FSJ: Tandem Couples — Till Reassignment Do Us Part, the 30th Annual Edition

Posted: 4:02 am ET

The current issue of the Foreign Service Journal includes a piece on tandem couples in the State Department. The article is written by  FSO Fred Odisho who joined the Foreign Service as a political-coned officer in January 2014. He has been separated from his tandem spouse for their first four years in the Foreign Service, and he is looking forward to reuniting with her in the summer of 2017 for their second assignment.  His co-author is USAID FSO Whitney Dubinsky who joined the Foreign Service in 2010 through USAID’s Development Leadership Initiative. Her spouse joined the Foreign Service “after two years of being unable to find meaningful employment at post.”

Excerpt:

Representative of the larger society, Foreign Service families come in all forms, each with its own unique challenges. The dynamic of the modern family has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. The percentage of family members working outside the home has steadily increased. More and more possess professional degrees and experience in a variety of fields. Not surprisingly, they possess traits similar to those of their Foreign Service spouses. In the face of these changes, have Foreign Service policies supporting the modern family kept pace?

For tandem couples—the term for families in which both spouses are members of the Foreign Service—the answer to this question is a resounding no. Little has changed since The New York Times published an article in 1986 titled “State Department; Till Reassignment Do Us Part?” describing the challenges facing tandem couples of that era. Being able to be assigned together was and still is the greatest challenge plaguing the members of any tandem couple. The threat of having to split up their family and children remains ever-present.
[…]
Tandem couples are not trying to circumvent the worldwide availability requirement. They acknowledge that directed assignments are not limited to entry-level employees but are also possible for mid-level and senior-level employees, as witnessed during the wars of the past decade. They understand and accept that they, like all their peers, may have to shoulder one of these directed assignments that may necessitate serving in an unaccompanied capacity.

In fact, one could argue that the unofficial motto of most tandems is, “It’s not a matter of where we serve … so long as we can serve together.” Just like everyone else, we signed up for worldwide availability, not worldwide separation—especially separation that is not directed and is based solely on the luck of the bidding draw.
[…]

The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review says that the federal government takes “work-life balance seriously and will continue to support our employees as they balance their commitment to service with personal wellness and family life. Work-life balance is critical to retaining the best talent.” It is time for senior management to not only say these words but to take substantive action.

Read in full: Tandem Couples: Serving Together, Apart via the Foreign Service Journal’s July/August 2016 issue.

 

Related posts:

Related items:

 

 

 

Top Diplomats Oppose Lateral Entry Program to the MidLevels in the Foreign Service

Posted: 1:28 am ET

Last month,  the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) sent a letter to SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn) to register its strong opposition to the provision in the draft FY 2017 State Department Authorization Bill (Section 207) mandating a program for lateral entry into the Foreign Service at the middle and higher ranks. Below is an excerpt:

— The provision will damage American security interests by undermining the professional nature of the U.S. Foreign Service. Professionalism is as necessary for diplomacy as for the military.

— The provision will subject the Foreign Service to unprecedented politicization to the detriment of our nation’s security.

— At a time when we ask Foreign Services Officers to risk life and limb in assignments from Afghanistan to Africa, the provision would allow entry into the Service at ranks equivalent to Major, Lt. Colonel and Colonel without earning that distinction by actual service and without accumulating the experience to support their status.
[….]
The Academy’s mission is to promote a strong American diplomacy, which today is needed more than ever to support and protect America’s interests. Our most recent report, American Diplomacy at Risk, called for an effective American diplomacy based on a strong State Department founded on strong Foreign and Civil Services. We called for robust funding of diplomacy and we highlighted the need to enhance a professional Foreign Service, not diminish it as this proposed provision will do. The need for a professional Service has been affirmed repeatedly in legislation for nearly 100 years. It will be even more needed in the global world of tomorrow.

The letter signed by AAD Chairman Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman Marc Grossman, and President Ronald Neumann, was also sent to Senators Cardin and McCain and Representatives Engel and Royce.

The Academy of American Diplomacy founded in 1983 is a non-profit organization whose active membership is limited to men and women who have held positions of high responsibility in crafting and implementing American foreign policy. Last year, it issued the report, American Diplomacy at Risk available to read here (PDF).

