The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2020 37 B eginning in 2015, the State Department undertook to update and streamline its employee evaluation system. As part of that effort, the department proposed a process for awarding Meritorious Service Increases that was removed from the EER/selection board proce- dure. In 2017, after weeks of negotia- tion, the department and AFSA agreed, to establish MSIs in a separate awards program, albeit as a three- year pilot, for 2017 through 2019 MSIs. The MSI pilot program is completely nomination-based, with awardees identified by two dedicated MSI panels: a generalist panel and a specialist panel. The awards are apportioned in line with the approximate ratio within the department of both gener- alists and specialists (i.e., 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively). The pilot program also expanded the awardee pool beyond those employees who are eligible for a promotion and, in 2019, intro- duced the requirement of gender-neutral nominations. In November 2019, AFSA sought feedback from our members on the program. Here we share some background on the MSI program and its evolution, along with a detailed report on the survey findings on the pilot. Raeka Safai, Esq., is the deputy general counsel for the American Foreign Service Association. She provides legal and policy guidance to elected AFSA officials and members on a full range of labor- management and employment related matters. Creating an MSI award process that is transparent, efficient and true to the intent of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 is a shared goal of AFSA and the State Department. BY RAEKA SAFA I Preliminary Results Are In State’sNewMSI Program FOCUS ON CAREER AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT JEFFMOORES