The Foreign Service Journal, November 2013

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2013 51 AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP. Contact: or (703) 437-7881 RETIREE VP VOICE | BY LARRY COHEN In August, after years of anticipation, the Bureau of Human Resources rolled out the department’s “centralized”When Actually Employed–Re-employed Annuitants Global Registry program. AFSA sees this as a positive development by raising the administrative veil from the opaque WAE hiring process. However, the jury is out on whether the new pro- gram will adequately meet the needs of retirees and the service. The Global Registry is not—nor was it ever intended to be—a job search program. Job seekers cannot refer to a centralized department-wide listing of WAE vacancies, or see and bid on positions. Nor does it change current bureau hiring practices. Securing a WAE posi- tion will continue to rely on personal interaction with a particular bureau. Finally, the program does not expand the universe of such slots. Bureaus determine these positions solely on their requirements and available funding. The new centralized registry of retirees interested in employment is an addi- tion to the existing bureau- by-bureau rosters—not a replacement for them. Bureaus will continue to maintain their own WAE registers. They may utilize the centralized registry to identify candidates with the background and skill A New Approach to WAE Hiring set being sought. However, bureaus are not obliged to hire people only from the central registry. The Human Resources Service Center, located in Charleston, S.C., manages the new centralized Global Registry program. Informa- tion about it is found on the department’s Retirement Network at www.rnet.state . gov. All Foreign Service annuitants, including eligible Foreign Service retirees from other foreign affairs agencies, interested in being placed on the centralized registry, should refer to this website. The site provides a regularly updated bureau WAE coordinator list, and identifies the skill sets being sought by some bureaus. Actual vacancies are not listed. Registering on the Global Registry is easy. Candidates have three options: Foreign Service members not yet retired can access it via GEMS on the department’s intranet, while retirees may communicate with bureau WAE coordinators directly at (866) 300-7419 or hrsc@ There are obvious holes in the system. As of this writing, most bureaus have yet to provide a descrip- tion of the skill sets they are seeking. WAE opportunities are neither available to the HR Service Center nor listed on RNET, which seems to detract from HR’s concept of it as a “one-stop-shop.” Details about how to obtain and maintain secu- rity clearances, submit paperwork and rules about contracting while a WAE and WAE eligibility of non-State Department Foreign Service retirees are also missing from the RNET website. Other deficiencies in the program will no doubt emerge as it kicks in. Hopefully, they will be fixed soon. In the meantime, the current bureau-by-bureau system constitutes a real disservice to the department and to retirees. In an era when so many retired Foreign Service members serve or have served multifunction- ally, the department still behaves as if Foreign Service personnel are wedded to individual geographic or functional bureaus. That said, the bureau- managed WAE registry train left the station a long time ago and likely will continue to dominate the system. For now, we must acknowledge the noteworthy incremental progress this new “central- ized” program represents. Re-employed annuitants seeking a WAE position should check the RNET website for monthly updates; maintain a current resumé with HRSC; and network with the bureau WAE coordinators who do the hiring. Remem- ber, there are fewer WAE opportunities than annui- tants seeking jobs, so have a Plan B. n In an era when so many retired Foreign Service members serve or have served multifunctionally, the department still behaves as if Foreign Service personnel are wedded to individual geographic or functional bureaus. Apply Now for AFSA Scholarships Applications are now being accepted for one-time only Merit Awards; and renewable, need-based Financial Aid Scholarships for undergraduate col- lege study. For complete program details, please go to AFSA members’ children whose parents are active duty, retired or deceased Foreign Service employees of the foreign affairs agencies are eligible to apply. To join AFSA, call (202) 338-4045, ext. 525. Deadline for merit awards is Feb. 6, and March 6 for financial aid awards. NEWS BRIEF