The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2017 51 AFSA NEWS USAID VP VOICE | BY ANN POSNER Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP. Contact: | (202) 712-1631 USAID’s AFSA Standing Committee At a tumultuous time for USAID, with possible budget cuts, reorganizations large or small and major changes on the near horizon for both USAID’s Foreign Service performance management structure and its FS assign- ment processes, the constit- uency Standing Committee continues to be very impor- tant. It delivers sound advice to the AFSA USAID Vice President and behind-the- scenes service to members of the Foreign Service at USAID. What the Committee Does for You Since former USAID Vice President Sharon Wayne con- vened the Standing Commit- tee two years ago, committee members have reviewed and improved several USAID Automated Directive System proposals under revision. They have also scruti- nized planned procedures, forms and other documents comprising the new USAID Foreign Service performance management system now being designed. They spotted glitches and asked critical and very perceptive ques- tions of the team at the Human Capital and Talent Management Center for Per- formance Excellence. Informed by their wealth of supervisory and manage- ment experience and their knowledge of operations at overseas missions and in Washington, D.C., committee members have been par- ticularly helpful in reviewing the strengths of the new system, pointing out possible problems and focusing on the impact of the planned changes on overseas mis- sions and on USAID FSOs stationed overseas. Thanks to newly appointed USAID Represen- tative Madeline Williams, Jaidev Singh, Christian Hou- gen, Eleanor TanPiengco and Haven Cruz-Hubbard; they have been and continue to be very helpful members of our Standing Committee. Get Involved I am now looking for additional AFSA members to serve on this useful commit- tee. Are you interested? Let me know via email: aposner@ My hope is to recruit FSOs with diverse experience, skills and family situations. Are you single, a tandem, a same-sex couple? Does your family have children with special educational needs? Have you weathered scary evacua- tions, or served at Critical Priority Posts? Service on a Standing Committee does not need to take much of your time. We would like to have monthly meetings and maybe a few ad hoc meetings if particular exigencies suddenly arise. Participants can call in to meetings.We are interested in hearing frommembers, particularly those posted overseas, about issues that may be region-specific or best practices used by your post that could be of use elsewhere. Bring your observations.We’ll discuss, and we’ll act. n SHORT-TERM TELEWORK ON MEDEVAC In June, AFSA welcomed changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual covering short-term telework arrangements for employees on medevac status (including obstetric-medevac). Allowing medevaced employees to telework in appropriate circumstances is an efficient use of human resources, minimizes the impact of the employees’ absence from post and facilitates con- tinuity of operations. AFSA worked closely with the State Department’s Human Resources Bureau and the employee orga- nization Balancing Act in updating this policy. Read the updated FAM guidance at fam/03fam/03fam2360.html (and specifically 3 FAM 2362.5 for the policy on short-term telework during medevacs). n NEWS BRIEF HARASSMENT I N CUBA AFSA has heard from many of its members regarding the reports of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Cuba being subjected to “sonic harassment”, resulting in hearing loss, severe headaches and cognitive disruption. In late August, AFSA repre- sentatives met and spoke with 10 members of the Foreign Service who experienced damage to their health following these attacks. On Aug. 14, in response to the initial reports of “sonic attacks” in Cuba, AFSA sent a letter to the State Department management asking for additional information on the issue and how the department has responded to it. We will report back to our membership when we receive any further information. n —Ken Kero-Mentz, State Vice President NEWS BRIEF