The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2024


THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 5 July-August 2024 Volume 101, No. 6 Features 39 The FS at 100— What Does the Future Hold? Inside Diplomacy: A Discussion with Director General of the Foreign Service Marcia Bernicat Focus on Mental Health Support 20 Mental Health Support at State: No Shame, No Penalties An FSJ Q&A with Under Secretary for Management John Bass 25 Addressing Mental Health Needs at USAID By Clinton D. White and Randy Chester 29 Mental Health First Aid for Foreign Service Families By Lia Miller 33 Can Happiness Make Us Better Diplomats? By Amelia Shaw 38 Resources: Where to Turn When You Need Assistance 44 The Ideal Foreign Service By Josh Morris, FSJ Centennial Writing Competition 3rd Place Winner Straight from the Source 46 Modernizing Foreign Service Assessments: The Move to Virtual Platforms By Patrick T. Slowinski BETH WALROND

6 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL 75 Reflections Diplomats, Firecrackers, and a Checker Cab: The Opening of U.S. Embassy Beijing By Don Hausrath 78 Local Lens Kulikalon Lake, Tajikistan By Alex Noppe Cover and interior art—Beth Walrond. Marketplace 69 Real Estate 73 Classifieds 74 Index to Advertisers 7 President’s Views Mental Health in the Foreign Service By Tom Yazdgerdi 16 Speaking Out Workplace Conditions at State: Change Is Coming By Stacy D. Williams 64 Off-Road with the Foreign Service Swimming with Whales in Tonga By Tom Armbruster Perspectives Departments 9 Talking Points 60 In Memory 67 Books AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION 49 AFSA Celebrates Foreign Service Day 50 State VP Voice—Countering Mental and Physical Burnout at Work 51 FAS VP Voice—Ushering in the Next Chapter 52 FCS VP Voice—Building a Strong Foundation 52 AFSA Governing Board Meeting, May 15, 2024 53 Retiree VP Voice—Preserving the Annuity Exception 55 AFSA Hosts 50th Memorial Plaque Ceremony 56 The AFSA Exhibit Travels to Presidential Libraries 57 100 Years of the Foreign Service at NMAD 57 AFSA Welcomes New FS Cohort 58 Podcast—“100 Years Old and Still Kicking It” 59 AFSA Good Works—The Foreign Service Journal 55

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 7 Mental Health in the Foreign Service BY TOM YAZDGERDI Tom Yazdgerdi is the president of the American Foreign Service Association. PRESIDENT’S VIEWS It is gratifying to see The Foreign Service Journal devoting this edition to the issue of mental health in the Foreign Service. For too long, seeking mental health resources has been the province of stigma and fear—of losing one’s security clearance or of being seen as weak and unable to handle Foreign Service work. Back in the day the response was “suck it up, buttercup” to anyone who evinced the need for help. Although more must be done, we are thankfully getting beyond that mindset, which was clearly not the way to address mental health in the Foreign Service or anywhere else. Thank you to those who contributed their thoughts and stories to this edition. I am particularly heartened to see Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs (and Under Secretary for Management) Ambassador John Bass emphasize that “seeking and receiving treatment actually is viewed favorably in the security clearance adjudication process” and “in and of itself is not, and will not be, a reason for a negative security determination—full stop.” Under Secretary Bass also relates his own need at difficult times in his life to reach out for help. Seeing our department leaders speak openly about protecting their mental health gives confidence for others in the workforce to do so, as well. Our profession, while rewarding and satisfying, is one that has a lot of unique stressors. It takes a toll moving every two to three years, having to be essentially on duty 24/7 when working overseas as a representative of the American people, often living in inhospitable and dangerous environments, dealing with all manner of crises, and sometimes being separated from family and friends for long periods. I am certain most, if not all, of us have experienced times in our careers when things seemed overwhelming. For me, one of those times was when I served as the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) leader and then the consul general in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2011-2012. The work was incredibly interesting, but being subject to rocket attack three to four times a week and living in spartan conditions on a desolate Iraqi airbase, I could sometimes sense our team coming apart at the seams. This was particularly true when, in early 2012, one rocket attack tragically killed two young U.S. servicemen who lived only 150 meters from us. They were there to help train the Iraqi army. Mental health resources were not as available then as they are now, but I was grateful that a regional mental health professional came out to Kirkuk regularly to check on our well-being. Although I admit to being a bit skeptical at first, these visits proved enormously helpful. This individual, who is still with the Bureau of Medical Services (MED), spoke to nearly all of us one-on-one and gave me ideas on what I could do to alleviate the stress for myself and my team. Being able to talk with a trained professional about the struggles we were all going through made us feel better. As attitudes have evolved about addressing mental health issues in the Foreign Service, AFSA has fought for hiring more mental health professionals and for more and better access to mental health services for our members. Section 6222 of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) deals with improving mental health services for the Foreign Service and Civil Service. Section 6222 says the Secretary shall seek to employ no fewer than 10 additional personnel in MED. It requires the department to produce a report on the accessibility of mental health care providers at diplomatic posts and in the U.S. along with steps to improve such accessibility. While this provision is a welcome development and has the force of law, it is dependent on sufficient funding to be fully implemented. As you may know, the FY24 department budget has in effect been cut by 6 percent, making these increased mental health resources uncertain. AFSA will continue to follow up with department leadership to make this funding a priority because it is so desperately needed. Please let me know your thoughts at or member@ n

8 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY INITIATIVE SFI-01268 Certified Sourcing Editor in Chief, Director of Publications Shawn Dorman: Deputy Editor Donna Gorman: Senior Editor Susan Brady Maitra: Managing Editor Kathryn Owens: Associate Editor Mark Parkhomenko: Publications Coordinator Hannah Harari: Business Development Manager— Advertising and Circulation Molly Long: Art Director Caryn Suko Smith Editorial Board Vivian Walker, Chair Lynette Behnke, Gov. Bd. Liaison David Bargueño Hon. Robert M. Beecroft Gaïna Dávila Hon. Jennifer Z. Galt Steven Hendrix Harry Kopp Aileen Nandi Dan Spokojny Hon. Laurence Wohlers THE MAGAZINE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS PROFESSIONALS The Foreign Service Journal (ISSN 0146-3543), 2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20037-2990 is published monthly, with combined January-February and July-August issues, by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), a private, nonprofit organization. Material appearing herein represents the opinions of the writers and does not necessarily represent the views of the Journal, the Editorial Board, or AFSA. Writer queries and submissions are invited, preferably by email. The Journal is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos, or illustrations. Advertising inquiries are invited. All advertising is subject to the publisher’s approval. AFSA reserves the right to reject advertising that is not in keeping with its standards and objectives. The appearance of advertisements herein does not imply endorsement of goods or services offered. Opinions expressed in advertisements are the views of the advertisers and do not necessarily represent AFSA views or policy. Journal subscription: AFSA member–$20, included in annual dues; student–$30; others–$50; Single issue–$4.50. For foreign surface mail, add $18 per year; foreign airmail, $36 per year. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and at additional mailing offices. Indexed by the Public Affairs Information Services (PAIS). Email: Phone: (202) 338-4045 Fax: (202) 338-8244 Web: Address Changes: © American Foreign Service Association, 2024 PRINTED IN THE USA Postmaster: Send address changes to AFSA, Attn: Address Change 2101 E Street NW Washington DC 20037-2990 AFSA Headquarters: (202) 338-4045; Fax (202) 338-6820 State Department AFSA Office: (202) 647-8160; Fax (202) 647-0265 USAID AFSA Office: (202) 712-1941; Fax (202) 216-3710 FCS AFSA Office: (202) 482-9088; Fax (202) 482-9087 GOVERNING BOARD President Tom Yazdgerdi: Secretary Sue Saarnio: Treasurer Hon. John O’Keefe: State Vice President Hui Jun Tina Wong: USAID Vice President Randy Chester: FCS Vice President Joshua Burke: FAS Vice President Evan Mangino: Retiree Vice President John K. Naland: Full-Time State Representative Gregory Floyd: State Representatives Lynette Behnke: Kimberly Harrington: Kimberly McClure: C. Logan Wheeler: Whitney Wiedeman: USAID Representative Christopher Saenger: FCS Alternate Representative Jay Carreiro: FAS Alternate Representative Zeke Spears: USAGM Representative Steve Herman: APHIS Representative Joe Ragole: Retiree Representatives Mary Daly: Edward Stafford: STAFF Executive Director Ásgeir Sigfússon: Executive Assistant to the President Maria Benincasa: Office Coordinator Therese Thomas: PROFESSIONAL POLICY ISSUES AND ADVOCACY Director of Professional Policy Issues Julie Nutter: Director of Advocacy Kim Sullivan: Policy Analyst Sean O’Gorman: FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION Director of Finance Femi Oshobukola: Director, HR and Operations Cory Nishi: Controller Kalpna Srimal: Member Accounts Specialist Ana Lopez: IT and Infrastructure Coordinator Aleksandar “Pav” Pavlovich: COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH Director of Communications Nikki Gamer: Manager of Outreach and Internal Communications