aug. 5, 2014. On Sept. 3, 2015, the FSGB ruled in AFSA’s favor.

The board found that the department’s discretion to award

MSIs conferred by selection boards is not sole and exclusive,

but is subject to collective bargaining with AFSA. It also found

the following:

• The parties’ consistent past practice demonstrated that

the department always paid MSIs to those identified by the

selection boards, up to the percentage cap in the precepts.

• The new language in the 2013 precepts did not grant the

department discretion to refuse retroactive payment of MSIs

after OMB and OPM lifted the restrictions on awards.

Foreign Service Labor Relations Board:

As previously

noted, the department filed exceptions to the FSGB’s decision

with the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board. The FSLRB

was established under the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to,

among other things, review implementation disputes. The

three members of the FSLRB are Chairperson Carol Waller

Pope (who is also chairperson of the Federal Labor Relations

Authority), Ambassador (ret.) Herman (Hank) Cohen and

past Director of Labor Relations at the former United States

Information Agency Stephen Ledford.

2014 MSI Dispute

The 2013 implementation dispute is distinct from AFSA’s

2014 dispute, which AFSA filed when State implemented a

5-percent cap on the number of people who would receive

MSIs, even though the precepts stated that the percentage

cap was 10 percent.

The department denied this dispute, arguing that the

department had the discretion to either pay or not pay MSIs

to whatever number of employees it chose. AFSA appealed to

the Foreign Service Grievance Board in February 2015 arguing

that—as the FSGB found in its decision in the 2013 MSI case—

the department was bound by its past practice of paying

MSIs to all of those employees rank ordered by the selection

boards, up to the 10 percent cap that the parties agreed to in

the precepts. This case continues to make its way through the

FSGB process.

2015 MSIs

On Oct. 1, State released the 2015 promotion list. In it,

the department listed employees recognized by the 2015

selection boards “as demonstrating potential to serve at

higher levels.”

On Oct. 16, the department notified AFSA that it had

established the appropriate level for conferral of MSIs at the

rate of 5 percent of the competitive group. AFSA believes the

department’s actions violate the 2015 precepts and plans

to file a third implementation dispute. The 2015 procedural

precepts require the department to pay MSIs up to the

10-percent cap specified in the precepts.


—Sharon Papp, General Counsel


The American Foreign Service Association is now accepting nominations for its six awards recognizing exemplary



Nelson B. Delavan Award

recognizes the work of a Foreign Service Office Management Specialist.


M. Juanita Guess Award

is conferred on a Community Liaison Office Coordinator who has demonstrated

outstanding leadership.


Avis Bohlen Award

honors the volunteer accomplishments of a family member of a Foreign Service employee

at post.


Mark Palmer Award

is granted to a member of the Foreign Service for distinguished achievement in advanc-

ing democracy, freedom and governance during one or more assignments.


AFSA Achievement and Contributions to the Association Award

is for active-duty and retired members of



Post Rep of the Year Award

is for the AFSA post representative who demonstrates sustained and successful

engagement with AFSA membership at post.

Recipients are presented with a monetary prize and are honored at a ceremony in June in the Benjamin Franklin

Diplomatic Reception Room at the State Department.

Deadline for nominations is Feb. 28, 2016. For details on the awards and to submit an online nomination, go to Please contact Foreign Service Profession Awards Coordinator Perri Green at green@ or (202) 719-9700 for more information. n