The Foreign Service Journal, September 2012

Recognizing Locally Employed Staff As director general of the Foreign Service and head of the Bureau of Human Resources, I am grateful that the June issue of the Foreign Service Journal has drawn attention to the State Department’s dedicated Locally Employed staff, who are an essential component of our 275 missions around the world. These employees perform dozens of essential functions; we could not do our work without them. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, “Ambassadors come and go, Sec- retaries come and go, but the Locally Employed staff is really the memory bank and the experience base for everything that we do.” Our LE staff often serve under dif- ficult and challenging circumstances to meet our nation’s needs, and we want to provide them with the very best support. That is why HR hired consultants to examine staffing levels, organization and salary survey pro- cesses in the Office of Overseas Em- ployment, the office that handles is- sues affecting our LE staff. I am pleased that we have been able to satisfy all of the recommenda- tions contained in the State Depart- ment’s Office of the Inspector General report regarding LE staff compensa- tion issues. We are currently modern- izing our compensation process to ensure that we remain competitive with local labor markets, and have made a good deal of progress on an Al- ternate Retirement Plan that will allow LE staff to make voluntary contribu- tions to a retirement savings plan. I am also delighted to note that, de- spite the frustrations, most LE staff find their work rewarding. In 30 years in the Foreign Service, I have met and worked with amazing LE staff, whom I am proud to call colleagues and friends. As discussed in their articles in your June issue, many appreciate working with a dedicated team of highly motivated professionals, doing work that is meaningful and relevant. We welcome your comments and suggestions as we strive to better serve our community of LE staff. Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield Director General and Director of Human Resources U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. Thanks, Local Employees Finally, a Journal issue dedicated to our local employees. As my 25 years in the Foreign Service approach their end with my upcoming retirement, I want to say “thank you” to all the local employees who always were so kind and helpful to me. Without them I would not have enjoyed my assign- ments, or even survived them. The local employees were the ones who always said good morning, not my fellow American Foreign Service members. And they were the ones who asked if I needed any help, not my American colleagues. Instead, many of my colleagues yelled at the local staff and belittled them. What I witnessed was appalling, and led me to wonder: If they are like that at work, what are they like at home? So, again, thank you to all the local employees at our embassies and con- sulates. Paula P. Guimond Consular OMS Embassy Beijing A Professional Service Thanks to Susan Johnson for her May President’s Views column, “Time 8 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 2 L ETTERS