The Foreign Service Journal, December 2018

76 DECEMBER 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS F. ALLEN ‘TEX’ HARRIS AWARD FOR CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT BY A FOREIGN SERVICE SPECIALIST JOSEPH S. CONNERS Joseph S. Conners receives this year’s F. Allen “Tex” Har- ris Award for constructive dissent for his pivotal role in reforming the protocol of medical shipments that are vital to Foreign Service members and their families around the world. He brought violations by Consulate General Frankfurt to the attention of Washington offices and pushed success- fully for changes in logistics. It would have been easy for Mr. Conners to overlook the issue, but instead he chose to challenge the status quo. In 2017 Mr. Conners was the pouch control officer at ConGen Frankfurt, which has been a collection and distribution base for vital medical shipments to posts all over the world for almost 20 years. Frankfurt is an optimal trans-shipping hub because it has easy access to medi- Clearing the Way for Legal Medical Shipments cations through a medical supply program directed by one of the consulate’s regional offices. These medical shipments include live-vaccine inoculations and Drug Enforcement Admin- istration Schedule II drugs (e.g., OxyContin, Adderrall and Ritalin). In 2017 alone, Frankfurt shipped more than 6,700 pounds of essential, life- saving medications to posts from Beijing to Bogota. This program was instrumental in ensuring that diplomats and their children received neces- sary vaccines, and it gave staff access to medication in locations where it would otherwise not be attainable. Mr. Conners learned that the consulate was using unclassified pouch bags and diplomatic tags to ship the medications, violating pouch regulations. This violation put Consulate General Frankfurt at risk of losing its pouch privileges, which would be catastrophic to the health of embassy employees world- wide. Mr. Conners communi- cated his concerns to his chain of command through multiple briefings, emails and telephone calls. His thorough review and analysis of the shipment program confirmed his suspicion that medical supplies were prohibited by regulation from being shipped via unclassi- fied pouch. In addition, he discovered that customs regulations in other countries might prohibit the import of these medications. Washington offices were unconcerned and unin- terested in changing the medical shipment program. Mr. Conners was pegged as an “alarmist” who wanted to stop the shipment of medi- cine to children and diplo- matic staff, but he knew that it was important to uphold the regulations. Undeterred by the response in Washington, Mr. Conners convinced his chain of command that these viola- tions needed to be addressed immediately. He pushed until he built a consensus in the mission that would force Washington to review the program and develop new procedures in line with the department’s regulations. Because of Mr. Conners’ efforts, the department ultimately identified a legal way to ship medications with less risk of disruption to the global supply chain. He and his management team made a significant change in logistics that will benefit Con- sulate General Frankfurt and employees worldwide. Mr. Conners joined the Foreign Service in 2002. He has served as an informa- tion management specialist in Vienna, Santo Domingo, Moscow, London and New Delhi, and is currently the information programs officer in Frankfurt. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he served in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, deploying to Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. He and his wife, a special investi- gator for Diplomatic Security, have two children. n It would have been easy for Mr. Conners to overlook the issue, but instead he chose to challenge the status quo.