AFSA: FSOs Will Now Compete in a “Scavenger Hunt” to Be Considered for Promotion Into the Senior Foreign Service

Posted: 1:07 pm PT

 
AFSA’s State VP Kenneth Kero-Mentz sent out a message today on the new Professional Development Program and new requirements for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, Promotion Criteria Changed: Opening Your Window. If you have not seen it yet, see below via afsa.org:

 

Over a year ago, the Department informed AFSA that it wanted to change the criteria for those seeking entry into the Senior Foreign Service under the “Professional Development Program.” While AFSA supported many of the changes included in the PDP, we expressed deep concern about the so-called “service needs” proposal. Currently, those FSOs interested in opening their window must have served at least one tour at a 15% or higher hardship post. The Department told us it wanted to mandate that FSOs complete a tour at a 25% or greater hardship differential post from entry into the Foreign Service (or a tour at an unaccompanied post from entry), AND a second tour at a 20% or greater differential post after tenure.

During the extended negotiations, the Department’s justification for this radical shift changed constantly. Initially, the proposed changes were necessary to fill vacant positions at greater hardship posts. AFSA pointed out that the Department’s own data revealed that vacancy rates at 20% and higher differential posts are actually lower than the vacancy rates at 0% and 15% posts. Next, the Department claimed that the real problem was that there were too few and/or subpar bidders at certain hardship posts in Africa and South Central Asia. We countered that the recent changes to Fair Share rules and bidding privileges will drive more bidders to 20% and higher posts, alleviating that possible concern. But then the Department changed its rationale a third time, arguing that FSOs need to be exposed to service in high differential posts to build the leadership skills necessary for promotion into the SFS.

AFSA fought back, and took the dispute all the way to the Foreign Service Impasse Disputes Panel (FSIDP) where we argued strenuously that this move is unnecessary (based on the Department’s own data), directly contradicts the Foreign Service Act of 1980, harms members of the Foreign Service, and is untenable. Implementing this proposal would result in a less diverse SFS, we argued, and it contravenes both Section 101 of the Act (which states that “the members of the Foreign Service should be representative of the American people”) as well as Secretary Tillerson’s stated goal of a more diverse Foreign Service. Unfortunately, the FSIDP sided with the Department.

Our position has remained consistent: if the Department can identify a realproblem, AFSA is committed to working with the Department to solve it. Not only did the Department fail to provide evidence of a genuine problem, its proposed solution to its ever-evolving alleged problem is contrary to the Act’s SFS promotion criteria in that it undermines the legal authority of the Selection Boards. Adoption of the Department’s proposal guts the SFS promotion process by transferring decisions regarding the future leadership of the Department from the Selection Boards to HR. Instead of competing for promotion on the strength of their performance evaluations, FSOs will now compete in a “scavenger hunt” for the limited number of positions at 25% or higher posts to meet an arbitrary criterion to be allowed to open their windows and be considered for promotion into the SFS by the Selection Boards. We are quite certain this change will lead to unforeseen difficulties, not only for FSOs but also for regional bureaus, especially those with many FSO positions to fill at 15% posts.

This change in criteria will have an adverse impact on many Foreign Service employees who will not be able to meet the requirements due to the lack of available positions and their own or their family members’ personal situations, thus, undermining the diversity of the SFS. We argued—and provided concrete examples—that many of the greater hardship posts are even more challenging to serve in for tandem couples, for those with medical concerns, for families with children with special needs, or for LGBT FSOs where privileges and immunitiesmay not be granted to their spouses and families. And what about for those who are consistently promoted at the first opportunity—our “fast risers”—are they expected to focus only on hardship posts as they move up?

Unfortunately, now that the FSIDP has ruled, the Department announced this change on December 29 with the release of 17 STATE 127376. We believe this change is likely to result in numerous grievances from FSOs who bid, year after year, on greater hardship posts but were not assigned to such posts, and so we urge all FSOs to keep records of bidding. The Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB) “has long recognized that agencies are responsible for providing Foreign Service Officers with opportunities to advance their careers… [T]his provides a necessary protection in an ‘up or out’ promotion system and is grounded in the FSA and agency regulations.” Further, “a Foreign Service agency has an affirmative obligation to provide each of its officers with fair and reasonable opportunities for development and retention in the Service… [T]he agency cannot simultaneously engage in a process that deprives its officers of those very opportunities…”

AFSA has repeatedly told the Department that it wants to help solve problems in filling FSO positions at greater hardship posts, if they truly exist, but to date the Department has failed to provide any evidence of an actual problem. While AFSA will continue to be collaborative in its labor management relationship with the Department—and we are pleased that our negotiations with the Department yielded many positive changes in the PDP compared with earlier versions—we will not be complicit in the pursuit of a “solution” for which there is no problem. Further, the Department’s changes to the PDP will further complicate bidding simply because there are not enough hardship positions to meet demand. There is no guarantee that talented FSOs, who have to this point progressed quickly through the ranks, will be able to meet these additional requirements to enter the Senior Foreign Service within the prescribed time frame. Those FSOs unable to meet these new requirements—and, given the scarcity of positions available, that will be many FS-01s—will not be allowed to open their windows unless they can convince HR to grant them a waiver.

