The Foreign Service Journal, September 2010

T he retireemembers of the AFSAGoverning Board have led an effort formore than a year to liberalize the rules for re-employment of annuitants. Why? For the good of the Service. The Foreign Service has a 15-percent shortfall in senior and mid-level officers — a shortfall that qualified annuitants can read- ily and quickly meet. Retirees are a professionally ready resource, acculturated to State, with area expe- rience and languages; yet the depart- ment can legally use retirees only on a short-term basis. Re-employed annuitants are routinely pulled from critical positions when they hit the salary or hours cap. Then the employing bureau is forced to recruit another re-employed annuitant or a considerably more expensive con- tractor for the same position. This is ridiculous! The department will hire 1,500 new Foreign Service employees over the next few years. Some will have useful professional experience, but many will be new to the Service and diplomacy. Full-time or long-term use of re-employed annu- itants would make sense during a limited period of years while the new employ- ees are trained and become experienced in our profession. Further, hiring retirees would forestall the use of large numbers of lateral entrants, a practice that has proved unsuccessful in the past. In June 2009, Bill Farrand, my predecessor as retiree VP, wrote a letter toDeputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew asking the department to address the problem and providing suggested legislative language to do so. During a recent meeting with Dep. Sec. Lew and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, AFSA President Susan Johnson and I were given a respectful hearing, but encountered a reluctance to seek a change from Congress — apparently because of concern about a backlash that could jeopardize what flexibility the department currently enjoys in re-employing annuitants. This concern, however, is hard to understand, given critical department needs and a growing consensus among foreign affairs, military and security agencies, including the State Department, about the value of re-employed Foreign Service annuitants. Military and security agencies routinely seek to employ retired FSOs, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently stressed the depart- ment’s need for retired annuitants. In June the AFSAGoverning Board unanimously resolved to seek congressional action on this issue. It will be an uphill slog, but we are going to push where the department is reluctant. Your thoughts on the issue and suggestions on strategy would be most welcome. ❏ Re-employed annuitants are routine- ly pulled from critical positions when they hit the salary or hours cap. V.P. VOICE: RETIREE ■ BY ROBERT HOUDEK Going for Legislation for Re-employed Annuitants 52 F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L / S E P T EMB E R 2 0 1 0 A F S A N E W S AFSA Book Notes Series Continues with Guerrilla Diplomacy AFSA’s Book Notes series will offer its next event on Sept. 20, with author Daryl Copeland discussing his book, Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations (Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2010). Copeland charts the course for a new kind of diplomacy, one in tune with the demands of today’s interconnected, technology-driven world. Eschewing platitudes and broadly rethinking issues of security and develop- ment, Copeland provides the tools needed to frame and manage issues ranging from climate change to pandemic disease to asymmetrical conflict and weapons of mass destruction. This event will take place at 11 a.m. at AFSA HQ, 2101 E St. NW, where the book will be available for purchase. Please RSVP to . Elderhostel Changes Name to a More Youthful “Road Scholar” AFSA’s ever-popular educational pro- grams, which have run under the Elderhostel banner for 14 years, now have a brand-new name: Road Scholar. This reflects a revamping of the Elderhostel brand, although no changes will be made to any programs or their content, includ- ing AFSA’s programs. The new designa- tion more aptly describes audience demo- graphics (younger than you might think!) and program accommodations (comfort- able hotels, not hostels!). The AFSA pro- grams will continue to be administered by Bernie Alter, and all information on AFSA’s program offerings may be found at AFSA NEWS BRIEFS