State Dept Shutdown Details: 30-40% Excepted Domestic Employees, Significantly Higher Excepted Employees Overseas

AFSA has posted a three-part cable issued by the State Department in preparation for operations in the event of a shutdown. (Ref: UNCLAS STATE 031767, SUBJECT: PREPARATION FOR OPERATIONS IN THE ABSENCE OF APPROPRIATIONS (PART II OF III). The cable asks chiefs of missions to finalize plans by OOB April 8, 2011.

Excerpts below:

5. If a lapse of appropriations occurs, the Department would shut down non-excepted operations. After that, only excepted activities (and those funded by multi-year or no-year appropriations, trust funds, other permanent appropriations, and the Working Capital Fund) would continue. The Anti- Deficiency Act, a statute with criminal penalties for unauthorized obligation of funds, would require all employees performing non-excepted functions to be furloughed. Voluntary services may not legally be accepted.


Excepted functions include:


1) those necessary for emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property;


2) those necessary for activities essential to the national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security; and


3) those activities funded from an appropriation that has not lapsed, or no-year appropriations with remaining available balances.


6. Under the Department’s current domestic plan, excepted employees will likely be from 30 to 40 percent of the Department’s domestic employees. I would expect a significantly higher percentage of excepted positions abroad for at least State than in Washington because of the unique overseas factors, including the following:


a. Department of State personnel abroad perform a diplomatic reporting function that is essential to the conduct of foreign relations and the national defense, providing invaluable information to prevent and contain crises affecting our national security.


b. Our personnel abroad are also a vital means by which the USG carries out diplomacy. This communication is essential to the conduct of foreign relations and may be required on short notice to prevent or contain crises.


c. Our posts symbolize the presence of the United States of America abroad. Closing down or significantly scaling back operations abroad could immediately diminish our influence and be misinterpreted by foreign governments as a sign of diplomatic disfavor, damaging our relations with the host governments.


d. Our posts abroad provide emergency services to American citizens, assisting them in times of death, accident, incarceration, and other personal hardship.


e. Our posts abroad are also the platform that supports the work of other US agencies abroad. Department personnel provide essential administrative support for other agencies abroad. These agencies could not conduct their excepted activities if the Department support personnel were not present.


f. To the extent that the LE staff must be paid under host country labor laws, regardless of attendance, we would be authorized to treat them as if excepted.


7. While there clearly may be posts in current crisis situations, most posts’ profile would likely resemble the following:

Executive Office – 100% staffing


Political Section – 50 to 75%


Economic Section – 25 to 50%


Regional Security Office – 100%


Consular Section
– American Citizen Services – 100%
– Visas – 0%
– Consular Supervisors – 50% (to also handle emergency visa cases)


Public Affairs Section
– Cultural Affairs – 0%
– Press – 50%


Management Section – 100% (ICASS funding)


Facilities Section – 100% (OBO funding)

A separate cable, STATE 00031768 talks about the higher percentage of excepted positions overseas and cited multiple factors for this:

i. We anticipate a significantly higher percentage of excepted positions abroad than in Washington because of these unique factors:


– Department of State personnel perform a diplomatic reporting function that is essential to the conduct of foreign relations and the national security, providing invaluable information to all national security agencies that helps prevent and contain crises affecting our national security.


– Our personnel abroad are also the primary means by which the U.S. Government carries out diplomacy. This communication is essential to the conduct of foreign relations and may be required on short notice to prevent or contain crises.


– Our posts abroad symbolize the presence of the United States of America abroad. Closing down or significantly scaling back operations abroad could immediately diminish our influence and damage our relations with the host governments.


– Our posts abroad are also the platform that supports the work of other U.S. agencies abroad. Department personnel provide essential administrative support for other agencies abroad. These agencies could not conduct their excepted activities if Department support personnel were not present.


– Because many countries’ labor laws require that our local employees and contractors be paid regardless of attendance, we are authorized to treat them as if excepted.

Via AFSA | Guidance from the State Department Regarding Possible 2011 Shutdown

 

 

 

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