The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

54 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Here are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about as we approach 2021. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Conflict Resolution. In November, my State VP col- league TomYazdgerdi wrote a great piece advocating the creation of an Office of Conflict Resolution within the State Department. The idea is to go beyond the Foreign Affairs Manual (3 FAM 4430) and create a nimbler approach to conflict resolution. I think the Foreign Com- mercial Service should seriously consider such a proposal, as well. I urge you to read Tom’s full article for the backstory. Our current conflict resolu- tion toolbox consists of the Equal Employment Opportu- nity and formal grievance pro- cesses afforded to members of the bargaining unit. Both systems are based on well- defined procedures and work well within their current, albeit limited, parameters. Like State, FCS has its fair share of EEO cases and griev- ances. And like State, those cases often take a good deal of time and effort to resolve. As Tom points out, however, not all issues rise to the level of a formal grievance or EEO case, nor should they. Garden-variety workplace conflict issues come to mind, which if left unaddressed often escalate. Suddenly, life at the office becomes barely tolerable. Those issues deserve to be addressed quickly and resolved in a rational way. Therefore, going beyond 3 FAM 4430, as Tom suggests, is a worthy discussion to have, and I hope we can do it. Let’s Ask Retirees. I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with a great group of former colleagues in the Washington, D.C., area. Every couple months we’d meet for lunch and discuss everything from The Beatles to the last curious decision made by the home office at 14th & Constitution. Thanks to Zoom, the group has expanded beyond the metro area. However, the Commercial Service does a less-than-stellar job of keep- ing in touch with our alumni, much less consistently tap- ping their expertise, and I’m not sure why. One of the things I enjoy most about our conversa- tions is that our alumni are delightfully unencumbered by the burdens we active-duty types carry along with us. In other words, they’re not afraid to share their opinions. There’s an awful lot of collec- tive knowledge—and even a little wisdom—amongst our alumni. FCS should tap into this rich resource. I’d love to see FCS finally stand up a pro- gram for rehiring annuitants (like State’s WAE program, now called REA, reemployed annuitants). It would be money well spent. Perhaps we could start by inviting reemployed annui- tants to participate in our selection boards, commission- ing and tenure boards, design- ing our next assessment, conducting management performance reviews, or con- sulting on training programs. The sky’s the limit and the cost would be modest. n The New Year: An Opportunity to Think Differently FCS VP VOICE | BY JAY CARREIRO AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP. Contact: AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, Nov. 18, 2020 Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social- distancing recommendations, the AFSA Governing Board met via teleconference on Nov. 18, 2020. The board made the following decisions, which will need to be ratified at the next in-person Gov- erning Board meeting, according to AFSA bylaws. New Position: The board approved a second full- time State Department position on the Governing Board. (Currently, the AFSA State vice president is the only full-time AFSA State Department position.) Pending agreement with the State Department, AFSA will convert one of the six State representa- tive slots into a 100-percent official time position. It will focus on Foreign Service specialist issues and will be included in the next AFSA electoral period, starting this summer (see “Call for Nominations: 2021-2023 AFSA Governing Board,” p. 51). Legal Defense Fund: The board approved payments of $33,394 related to a matter before Congress, and $8,842 for a USAID Equal Employment Opportunity case. It also approved committing up to $5,000 in an EEO case involving due process concerns. 2021 Budget: The board approved AFSA’s 2021 budget of $5,573,787. n