The Foreign Service Journal, May 2022

58 MAY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, Feb. 16, 2022 Due to ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 omicron variant, the AFSA Governing Board met via teleconference on Feb. 16. Contact: | (202) 841-7744 FAS VP VOICE | BY LISA AHRAMJIAN AFSA NEWS Standing Behind Those Who Step Up FAS demands a lot from its FSOs, and we consistently step up and deliver. Like our colleagues in other agencies, we serve in countries that put our health and safety at risk and we uproot our lives every few years. We assume these risks willingly, largely due to the rewarding aspect of living and solving complex challenges in the countries to which we’re assigned, and our commit- ment to the FAS mission. However, we also expect to receive accurate and timely compensation for doing so. What does it say to FAS FSOs when widespread payroll errors remain uncorrected more than eight months later, resulting in underpayment or overpayment by tens of thousands of dollars? While the origin of these payroll issues is not related to similar ones currently affecting State Department personnel, the very real finan- cial and tax implications are the same. Because these and other tax issues were not corrected in 2021, FAS FSOs are left to hire tax advisers on their own dime to address them. FAS has recently (informally) vowed to address the errors and is making welcome prog- ress toward this goal. AFSA continues to fight for affected FSOs to be made whole, including through receiving interest on back pay. Unfortunately, even after these long-standing errors are corrected, morale and retention issues will linger, including for FSOs who weren’t affected. While the mistakes were clearly unin- tentional, failure to address them in a timely fashion sug- gests that export and trade policy successes are more important than taking care of the people who deliver them. We remain hopeful that FAS will demonstrate that its people come first by improv- ing communication with staff, resolving the issues and offering relief to affected personnel within legal param- eters. Moving forward, the widespread nature of the payroll problems also justifies a comprehensive audit that ensures all errors are cor- rected, employees are remu- nerated appropriately and effective process improve- ments are put in place to prevent a similar situation in the future. Such accountability will increase transparency, rebuild trust and reconfirm that FAS stands behind its dedicated FSOs, especially in their time of need. n Accountability will increase transparency, rebuild trust and reconfirm that FAS stands behind its dedicated FSOs, especially in their time of need. AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, March. 16, 2022 The Governing Board met at AFSA headquarters on March 16, the first in-person meeting since December 2021. New Representative: The board approved the appointment of Sharon Carter as USAID represen- tative to the Governing Board. Associate Members: The board approved the applications of two new associate members to AFSA. Disbursement: The board authorized the pledged and budgeted disbursement of $25,000 to the National Museum of American Diplomacy for 2022. New Working Groups: The board authorized the president and vice presidents to form working groups for priorities developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Service Reform, combining some priorities as appropriate and calling on members of the commit- tee to serve as needed. Congressional Policy Priorities: The board unani- mously accepted a list of priorities for inclusion in AFSA’s 117th Congress policy priority agenda and ongoing advocacy efforts. Ratification of Virtual Votes: In accordance with AFSA bylaws, the board ratified in-person the deci- sions made during virtual meetings, and actions taken in reliance thereon, held between January and February 2022. n