Read the letter in full below:

 

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AmConGen Dhahran’s 7 Second-Video Freaks Out Folks Who Do Not Get the Foreign in the Foreign Service

Posted: 3:42 am ET

The United States Consul General in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is career diplomat, Mike Hankey. He was assigned to post in  July 2014 accompanied by his wife and their two sons.  According to his official bio, he joined the Foreign Service in 2001, and has “led teams to build deep and productive ties with political, economic and media partners across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”  His bio says that in Egypt “he advanced the President’s agenda to engage Muslim communities” and “promoted economic development in northwestern Iraq, American consular and commercial interests in Yemen, and media professionalism in Nigeria.”

Mr. Hankey received his Bachelor’s Degree in international affairs and journalism from George Washington University and his Master’s Degree in second language education from Indiana University. He speaks Arabic.

Like most Foreign Service families, Mr. Hankey and his family are “all in” in their current post in Saudi Arabia. That means they went out and explored their “host country” and did not hide in their USG-provided housing commuting only to the office and back and eating only Pizza Hut and KFC.  USCG Dhahran’s FB posts include photos of them in a camel farm, attending a festival, wading in a wadi and camping in a desert. And oh goodness, eating foreign food — they cooked sheep in the sand!

But how awesome is that?

On June 5, US Embassy Riyadh tweeted a 7-second Ramadan greeting featuring Mr. Hankey and his two young sons wearing the traditional Saudi male dress — a white colored Thobe (thawb), an ankle length garment with long sleeves and tunic shape, and a headdress (a large square cloth, white or red called the Gutra, a small white cap that keeps the Gutra in place called the Tagia, and a black cord called Igal that keep the whole thing in place). See more here.

 

First the good news! Yes, there is a Twitter account that tweets only Great Government Tweets!

Here are some local reactions appreciative of the gesture:

Here are some reactions from folks who apparently do not get the foreign in the Foreign Service.  Hometown diplomats, you’ve got your jobs cut out for you.

By the way, eating haggis doesn’t turn one Scottish.

Speaking a foreign language is not un-American.

Wearing foreign clothing is not dangerous to one’s health or sense of well being.

Here’s a bonus, Americans diplomats in Pakistan learning the Paktun dance moves.

 

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@StateDept Launches Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC)

Posted: 12:04 am ET

The U.S. Department of State recently launched the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC) “to more quickly mobilize family members to fill available positions in missions overseas.”  

The FSFRC is a program for family members seeking inside the mission employment opportunities. It will become the exclusive hiring program for Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM) into Family Member Appointments (FMA). Starting in 2016, eligible AEFMs will be able to apply for membership in the FSFRC, based on their current employment situation. The FAQ says that “After open enrollment commences, which we estimate to be 18 to 24 months from now, the Department will announce the initiation of a new hiring preference as outlined in 16 STATE 49074, paragraph 21.”

The FSFRC is reportedly designed for the majority of family members working in US missions overseas; unfortunately but it will not/not be open to all family members.  An individual who meets all of the following criteria is eligible to apply to join the FSFRC:

(1)  Is a U.S. citizen and

(2)  Is the spouse or domestic partner (as defined in 3 FAM 1610) of a sponsoring employee (i.e., a direct-hire Foreign Service, Civil Service, or uniformed service member) and;

(3) Is either:

(a) listed on the travel orders of a sponsoring employee for a post abroad at a U.S. mission under Chief of Mission authority, or at an office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), or
(b) listed on an approved Form OF-126, Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (or agency equivalent), of a sponsoring employee and resides at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment abroad, or, as appropriate, an office of the AIT.

(4) Does not receive a U.S. Government retirement annuity or pension from a career in the U.S. Foreign Service or Civil Service; and

(5) Is not a Foreign Service Officer in Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status.

NOTE 1: U.S. citizen spouses/domestic partners of a sponsoring employee who are on approved Voluntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (VSMA) or Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA) and are temporarily residing apart from the sponsoring employee are also eligible to apply to join the FSFRC in non-paid status. However, they may only begin working in a local assignment when they resume residing with the sponsoring employee.

The State Department estimates that in excess of 5,000 family members are currently eligible to apply to join the Reserve Corps.

Immediate enrollment of everyone who is currently eligible is not possible. Therefore, beginning in 2016, we will start to enroll eligible family members in waves (exact dates TBD) based upon their planned departure date from their current Family Member Appointment (FMA) or TEMP Appointment overseas or based upon the Not To Exceed (NTE) date for family members currently in INWS status.

It does not look like this new program would have an impact on bureau-funded positions or post-funded jobs. It remains to be seen if the FSFRC will expand the job availability for Foreign Service spouses and if it resolves the issue of portability of security clearances for spouses.

