The Foreign Service Journal, November 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2020 79 AFSA NEWS The More Things Change… The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 establishes a framework for transition planning, including prepara- tion of transition briefing materials. This made me remember USAID’s 2016 Review Team Transition Binder ( . This document is one of the best reports I have read on critical USAID issues; and, no, I did not help prepare it! Or leak it! I’d like to reflect on a few of the key issues from 2016 and where things now stand. Operating Expense (OE) Funds. 2016: “Since OE is more limited than program funds, the Agency also uses program funds for opera- tional costs and to hire staff through numerous different mechanisms. This approach helps USAID to meet its responsibilities flexibly, but it leads to a complex and inefficient system to fund, manage and control.” 2020: With apologies to Led Zeppelin, the OE song remains the same. In fact, the 2016 paragraph could be cut and pasted into the 2020 Transition Binder. I would add that the agency now disregards its own policy when using program funds for Foreign Service Limited (FSL) appointments, and that the funding of hiring mecha- nisms at USAID has only become more complex. Workforce Planning. 2016: “The entire Agency is impacted by HCTM [the Office of Human Capital and Talent Management] and will benefit greatly from a sustained focus on Human Resource Transformation that produces noticeable results.” Further: “USAID is in the first year of a major Human Resource Trans- formation process. Estab- lishing the capability for comprehensive workforce planning—which the Agency currently lacks—is a vital part of this transformation.” 2020: Again, not much has changed. In fact, the agency has taken a couple steps backward. For some reason—still unclear to me— the agency stopped its HR transformation while con- currently starting the largest reorganization of USAID in more than 30 years. And it is undertaking the reorganiza- tion with no comprehensive workforce planning. Don’t just take my word for this. The September 2019 GAO report, “USAID Reform” ( report), had two key reco m- mendations: “USAID should (1) establish outcome oriented performance mea- sures to assess the effec- tiveness of its reform efforts and (2) complete a strategic workforce plan necessary to support its reform efforts.” So far, neither has been done. (I do want to be clear: our HCTM colleagues are hardworking, diligent pro- fessionals. The challenges stem primarily from a lack of sustained political will and leadership decisions on allocation of both human and financial resources.) Staffing Profile. One thing that really hasn’t changed since 2016 is the impossibility of finding current, public and easily digestible data related to USAID staffing. Below, I’ve cobbled together a com- pletely unofficial rough com- parison of the major hiring categories—read this with a large grain of salt. I believe the current numbers are probably higher across all categories, USAID VP VOICE | BY JASON SINGER Contact: | (202) 712-5267 Continued on page 83 * Source: 2016 Agency Review Team Transition Binder, from June 2016 Congressional Staffing Report. ** Source: For FS, CS, FSN/TCN and FSL—USAID Interim Strategic Workforce Plan, 02/20/20 (data from 12/21/19); For PSC, ISC and AD—USAID Staffing Report to Congress, 09/30/18. USAID Workforce 2016* 2019** % Change Foreign Service Officers (FS) 1,850 1,666 -9.9 Civil Service Officers (CS) 1,698 1,229 -27.6 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs) 5,072 4,700 -7.3 & Third Country Nationals (TCNs) Personal Service Contractors (PSCs) 759 1,015 33.7 Institutional Support Contractors (ISC) 1,605 1,681 4.7 Foreign Service Limited (FSL) 305 234 -23.3 Administratively Determined (AD) 110 75 -31.8 Total 11,399 10,600 -7.0