The Foreign Service Journal, September 2010

14 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 1 0 veal. There are a number of ways to become better known, and being a successful innovator is undoubtedly one of them. Vast numbers of other awards— for performance. The number of official awards and honors given annually by every governmental organization has grown enormously over the years. These awards receive considerable, justified publicity, and have one thing in common: they are all performance- based, rewarding employees who have done an excellent job. AFSA’s constructive dissent awards tend to get lost in this tsunami for two compelling reasons. First, there are only four of them; and because they are entirely dependent on nomina- tions from the field, not all are given each year. Second, they are the only awards for U.S. government employ- ees that are not performance-based. The basic criterion for winning an AFSA constructive dissent award is clear: you must take up the cudgels, but strictly within the system. Resign- ing, turning to Congress or airing your concerns publicly removes eligibility for an award. At the same time, there is no re- quirement that foreign policy be the focus of the dissent, although it often is. Almost any issue related to the For- eign Service will suffice. Nor is it nec- essary to prevail in one’s recommenda- tions, or even to be right, although those are obviously both very impor- tant considerations. But the award is for advocacy and dissent, not job performance, some- thing nominators often overlook. Sub- mitting a glowing employee evaluation will not win the nominee a dissent award. Winners have demonstrated the courage to accept the possible consequences of placing their profes- sional necks on the block — and done it anyway. Recognition and Publicity AFSA has increased its efforts to raise awareness of the program and the importance of advocacy and dis- sent in advancing the nation’s inter- ests. It has made concentrated and successful efforts to explain the pro- gram’s value to senior officials and has secured high-level attendance at the annual awards ceremony, held in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department. In addition, AFSA has: • Made greater use of social net- works like Facebook; • Moved the four plaques bearing the names of our constructive dissent award winners into the newly reno- vated AFSA headquarters; • Drawn increased prominence to the awardees by having AFSA Presi- dent Susan Johnson reference dissent in her remarks to each new A-100 and USAIDDevelopment Leadership Ini- tiative class; and • Promoted the annual AFSA awards ceremony aggressively within the membership, and among foreign affairs agencies and media outlets. As a result of these efforts, the S P E A K I N G O U T It is troubling that the number of nominations for AFSA’s dissent awards has declined over the last few years. WWW.FSJOURNAL.ORG When contacting an advertiser, kindly mention the Foreign Service Journal. Click on the Marketplace tab on the marquee AFSA Legacy AFSPA AKA Hotel residences Clements International Cort Furniture Fox Hill Georgetown Suites Hirshorn Company, The Kendal Lockheed Martin Corporation Potomac Books SDFCU Senior Living Foundation WJD