With the recent FSIDP decision, the Department is now free to implement this radical change through the Professional Development Program. It is AFSA’s intention to approach discussions with the Department with the goal of minimizing adverse impact of this new policy on our members’ careers to the greatest extent possible. Looking toward the future, we urge all members of the Foreign Service to maintain good records of their bidding efforts, and stay tuned as we work with the Department to ensure that the “waiver” portion of its proposal is developed into a robust, transparent, and well-defined system. In accordance with the Department’s ALDAC, those with policy questions should direct their concerns to careerdevhelpdesk@state.gov and feel free to share your concerns with us as well.

Despite our disappointment, we look forward to continuing with our overall collaborative and positive relationship with the Department.

 

#

Advertisements

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

Posted: 1:08 am ET
Updated: 8:41 pm ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

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

 

#

 

 

Whoa! That’s a Pretty Thin Senior Foreign Service Promotion List You Got There!

Posted: 3:17 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The Sad Batman Via @FS_Problems:

When you see the promotion statistics and realize just how few people are getting promoted

AFSA used to publish the FS promotion lists (which are unclassified docs) during the Johnson-Hirsch tenure but it stopped doing that a few years back. The lists below are from senate.gov and are promotions of career members of the Service under section 605 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (Act) based on recommendations and rankings of Selection Boards established under section 602 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (career member promotions into and within the Senior Foreign Service also require the approval of the President).

This looks like a pretty thin promotion list for the Senior Foreign Service. Not only that, most of the names in these promotion lists are still stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) until heaven knows when. We have not been able to locate the  promotion lists for the midlevel ranks as of this writing. The promotion statistics will not be publicly available until published by State Magazine in mid-2016.

PN951-1 114th Congress (2015-2016) | STATE – Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); confirmed on 12/10/2015

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the class indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Career Minister

James F. Entwistle Virginia
Brian A. Nichols California
Daniel R. Russel California

PN951-2 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE — Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); currently pending in the SFRC.

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the class indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Career Minister:

Richard Gustave Olson Jr. — Foreign Service

PN952 114th Congress (2015-2016) USAID – Class of Career-Minister (FE-CM); currently pending in the SFRC
The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the classes indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister:

Cheryl L. Anderson Virginia
William R. Brands Arizona
Thomas R. Delaney Pennsylvania
Michael T. Harvey Texas
Brooke Andrea Isham Washington
Janina Anne Jaruzelski New Jersey
Charles E. North Virginia
Beth S. Paige Texas
Thomas H. Staal Maryland
Dennis J. Weller Illinois
Melissa A. Williams Virginia

PN000 114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE – Minister Counselor (FE-MC) — anyone promoted to this rank at the State Department?

PN953 114th Congress (2015-2016)  USAID – Class of Minister Counselor (FE-MC), currently pending in the SFRC).

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the classes indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor:

Jennifer M. Adams Virginia
Rebecca R. W. Black New Mexico
Sherry Faith Carlin Florida
Nancy L. Estes Florida
Erin Elizabeth McKee Virginia
Leslie K. Reed California
John Mark Winfield Maryland

PN953114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE – Class of Counselor (FE-OC), currently pending in the SFRC.

The following-named Career Members of the Foreign Service for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Counselor:

Kathy E. Body Maryland
David G. Brown Maryland
Beverly A. Busa California
John J. Cardenas California
Sharon Thams Carter Florida
Katherine Ashton Crawford Maryland
Christopher M. Cushing Florida
Holly L. Ferrette Maryland
Ramona M. El Hamzaoui New Hampshire
Craig K. Hart Virginia
Mary Melinda Hobbs Missouri
Edith I. Houston Virginia
Barbara W. Hughes Connecticut
Elise M. Jensen Massachusetts
Karen D. Klimowski California
Julie A. Koenen California
Gary Linden Virginia
Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe Arizona
Anne Elizabeth Patterson District of Columbia
Evelyn Rodriguez Perez Florida
Leslie A. Perry Colorado
Patrick L. Robinson New Hampshire
Lawrence J. Sacks Missouri
Sheryl A. Stumbras Florida
Aye Aye Thwin Maryland
Christophe Andre Tocco California
Amy C. Tohill-Stull Virginia
Theresa G. Tuano Maryland
Peter A. Wiebler Virginia
Sunil Sebastian Xavier Virginia