Allan Saunders: Online Communications Manager Jeff Lau: Manager, Outreach and Strategic Communications Nadja Ruzica: Communication and Educational Outreach Coordinator Erin Oliver: MEMBERSHIP Director, Programs and Member Engagement Christine Miele: Membership Operations Coordinator Mouna Koubaa: Coordinator of Member Recruitment and Benefits Perri Green: Counselor for Retirees Dolores Brown: Member Events Coordinator Hannah Chapman: Program Coordinator Vacant OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL General Counsel Sharon Papp: Deputy General Counsel Raeka Safai: Senior Staff Attorneys Zlatana Badrich: Neera Parikh: Labor Management Counselor Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan: Senior Labor Management Adviser James Yorke: Labor Management Coordinator Patrick Bradley: Senior Grievance Counselor Heather Townsend: USAID Labor Management Adviser Sue Bremner: Attorney Advisers Erin Kate Brady: Benjamin Phillips: FOREIGN SERVICE CONTACTS

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 9 TALKING POINTS We are not an administration or a department that twists the facts, and allegations that we have are unfounded. —Vedant Patel, State Department principal deputy spokesperson, in response to allegations by former State Department official Stacy Gilbert that the department falsified a report on Israel’s complicity in blocking food aid to Gaza, on May 30. Contemporary Quote Nominations and onfirmations ‡pdate Since our last update in the March FSJ, there has been signi cant progress in the con rmation of nominees for ambassadorial and other high-level positions in the foreign a airs agencies. Most of the 20 who have been con rmed by the Senate since mid-February are career members of the U.S. Foreign Service. These include ambassadorships to Haiti, Peru, Djibouti, Burkina Faso, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, Cabo Verde, Ecuador, Nigeria, Burundi, Somalia, Turkmenistan, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Timor-Leste, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Career FSO Steve Lang was confirmed as U.S. coordinator for State’s International Communications and Information Policy (CIP) division. And Senior FSO Raymond Greene was appointed to take the helm at the American Institute in Taiwan, which acts as a de-facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, beginning in summer 2024. Political appointees were approved for ambassador positions at three international organizations: UNESCO, OECD, and the U.N. Food Agencies in Rome. The crucial position of State Department Inspector General was filled after being vacant since 2020. Political appointee Cardell Kenneth Richardson Sr. was confirmed May 2. Multiple Foreign Service promotion and tenure lists have been confirmed since March. AFSA continues to advocate for swift confirmation of all career nominees and FS lists, particularly a group that had been held up for confirmation for more than a year. According to AFSA tracking, 23 countries still had no U.S. ambassador as of late May, 12 of which had no nominee. Six senior positions at State and USAID remained unfilled: one under secretary position, two assistant secretary positions, the legal adviser, the chief of protocol, and USAID’s assistant administrator for the Middle East. Four of these positions have nominees at various stages of the confirmation process. Stay updated on the status of ambassadorial and senior-level foreign affairs nominations and confirmations with AFSA’s Ambassador Tracker, found at ambassadorlist. Senate FS Day Resolution On the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Foreign Service, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who co-chair the Senate Foreign Service Caucus, introduced Resolution 678, designating May 3 as United States Foreign Service Day. The resolution honors the dedicated men and women who have served in the Foreign Service, acknowledging their vital role in advancing U.S. interests abroad. The resolution reads, in part: “Whereas it is both appropriate and just for the United States as a whole to recognize the dedication of the men and women of the Foreign Service and to honor the members of the Foreign Service who have given their lives in the loyal pursuit of their duties and responsibilities representing the interests of the United States and of its citizens: Now, therefore, be it “Resolved, That the Senate— “(1) honors the men and women who have served, or are presently serving, in the Foreign Service of the United States for their dedicated and important service to the United States; “(2) calls on the people of the United States to reflect on the service and sacrifice of past, present, and future employees of the Foreign Service of the United States, wherever they serve, with appropriate ceremonies and activities; and “(3) designates May 3, 2024, as ‘United States Foreign Service Day’ to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Service of the United States.” District of Columbia Passes Foreign Service Resolution On May 7, the Council of the District of Columbia issued a ceremonial resolution commemorating the centennial of the U.S. Foreign Service.

