Diplopundit is Officially a Source in Wikipedia — in Disputed Proposed Awards Entries for the State Dept!!!

I was having a quiet Sunday when I got an email informing me that a Wikipedia user has created several articles on purported proposed Service Awards in Crisis Management, Civilian Campaign, Hazardous Duty, Hardship Service, Language Aptitude and Public Service at the State Department.  Apparently, in substantiating these, each article has a link to Diplopundit; to this page which does not mention the proposed awards but to the general awards given by the State Dept annually.  My correspondent writes that the awards appear to be “pure fantasy.” Oh, dear.

So, obviously a must look up item and I found the Wikipedia page here. In its discussion page, Wikipedia user, Mikebar wrote on 12 April:

While this article and singular articles note proposed Department of State awards, there are no references that point to factual information. The ribbon pictures look convincing, but there are no references to official US Department of State proposals for establishment of these particular awards. Unless public references to award proposals or news articles or other acceptable reference documentation is included to substantiate proposed awards, this article should be edited to remove any proposed awards. Not that I’m against State awards, on the contrary but facts are required. Mikebar (talk) 00:20, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

I’m glad to see that there are volunteers like Mikebar who help ensure that entries in Wikipedia are reliably sourced. That’s the go-to place for 53% of American adult internet users and 62% of internet users younger than 30. So facts are required, indeed. 

All official State Department awards are in the Foreign Affairs Manual.  I would look at two regulations, specifically — 3 FAM 4820 Department Awards Program Honor Awards or 3 FAM 4830 Annual Awards, both online. If there are other award citations in the FAM that I overlooked, let me know.  Diplopundit’s blog posts on awards are here.

Frankly, I have no idea if these really are proposed awards for State Department personnel; not privy to discussions in the Sounding Board, this is the first time I’ve heard of these service awards.  But if these are proposed awards, who has gone through the trouble of designing the ribbons and the medals during the proposal stage?    

For example, the Nominating and Approval Procedures for the Crisis Management Award  has the following:

The employee should submit a JF-66 form and copies of orders to the Human Resources Officer (HRO) at Post where it will be forwarded to the Department for final determination. For employees who previously served in an area that underwent an ordered evacuation before the award was finalized, they should notify their HRO or, if assigned domestically, submit a JF-66 and their previous orders to HR/PE.[3]

That #3 citation there happens to be our blog. 

JF-66, what’s that? That’s the Nomination for Award form; we had to look it up in Google. 

Wikipedia: Proposed Crisis Management
Award Medal

This award’s Wikipedia entry includes criteria, eligible area, military use, and a description of the design that says: “The proposed design is that of a hurricane symbol, indicating that many of the crises are related to natural disasters. On the edges of the hurricane symbol are inscribed the words “Crisis” and “Management.” Around the center are the words “Department of State United States of America,” and in the center itself is an image of an individual entering a helicopter in preparation for evacuation.”

Again, this begs the question, if these awards are in the proposal stage, who has taken the trouble to design ribbons and medals for it?  That is, for all the six proposed awards?  And why are these proposed awards even in Wikipedia when they are not found anywhere else in published regulations?       

I understand that the State Dept Management is not on board on this (we are trying to get confirmation).  But if it were, these would already be included in the Foreign Affairs Manual

     
Below are the proposed awards with their corresponding links in Wikipedia (which presumably will not be up for very long given its lack of reliable publicly available citations):

Crisis Management Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Service Crisis Management Award (proposed)

The Foreign Service Crisis Management Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Foreign Service (and members of the Civil Service who are on a Foreign Service Excursion Tour and have been granted a temporary rank in the U.S. Foreign Service) who were present in country during an ordered evacuation as directed by the Undersecretary for Management. Although it is awarded primarily for service during evacuations, it may be bestowed upon employees for service during other crises when so determined by the Undersecretary for Management. One of the criteria is that the recipients must actually be present at the scene of the crisis in question; the award may not be presented for assistance from afar.

The award consists of a medal set and a certificate signed by the Undersecretary of Management or an official of higher rank. Subsequent evacuations, including evacuations in the same country on the same tour provided they are distinct events and that the post had returned to normal duty status, may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon, as may other crises when so defined by the Undersecretary for Management.

Civilian Campaign Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Service Civilian Campaign Award (proposed)

The Foreign Service Civilian Campaign Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Civil and Foreign Services who, on or after September 11, 2001, to a date to be determined, participate abroad in direct support of a U.S. Department of State operation in a location designated by the Department of State as a combat zone.