For more details, please read the documents below.

Important Documents

 

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Related posts:

Confirmations: Riley, Stewart, Matthews, Sterling, Keiderling-Franz, Schwartz, Elder, Richard, More ++

Posted: 9:23 pm PT

On May 17, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed the following nominations by voice vote (Also see Career @StateDept Nominees Remain Stuck in Senate Confirmation Purgatory).  The following executive nominees survived the Senate obstacle course this year and can now get on with life and work:

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Executive Calendar #479 – Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia.

Executive Calendar #480 – Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Executive Calendar #482 – Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

Executive Calendar #554 – Adam H. Sterling, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Slovak Republic.

Executive Calendar #555 – Kelly Keiderling-Franz, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Executive Calendar #556 – Stephen Michael Schwartz, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Executive Calendar #557 – Christine Ann Elder, of Kentucky, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Liberia.

Executive Calendar #558 – Elizabeth Holzhall Richard, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lebanese Republic.

 

UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Executive Calendar #484 – Marcela Escobari, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

Executive Calendar #553 – Swati A. Dandekar, of Iowa, to be US Director of the Asian Development Bank.

 

AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

Executive Calendar #444 – Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs), to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation for the remainder of the term expiring September 27, 2015, vice Johnnie Carson.

Executive Calendar #445 – Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs), to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation for a term expiring September 27, 2021.

Executive Calendar #446 – John W. Leslie, Jr., of Connecticut, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation for a term expiring September 22, 2019.

Executive Calendar #447 – Linda I. Etim, of Wisconsin, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation for a term expiring September 22, 2021.


UNITED STATES ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Executive Calendar #467 – Georgette Mosbacher, of New York, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy 

OVERSEAS PRIVATE INVESTMENT CORPORATION

Executive Calendar #217 Todd A. Fisher – to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2016

Executive Calendar #218 Deven J. Parekh – to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2016

 

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@StateDept Dumps Online the 2015 FS Promotion Statistics Including Diversity Data, Have a Look!

Posted: 1:08 am ET
Updated: 8:41 pm ET

On May 16, we posted that Congress is set require the State Department to report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.

It turns out that the State Department has dumped online its 2015 FS promotion statistics, including one by diversity and another by diversity and cone (career track). We don’t know when these stats were posted online; only that one set is dated April 18,2016, another set dated March 31, 2016, and a third document is listed as dated January 2015. How did we miss the announcement?

We haven’t had time to go through them in detail  – we just saw them today — but have a look!  We should add that  S.1635 Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, Fiscal Year 2016 was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent on April 28, 2016. The Congressional reporting requirement if passed, would include reporting for three fiscal years preceding the report date and every four years thereafter.

-04/18/16   FS Promotion Statistics |  Foreign Service Promotion Statistics for 2015

-04/18/16   FS Promotion Statistics by Diversity

-04/18/16   FS Promotion Statistics by Diversity and Cone

-03/31/16   Department of State – Diversity Statistics Full-time Permanent Employees
-03/31/16   HR Fact Sheet: Facts about Our Most Valuable Asset – Our People
-01/23/15   Public Law 113-499: Initiatives to Increase Workforce Diversity in the Department of State

 

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Congress to require @StateDept to report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion

Posted: 12:12  am ET

About time, too!

For years we’re been looking at the State Department to make available publicly its diversity statistics, most particularly the gender and race component of its promotion statistics (see related posts below). Somebody from Secretary Kerry’s office once told us he would look into it and then we never heard anything back despite periodic reminders.  For whatever reason, the State Department has no interest to make its gender and race promotion statistics available publicly. Data is available annually, but it remains behind the firewall. Which is rather curious.

Congress has now included a reporting requirement for the State Department’s diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.  The requirement is included in S.1635 Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, Fiscal Year 2016 which was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent on April 28, 2016. (See Whoa! Senate Passes @StateDept Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, FY2016). Since this reporting requirement is mandated by Congress, if this becomes law, the promotion stats, can no longer be shielded behind the firewall.  The report has to be submitted no later than 180 days after the Act is enacted, and the information required includes the 3 fiscal years immediately preceding the fiscal year in which the report is submitted.

Sec. 218. Report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.

