Published on June 23rd, 2010 | by Editor0
State Department’s Third Response to IFSA’s Request for Accreditation – June 22, 2010
IFSA’s stated core objective “to protect the interests and the rights of the locally employed staff” reads as that of a union.
Dear Mr. Olislaeger and Colleagues,
The Director General received your letter and it is my pleasure to again respond on her behalf.
The Director General and the Department of State as a whole are sincerely committed to retaining open dialogue with Locally Employed Staff around the world. She, and her entire senior HR team, make a point of meeting with local colleagues at every stop in their travels abroad. We have consistently found that many good thoughts, issues, concerns, and solutions have been presented by LE Staff during visits and at forums ranging from conferences to Communities at State, and most recently direct contributions to the Sounding Board. We expect the impressive contributions of LE Staff to remain prominent and to continue to grow.
As we hope you have noted, the Department of State has also significantly increased LE Staff access to training and other opportunities. LE Staff are now routinely enrolled in courses at FSI, in regional centers, and are the most successful users of distance learning courses. After piloting initial LE Staff conferences, however, it was found that training-like conferences, such as the bureau sponsored Senior Locally Employed Staff Seminars, have been more career enhancing and at least equally as valuable for networking, than prior LE Staff conferences. Therefore, HR/OE has asked regional bureaus to join FSI and the Bureau of Human Resources in continuing to develop such opportunities for professional growth by LE Staff. They have been highly valuable to the entire Department.
Additional emphasis has also been placed in senior management training on the importance of increased communication and interaction between senior Mission officers and post FSN Associations. As we work within the framework of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 which stipulates that LE Staff salaries and benefits follow prevailing practice in host countries, it is essential that mission leadership understand and communicate changes, host country conditions, and LE Staff needs to the Department for attention. We are further working to communicate the importance of assuring that training and other LE Staff opportunities – including those currently under development within the Secretary’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review are extended to qualified LE Staff. Over 110 LE Staff are also now certifying officers or contracting officers at our missions abroad. Rest assured that opportunities and dialogue for and with LE Staff will continue.
Finally, we must share that following review of your latest communication by the Department’s Legal Advisor, we were informed that many of IFSA’s stated core objectives and goals are contrary to activities allowed under current Department regulations. 3 FAM 7295 prohibits recognition of a union as the representative of FSN employees. IFSA’s stated core objective “to protect the interests and the rights of the locally employed staff” reads as that of a union.
In compliance with 3 FAM, we do, however, encourage you and other colleagues to continue to raise such issues through post management to the bureaus and offices which remain committed to addressing LE Staff concerns back here in the Department. The Office of Overseas Employment within the Bureau of Human Resources is specifically charged with addressing LE Staff wage, benefit, policies, concerns, and other issues.
J. Robert Manzanares
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Human Resources and Office of the Director General