The Foreign Service Journal, March 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2023 45 AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION AFSA SURVEY RESULTS The Future of Foreign Service Work AFSA’s Survey on the Future of Foreign ServiceWork (FFSW), which took place in September, received almost 2,000 responses, the most of any recent AFSA survey. The FFSW asked questions related to telework and remote work; the future composition of the Foreign Service; career expectations; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; mission orientation; leadership accountability; and the role of technology. Telework/Remote Work. Members generally supported more telework, and many who were currently not permitted to telework voiced a wish to do so. Sixty-six percent of respondents chose flexibility as the chief benefit of telework; efficiency gains was the next most important benefit, cited by 29 percent of respondents. Two-thirds of respondents complained that the current available technology is not reliable, capable, or nimble enough to maximize the benefits of telework. Multiple members also noted that today’s offices (especially overseas) are not set up for hybrid work; many cited having to exit classified space to take video calls. On disadvantages, respondents most often cited a perceived loss of esprit de corps and less access to decision-makers. Some lamented the loss of ad hoc problem- solving sessions. Newer Foreign Service members said the possible loss of situational CALENDAR Please check for the most up-to-date information. March 3 Deadline for members to be in good standing to be eligible to vote in AFSA Governing Board election March 13 Deadline: AFSA Scholarship Applications March 15 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting March 29 12-1 p.m. Virtual AFSA Governing Board Election Town Hall April 3 Deadline: High School Essay Contest Submissions April 3 AFSA Board Election Ballots Mailed April 18 Federal and State Taxes Due (AFSA Tax Guide: April 19 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting April TBD Diplomats at Work May 4 AFSA Foreign Service Day Events May 5 Foreign Service Day Continued on page 50 Pay Equity Victory for CS DETOs On Dec. 23, 2022, in a sig- nificant milestone for Foreign Service–Civil Service tandem couples, President Joe Biden signed legislation that fixes the pay disparity for federal employees working under domestic employee telework overseas (DETO) agreements. As part of the bipartisan National Defense Authoriza- tion Act, the Civil Service Fed- eral Employee Serving Over- seas Pay Equity Act ensures that covered employees will receive locality pay, benefit- ting hundreds of military and Foreign Service families with spouses teleworking for the federal government from abroad. AFSA, in conjunction with employee organizations Balancing Act and Working in Tandem, advocated for this crucial change as DETO agreements became more common during the pan- demic and is pleased to see it codified. Domestic federal Civil Service employees previously earned a base salary with a locality pay adjustment based on the cost of living of the location where they are serv- ing. The adjustment begins at 16.2 percent for civil servants living in the lowest cost-of- living areas in the United States and can reach up to 42.74 percent for those living in the most expensive areas of the country. However, civil servants working abroad under DETO arrangements—often military or Foreign Service spouses who receive permission to telework abroad when their spouse is stationed overseas—could not receive locality pay, regardless of the cost of living in their telework location. The strength of the DETO program has a significant impact on the ability of the Civil and Foreign Service to retain mid-career workers. The sizable pay cuts faced by civil servants who move abroad can push them to leave federal service for the private sector or leave the workforce altogether. The Civil Service Federal Employee Serving Overseas Pay Equity Act requires members of the Civil Service under a DETO agreement to be paid the locality pay that is the lower of either what they would have been paid in the United States or what a mem- ber of the Foreign Service at an equivalent level serving overseas is paid. n