(a) In General.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and quadrennially thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a comprehensive report to Congress that–

(1) describes the efforts, consistent with existing law, including procedures, effects, and results of the Department since the period covered by the prior such report, to promote equal opportunity and inclusion for all American employees in direct hire and personal service contractors status, particularly employees of the Foreign Service, to include equal opportunity for all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and service-disabled veterans, with a focus on traditionally underrepresented minority groups;

(2) includes a section on–

(A) the diversity of selection boards;

(B) the employment of minority and service-disabled veterans during the most recent 10-year period, including–

(i) the number hired through direct hires, internships, and fellowship programs;

(ii) the number promoted to senior positions, including FS-01, GS-15, Senior Executive Service, and Senior Foreign Service; and

(iii) attrition rates by grade, civil and foreign services, and the senior level ranks listed in clause (ii);

(C) mentorship and retention programs; and

(3) is organized in terms of real numbers and percentages at all levels.

(b) Contents.–Each report submitted under subsection (a) shall describe the efforts of the Department–

[[Page S2590]]

(1) to propagate fairness, impartiality, and inclusion in the work environment domestically and abroad;

(2) to eradicate harassment, intolerance, and discrimination;

(3) to refrain from engaging in unlawful discrimination in any phase of the employment process, including recruitment, hiring, evaluation, assignments, promotion, retention, and training;

(4) to eliminate illegal retaliation against employees for participating in a protected equal employment opportunity activity;

(5) to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and applicants with disabilities;

(6) to resolve workplace conflicts, confrontations, and complaints in a prompt, impartial, constructive, and timely manner;

(7) to improve demographic data availability and analysis regarding recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, length in service, assignment restrictions, and pass-through programs;

(8) to recruit a diverse staff by–

(A) recruiting women, minorities, veterans, and undergraduate and graduate students;

(B) recruiting at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, women’s colleges, and colleges that typically serve majority minority populations;

(C) sponsoring and recruiting at job fairs in urban communities;

(D) placing job advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and job sites oriented toward women and people of color;

(E) providing opportunities through the Foreign Service Internship Program and other hiring initiatives; and

(F) recruiting mid- and senior-level professionals through programs such as–

(i) the International Career Advancement Program;

(ii) the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program;

(iii) the Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship Program;

(iv) Seminar XXI at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies; and

(v) other similar, highly respected, international leadership programs; and

(9) to provide opportunities through–

(A) the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program;

(B) the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program; and

(C) the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program.

(c) Scope of Initial Report.–The first report submitted to Congress under this section shall include the information described in subsection (b) for the 3 fiscal years immediately preceding the fiscal year in which the report is submitted.

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Related posts: 

 

 

 

@StateDept Now Accepting Applications For Spanish Speaking Visa Officers

Posted: 12:14 am ET
Updated: 9:59 pm PT

Updated:  The State Department informed us that it has updated a couple items on benefits for the Consular Fellows announcement. Note that the Consular Fellow LNA appointment is for 60 months and that the second payment of the recruitment incentive would take place at the end of the 48 months of consecutive services. See additional details here: https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-service/consular-fellows

The State Department is currently accepting applications for Spanish speaking visa officers.  This program is similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program. The initial appointment is for 27 months  60 months. The announcement notes that “Consular Fellows serve on the front lines of a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and are critical to America’s national security. Consular Fellows conduct one-on-one interviews and review supporting documentation to determine if a foreign national meets the requirements for entry into the United States.”

These jobs are so critical to America’s national security that we can only afford to hire people on limited appointments to do this work. Which seems to indicate that the demand for visa services is a temporary surge. It is not. In FY2011, the State Department issued 7,507,939. In FY2015, the State Department issued 10,891,745 visas. The demand for visas continues on an up swing.  The total nonimmigrant visa workload (issuances/refusals) in FY2015 is 14,013,695.

The Consular Fellows Program offers candidates a unique opportunity to serve their country, utilize their foreign language skills, and develop valuable skills and experience that will serve them well in follow-on professions.

Foreign Service Consular Fellows serve in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas alongside Foreign Service Officers, other U.S. agency personnel, and locally-employed staff. Using their language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, or French, their primary duty is to adjudicate visas for foreign nationals. Duties and responsibilities are similar to those of entry-level career Foreign Service Officers. While at post, Consular Fellows are members of the embassy or consulate community and receive many of the same benefits that career Foreign Service members receive, such as housing and educational allowances for eligible family members. View a more detailed description of the type of work involved and benefits provided.