10 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL I n this biweekly podcast, host Bruce Pannier welcomes guest experts to discuss political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia. Produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Majlis podcast aligns with RFE/RL’s mission to promote democratic values through accurate, uncensored news and open debate in regions where free press is under threat and disinformation is widespread. Pannier is a seasoned journalist with experience in Central Asia. His background includes leading sociological projects there and contributing to publications like The Economist and Oxford Analytica. Recent episodes have covered topics such as the Tajik government’s crackdown in Gorno-Badakhshan, religious freedom in Central Asia, British Foreign Secretary Cameron’s visit to the region, and the plight of Karakalpak activists. Podcast of the Month: Majlis ( The appearance of a particular site or podcast is for information only and does not constitute an endorsement. The resolution honors the establishment of the Foreign Service in 1924 by the Rogers Act and acknowledges the contributions of nearly 17,000 Foreign Service professionals working across various U.S. agencies both domestically and internationally. The resolution was championed by at-large Councilmember Anita Bonds and co-introduced by Councilmembers Matthew Frumin, Christina Henderson, Trayon White, Robert C. White, and Kenyan R. McDuffie. It will take effect immediately upon publication in the District of Columbia Register. ƠMr Verma Testifies on Modernization Effort In a hearing on May 16, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee welcomed Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma to discuss the State Department’s modernization e orts and various challenges facing U.S. diplomacy. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) opened the discussion by reflecting on the significant changes since the Rogers Act of 1924, emphasizing growth and technological advancements within the diplomatic workforce, which comprises more than 75,000 employees. Verma highlighted the State Department’s focus on building new capacity in emerging mission areas through the creation of new bureaus, such as the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy and the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology. The modernization agenda includes expanding training opportunities, recruiting a diverse workforce, and leveraging innovative technologies. Verma noted the implementation of paid internships, a new employee retention unit, and the first-ever departmentwide retention plan. Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) criticized the department for slow implementation of critical reforms, particularly the Security Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act (SECCA). Verma assured that final guidance for SECCA would be issued within weeks, acknowledging the complexity of balancing security with operational needs. Verma reported notable progress in passport and visa processing, with processing times returning to prepandemic levels. The implementation of the GRATEFUL Act and the Foreign Service Families Act has also seen success, with 1,500 visas issued to local staff of U.S. embassies under the GRATEFUL Act and increased employment opportunities for eligible family members. The hearing also addressed the competitive landscape of global diplomacy, particularly citing China’s extensive network. Verma reported progress in opening new embassies in Vanuatu and Kiribati and emphasized the need for a larger budget to support the effort to expand U.S. presence in the region. Verma stated: “The challenge that we are facing is showing up and getting our people out. Secondly, it is a budgetary challenge as well. I really appreciate now that we have new tools like the Development Finance Corporation; we have old tools like the Millennium Challenge Corporation. “But, again, look at how State Department funding for this year is going to be cut by 6 percent. We have this staffing gap. We have the confirmation challenges, so there’s a lot we can do. Frankly, we are a national security agency. I think we ought to be funded and treated like a national security agency; and I think that would actually help us compete a lot better.” Listen to the full hearing at https://

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 11 State Launches International Cybersecurity Plan On May 6, the United States released the “International Cyberspace and Digital Policy Strategy: Towards an Innovative, Secure, and Rights-Respecting Digital Future.” e strategy emphasizes “digital solidarity” to enhance global technology diplomacy and cybersecurity. Unveiled by Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the RSA Conference, an international meeting on cybersecurity, in San Francisco, the strategy focuses on building international coalitions to maintain an open, secure, and resilient internet while countering cyber threats from countries like Russia and China. The strategy includes partnerships to set global cyber norms and collectively address cyberattacks. It also supports the semiconductor industry and invests in global internet infrastructure. U.S. Ambassador at Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel Fick highlighted the importance of coalition building to establish broader cyber norms and collectively challenge adversaries. Despite ongoing tensions, the strategy also encourages diplomatic efforts to engage adversaries in dialogue and stresses holding allies accountable for misusing technologies. Fick acknowledged the possibility of a change in administration coming out of the November 2024 presidential elections but was confident that the main goals of the strategy will likely remain in place. “It is so important in the world that the United States be a reliable, consistent partner. We’re trying to ensure that we have maximal continuity beyond November,” he stated. “And it’s certainly something that we’re trying to make clear to allies and partners when we engage with them.” SIGAR: Afghan Aid Siphoned to Taliban On May 19, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its newest audit report on U.S. activity and expenditure in Afghanistan. The audit was conducted in response to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s March 13, 2023, request to determine the extent to which U.S. taxpayer dollars are benefiting the Taliban. Since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the U.S. has provided more than $2.8 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan. The objective of the report was to assess the extent to which U.S. funds intended to assist the Afghan people are instead benefiting the Taliban and to evaluate the oversight provided by U.S. agencies on these funds. According to the report, 58 percent of 65 