The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

52 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL The Demographic Crisis The Foreign Agricultural Ser- vice is facing a demographic crisis, with the number of FAS officers in the FO-1 and FO-2 classes approximately 30 percent below optimal levels. Our demographic woes do not affect our ability to represent U.S. agricultural interests abroad, but they create a drag on morale. In addition, the large classes of new FAS Foreign Service officers are concerned that drastic efforts to remedy the mid-level officer shortfall could negatively affect their career paths. In March 2017, the previ- ous AFSA FAS vice presi- dent conducted a survey of FAS FSOs to explore which options would be acceptable in addressing the lack of FO-1 and FO-2 level officers. The results confirmed that FAS FSOs are very concerned about the issue, and nearly unanimously support AFSA’s engagement with management to pursue possible solutions. However, our constitu- ency also made it very clear that they are strongly opposed to mid-level entry into the Foreign Service, as well as to an expansion of Civil Service limited appoint- ments. The survey results dem- onstrated a preference for exercising maximum flexibil- ity in using existing Foreign Service officers to respond to the staffing shortages. The survey participants were in favor of adopting State Department time- in-service (TIS) and time- in-class (TIC) rules, giving credit for long-term lan- guage training, permitting limited career extensions (LCEs) to allow officers to complete tours and allowing for selected LCEs. FAS FSOs also favored pursuing a re-employed annuitant (REA or When Actually Employed) program to allow recent retirees to fill gaps. With large classes of highly capable and talented FO-3s and FO-4s, AFSA is looking to bridge the staffing gap in a manner that neither hinders their upward mobil- ity nor encourages them to seek other employment. FAS VP VOICE | BY KIMBERLY SAWATZKI AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP. Contact: | (202) 720-3650 High performers will rise quickly through the ranks, but it cannot happen overnight. We need interim solutions that do not harm our long-term interests, but also meet the mission needs. We need to make sac- rifices, accept challenging positions and step up for dif- ficult stretch assignments. However, we must also protect the integrity and sustainability of the Foreign Service, and ensure that our solutions do not create future problems. AFSA will engage man- agement deliberately but with caution to pursue suit- able solutions to our mid- level officer shortfall. n FCS and DEC Focus on U.S. Growth at Home and Abroad On Sept. 28, AFSA FCS Vice President Daniel Crocker attended the District Export Council Annual Forum in Washington, D.C. The event brought together represen- tatives from district export councils around the country. The DECs are organiza- tions of local business leaders working to encourage and support the export of goods and services to strengthen individual companies, stimu- late U.S. economic growth and create jobs. At the event, Mr. Crocker COURTESYOFDANCROCKER took part in a panel discus- sion on best practices for out- reach and advocacy, speak- ing about the efforts of the Foreign Commercial Service and the ways its members can help increase U.S. foreign trade. In the photo, Mr. Crocker (right) stands withWayne Cooper (center) and Owen George, both from the North Carolina District Export Coun- cil. Following the panel discus- sion, DEC representatives visited Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress. n