Modernizing @StateDept Workforce and Winning Talent – See What’s Glaringly Missing?

 

On January 25, DipNote posted a new piece by Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon on Modernizing Our Workforce and Winning the Competition for Talent. He talked about recruiting the next generation, focusing on retention and building critical skills for the State Department. Excerpt below:

Recruiting the Next Generation

      • Our Recruitment Division conducted more than 3,000 recruiting activities, including over 900 events specifically targeting DEIA prospects. These DEIA-focused recruiting events engaged over 15,000 individual prospects.
      • We established a 500-person Volunteer Recruiter Corps with representation from all affinity groups, which participated in more than 150 events. These groups mirror the makeup of our workforce and help strengthen and support its diversity.
      • We streamlined the security clearance review process, reducing the average time it takes to finalize a clearance for new and transferring employees.
      • Looking ahead, we will continue to urge Congress to authorize and fund paid internships.

A Focus on Retention

      • We are focusing on creating and sustaining workplace flexibilities, to support our people and their families, modernize our performance management system, and promote professional development and career mobility for all our employees. In the last year, we have:
      • Expanded remote work and telework eligibility. The Department needs to keep pace with the private sector in enabling greater flexibility, and we are committed to enhancing and institutionalizing many of the changes we have implemented in response to the pandemic.
      • Expanded student loan repayment eligibility criteria.
      • Established the first Veterans Services Coordinator position, to better support our more than 5,000 veterans at the Department.
      • Created a Retention Team. In addition to reviewing the data and talking with the workforce to understand why people stay and why they leave, the Retention Team will develop the first Department-wide retention strategy.
      • These steps are important and are intended to support positive change across the Department. But we are not finished. In early 2022, in addition to announcing performance management reforms, we expect to roll out new professional development opportunities as well as long overdue initiatives aimed at helping our Civil Service employees build rewarding careers.

Building Critical Skills

      • As we reorient U.S. foreign policy to focus on 21st-century challenges that most directly affect Americans’ lives, we need to build our capacity and expertise in areas critical to our national security. To that end, we have:
      • Established a Talent Sourcing Unit to more effectively identify, reach, and target individuals for recruitment, especially in fields requiring specialized skills.
      • Conducted our first Department-only career fair, focused on STEM-and engaging diverse candidates.
      • Established new Foreign Service climate diplomacy positions in all geographic regions and key overseas missions and embassies.
      • Eliminated degree requirements for Foreign Service IT specialists and hired for several Civil Service data scientist positions.
It is shocking to see that this new modernization plan does not even mention family members anywhere.  Take a look at the following numbers:
Out of 11,840 total adult family members overseas, 75% (8,838) are female and 25% (3,002) are male.
Only 40% (4,761) adult family members are employed, while 60% (7,079) are not employed.  Of the 40% employed, only 24% or 2,900 worked for Uncle Sam inside our embassies and consulates while 16% (1,861) worked outside the US missions performing telework, running home businesses, or working in the education field.
According to BLS, the percentage of dual-income households in the United States was fairly stable between 1998 and 2017, ranging from 52 to 58 percent.
That’s not the case for FS households overseas. 
60% of FS adult family members overseas are unemployed. While unemployed, a good number are most likely not contributing to a retirement system. Sporadic and employment gaps while overseas could translate into a retirement wage gap; the same gap that helps push up the poverty rate for older women in this country.
We think that’s an important point to note since 75% of FS spouses overseas are female.
Something else to note when looking at these numbers.  In 2020, the average life expectancy of women at birth in the US was 80.5 years; 75.1 years for men.
So on average,  female FS spouses with chequered careers and with less retirement security than their regularly employed spouses are expected to live five years longer than their male spouses. According to WISER, the average annual Social Security benefit received by women age 65 and older is approximately $14,000, which is unlikely to cover all retirement expenses.
Would the female spouses in a modern State Department continue to give 20-30 years of their lives to life overseas as accompanying partners, only able to work now and then, and putting their financial future in their old age in great peril? How many employee-spouses would opt to leave mid-careers to give their accompanying spouses opportunities to pursue their own careers and build financial independence?
Also read: WISER: Retirement Planning for Stay-At-Home Moms

###

USDOJ: Iraqi National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud U.S. Refugee Program

 

Via USDOJ:

WASHINGTON – An Iraqi national, Aws Muwafaq Abduljabbar, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States related to his role in a scheme to defraud U.S. refugee programs.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari, and U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Mark A. Sullo.

Abduljabbar, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras of the District of Columbia. He remains held without bond pending sentencing on June 24, 2022.

Abduljabbar is one of three defendants charged in an indictment that was unsealed on January 22, 2021. The indictment charges Abduljabbar and two other foreign nationals, Haitham Isa Saado Sad, 43, and Olesya Leonidovna Krasilova, 44, in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and, in particular, the Iraq P-2 program, which allows certain Iraqis to apply directly for refugee resettlement in the United States. Sad previously pleaded guilty and remains held pending sentencing. Krasilova remains at large.

According to the indictment and statement of facts agreed to by Abduljabbar as part of his guilty plea, from approximately February 2016 until at least April 2019, the three defendants, led by Abduljabbar, conspired to steal U.S. government records related to hundreds of USRAP applications. Sad was employed in Amman, Jordan from 2007 to 2016 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Krasilova held a similar position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. As part of their duties, both defendants had access to the State Department’s Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS), a database containing sensitive, non-public information about refugee applicants and their family members, as well as the results of security checks and internal assessments by U.S. officials regarding applications.

Abduljabbar organized and led the conspiracy, and he relied on and paid Sad and Krasilova to steal WRAPS records and information so that Abduljabbar could assist applicants in gaining admission to the United States through fraudulent means. As outlined in the indictment and statement of facts, the theft of USRAP records creates a number of risks to public safety and national security while imposing significant costs on the U.S. government, its taxpayers, and otherwise legitimate refugee applicants negatively impacted by the scheme.

The charges in an indictment are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to defraud the United States is five years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The indictment is available to read here.

###

Retired SFSO R. Nicholas Burns Sworn-In as US Ambassador to China

 

 

###

Turkey’s President @RTErdogan Receives Ambassador Jeff Flake in Ankara

 

###

Related posts: