@StateDept Issues New Policy For Local Staff at U.S. Missions in Suspended Operations

 

 

The State Department recently issued its policy for locally hired staff at U.S. Mission in suspended operations (see 3 FAM 7170). Suspended operations denote “a U.S. mission or post that has ceased operating. During this period, U.S. direct hire (USDH) personnel are usually removed from post (often evacuated). It is possible that some LE staff may remain working on premises to maintain the facilities. Diplomatic relations with the host government are usually maintained under suspended operations; it is not a revocation of diplomatic relations with the host country.”

3 FAM 7174 Authorization of Caretaker LE staff 
(CT:PER-1039;   05-13-2021)
(Uniform State/USAID/Commerce/Agriculture)
(Applies Locally Employed Staff Only)

a. LE Staff who will continue to work on behalf of the U.S. mission during suspended operations must be designated as “Caretaker LE Staff”. Caretaker LE Staff continue to be subject to all applicable personnel policies (e.g., discipline, performance management, awards, pay increases, etc.).
b. Within thirty (30) calendar days from the date on which a U.S. mission is determined to be in suspended operation status, the regional bureau will submit an action memorandum to the Under Secretary of State for Management requesting approval for retention of and continuation of pay to current LE Staff. The action memo requesting continued employment of Caretaker LE Staff must include specific information establishing the need for continued employment of and sufficient supervision over Caretaker LE Staff and should include, at a minimum, the following information:

(1)  List of proposed Caretaker LE Staff, along with their respective employment sections;
(2)  Duties being performed and an explanation regarding why these duties are mission essential;
(3)  Confirmation of appropriate supervisory controls;
(4)  The extent to which employees will regularly report to the workplace and, if not reporting to the workplace, information on how employees will be performing their duties and communicating with supervisors; and 
(5)  Data on those employees who may require updated work plans or job reassignments. 

c.  Retention of and/or continuation of pay to LE Staff will be subject to review every six (6) months thereafter by the Under Secretary for Management. If approved, the action memoranda will be provided to CGFS/C/PPR/LE. 
d. As noted in 3 FAM 7174(a), Caretaker LE Staff are subject to applicable personnel policies (e.g., discipline and performance management) and any discipline or separation of Caretaker LE Staff should be consistent with 3 FAM 7720 and 3 FAM 7730.

The new guidance says that immediately upon the determination to place a U.S. mission in suspended operation status, LE Staff who are not designated as Caretaker LE Staff will be temporarily placed in excused-leave status (i.e., administrative leave).
According to the FAM, once a determination is made to remove an LE Staff from excused-leave status or to remove an employee’s position from the authorized caretaker list, separation should proceed pursuant to the U.S. mission’s Reduction in Force (RIF) policy and the mission’s Local Compensation Plan (LCP).
No RIF retention register is required, no RIF appeal process is required, and the FAM says that the “U.S. mission should not include information about appeals in the RIF notice provided to LE Staff.”

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Russian Govt to Postpone Prohibition of US Mission Russia’s Employment of Foreign Nationals

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

A follow-up to our April 20 post: US Mission Russia: Mass Termination of Local Staff, Severe Reduction in Consular Services Effective May 12.
On May 14, the US Embassy in Moscow announced to US citizens in Russia that the host country has informed the US Mission of its intent to postpone its prohibition of the employment of foreign nationals at US Mission Russia. So for now through July 16, routine U.S. citizen services will temporarily resumed.

Temporary Resumption of Consular Services – The Russian government has informed U.S. Embassy Moscow of its intent to postpone the prohibition of U.S. Mission Russia’s employment of foreign nationals.  Consequently, through July 16, U.S. Embassy Moscow will temporarily resume routine U.S. citizen services, including passport services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and limited notarial services.  Please visit our website for instructions on scheduling an appointment.  We will also provide immigrant visa processing for priority and urgent cases.

Actions To Take:

If you are a U.S. citizen present in Russia and your visa has expired, we strongly urge you to depart Russia before the June 15 deadline set by the Russian government.

If you plan to remain in Russia past this deadline, please visit your local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) office to start the necessary paperwork as recently suggested by MVD.

Be aware that Embassy Moscow is unable to answer any specific questions about Russian residency or Russian visas, as this process is managed entirely by the Russian government.

In related news, Moscow Times reports that US Embassy Moscow spokesperson Rebecca Ross and nine other American diplomats have until May 21 to leave the country in line with Russia’s retaliation to the expulsion of 10 of its diplomats from the United States.

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FSN Recognition Day: Gratefulness and Celebration, So Now They’ll Finally Get an Ombudsman?

 

Snapshot: @StateDept COVID-19 Cases as of April 3, 2020

The State Department updated its COVID-19 cases on Friday, April 3. 2020. From March 31 to April 3, the number of employees and family members overseas who were self-isolating went from 2,288 to 3,528, an increase of 1,240. The number of positive cases decreased from 149 to 108; while those who recovered went from 42 on March 31 to 79 on April 3, a difference of 37 new individuals recovered.
The April 3 update now includes the number of deaths. As of April 3, there were three deaths overseas from COVID-19, all three are noted as Locally Employed (LE) staffers. We learned previously that one LE staffer died in Jakarta, and another in Kinshasa. We do not know as yet, the location of the third casualty. In the April 3 briefing, Dr. Walters declined to identify the country where the third death occurred. Why? We can’t say. Obviously, the next of kin already know about the death. Co-workers at post already know about the death. We’re not sure why they’re refusing the even identify post; reporters are not asking for names. If Walters is going to cite the Privacy Act, deceased individuals and country names do not have Privacy Act rights. If there’s a real rationale for this, we’d like to know.
The April 3 update still do not include information on the number of medical evacuations (MEDEVAC), USG patients or places of origin. We can confirm at least one MEDEVAC from Burkina Faso, and that USG patient is on the road to recovery.
For domestic cases, the number of self-isolating employees went from 44 to 50 in three days, with positive cases going from 33 to 46 cases.  The report indicates that two domestic employees have recovered as of April 3, 2020.
See excerpts from April 3 briefing below.

 

As of April 3, 2020

As of March 31, 2020

 

Dr. Walters on April 3 Briefing:

Now moving on to the latest COVID-19 statistics for the Department of State, as of today, April 3rd, there are 108 confirmed cases overseas. There are 46 confirmed cases domestically, occurring in nine different cities. So far, there are no reported deaths domestically, but unfortunately there are now a total of three deaths overseas amongst our workforce.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks. I just had a question about the number of State Department deaths and a testing question. The first is: Can you give us any more information about the employee, the third person who had died or what country that was in and any other information you can give us?

And second, does State currently have a standard policy on testing? Do – for example, people who think they may be – may have the virus but are not showing symptoms, are they able to get tested? What is the standard guidance on department employees getting tested? Thanks.

MR WALTERS: So as to the first question, I can tell you that it was a locally-employed staff member overseas. I don’t – can’t really go into any further detail because it becomes easier and easier to identify individual people when you do that, so I’m afraid I can’t.

With regard to testing, domestically we all exist within a broad public health architecture. From an occupational health perspective, we have a responsibility to protect the workforce, but we live within and work within the city of Washington, D.C., or in Virginia or Maryland, and ultimately testing and contact tracing is a local and state responsibility and authority. And so we cooperate very closely with the state and local and county public health teams to make sure that we keep the workforce safe and make sure testing is used appropriately.

QUESTION: Hi, there. Thanks. Sorry, I was – I missed part of the answer to Nick’s question because of Elmo, but – (laughter) – did you, Doc Walters, say that the third death was a locally employed staffer? And is it correct that there are still no American staffers overseas who have been —who have succumbed?