Consular Fellows are hired via limited non-career appointments (LNAs)*. The initial appointment is for 27 months, and may be extended up to a maximum of five years, depending on satisfactory performance and the needs of the Service. Consular Fellows may terminate their appointment at any time with 30 days’ notice. However, if they choose to do so before completing a total of 12 months of service at post, they are obligated to repay certain costs associated with their travel, transportation, and other relocation allowances, unless the termination is triggered by circumstances beyond their control, as deemed by the U.S. Department of State.

New hires who commit to a four-year service agreement will be eligible to receive a recruitment incentive of up to 10% of their basic salary.  This incentive would be paid in two installments: one upon completion of the first two-year assignment, and the second at the end of the second two-year assignment (48 months of service). In addition, Consular Fellows may be eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) at any post in which they serve when they sign an initial three-year service agreement.  For more information on the program, click here.

These are paid, non-career positions. The Consular Fellows program, similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program, is not an alternate entry method to the Foreign Service or the U.S. Department of State, i.e. this service does not lead to onward employment at the U.S. Department of State or with the U.S. government. Consular Fellows are welcome to apply to become Foreign Service Specialists, Foreign Service Generalists, or Civil Service employees, but they must complete the standard application and assessment processes.

If you have additional questions about the Consular Fellows Program, please visit the Consular Fellows forum or post a message.

According to careers.state.gov, beginning in the fall of 2016, all candidates for the Consular Fellows Program for Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, and French will apply online and will be directed to a testing site near them to take an online test. Candidates who score sufficiently well on the online test will then be asked to take a telephone test in one of the six languages above. If they reach the required proficiency level, they will be invited to an oral assessment in Washington, D.C. or in San Francisco.

 Read more here.

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Missing From the AFSA Memorial Plaque: John Brown Williams, First American Consul to Fiji (1810-1860)

Posted: 2:07 am ET

 

On January 28, Judith Cefkin, our Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu tweeted this:

We were curious and a quick look online indicates that John Brown Williams died of dysentery on 19 June 1860. But there’s more.

Below is from The Life of John Brown Williams’, ‘The New Zealand journal, 1842-1844 of John B. Williams of Salem, Massachussetts’ an interesting read from the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum via the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection:

John B. Williams’s combination of commercial and consular activity dates from his appointment on 10 March 1842 by President Tyler to be United States consul at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Less than a month later he wrote Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, posting a bond and declaring his intention to sail on the brig Gambia of Salem from that city about 20 July 1842. His departure apparently was somewhat delayed for he wrote to his brother Henry L. Williams of his arrival at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on 25 December 1842 after 137 days at sea.

Even then, there were staffing issues!

Williams returned to Auckland in late June 1846 to prepare his semiannual report, only to find that he had been wrongly accused of aiding the Maoris in their attack upon the settlers at the Bay of Islands in 1844. A letter from the State Department of 12 December 1845 requested information on a query from the Foreign Office in London which, in turn, quoted a report from the Governor of New Zealand that the United States consul at the Bay of Islands had encouraged the natives to attack the colonists and during the uprising had sold them powder and bullets. The State Department indicated that, if the charge were true, Williams was in serious trouble. This letter, addressed to Williams, was acknowledged by Joel Polack who had been appointed by Williams to succeed Breed as vice consul at Auckland. Polack indicated that the consul was daily expected from Fiji and that a reply would be forthcoming. On 23 June, Williams not having appeared, Polack wrote a long and circumstantial report to Secretary Buchanan completely clearing Williams. The report showed that Williams was not in New Zealand during the Maori uprising, having left for the United States on 12 February 1844; his return was easily proved by his presence on Falco wrecked in Hawkes Bay on 27 July 1845. Polack pointed out that since the consulate had been moved to Auckland Williams had had difficulty in obtaining satisfactory vice consuls for the Bay of Islands.

Fijian history also notes the burning of Mr. Williams house in 1849:

Fijian society was highly stratified. Allegiances to clans and chiefs were complicated, and warfare, including cannibalism, was common as leaders competed for control of the islands.  […] Cakobau, a Fijian chief from the small island of Bau off Viti Levu, gained control of most of western Fiji. In 1849 the home of John Brown Williams, the American consul at Levuka, was burned and looted during a celebration. Williams held Cakobau responsible and ordered payment for damages. Other incidents followed and to pay the debts, Cakobau sold Suva to an Australian company in 1868. More Europeans arrived and many purchased land from the Fijians to begin plantations. Local disorder prompted the Europeans at Levuka to organize a national government in 1871. They named Cakobau king of Fiji. The disorder continued, however, and in 1874 Cakobau and other chiefs requested British annexation. The colony’s first capital was Levuka. It was moved to Suva in the 1870s. Suva became a main port of call between the west coast of the United States and Australia and New Zealand. It also became the headquarters of the British empire in the Pacific Islands.

