The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

60 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FAS VP VOICE | BY KIMBERLY SAWATZKI AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP. Contact: | (202) 720-3650 “We need an FAS version of the A-100 (‘Welcome to Your New Career’) class.” In 2008, then-AFSA Vice President for FAS Henry Schmick wrote these words in his VP Voice column in The Foreign Service Journal. Within two years, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) implemented its inaugural version of “AG-100.” In 2013, when FAS began looking beyond its existing civil service to hire new Foreign Service officers, AG-100 was expanded and formalized as the training mechanism to prepare Foreign Service trainees (FSTs) for their first assignments. AG-100 was born out of necessity, but it represents the most positive commit- ment to structured training I have seen during my career at FAS. Even before AG-100, FAS invested in ample training for employees heading to their first overseas assignments. However, training for existing officers has always been infrequent, sporadic and inconsistent. Getting non- mandatory training approved during or between tours can feel as impossible as winning the lottery. Budget (especially the timing of the budget), concerns about post coverage, as well as fluctuat- ing prioritization of career development by manage- ment, are the primary obsta- cles. Sometimes it seems as though your training request might be approved if all the planets are perfectly aligned. FAS needs a cultural shift similar to the one Secretary Colin Powell brought to the State Department. When Secretary Powell learned how little training Department of State personnel received compared to those at the Department of Defense, he vastly expanded training opportunities and cemented groundbreaking change. Secretary Powell’s imple- mentation of leadership and management training as a prerequisite for promotions remains in place, and State Department colleagues have often remarked that it has made a noticeable and posi- tive difference in improving department management. Most FAS FSOs have not taken any management, supervision or leadership training aside from an intro- ductory course before their first tour. Despite a mission- critical need for employees to remain up to date on technology and other issues affecting agricultural trade, mid-career training is lacking. Ongoing professional training should not be viewed as a luxury. It is a necessity, and requires management’s commitment to both encour- age and facilitate career development. AFSA is eager to collaborate to make this a reality. n Career Development: Training Should Not Be a One-Time Event NEWS BRIEF THE “BIDDER’S MATRIX” FOR SAME-SEX SPOUSE ACCREDITATION INFORMATION For employees considering an overseas assignment, the Bureau of Human Resources maintains a database of host government policies and practices with regard to same-sex spouse accreditation. Missions are tasked annually with providing the latest policy for their host country to support LGBT+ employees’ bidding strategies. By using the resulting matrix, bidders can learn whether their same-sex spouse would be accredited and granted full diplomatic privileges and immunities by the host country and find information on local government restrictions affecting the LGBT+ community. For countries where the host government does not accredit same- sex spouses, the matrix describes any alternatives to full diplomatic accreditation. GLIFAA, the employee affinity group representing the interests of the LGBT+ community in foreign affairs agencies, recommends bidders review the matrix as a first step before following up with specific questions to the Regional Bureau Executive Office (EX) or post in cases where the host country policy or practice is incon- sistent or ambiguous. Another excellent resource is Post Info to Go, where bidders can read personal observations of the local climate for LGBT+ people. Bidders can also contact the post’s GLIFAA representative with any questions. GLIFAA encourages bidders to use the matrix and provide feedback for continual improvement. Happy bidding! To gain access to the bidder’s matrix, please contact Bernadette Cole Byrd at or Thales Dus at . To search Post Info to Go, visit: http://tc.fsi.state.sbu/PITG/. To contact a GLIFAA post representative, please email To provide feedback to the GLIFAA board or for general questions on LGBT+ issues, please contact . n