And then secondly, the – how many of the more than 400 flights that Ian is talking about were commercial flights that – for which the U.S. Government did not have to pay anything? Thank you.

MR WALTERS: Thanks, Matt. I can answer the first part and then I’ll hand over to Ian and DAS Yon for the last part.

Yeah, so locally employed staff member overseas – we are not aware of any chief of mission personnel overseas who have succumbed to the illness.

Folks, we hate to do this but this is a real pet peeve for us because. Very basic.  “We are not aware of any chief of mission personnel overseas who have succumbed to the illness?” The three Locally Employed (LE) staff members who died of COVID-19 are not chief of mission personnel? Good grief!
2 FAH-2 H-112.1 talks about Chief of Mission authority to direct, supervise, and coordinate all U.S. Government executive branch employees in the COM’s country or area of responsibility.  This includes U.S. Direct Hire (USDH) employees and Personal Service Contractors (PSCs), whether assigned permanently or on temporary duty or an official visit, and; all Locally Employed (LE) Staff regardless of hiring mechanism (whether a direct hire or hired on a PSA, PSC or other mechanism by the Department of State or another U.S. government agency – see 3 FAM 7121).

Snapshot: Comparative Look at @StateDept Staffing 2008 – 2018

Via state.gov:

(click image above for larger view)

 

Snapshot: @StateDept Workforce Distribution by Employment Category (February 2019)

Posted:12:52 am EST
Updated: 10:08 pm PST with link to full HR fact sheet

 

Via state.gov:

The Department relies on Locally Employed (LE) staff to support its global mission. LE Staff, which includes contractors overseas, accounts for 58 percent of the workforce. The Department’s American Government workforce, which includes career full-time FS and CS employees as well as temporary employees, constitutes approximately 31 percent of the workforce. The remaining 11 percent is composed of domestic contractors. Over the last few years, the workforce distribution has remained about the same. The State Department indicates that it employs a workforce of over 80,000 employees including contractors. 

 

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Snapshot: State Department Workforce Composition By Employment Category – 2016

Posted: 12:13 am ET
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Via state.gov:

The State Department says that it employs a workforce of over 80,000 employees. The figure below shows the composition of the 2016 workforce by employment category. Total number of agency employees excluding contractors: 74,721 (FS: 13,948 includes Generalist – 8,196; Specialist – 5,752; Civil Service at 11,037) and Locally Employed Staff at 49,736 (includes Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs)and Personal Services Agreements/Contracts). We have not been able to locate a good number for contractors.

In April 2016, there were 11,861 adult family members overseas, of which 29% or 3,436 FS family members were employed by the USG at missions overseas.

via state.gov

via state.gov

 

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State Department Dedicates Diplomatic Security (DS) Memorial

Posted: 12:06 am EDT
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The Diplomatic Security (DS) Memorial was dedicated on September 18, 2015, to honor the many individuals who have given their lives to support the mission of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory B. Starr hosted the event with Antony J. Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State; Lt. Gen. Ronald Bailey, Deputy Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Plans, Policies, and Operations; and Bill Miller, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, in attendance. See D/Secretary Blinken’s remarks here.

Before the installation of the Diplomatic Security Memorial, DS was the only federal law enforcement agency without its own memorial. Many of those who gave their lives in service to DS were not eligible for inclusion on the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Memorial, which primarily honors members of the Foreign Service who died while serving abroad.