Mr. Williams does not appear on the AFSA Memorial Plaque. Perhaps one of you can help get his name up on that plaque?

 

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New @StateDept Authorization Bill Includes 3-Year Pilot Program For Lateral Entry Into the Foreign Service

Posted: 1:07 am ET
Updated: 4:15 pm PT

 

On April 28, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the bipartisan Department of State Authorization Act of 2017  (see SFRC Approves the Department of State Authorization Act of 2017 #DOSAA17). One provision of the bill is a 3-year pilot program for lateral entry into the Foreign Service. The question is how would this affect the midlevel ranks of the Foreign Service, some of whom are on their 3rd or 4th assignment and have yet to serve in their own cones or career tracks?

If this bill passes, the new lateral entry employees will be hired above FP-04.  We imagine the new hires won’t be doing entry level work on the visa lines at AIP countries and/or Mexico, Brazil, China, India, and Russia where staffing demands are high (see Foreign Service Staffing Gaps, and Oh, Diplomacy 3.0 Hiring Initiative to Conclude in FY2023). The pilot program employees will only be required to do one directed assignment according to the proposed bill, presumably one two-year tour. The bill does not provide a number on how many individuals should be included in this pilot program. We should note that while this bill cleared the SFRC, a similar authorization bill last year which also cleared the committee, did not survive the congressional obstacle course.  The State Department authorization bill for FY2016 was actually wrapped in the deal that made the Jacobson confirmation possible; it was also passed by the Senate on April 28. (Thanks A!) The FY2017 bill is currently pending in the Senate. 

SEC. 207. LATERAL ENTRY INTO THE FOREIGN SERVICE.

(a) POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES.—It is the policy of the United States to maximize the ability of the Foreign Service to draw upon the talents of the American people to most effectively promote the foreign policy interests of the United States.

(b) FINDING.—Congress finds that—

(1) the Foreign Service practice of grooming generalists for careers in the Foreign Service, starting with junior level directed assignments, is effective for most officers; and

(2) the practice described in paragraph (1) precludes the recruitment of many patriotic, highly- skilled, talented, and experienced mid-career professionals who wish to join public service and contribute to the work of the Foreign Service, but are not in a position to restart their careers as entry-level government employees.

(c) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that the Foreign Service should create an alternative hiring mechanism to permit mid-career entry into the Foreign Service for qualified individuals who are willing to bring their outstanding talents and experiences to the work of the Foreign Service.

(d) PILOT PROGRAM.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a 3-year pilot program for lateral entry into the Foreign Service that—

(1) targets mid-career individuals from the civil service and private sector who have skills and experience that would be extremely valuable to the Foreign Service;

(2) offers participants in the pilot program placement in the Foreign Service at a grade level higher than FS–4 if such placement is warranted by their education and qualifying experience;

(3) requires only 1 directed assignment in a position appropriate to the pilot program participant’s grade level;

(4) includes, as part of the required initial training, a class or module that specifically prepares participants in the pilot program for life in the Foreign Service, including conveying to them essential elements of the practical knowledge that is normally acquired during a Foreign Service officer’s initial assignments; and

(5) includes an annual assessment of the progress of the pilot program by a review board consisting of Department officials with appropriate expertise, including employees of the Foreign Service, in order to evaluate the pilot program’s success and direction in advancing the policy set forth in subsection (a) in light of the findings set forth in subsection (b).

(e) ANNUAL REPORTING.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter for the duration of the pilot program, the Secretary shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees that describes—

(1) the cumulative number of accepted and unaccepted applicants to the pilot program established under subsection (d);

(2) the cumulative number of pilot program participants placed into each Foreign Service cone;

(3) the grade level at which each pilot program participant entered the Foreign Service;

(4) information about the first assignment to which each pilot program participant was directed;

(5) the structure and operation of the pilot program, including—

(A) the operation of the pilot program to date; and
(B) any observations and lessons learned about the pilot program that the Secretary considers relevant.

(f) LONGITUDINAL DATA.—The Secretary shall—

(1) collect and maintain data on the career progression of each pilot program participant for the length of the participant’s Foreign Service career; and

(2) make the data described in paragraph (1) available to the appropriate congressional committees upon request.

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