The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

14 SEPTEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL We have open positions that need to be filled by cleared U.S. citizens; we have U.S. citizens eager to do the work; Consular Affairs has an operational budget to support these positions; it’s absurd not to allow us to hire them. Not for attribution Small posts lose highly skilled workers Obviously, the hiring freeze has a negative effect on families. However, I would say that posts are negatively impacted even more—particularly smaller posts. EFMs work hard to make themselves adaptable and may have experience in many different disciplines. Aside from the education and experience they bring in the door with them, many have taken FSI courses to learn a specific State Department skill that will best serve their gaining post. Many have attended and passed multiple FSI courses—the same courses direct hires attend—and have worked in those disci- plines for years. That training and experience does not disappear when they move on to their next post. It is not uncommon for an EFM to be the most experienced person at post in a particular skill, either because there is no direct-hire position allocated to that post or because the position is allocated to an entry-level officer. In every position I have ever held as an EFM (different at every post), I have been called on to apply knowledge gained from my previous EFM employ- ment. I am certain that I’m not the only LETTERS-PLUS Impact of the Family Member Hiring Freeze: Feedback from the Field The July-August feature, “Out in the Cold,” amplified discussion of the curre nt family member hiring freeze. To better understand its on-the-ground conse- quences, the Journal invited readers to share their own stories and experiences. Given that some responses could have direct consequences for an employee or family member, we agreed to run some comments from people who preferred to remain anonymous. Each respondent is known to the Journal . The responses were varied and compel- ling, but there were far too many to publish them all. The following is a representative sampling of the messages we received. Some have been excerpted for space reasons; see the AFSA website for the full set of responses. —The Editors A manager’s perspective I’d like to offer the perspective of a manager. Our consular section is funded for four EFM positions: Due to the hiring freeze, one remains empty and unfillable after a recent transfer, and the other is filled but the EFM is awaiting a security clearance. She’s been told that even after her clearance is granted, she will not be able to accept the position. Our two remaining EFMs divide their time between fingerprinting visa applicants, observing DNA collection and performing notary services, leaving them little time to do anything else in our busy section. We now send officers on all prison visits and welfare/whereabouts checks, causing visa and routine service wait times in American Citizen Services to rise dramatically. one who has experienced this. Good post management is well aware of the resources their EFMs bring to the table. Richard Arnold Hermosillo, Mexico Failing to serve Americans in Europe Simply put, for lack of a consular asso- ciate, the quality of consular services for U.S. citizens traveling and living in this European country is compromised. The hiring freeze is preventing a fully trained, qualified and cleared EFM from starting work. The resulting American Citizen Services staffing shortage means longer waits for passports, birth and death reports and notary services. It means fewer visits to citizens in hospitals and prisons, slower repatriations and less attentive assistance to crime victims. With Western Europe facing terrorist threats, this is no time to cheat our tax- payers out of the service they pay for. Not for attribution I’m not good enough anymore? As an Army reserve officer (veteran of the Iraq War) and military spouse with an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA, I find it incredibly difficult to be in the position that I am due to the EFM hiring freeze. I have worked in the Political and Economic sections at U.S. Embassy Djibouti for more than 15 months; my husband recently received his new assign- ment to Addis Ababa. The hiring freeze