The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2022 53 AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION View from Washington AFSA President Discusses Challenges Facing the Foreign Service America is searching for its role in the world, and so the Foreign Service must also reconsider and renew its own mission. This was a theme of the talk by AFSA President Eric Rubin during a Jan. 26 virtual “View fromWashing- ton”meeting with FS retirees. “Being in the U.S. Foreign Service doesn’t have the same meaning that it had when I joined in the mid- 1980s,” he said. “That’s not to say it’s not critical, but we’re up against some serious headwinds.” The percentage of FS members serving domesti- cally is the highest it’s ever been. Jobs that had been moved to Iraq and Afghani- stan posts from other embas- sies were brought back to Washington, D.C., rather than redistributed to U.S. embas- sies and consulates abroad. Those serving overseas are therefore experienc- ing “terrible understaffing Test, usually seen as a proxy for interest in a diplomacy career, fell to just 5,500 last year. In Fiscal Year 2013, a total of 21,069 people took the test. “The need is double or triple what we’re hiring,” Rubin said. “The candidates are great; I’m very impressed with the people we’re getting, as priority is given to those with overseas experience, language experience and job experience. But three-quar- ters of the candidate pool has dropped away.” To allow the Foreign Service to hire more, create a training float and fill more positions overseas, AFSA has pushed for an increase in appropriations. The finan- cial boost has bicameral and bipartisan support, but Continuing Resolutions have persisted for months into Fiscal Year 2022. Still, AFSA is expecting congressional and burnout,” Rubin said, “because there are not enough people to get the job done. Training and profes- sional education need to be a more significant part of the career, but the training float is gone and COVID doesn’t make it easier.” He noted that applications to join the Foreign Service have dropped off dramati- cally over the past decade. The number of test takers for the Foreign Service Officer CALENDAR Please check for the most up-to-date information. April 4 Deadline: 2022 High School Essay Contest April 18 Federal and State Taxes Due AFSA Tax Guide: April 20 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting May 5 AFSA Foreign Service Day Events May 6 Foreign Service Day May 17 Deadline: AFSA Awards Nominations May 18 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting May 30 Memorial Day AFSA Offices Closed AFSA Meets with Secretary of State Blinken AFSA President Eric Rubin and AFSA State Vice Presi- dent Tom Yazdgerdi met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Deputy Secre- tary of State for Manage- ment and Resources Brian McKeon on Jan. 24. During the meeting, Ambas- sador Rubin raised concerns about employee morale and encouraged the Secre- tary to increase the pace of his Foreign Service reform and modernization agenda. AFSA had last met with Secretary Blinken on Feb. 1, 2021, and looks forward to continuing the engagement and working with the State Department on reform efforts. Now that Ambassador John Bass, a career FSO, has been con- firmed as the Under Secre- tary for Management, AFSA will meet with him regularly, as well as with Deputy Secre- tary McKeon. n Continued on page 62 AFSA President Eric Rubin.