responding implementing partners reported paying taxes, fees, duties, or utilities to the Taliban-controlled government, totaling at least $10.9 million. In addition, SIGAR reports that the Taliban has pressured these implementing partners to divert aid and recruit Taliban-approved individuals, and that State and USAID did not consistently enforce foreign tax reporting requirements, resulting in incomplete reporting of taxes, fees, duties, and utilities paid. JOSH Through the passage of the Rogers Bill the serious limitations and inadequacies inherent in our present Foreign Service adjustment have been removed, and a substantial basis of reorganization achieved. The date of its enactment marks the birthday of the new service broadened in the rewards which it offers to men of ability, permanently stabilized by statute, coordinated by amalgamation, rendered mobile by interchangeability, democratized and Americanized through a scale of compensation and representation allowances which eliminate the necessity for private incomes, and definite in its assurances that men who have spent their lives in the service will not be left devoid of resources when the age of superannuation arrives. Through this salutary legislation young men of ambition are offered a career of almost unparalleled opportunity and attractiveness, and the country receives its best assurance of security and substantial achievement in the future conduct of its foreign affairs. —Charles E. Hughes, U.S. Secretary of State, in American Consular Bulletin (precursor to the FSJ), July 1924. The Secretary’s Statement 100 Years Ago

12 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL A yalute to the ‡ƚyƚ Foreign yerĺice America’s Foreign Service officers are tasked with promoting America’s interests, strengthening national security, and assisting U.S. citizens in the far corners of the globe. For 100 years, the Foreign Service has served a critical role in leading American diplomacy. Today, we salute the courageous, dedicated members of the United States Foreign Service and reaffirm our commitment to providing this crucial diplomatic corps with the support they need and deserve. —Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), in a May 23 press release celebrating 100 years of the U.S. Foreign Service. representing the ‡ƚyƚ Ļith Honor Abroad On the centennial anniversary of the Foreign Service, we celebrate all the past and present members of our diplomatic corps who have represented the United States with honor abroad. These men and women play a critical role on the front lines of our diplomatic missions—sometimes at great personal risk and often with little fanfare—protecting and promoting America’s global interests. Not only are their efforts vital to our diplomacy—they also provide critical support to Americans in need of assistance. We’re committed to supporting our Foreign Service members and their families, which is why we’ve fought to pass legislation like our bipartisan Foreign Service Families Act. As we look ahead to the next 100 years, we reaffirm this commitment and our gratitude for the efforts of these public servants as they continue working to strengthen our standing on the world stage. —Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), in a May 23 press release celebrating 100 years of the U.S. Foreign Service. ‡nĻaĺering ommitment Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Foreign Service. Over the past century, Foreign Service officers, many of whom call Virginia home, have worked tirelessly around the globe to help maintain the global leadership of the United States. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working alongside many Foreign Service officers. These Americans display an unwavering commitment to our diplomacy and our national security. As we celebrate 100 years of modern American diplomacy, let’s pause to reflect on the invaluable contributions made by these public servants on behalf of our country, even while facing threats and working far from their hometowns and, oftentimes, their families. I stand here today to express my profound gratitude to these officers, as well as to honor the hundreds of members of our Foreign Service who have given their lives in service abroad. To recognize this important centennial, I encourage my colleagues to support the bill to mint a commemorative coin celebrating 100 years of the U.S. Foreign Service. —Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), in a floor speech on May 22. JOSH Furthermore, implementing partners did not always comply with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) five-year recordkeeping requirements for transactions with blocked entities. As a result, SIGAR recommended an expansion of foreign tax reporting requirements to all U.S. award agreements in Afghanistan, requiring responsible officials to collect the required foreign tax reports and ensure they are implemented in all future award agreements. State and USAID generally concurred with SIGAR’s recommendations but raised concerns about feasibility and applicability. SIGAR will follow up with State and USAID within 60 days to identify any actions taken in response to the recommendations. Heard on the Hill: Centennial Edition

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 13 Back to Work Act Introduced Anew bill limiting telework for federal employees, the Back to Work Act (S. 4266), was introduced on May 7 by Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and co-sponsored by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va. at the time, now I-W.Va.). The bill would limit telework to no more than 40 percent of days within an employee’s pay period, allow flexibility and waivers for certain positions, and require agencies to monitor telework productivity and report on metrics and potential negative effects. A press release introducing the bill cited an October 2023 Government Accountability Office report that found many federal agency headquarters buildings largely vacant. The Office of Personnel Management’s 2023 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found that the majority of federal employees are still teleworking at significantly higher levels than before the pandemic, according to a report at The bill is part of a broader effort, supported by President Joe Biden and other lawmakers, to increase in-person work among federal employees following the pandemic. Other legislative efforts include the Telework Transparency Act and the Utilizing Space Efficiently and Improving Technologies (USE IT) Act, both aiming to scale back telework and better utilize federal office space. Tech Diplomacy Academy at State The State Department has become the rst organization to adopt the new Tech Diplomacy Academy platform launched by the Purdue Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy, according to an April 30 report in FedScoop.