#

State/OIG Reviews Former FSO’s Allegation of Improper Denial of Promotion

Posted: 3:48  am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

On July 31st, State/OIG posted online its review on an FSO’s allegation of improper denial of promotion:

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this review to assess a former Department of State (Department) employee’s (complainant) allegations of an improper denial of promotion. Specifically, in September 2013, the complainant alleged that (1) the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources (HR) fraudulently tampered with or manipulated six reconstituted promotion boards conducted in 2010 and 2011 and (2) HR fraudulently altered documents generated by these six boards to prevent the complainant from being ranked for promotion. OIG interviewed former board members and consulted with a forensics expert, and found that the evidence does not support the complainant’s allegations.

According to the footnote in this report, on August 18, 2011, the FSGB issued its final decision, concluding that the Department fulfilled its responsibility of proving that the complainant would not have been promoted during the years at issue even if the alleged procedural errors had not occurred. The complainant appealed to the Federal District Court and challenged both the FSGB interim decision (which resulted from its order to conduct the six final boards), and the FSGB final decision. The complainant filed a Federal appeal in U.S. District Court on January 7, 2011, which has now been temporarily suspended at the complainant’s request.

This case does not include the name of the foreign service officer but we think this is the Joan Wadelton’s case that has been through the Foreign Service Grievance Board and is the subject of a litigation in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.

Reading through this report, we are struck by OIG being “unable to review any notes or score sheets generated by the 2006 boards because Department policy required treating them as working files; as such, they were destroyed once the rankings were finalized.” Although it appears State/OIG reviewed other scoresheets and consulted with a DHS expert to conduct forensic analysis. The report says that the review could not substantiate the complainant’s allegation that HR fraudulently altered documents associated with her 2010 to 2011 reconstituted promotion boards.

We don’t understand this policy of destroying working files, particularly on cases such as promotions. What’s the rationale for doing so? Anyone want to school me on this?

Read it here: ESP-15-06_Improper Denial of Promotion Allegation.

#

Related posts:

2014 Foreign Service Promotion Results By Gender & Race Still Behind the Great Firewall of State

Posted: 1:05 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The April 2015 issue of State Magazine includes the 2014 Foreign Service promotion statistics: a “modest decrease” in overall promotion rate it says:

Due to the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI) and Diplomacy 3.0 hiring efforts, Foreign Service hiring surged in the first decade of the 2000s. These employee cohorts are currently moving into the mid-ranked positions and above, intensifying the competition between employees for promotions. Although the total number of promotions increased to record levels over the past few years, the overall promotion rate decreased as the total number of promotion-eligible employees increased more rapidly. As a result, the overall 2014 promotion rate for all eligible Foreign Service employees experienced a modest decrease to 21 percent, compared with 22 percent in 2013 and 24 percent for the five-year average.

HR has made available online, behind the firewall, the 2014 promotion results by gender and ethnicity/race along with detailed breakouts by grade level for each generalist cone and specialist skill group. They are available at: http://intranet.hr.state.sbu/offices/rma/Pages/DiversityStats.aspx.

Details on Foreign Service promotion planning and promotion trends can also be found at: http://intranet.hr.state.sbu/Workforce/ WorkforcePlanning/Pages/default.aspx.

Ugh! Not again.

Yup, not only is this behind the great firewall, they put it in the “Sensitive But Unclassified” page so they can yank anyone who wants to pass this information out to us or anybody who is in the public sphere.

Last year, somebody in Secretary Kerry’s staff told us he’d take a look and see what can be done.  That’s the last we’ve heard of it and follow-up emails just went into dead email boxes. To this date, we have not learned of any legitimate reason why the detailed breakdown on gender and race in Foreign Service promotions are protected information.

The state.gov’s career website includes the following statement on diversity and inclusion from Secretary Kerry:

 In order to represent the United States to the world, the Department of State must have a workforce that reflects the rich composition of its citizenry. The skills, knowledge, perspectives, ideas, and experiences of all of its employees contribute to the vitality and success of the global mission. Our commitment to inclusion must be evident in the face we present to the world and in the decision-making processes that represent our diplomatic goals. The keys to leading a diverse workforce successfully are commitment and persistence. Delivering strong and effective action requires every employee’s commitment to equal employment opportunity principles. To that end, I pledge that at the Department of State we will: Propagate fairness, equity, and inclusion in the work environment both domestically and abroad…

But that commitment apparently does not include publicly sharing the Foreign Service promotion statistics by gender and race.

