The Foreign Service Journal, September 2009

I am honored that you have re-elected me to represent you and your interests for an additional term. Thank you for your confidence inme and support for the work that AFSA is doing on your behalf. We are proud of recent victories, such as the success- ful passage of overseas comparability pay, benefits for same-sex couples, better starting salaries for untenured officers and numerous successful interventions in personnel matters for our members. However, the work never ends, and we cannot rest on our laurels. There are still many goals that we need to accomplish during the next two years. Two that come to mind are increased telecommut- ing opportunities and comparability with State on benefits and incentives over- seas. There are also other issues of considerable concern. As of this writing, USAID still has no Administrator and likely will not have one in place until sometime in the fall. The situation is made worse because we are facing enor- mous challenges in staffing our crit- ical priority countries. That sucking sound you hear is primarily from Afghanistan, where hundreds of all types of employees are needed every year, more than 200 of which are a mix of Foreign Service and Foreign Service Limited officers. Afghanistan represents a prime case of “nationbuilding,” so we have little choice but to support this na- tional priority. And although in three years we are poised to double the number of USAID FSOs, from about 1,000 to 2,000, that is not enough to meet the needs of Afghanistan and other critical priority countries, in addition to the 80 regular missions we must staff worldwide. It is a constant game of catch-up. Nearly half of our cadre of FSOs has already served in a critical-priority coun- try. A certain number of on-staff FSOs are not medically cleared for these coun- tries, and others are single parents or caretakers who cannot serve at this time. Furthermore, it would be unwise to indiscriminately assign brand-new officers to CPCs as their first posting. What to do? USAID is running out of options. Already we have incentives for CPC service such as “priority consideration” for onward assignments, time- in-class extensions and generous financial inducements, now including over- seas comparability pay. On the other side of the coin, there are also new requirements, such as mandatory CPC bids and restrictions on tour extensions inWashington and the field. However, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. The agency is in crisis mode, and we need a permanent leader to help us nav- igate through this period — sooner rather than later. AFSA is a partner in this journey, and I hope that we can continue to be an instrument to better serve our country and our members. ❏ 58 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 9 A F S A N E W S V.P. VOICE: USAID ■ BY FRANCISCO ZAMORA USAID: A Rudderless Ship Seeking AFSA Post Reps Help serve your community by volun- teering to be the AFSA representative for your post. Post reps help keep headquar- ters connected to the 70 percent of AFSA membership who are overseas. The au- thority and responsibilities of a post rep are spelled out in the AFSA Chapter Man- ual ( . For more information, or if you’d like to know if your post currently has an AFSA rep, check with the AFSA Membership Department at AAFSW Art & Book Fair The 49th annual Art & Book Fair of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide will open its doors on Friday, Oct. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m. for em- ployees, spouses and escorted guests. The fair continues from Oct. 19 through 23 for this same group. During two weekends, Oct. 17-18 and 24-25, the sale is open to the general public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event takes place in the Exhibit Hall of the Harry S Truman Building. Access is through the C Street entrance. Visa, Mastercard and personal checks are accepted. Please call (202) 223-5796 with any questions. The agency is in crisis mode, and we need a permanent leader to help us navigate through this period — sooner rather than later. Briefs • Continued from page 56