14 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL The State Department is committing to take prompt action on bullying reports, ensure confidentiality, and prevent retaliation. The new policy is part of a series of steps to address workplace well-being, starting with the decision to fund the Office of the Ombuds (S/O) to staff the Workplace Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center for the first time since it was created a decade ago. Another step, the Bureau of Global Talent Management’s “Focus on Accountability” initiative, discussed by Director General Marcia Bernicat in an interview with State Magazine, aims to address broader cultural and structural issues essential for fostering a professional workplace. The initiative strives to build trust in the department’s ability to hold employees accountable for their actions. State data shows that 65 percent of Foreign Service generalists, 60 percent of Foreign Service specialists, and 37 percent of Civil Service employees believe the department fails to hold employees accountable. “If you are working in a toxic environment today, and you have reported it, please trust that we are working on it by counseling, investigating, and—where appropriate—disciplining those responsible,” Bernicat told State. For more on these developments, see “Workplace Conditions at State: Change Is Coming,” by Stacy Williams, on page 16. ‡ƚyƚ yoldier etained in Russia Army Sta Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was arrested on May 2 in Vladivostok, Russia, for alleged theft from a woman he was visiting. Black, previously stationed at Camp Humphreys in South Korea, was supposed to travel to Fort Cavazos, Texas, but instead flew to Vladivostok for “personal reasons.” His mother revealed he went to visit a girlfriend he met in South Korea, who was deported to Russia after a dispute with him. The U.S. Army is investigating whether Black was lured to Russia by intelligence services and noted he did not have official clearance to travel. This incident occurs amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions, with increasing arrests of Americans in Russia. Moscow is already holding journalist Evan Gershkovich, Paul Whelan, and Marc Fogel, formerly a teacher at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. 1aŇa ‡pdate U.N. sta member Waibhav Anil Kale, 46, was killed while traveling in a marked U.N. vehicle from Rafah to the European Hospital in Khan Younis on May 13. Kale, an Indian national and U.N. security service coordinator in Gaza, was the first international U.N. casualty since the conflict began on Oct. 7. The Israeli Defense Forces stated that they were not informed of the vehicle’s route, while the U.N. deputy spokesperson confirmed that all convoy movements are communicated to Israel. The incident is under investigation. Kale’s death adds to the 191 U.N. workers killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, almost all of whom were Palestinians. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for a humanitarian cease-fire and the release of all hostages. The incident occurred shortly after a State Department report suggested that Israel may have violated international law in its Gaza campaign. The 46-page unclassified report was ordered by President Joe Biden under a new This online platform aims to educate enrollees on emerging technologies, their commercialization, and the associated foreign policy risks and opportunities. The State Department will use it to train officials in public diplomacy and cyber and digital technology. The Krach Institute was founded in 2021 by two former State Department officials: Keith Krach, former under secretary of State for economic growth, and Mung Chiang, former science and technology adviser to the Secretary of State. State Department’s Anti-Bullying Policy On March 26, the State Department announced a comprehensive policy to ensure a respectful, civil, and professional environment for all its employees. The anti-bullying policy, spelled out in 3 FAM 1540, applies to all Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, including paid family members and locally employed (LE) staff. Supervisors must address and prevent bullying, holding violators accountable. Under the policy, bullying includes any significant incident or pattern of behavior not related to EEO protected classes that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. Examples of such conduct include physical intimidation, personal space invasion, repeated interruptions, derogatory remarks, personal insults, exclusion from necessary communication, and interference with personal property. In accordance with the policy, employees should report bullying to their chain of command or appropriate officials. In cases of immediate threats, employees should contact law enforcement or security personnel.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 15 national security memorandum, “NSM20: Safeguards and Accountability with Respect to Transferred Defense Articles and Defense Services,” issued in early February. Secretary Antony Blinken submitted the report to Congress on May 10 to address two key questions: whether Israel is restricting humanitarian aid and whether Israel has violated international law while using U.S. weapons. The report did not formally conclude that any violations had occurred, stating that the U.S. lacks “complete information” on whether U.S. weapons were used in these actions. The report notes that the aid reaching Palestinians remains insufficient. Stacy Gilbert, a senior adviser in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, who worked on the original draft of the report, resigned in protest following its publication. Her resignation, tendered hours after the report was published on May 10, was fueled by her belief that it contradicted the consensus among State Department experts that Israel was indeed blocking humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Gilbert asserted that subject matter experts were removed from the report’s final drafting phase. “When the report came out on May 10, and I read the conclusion, especially the conclusion on—that Israel was not blocking humanitarian assistance, I decided I would resign, because that was absolutely not the opinion of subject matter experts in the State Department, USAID, the humanitarian community, organizations that are working in Gaza,” Gilbert said in a PBS interview. In another Gaza-related resignation, Alexander Smith, a contractor with USAID, said he was given the choice to resign or be fired after his presentation on child mortality among Palestinians was canceled by USAID leadership. On May 27, in his resignation letter to Samantha Power, Smith criticized USAID for treating the Gaza conflict and Palestinians differently from other humanitarian crises, failing to uphold international humanitarian principles, and avoiding acknowledgment of Palestinian rights. The administration is under extreme pressure to balance its support for Israel with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and concerns about potential violations of international law. Biden dispatched CIA Director Bill Burns to the region on May 3 for another round of negotiations in an effort to reach a deal to cease the violence and free Israeli hostages. President Biden has paused some arms transfers and threatened further suspensions. Amid mounting international scrutiny of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, on May 20, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over alleged war crimes during the seven-month conflict. The U.S. has objected to the ICC charges against Israeli officials. As this edition went to press, Secretary Blinken was on a four-country Middle East tour, planning to visit Cairo, Tel Aviv, Amman, and Doha, at each stop urging world leaders to push Hamas to accept a Biden-led peace deal. n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Mark Parkhomenko.

16 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL SPEAKING OUT Stacy D. Williams is chair of the employee organization Balancing Act. He began his State Department Civil Service career as a Presidential Management Intern in 1997 and was deputy director in the Office of Haitian Affairs. He has served as president of the Thursday Luncheon Group and established the Diversity and Inclusion Council in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Iwas quite pleased to read The Foreign Service Journal’s April 2024 edition. Finally, there was a conversation focused on the State Department’s problems with bullying and incivility, showcasing the need for the department to identify immediate-, medium-, and longer-term solutions to the challenges employees are facing within the workplace. These issues must be addressed as Secretary Antony Blinken pursues his goals of modernizing U.S. diplomacy. As chair of the employee organization Balancing Act, I am all too familiar with these issues. Over the last three years (and in another sense, the last seven), the State Department, like the rest of the country, has experienced a period of great turbulence and imbalance. The immediate need is to bring equity front and center as the means to “rebalance” our efforts to establish a collegial, collaborative, and inclusive work environment, one in which we all have the opportunity to be seen, heard, valued, and respected at all levels. Top Challenges Overwork, impossible deadlines, varied working conditions, lack of support, and high levels of professional and personal risk are the kinds of stressful challenges diplomats have always faced to one degree or another, as the State Department deals with budgetary and policy decisions, leadership quality, and the general political climate. In recent years, and in particular during and following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, State employees have experienced a significant increase in workload with no additional staffing or resources. Lingering effects from the January 2017 to May 2018 hiring freeze at State made matters worse. The pandemic upended work routines as well as family life. Department employees were compelled to do even more with even less. The increased workload produced shorter deadlines and eroded the demarcation between work and personal life. It was as if we were in the trenches with no air support, or other reinforcements, and relied on each other and employee organizations to talk through these experiences as coping mechanisms to safeguard our mental health. Many employees reported their concerns to Balancing Act about deteriorating supervisor/employee relationships, with no effective mechanisms to resolve these increasingly uncomfortable situations. Some supervisors were routinely requiring Foreign Service and Civil Service employees to work beyond normal business hours and on weekends, without allowing for the legally authorized overtime or compensatory time off for Civil Service and nontenured Foreign Service employees. Based on these findings and the challenges in interpreting complex overtime regulations, Balancing Act leadership worked with the Bureau of Global Talent Management in 2022 to pull together a cable, 22 State 107214: “Taking Care of People: Overtime and Premium Compensation Policy Guidance and Reminders.” Workplace Conditions at State: Change Is Coming BY STACY D. WILLIAMS Survey results found that the number one factor causing employees to consider leaving the State Department was poor supervisors.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 17 Despite the cable’s release on Sept. 28, 2022, there is still no mechanism to reinforce this directive or promote a leadership culture of compensating and rewarding eligible employees for the additional work done to meet the needs of the department. In February 2023, the department released the results of a Stay Survey pinpointing the commitment to mission as a positive factor in motivating employees to remain within the department. Conversely, however, the survey results found that the number one factor causing employees to consider leaving the State Department was poor supervisors. Turning the Corner Throughout 2022 and 2023, workload and workplace conditions repeatedly dominated department leadership town halls. The unanswered question (then, as now) was: How will the State Department put into place adequate accountability measures to address these shortcomings in order to protect and retain our most valuable resource, our people? In 2024 department leadership agreed to provide resources to the Office of the Ombuds (S/O) to staff the Workplace Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center for the first time since it was created about a decade ago. This was a welcome step. But given that, according to the announcement, it is step one of a three-step process, it is too early to tell if the new effort will succeed. On March 28, the S/O announced a new anti-bullying policy that officially defines bullying behaviors so that everyone has a full understanding of what to look for and can state in writing or orally that such behavior is unwelcome [see the FSJ’s April 2024 Straight from the Source, “Office of the Ombuds Takes on Bullying at State,” by Brianna Bailey-Gevlin]. For this process to work effectively, the system has to build in support mechanisms to ensure that the employee’s concerns are heard and adequately addressed through their chain of command and the Executive Office. Hopefully, the Foreign Service Institute will incorporate the anti-bullying policy throughout its leadership and management curriculum. In addition, Director General Marcia Bernicat announced the Bureau of Global Talent Management’s “Focus on Accountability” programming to raise accountability awareness in the April 2024 edition of State Magazine. The initiative took into account results from the Stay Survey as a first step to try to address workplace condition issues and hold those responsible for disrupting the system accountable. Leveling the Playing Field In March 2020, State established a Manager Support Unit to assist managers and supervisors in dealing with employee performance and conduct issues. This was a logical step. However, today some employees contending with managers who exhibit bullying behavior lack the knowledge or resources to effectively navigate these difficult situations. The Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) added a new Retaliation Prevention Provision (Section 6211) restricting supervisors from writing an evaluation on an employee who has a discrimination, bullying, or harassment case against that supervisor in process. This is a small but significant development. Along these lines, the State Department should establish an “Employee Support Unit” to serve as a clearinghouse on equal employment opportuSpeaking Out is the Journal’s opinion forum, a place for lively discussion of issues affecting the U.S. Foreign Service and American diplomacy. The views expressed are those of the author; their publication here does not imply endorsement by the American Foreign Service Association. Responses are welcome; send them to nity (EEO) issues, filing of grievances, officially reporting cases of bullying, managing curtailments, and understanding the role of unions, among other areas of support. Such a unit would also serve as a tool for tracking inquiries and the timeliness of responses. The employee experiencing unwelcome situations could write to the Employee Support Unit, where the department could review the case, assign it to the appropriate department office, and alert the employee of the actions to take. Currently, the burden is placed on the employee to identify the correct office and be aware of time limits and other requirements of the particular process. To appreciate the implications of this burden, one can look to notable employee experiences from the last few years. Implementing Accountability Measures Leadership. It is as important now as ever to select managers who are selfaware, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, and great communicators, among other attributes. Once we recruit and hire them, State must invest in them, ensuring they have the tools to keep pace with changing workloads and hybrid work. These types of managers routinely prioritize building up the workforce, meeting the team where they are, and doing the necessary to adequately resource and advocate for the team.

18 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL assignments. This normally occurs every two to three years. Traditionally, the process allows members of the Foreign Service to select those individuals who will provide a positive assessment. In its current form, this process leaves out vital voices who can give honest feedback on the employee’s performance, how they treat others, and whether or not they should be given greater leadership responsibilities. To mandate that the employee include a broader set of colleagues familiar with them would—eventually— change behaviors, because decisionmakers would be able to see the whole person based on a broader set of voices. Employee evaluation report (EER) reform. State has made some changes in evaluating FS employee performance and leadership capabilities. The department’s workforce has changed over time, and expectations and a postpandemic reality have changed our workplace, but we still use the same measurements to identify and promote leaders. The EER rightly captures an employee’s accomplishments, ability to effectively lead teams, and ability to achieve overall results. But as leaders, employees have to manage teams under sometimes challenging circumstances, which requires the full tool kit of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Therefore, there is a need to take into account the whole person and, in some way, the results identified in the 360 process. These attributes are clearly prescribed in State’s Leadership and Management Principles (see 3 FAM 1214) and should be exhibited by employees, supervisors, and managers alike. Both employees and supervisors should be held accountable when they fail to adhere to these principles. Support for managers before problems arise. Mandatory leadership training, which Secretary Colin Powell introduced, was only a first step in building strong, accountable leaders. The Manager Support Unit provides a tool kit for navigating difficult management challenges. But what about long before those problems arise? There is no commensurate place for managers to find a tool kit of tactics for managing hybrid teams, building rapport when a team member is on domestic employee teleworking overseas (DETO), or for tracking employees’ tasks, managing information flow from several different systems, or simply keeping pace with email. Some managers and subordinates are fortunate in picking up tools along the way from talented colleagues. More training and resources for managers on how to build and sustain healthy teams, including an online repository of strategies to apply, is a clear first step. 360 reform. The 360 process is used in the Foreign Service to solicit input from references to support an employee’s bidding process for upcoming Many of these individuals never receive the necessary feedback and corrective training and present the same negative behavior at assignment after assignment.

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY AUGUST 2024 19 In current practice, even individuals who have been identified as detrimental to an office or post make the promotion list in time, which rewards and emboldens poor managers. Many of these individuals never receive the necessary feedback and corrective training and present the same negative behavior at assignment after assignment. This is demoralizing to those who are going about their work in alignment with promotion precepts but do not make the promotion list. The department has solicited ideas to enhance the EER, and The Foreign Service Journal has published several articles, including an April 2023 Speaking Out by Virginia Blaser, “Why Our Evaluation System Is Broken and What to Do About It,” and an April 2020 feature by Alex Karagiannis, “Evaluation Reform at State: A Work in Progress,” highlighting this need. We do hope that the department will consider incorporating those ideas in the process for improvement. b In closing, there is a foundational scene in the blockbuster movie “Oppenheimer,” where the leading character meets renowned physicist Niels Bohr, and during the encounter Bohr asks Oppenheimer, “Can you hear the music?” Bohr saw Oppenheimer’s potential and was trying to get him to fully understand the deep and intuitive mathematics involved in physics. The advice spurred Oppenheimer to pull the puzzle pieces together to do what had not been done before in that critical discipline. Separately, a mentor of mine once stated: “When a group of people fully understands the system, the group is then able to make changes to the system to benefit the institution.” At this critical moment in the State Department’s history, we need to “hear the music” of a changing workforce in order to build and promote a workplace culture of civility, accountability, and balance. We should pool all our resources, talents, and energies for the good of the institution. That time is now. n