The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

F OCUS ON FSI /FS T RA INING A T FSI’ S H ELM : A N I NTERVIEW WITH R UTH A. W HITESIDE 32 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 ditor’s Note: Reporter Shawn Zeller interviewed Foreign Service Institute Di- rector Ruth A. Whiteside and Deputy Director Tracey Ja- cobson on April 24. SZ: What did you think of the 2011 American Acad- emy of Diplomacy/Stimson Center report that laid out the case for expanding State Department training? RW: We spent a great deal of time with the folks who did the study. A lot of the issues they raised were more appropriate for the Foreign Service director general and the Bureau of Human Resources to decide. Part of what they were trying to get at, which is very valuable for the department, was really to build the case for a very robust training float. If you have a very robust training float — the military has 15 percent more soldiers than they have jobs, so they can constantly have people in training — you can take people out of the system at var- ious points and give them a year of training. But they also recognized that’s not the world we live in. The ability of HR to staff all our current positions, until we’ve grown more than we’ve grown, doesn’t fit into the notion that you can take an FS-2 or FS-3 out of the system for a year in that military way. The case they were really making was the case for resources. The longer- term issue of how you would reshape the entire Service — not just training, but assignments, details and other interagency experiences — depends on our ability to cre- ate a personnel “float” that would allow for all of that. SZ: S o they weren’t criticizing the quality of training. They were just saying Foreign Service employees need more of it, right? RW: I don’t know anybody who disagrees with that. Certainly not us. But until you have resources to sustain that, our focus is making the training that we do as valu- able as it can possibly be. SZ: Still, people are already getting more training, right? RW: Absolutely. Under Diplomacy 3.0, the most re- cent hiring initiative, the Foreign Service has grown by 17 percent and the Civil Service by 10 percent, so that’s def- initely one factor. The other factor has been an interest in training, a willingness to send people to training, giv- ing entry-level officers and others more training than we would have some years ago. It’s a combination of in- T HE DIRECTOR OF THE F OREIGN S ERVICE I NSTITUTE REFLECTS ON THE TRAINING CENTER ’ S EXPANDING ROLE . B Y S HAWN Z ELLER Shawn Zeller, a regular contributor to the Journal , is a free- lance writer in Washington, D.C.