The award consists of a gold medal set and a certificate signed, by an assistant secretary, an official of equivalent or higher rank or the Chief of Mission. Subsequent service in areas that meet the criteria above may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon.

The Foreign Service Civilian Campaign Award is part of a series of awards to recognize service in dangerous or otherwise difficult areas. The other awards in the series include the Foreign Service Hazardous Duty Award and the Foreign Affairs Hardship Service Award.

Hazardous Duty Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Service Hazardous Duty Award (proposed)

The Foreign Service Hazardous Duty Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Foreign Service (and members of the Civil Service who are on a Foreign Service Excursion Tour and have been granted a temporary rank in the U.S. Foreign Service) who served 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days in a region or country that was denoted by the Department of State during the time of service as requiring 15% danger pay or more.

The award consists of a silver medal set and a certificate signed by the Chief of Mission or an official of equivalent or higher rank. Subsequent tours, where tour is defined as an assignment lasting ten months or longer and are successfully completed, may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon.

The Foreign Service Hazardous Duty Award is part of a series of awards to recognize service in dangerous or otherwise difficult areas. The other awards in the series include the Foreign Service Civilian Campaign Award and the Foreign Affairs Hardship Service Award.

Hardship Service Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Affairs Hardship Service Award (proposed)

The Foreign Affairs Hardship Service Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Foreign Service (and members of the Civil Service who are on a Foreign Service Excursion Tour and have been granted a temporary rank in the U.S. Foreign Service) who served a minimum of 11 months of a year-long tour or 22 months of a two-year-long or longer tour in a region or country that was denoted by the Department of State during the time of service as requiring 15% hardship pay or more.

The award consists of a bronze medal set and a certificate signed by the Chief of Mission or an official of equivalent or higher rank. Subsequent tours, where tour is defined as an assignment lasting one year or longer and are successfully completed, may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon.

The Foreign Affairs Hardship Service Award is part of a series of awards to recognize service in dangerous or otherwise difficult areas. The other awards in the series include the Foreign Service Hazardous Duty Award and the Foreign Service Civilian Campaign Award.

Language Aptitude Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Service Language Aptitude Award (proposed)

The Foreign Service Language Aptitude Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Foreign Service (and members of the Civil Service who are on a Foreign Service Excursion Tour and have been granted a temporary rank in the U.S. Foreign Service) who achieve a 3/3 or higher in a language designated by the Foreign Service Institute as hard or super hard, or a 4/4 or higher in any other language, excluding English.

The award consists of a medal set and a certificate signed by the Director of the Foreign Service Institute. Subsequent languages mastered that meet the criteria above may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon.

Public Service Award (proposed)
Ribbon of the Foreign Affairs Public Service Award (proposed)

The Foreign Affairs Public Service Award, as currently submitted to the Director General of the Foreign Service for approval, would be presented to members of the Foreign Service (and members of the Civil Service who are on a Foreign Service Excursion Tour and have been granted a temporary rank in the U.S. Foreign Service) who have volunteered their time and energy in support of a humanitarian effort or other public service that reflects positively on the U.S. Department of State, USAID, or other foreign affairs agency and the U.S. Government as a whole for acts in a personal capacity while assigned overseas on official orders. Nominations are only accepted from Chiefs of Mission, USAID Directors, Assistant Secretaries, or officials of higher rank.

The award consists of a medal set and a certificate signed by the Chief of Mission or an official of equivalent or higher rank. Subsequent awards may be denoted by adding service stars to the ribbon.


And I have no problem with awards, but I think they should serve a function to help shape desired organizational outcome. 

For example, the Language Aptitude Award proposes to give an award to an employee who has achieve a 3/3 or higher in a language designated by the Foreign Service Institute as hard or super hard, or a 4/4 or higher in any other language, excluding English.  But that’s why the employees are in school full time, anyway, to reach those required levels or they may not ship to their language designated positions overseas. That is already a strong  motivation to do well in language training, so I don’t see the necessity of this award. Now, if you proposed an award for those who are able to maintain their hard language skills in periodic review/test, perhaps every 2-3 years, without additional FSI training (thus saving the government money), then I can understand the ribbon and medal and even additional monetary incentives.        

If you know anything more, let me know. You just don’t pluck these from thin air.  I am actually curious how many work hours were spent on the brainstorming/planning/design of these service awards alone.  

Last week, we received a response from the State Dept’s Annual Awards Team:

Thank you for your query. There are currently no new proposed annual
service awards awaiting approval from the Director General, contrary to
what Wikipedia may say.


This post has been updated 4/24/2011.












%d bloggers like this: