@StateDept Discovers Virtual OnBoarding/Oaths of Office/Training, Classes Will Now Continue


On April 5, 2020, Ambassador Ronald Neumann and Ambassador Dennis Jett wrote an op-ed on The Hill about the onboarding issue at the State Department which affected two incoming classes cancelled due to COVID-19:

Imagine the following situation: After a year-long hiring process, you get an offer to start your dream job in government. You quit your current position, terminate the lease on your apartment, pack up the spouse and kids and move to Washington to begin your new life.

But the dream quickly turns into a nightmare. No sooner do you check into your hotel than you are informed that your incoming class of new employees has been canceled because of COVID-19. And since you hadn’t formally started the job, you are not eligible for a paycheck. The only assistance your agency offers is a ticket home — the home that is no longer yours in the town where you are no longer employed.
That is the situation in which 90 people about to become new Foreign Service officers now find themselves. They were supposed to report for duty at the end of March, but the State Department abruptly told them that for an undetermined length of time they have no job.  

A second class of about an equal number of Foreign Service specialists is equally affected, bringing the total to roughly 175. It didn’t have to be this way. The Office of Personnel Management has advised federal agencies how the “on-boarding process” for new employees can be conducted virtually or remotely.
State argues, however, that even the first seven-week course that the officers take cannot be done remotely. That is simply not the case; there is no reason such training wouldn’t be as effective.

The Neumann/Jett op-ed has 1137 shares and 134 comments. The comment section, as can be expected these days, is like rumble in the jungle.
On May 1, 2020, DGHR Carol Perez also wrote an op-ed on The Hill, apparently timed for Foreign Affairs Day, to report that the State Department has discovered virtual onboarding, and virtual oaths of office, and that the postponed classes will now continue:

Thanks to our imaginative, committed colleagues, along with new flexibilities granted by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, the department is now able to carry out virtual oaths of office, virtual onboarding and virtual training for foreign service officers and specialists starting in May and continuing this summer. 

These new recruits will include candidates from the foreign service classes postponed in March and April. And I am pleased to report we already have virtually onboarded three civil service cohorts.

The Perez op-ed has 202 shares and 28 comments. Also a rumble in the jungle, tho, a smaller jungle.

State Department Seeks Diplomatic Security Special Agents (DSSA) — Job Closes Thursday, 12/15

Posted: 6:02 pm PT
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The Department of State is developing a rank-order list of eligible hires for a number of Special Agent (SA) vacancies. The announcement does not indicate how many vacancies are open only that the specific number to be hired will be based on the needs of the Department and is subject to change.

Diplomatic Security Special Agents (SA) manage a range of security programs worldwide. SAs live and serve at U.S. diplomatic or consular posts abroad, as well as in the Washington, DC area or at field offices in such cities as Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco, according to the needs of the service. As members of a diplomatic team, Special Agents not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also represent the United States to people of other nations. The Foreign Service is more than a job – it is a career.

Special Agents normally will be assigned to one of eight domestic Field Offices for their first three years of service (including training), or possibly to a smaller Resident Agent Office. There may, however, be occasions when new SAs will be assigned to other domestic units, support temporary duty assignments, or sent directly overseas. Needs of the service will have a significant bearing on DS SA assignments; sometimes require that domestic assignments be shortened for re-assignment to a Regional Security Office at an overseas post.

Announcement No: SA-2017-0001
Position Title: Diplomatic Security: Foreign Service Special Agent
Open Period: 12/08/2016 – 12/15/2016
Series/Grade: FP-1811-06
Salary: $43,226 – $58,092
Promotion Potential: MC
Position Information: Work Schedule is Full-time – Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by a Foreign Service Tenure Board.
Supervisory Status: Yes
Duty Locations: MANY vacancies – Washington DC

Read more here: https://careers.state.gov/work/opportunities/vacancy-announcements/sa and here: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/458476800



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State Dept Wants You to Join the Foreign Service — Start Now So You’re on Board on/about 2015

The 12:35 minute video features Secretary Clinton, US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, US Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, a management analyst from the Foreign Service Institute giving a tour of the pretend jail at FSI, and several officers who may or may not be entry level officers on their first or second tours.

The video above came with a 1:16 minute trailer and the following media note:

As part of an effort to continue to attract smart, dynamic, capable people into the Foreign Service, the Department of State is releasing a new one-minute trailer and an accompanying short video that showcases the faces and stories of the amazing men and women who have helped make the world a better place through a career in the Foreign Service.

The video is meant to inspire and promote participation in American diplomacy through joining the Foreign Service. Through compelling stories and powerful imagery, the film aims to educate and engage Americans on the incredible career opportunities available in the Foreign Service.

As Secretary Clinton says, “The challenges of the 21st century offer something for everyone in the Foreign Service and they also demand a wide range of skills and experience…we need you now.”

The Foreign Service represents the United States around the world and provides the opportunity to experience cultures, customs and people of different nations in a career truly unlike any other. In this constantly changing world, we want to continue to recruit adaptable, resourceful, intelligent, and innovative strategic-thinkers, from diverse educational, geographic and cultural backgrounds.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for – sign up now at careers.state.gov:  http://careers.state.gov/officer/selection-process.

The video is meant to inspire, as they say, so it does not mention the timeline on the hiring process (still about two years) or the challenges for dual-income families reduced to one when the accompanying spouse is unable to find work overseas.   It’s a recruitment video, so that’s understandable. But perhaps the most glaring omission of all — out of about a dozen officers featured in this video, did you see anyone shown working in the danger zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?  Other than that, the video is a nice showcase.

To help the film educate Americans, below are some related posts from former FSO now Gadling columnist, Dave Seminara. Do not/not skip the “How To Avoid Posts Where You Might Get Eaten Alive.” That seems important.

Here is also a must-read piece by retired FSO Peter Van Buren who underwent quite a bit of beard shaving and shunning in the aftermath of the publication of his book, We Meant Well:

And just to be clear — Papua New Guinea now only has one tribe, the Korowai (numbering about 3,000) reported to practice ritual cannibalism.  They do not/not live anywhere near the US Embassy compound in Port Moresby. So that should make you feel better….

In any case, we are not in the business to encourage or discourage anyone from joining the Foreign Service. What we will say is that the Foreign Service is not for everyone.  You can have the best times of your lives, you can have the worst times of your lives.  Not one or the other at all times.  So if you join, make sure you got a Plan B … because stuff happens.

One of the saddest people we’ve encountered is a mid-level employee with kids, a mortgage, and nowhere to go but stay put even when the FS has lost its sparkle.  As Yoda would probably say in a galaxy far, far away – having more than one option, success is.  Good luck!

domani spero sig