The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2020 85 AFSA NEWS AFSA Works to Protect USAID Members During Pandemic AFSA has been working steadily throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to assist our members. Our strength and voice derive from you. Thank you for all that you do. What follows is an update on what we’re doing to assist USAIDmembers. Welcoming Acting Administrator Barsa. AFSA Vice President for USAID Jason Singer had an introduc- tory call with USAIDActing Administrator John Barsa on April 23. He welcomed Admin- istrator Barsa to his new role, affirmed the goal of a collabor- ative relationship and outlined AFSA’s priorities, including advancing the career Foreign Service in the context of the USAID’s reorganization and ensuring continued hiring of career FSOs. Foreign Service Day. On May 1, AFSA recognized Foreign Service Day. AFSA President Eric Rubin shared with members and the public a message honoring the Foreign Service and recogniz- ing our fallen USAID colleague Mark Mitchell. Thank you all for your service. The Roadmap to Return: Member Safety and Health. AFSA strongly supports USAID prioritization of the health and well-being of employees and their fami- lies. In terms of the agency’s Roadmap to Return, AFSAwill continue to emphasize the safety and health of employ- ees and work with members and USAID to resolve con- cerns. Please reach out to us for support. Support in a Time of COVID-19. AFSA is working closely with USAID on initia- tives to mitigate the impact of the pandemic: • AFSA coordinated with USAID to put a massive telework policy into effect, including increased training and resources for staff. • AFSA advocated for USAID members needing greater workplace flexibilities related to child care, elder care and self-care while teleworking or doing essential work in the office during the pandemic. AFSA appreciates USAID’s efforts and commit- ment in this area. • AFSA is engaged with USAID on bidding and the summer transfer season, a particularly complex and challenging element in the COVID-19 context. • AFSA negotiated per diem payments for a variety of individuals caught away from their posts of assignment and unable to return. • AFSA has helped employees negotiate their preferences related to taking authorized departure or shel- tering in place, or in rare cases sheltering in third locations. • AFSA worked to resolve the situations of individu- als in limbo as a result of language training and testing complexities due to COVID- 19 dynamics. Reorganization and the Career Foreign Service. AFSA continues to engage, advocate and negotiate with USAID on reorganization and transformation.We know that this can be a stressful process; please reach out with concerns. Most recently, AFSA has focused on the envisioned Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, where USAID has an opportunity to address long-standing structural and cultural challenges, and open field positions to career FSOs. This will strengthen the agen- cy’s capacity to address the full spectrum of humanitarian- development operations. Recruitment and Onboarding New Career FSOs. We have advocated for continued recruitment and onboarding of career FSOs, and AFSA was pleased to see the recent agency notice on new and planned FSO hires. Successful recruitment, onboarding, training and inte- gration of new career FSOs is more critical than ever for USAID’s sustainability and capacity to achieve our mission. Please let your col- leagues, friends, family and contacts know that USAID is hiring. Performance Manage- ment and Development & Promotion Processes. AFSA continues to work with USAID colleagues to improve the performance management and development & promo- tion processes, including extension of deadlines in the COVID-19 context.We continue to support USAID’s increased use of webinars and related flexible options. At the same time, AFSA has requested that USAID make promotion data more easily available and publish further analysis on promotion trends, such as by backstop, demographics or post where FSOs have concern. AFSA encourages all USAID members to attend the webinars, take advantage of HCTM expertise and consult with peers, mentors and col- leagues. Strategic Workforce Plan- ning. AFSA continues to work with internal and external stakeholders to promote strategic workforce planning, particularly in the context of reorganization. While career FSO hiring is encouraging, we continue our advocacy efforts in opposition to the creation and conversion of Foreign Service Limited appointments that appear to contravene ADS 414 and do not align with the objectives of the Foreign Service Act.We continue to caution against the overdependence on non- career mechanisms in parts of the agency. Career FSOs are on the front lines, and a balanced, integrated workforce driven by sound strategic work- force planning and policies is needed to help FSOs achieve the agency’s mission. We are with you at this criti- cal time. Stay safe, and please let us know howwe can help. n