Posted: 2:42 am ET
Update: 12:03 pm PT
According to a recent fedbiz announcement, the Office of Resource Management at the Bureau of International Narcotics, and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL/RM) is seeking a Personal Services Contractor who will be the bureau’s “Foreign Service Assignments Officer.” The contract is for one year with four option years.
So State is going to use contractors for assignments officers now?
We can’t recall Foreign Service Assignments Officer as contractors before. Is it far fetched to think of this as a glimpse of the future in Foggy Bottom? CRS report from 2014 notes that OMB Circular A-76 distinguishes between the exercise of discretion per se, which it says does not make a function inherently governmental, and the exercise of “substantial discretion,” which it says makes a function inherently governmental.
And if the Foreign Service Assignments Officer position is deemed a commercial activity, that is, an activity not so intimately related to the public interest as to mandate performance by government personnel” (see CRS link to inherently government function below) how long before all bureau assignments officer are converted to PSC positions with one year contracts and four year options?
Update: We just got a note telling us that the INL Foreign Service Assignments officer has been a PSC since at least 2010. And that this position “serves in an advisory capacity, ensuring that INL’s program offices and front office understand HR rules and processes,and assists with how the offices conduct the FS assignments process within INL.” This position reportedly “makes no decisions, sets no policy, very non-governmental.” Also that most bureaus do not have the PSC hiring authority, “so it’s quite unlikely that the function in other bureaus will be moving to contractors any time soon.”
About INL: The Bureau has overall responsibility for the development, supervision, and implementation of international narcotics control assistance activities and for international criminal justice issues for the Department of State. The Foreign Service Assignments Officer (FSAO) will perform duties related to both domestic and foreign assignments, and will supplement existing staff during times of heavy workload, when staff shortages occur, or when expertise is required for specific projects.
About FSAO: The FSAO receives administrative direction from the Administrative Officer, but acts with a high degree of independence in planning, scheduling, and completing work, within the framework of delegated authority. Many assignments are self-initiated based on the FSAO’s assessment of post requirements and the means to meet them. As the primary liaison with post personnel, regional bureau staff, and office of Career Development and Assignments (HR/CDA) in the Bureau of Human Resources (HR), the FSAO has broad latitude in coordinating work efforts, and plays a key role in ensuring that posts operate effectively and in compliance with relevant regulations.
The FSAO uses a high degree of expertise and independent judgment in developing, consulting, coordinating, and executing programs to achieve compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and organizational goals and objectives, and resolves all but the most complex and sensitive issues. Recommendations and decisions are assumed to be technically accurate, and work is reviewed in terms of the overall effectiveness of the efforts by management within INL/RM as well as by program office staff, post officials, and others who rely on the FSAO’s advice and support.
The announcement says that the purposes of the work “are to collaborate with management in the Department in providing prompt and effective administrative support of the assignment of FS personnel domestically and at INL positions at posts; support INL missions at posts in engaging their administrative and personnel resources as effectively as possible; liaise with relevant Bureaus and USG agencies to ensure that INL’s best interests are protected; and ensure that administrative and substantive policies are mutually compatible.”
- SOLICITATION NUMBER: PSC-18-016-INL
- ISSUANCE DATE: 03/13/2018
- CLOSING DATE: 03/27/2018
- TIME SPECIFIED FOR RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS: 3:00 PM, EST
- POSITION TITLE: INL Foreign Service Assignments Officer
- MARKET VALUE: $114,590 – $148,967 (GS-14 Equivalent)
- PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE: One year from date of award, with four optional years
- PLACE OF PERFORMANCE: Washington, DC
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Manages the Foreign Service Assignments process, providing expert advice and guidance to senior Bureau managers on all aspects of Foreign Service position management, recruitment, assignment, and evaluation.
- Counsels Foreign Service staff on all assignment related questions and provides support and guidance to those individuals who have been offered positions within the Bureau.
- Coordinates all FS issues with the appropriate offices within the Bureau of Human Resources, e.g., HR/CDA and HR/PE, resolving issues pertaining to FS assignments and performance, and recommends ways to improve or streamline the process.
- Oversees suggestion and award, quality, and or productivity programs related to these activities. Analyzes and evaluates, on a quantitative or qualitative basis, the effectiveness of programs or operations in meeting established goals and objectives.
- Liaises with colleagues and professional contacts in other bureaus whose work and role are relevant to supporting INL, including but not limited to Diplomatic Security, the Office of Medical Services, HR/CDA, the Family Liaison Office, the Office of Foreign Missions, Office of Allowances, and others as required.
- Analyzes administrative processes and/or agency programs for the Executive Director, with particular emphasis on management and implementation of an effective program in meeting Foreign Service human resources goals and objectives for the Bureau and its worldwide operations.
- Identifies problem areas and opportunities for improvement and provides fully staffed recommendations to management, including the Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretaries. This encompasses issues such as streamlining processes, assessing the feasibility of automated systems for meeting the Bureau’s HR responsibilities, standardizing operations, or collaborating with other organizations on mutual responsibilities, improved management practices or the impact of new or proposed legislation or regulations on HR programs.
- Communicates with colleagues, agency management, and other contacts outside the agency to gather and analyze information about these agency processes and programs.
Definitions of “Inherently Governmental Function” in Federal Procurement Law and Guidance PDF | 2014