#

Foreign Service 2013 Promotion Results — Gender, Ethnicity, Race Stats Still Behind the Great Firewall

— Domani Spero
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The State Department’s trade publication State Magazine publishes annually the promotion results from the Foreign Service Selection Board. Here is an excerpt from the June 2014 issue:

The Bureau of Human Resources compiled the 2013 Foreign Service Selection Board results by class for generalists and specialists, placing the data into tables that show promotion numbers, promotion rates, average time in class and average time in service for each competition group. The bureau also analyzed and compared certain 2013 promotion rates and levels to the 2012 results and the five-year averages. While the Department promoted more generalists and specialists in 2013 than in 2012, the total number of employees eligible for promotion increased at a faster rate. The overall 2013 promotion rate for all eligible Foreign Service employees was 22 percent, slightly lower than the 2012 rate of 23 percent and the five-year average of 24 percent.

In June 2012, State Magazine said it published the promotion statistics by gender, ethnicity and race for the first time. We were hoping it would make the data public this year. Unfortunately, the 2013 promotion results, the statistics that offer detailed breakouts by grade level for each generalist cone and specialist skill group can only still be found behind the Great Firewall at http://intranet.hr.state.sbu/offices/rma/Pages/DiversityStats.aspx.

The State Department has an Office of Civil Rights. Apparently, it is the first cabinet-level agency to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer with oversight authority to integrate and transform diversity principles into practices in the Department’s operations. The office touts diversity as not just a worthy cause:

At the Department of State, diversity is not just a worthy cause: it is a business necessity. Diversity of experience and background helps Department employees in the work of diplomacy. The Secretary believes that diversity is extremely important in making the State Department an employer of choice.

We’re curious — if indeed, diversity is a business necessity for the agency,and we have folks who are proponents of diversity management issues there, why is the promotion composition of the Foreign Service by gender, race and ethnicity  considered “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU) and still behind the Great Firewall?  And if State Magazine won’t make this data available publicly, why isn’t this information available on the website of the  Office of Civil Rights?

State Mag is under State/HR but S/OCR — whoa! —  reports directly to Secretary Kerry’s office.  So, well, let’s go ahead and ask them why it should not be made available to the general public: Office of Civil Rights, S/OCR, Room 7428, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520, Email: socr_direct@state.gov;  Tel: (202) 647-9295 or (202) 647-9294; Fax: (202) 647-4969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Wadelton’s Appeal Makes it to FSGB 2011 Annual Report to Congress

In May, we posted about the case of FSO Joan Wadelton from Patricia Kushlis’ troubling blog post (see Joan Wadelton’s Case: That’s One Messy Promotion Scorecard, Next Up – It’s GAO Time!).  Ms. Wadelton’s case made it to the FSGB’s 2011  Annual Report to Congress:

Appeal of Joan Wadelton. On January 7, 2011, Joan Wadelton, a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, filed a Complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia, asking that it review the Board’s decision resolving a 2008 grievance appeal. Ms. Wadelton had filed three grievances prior to the 2008 appeal contesting the results of six selection boards which had not promoted her. As a result of those grievances, all six boards were reconstituted and Ms. Wadelton’s file was again reviewed for promotion. None of the six reconstituted boards promoted her. Ms. Wadelton then challenged the results of the reconstituted boards in the 2008 follow-on grievance. In its decision, the Board found deficiencies and irregularities in the operations of all six reconstituted boards, rebutting the presumption that they were conducted with regularity, and ordered that six new reconstituted selection boards be convened. Ms. Wadelton’s complaint challenges the Board’s decision to order a new round of reconstituted boards, rather than direct a promotion, as she had requested.

So Ms. Wadelton contested the results of the six selection boards, and State reconstituted all six boards.

Then Ms. Wadelton challenged the reconstituted boards, and FSGB ordered State too reconstitute six new selection boards.

The Grievance Board “found deficiencies and irregularities in the operations of all six reconstituted boards” so it ordered State, that is, the same HR Bureau to reconstitute six new selection boards.  Because that makes a lot of sense. It did not say if the deficiencies and irregularities were isolated to these six reconstituted boards or if they are systemic to the bureau and the process.

Hopefully the new boards are better at math so the promotion scorecards won’t be as messy, yes?  Or maybe, since this is now a case in the District Court for the District of Columbia, we’ll hear much more about the perplexing promotion scorecard process and how they get so messy.

Domani Spero