On the date of its unveiling, the DS Memorial contained the names of 137 individuals from diverse backgrounds and countries throughout the world. They include:

27 U.S. Government Personnel

  • 4 Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents
  • 6 Diplomatic Couriers
  • 12 U.S. Military—Marine Security Guards
  • 5 Other U.S. Military—Embassy Security Operations

36 Private Security Contractors

74 Local Security Personnel

  • 31 Local Guard Force
  • 31 Local Law Enforcement
  • 6 Foreign Service Nationals
  • 6 Locally Employed Staff

The DS Memorial consists of the 1) DS Memorial Wall–A Visual Tribute, located inside the main lobby of Diplomatic Security headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia; 2) Memorial Kiosk, installed with the DS Memorial Wall, the kiosk displays information about Diplomatic Security and its personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty. The information is searchable by name, year of death, country of death, and job position at time of death; 3) Memorial Website at (www.dsmemorial.state.gov) with the names of the fallen personnel hosted in a special portion of the Diplomatic Security website, the online DS Memorial displays all names of the fallen and provides a search tool for locating individuals.

via state.gov/ds

via state.gov/ds

 

The memorial goes back to 1943 and includes James N. Wright, a Diplomatic Courier who died on February 22, 1943,
in Lisbon, Portugal, in the line of duty in an airplane crash. Two years later, another Diplomatic Courier, Homer C. White, died on December 4, 1945, in Lagos, Nigeria, in the line of duty in an airplane crash.

The largest number of casualties is suffered by the local security personnel.  At least 31 local law enforcement personnel (working for the host government) were lost protecting USG facilities and personnel overseas. As many local guard force employed/contracted by the USG were also killed in the line of duty.  In 2014, Shyef, Moa’ath Farhan, a Yemeni Local Law Enforcement employee, died in Yemen, while protecting a checkpoint near U.S. Embassy Sanaa during a suicide attack. In fact, 7 of the 31 law enforcement personnel killed were all lost in Yemen.   That same year, Abdul Rahman, a locally employed staff was killed while performing his duties near the traffic circle at the main entrance to Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan. He was one of several individuals killed by a lone suicide bomber. In 2013, Mustafa Akarsu, a member of the local guard force was killed during a suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey.  That same year, eight members of the local guard force died on September 13, during the attack on U.S. Consulate Herat in Afghanistan.

Note that this memorial only includes FSNs/locally employed staff who supported the mission of  the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and not all FSNs who lost their lives while working for the USG overseas.

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Snapshot: Breakdown of State Department Employees as of 6/30/2014

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

via afsa.org

Click here to view pdf file

Click on image to view pdf file

 

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US Embassy Ottawa: Canadian Court Sets Aside FSN Sandra McDonald’s $240K Default Judgment For Now

— Domani Spero

Via Ottawa Citizen, a wrongful dismissal case filed by Sandra McDonald, a former Foreign Service National (local employee) of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

Sandra McDonald, now in her early 60s, worked at the embassy for nearly 30 years as one of its locally engaged staff. She sued for wrongful dismissal after she was fired in early 2011 while on long-term disability with complex regional pain syndrome.

McDonald’s lawyer, Bijon Roy, said she was “very disappointed” with the judge’s decision and that it might force her to fight the case all over again.

In July 2012, Ontario Superior Court Justice Heidi Polowin issued a default judgment in McDonald’s favour after U.S. officials failed to file a statement of defence or contest the case in court. The embassy had been served notice of the case through Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and was kept informed of the matter on a regular basis. McDonald’s story also received high-profile coverage from Ottawa media, including the Citizen.

In court this week, embassy officials, seeking to overturn the default judgment, said they had “explicable and plausible” reasons for not having responded to McDonald’s lawsuit, and a “good defence” to be made against it. According to court documents, the Americans claimed that they’d “lost the documentation”, “could not open the email attachment”, that the documentation was “inadvertently directed to the wrong office at the State Department”, and that it was “not indexed correctly”.

Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray questioned how U.S. State Department officials could claim not to have been aware of McDonald’s default judgment. “Its embassy apparently failed to see the front page of the Ottawa Citizen (on) Sept. 11, 2012,” the judge commented.
[…]
Ray said he would set aside Polowin’s default judgment on conditions the embassy pay McDonald’s legal costs and put the $240,000 award in a court trust within the next 60 days.

Read in full: U.S. Embassy wins bid to set aside wrongful dismissal judgment.

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