The Foreign Service Journal, November 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2020 83 AFSA NEWS but focusing on the Foreign Service, the fact is that we are still rebuilding our cadre; kudos to HCTM for slowly but surely onboarding new FSOs even in the midst of the pandemic. Of concern is the dra- matic fall in Civil Service colleagues and a sharp increase in PSCs and ISCs; USAID needs more, not fewer, dedicated and skilled career public servants, not temporary contractors. In building resilience in partner countries elsewhere, we need to start at home! Also concerning is the drop in State Offers New Remote Work Flexibility The State Department has announced a new domestic RemoteWork Arrangements policy that will give employ- ees more flexibility to work remotely in the United States. The Bureau of Global Tal- ent Management announced the new policy in late August. RWAs permit direct-hire employees in domestic posi- tions to work full-time from a remote worksite in the United States, provided the employee garners supervisor and bureau approvals. The new policy is outlined in the State Department Foreign Affairs Manual, in 3 FAM 2380. GTM says that RWAs are necessary only for employees working from an alternate worksite that is outside the locality pay area of their regular worksite. For example, an employee in a Washington, D.C.-based posi- tion does not need an RWA to work full-time from home in Alexandria, Va. Certain employees are not eligible for RWAs, including people assigned to posts abroad; employees with a rating of less than “fully suc- cessful” in the most recent rating period; employees in job shares or other part- time arrangements; and untenured Foreign Service employees. Employees working under RWAs are required to cover any relocation costs associated with moving to the remote worksite, but bureaus are responsible for any subsequent travel costs associated with work. Some Foreign Service employees have noted that the new policy can help families not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in situations where employ- ees need to be closer to elderly family members. The State Department has viewed teleworking more positively since the start of the pandemic. In July, Direc- tor General Carol Perez sent a message to State Department employees outlining best practices for teleworking. “Our colleagues’ accom- plishments in a virtual envi- ronment over the past three months have affirmed the value of teleworking for the department and our work- force,” she wrote. “While some of us have been using telework as a workplace flexibility for years, for many, myself included, this was our first time teleworking for significant periods of time. And although it took some getting used to, employees continue to show that advancing department and mission goals happens beyond the traditional office,” Perez concluded. n USAID VP Voice Continued from p. 79 FSN and TCN colleagues. They are vital professionals and partners. Looking Ahead. The 2016 transition materi- als astutely noted: “Today USAID is a programming Agency that also shapes U.S. foreign policy, but to more fully deliver on its leadership and policy roles, it will have to continue to develop capacity to trans- late field‐based and techni- cal expertise in development into timely, compelling, evi- dence‐based policy inputs.” This remains true. And yet the role and respect for FSO field experience and perspectives at USAID has declined. The reasons for this are manifold, complex and nonpartisan, but the end result is a less field-cen- tric agency and a relatively underrecognized FSO cadre. While all colleagues play valuable roles in achieving our mission, USAID is a for- eign affairs agency first and foremost. And as the world’s leading development institu- tion, FSOs are the frontline leaders. Yet USAID is not actively cultivating, training or positioning the Foreign Service cadre necessary to sustain its leadership on behalf of the United States. I am hopeful that USAID’s 2020 Review Team Transi- tion Binder, and the agency itself, will recognize and rectify this critical problem. Now that would be a mean- ingful transition. n