State in Top 10 Best Places to Work

January 28, 2011

Media Note from the Office of the Spokesman:

The Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation have announced the results of the 2010 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government ranking, and the Department of State has once again ranked in the top 10, placing seventh overall among the 31 large Federal agencies, third for effective leadership, and fourth among Hispanics.

Rankings are based on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Employee Viewpoint Survey of 263,000 executive branch employees in over 290 federal organizations, conducted in February – March 2010.

Best Places to Work is the most comprehensive ranking of federal government organizations on overall employee engagement, as well as in ten work environment categories. The rankings are designed to offer job seekers unprecedented insight into the best opportunities for public service and to provide managers and government leaders a roadmap for improving employee engagement and commitment.

All rankings and analyses are available at:


Hiring – Fall Student Internship Program

January 26, 2011

Deadline for application is March 1, 2011.

Link for application here.

From the site:

Experience the thrill and rewards of student programs at the U.S. Department of State. Whether you’re a high school student looking for summer employment, or a college or graduate student seeking a substantive internship supporting U.S. foreign policy, there’s no limit as to how far our opportunities can take you. At the U.S. Department of State, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain insight into U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy, explore new career avenues and most of all, acquire lifelong skills as you represent America to the world. Are you up for the challenge?

Student Programs enable students to obtain job experience in a foreign affairs environment. Some of our students work in Washington, D.C., while others have the opportunity to work at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

The career opportunities are endless—and they all start right here. Begin by finding out which program is right for you, or speaking with a Diplomat in Residence about student programs with the U.S. Department of State.

Will I Have An Assigned Car and Driver?

January 25, 2011

NO.  Absolutely NOT.  Please get this myth out of your head before applying to the Foreign Service.

The only time you’ll have a car a driver dedicated to you is when you purchase your own car and hire your own driver, or, if you’re good or lucky enough to make ambassador.  But even ambassadors have limits on what they can use official vehicles for.  In general, embassy cars and drivers are for official use ONLY.

So, if you have to head to an official meeting after work, the embassy car can take you to your meeting.  However, if after the meeting you need to go home and home is the other direction of the embassy, you’re on your own.  Officially, the embassy vehicle can only take you back home if passing your home is “incidental” to the vehicle heading to another OFFICIAL location.

The regulations outlining use of official vehicles is 14 FAH-1 H-800 USE AND CONTROL OF OFFICIAL VEHICLES AT POSTS.  Great for bedtime reading if you’re ever having trouble falling asleep.

Do the rules get bent?  Sure, occasionally.  And occasionally they get really bent, but I’ll save that for another post that will likely be titled, “What to do when the Inspector General shows up at my front door at 3AM.”

Feel free to shoot me any questions on this and I’ll do my best to answer your overseas chauffeur related questions.

What Kind of House Will I Get?

January 18, 2011

Note, this is an exaggeration! NOT something you'll ever get in your Foreign Service career!

When the State Department sends you overseas to work, the U.S. Government will provide housing to you free of charge.  The size of your residence will depend on your rank and family size.

Since most people reading this will be just starting out, I’m going to focus on sizing for “Standard” rank officers, as opposed to “Middle” and “Executive” rank officers.

NOTE: The State Department will accommodate ALL your direct dependents and will not discriminate your housing assignment based on family size.  Married with seven kids and a dog?  No worries, the Department is obligated to accommodate your spouse and kids, although Fido will have to squeeze in somehow.

The official regulation for allocating residential space is called 15 FAM 230: ALLOCATING RESIDENTIAL SPACE (PDF file).

Below are space standards for “Standard” rank officers in three different localities as defined in 15 FAM 230, above.

Locality 1 (e.g. Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Brussels)

Family Size 1-2 3-4 5-6 7+
Square Feet 1168 1700 1976 2103

Locality 2 (e.g. Nassau, Sarajevo, Sao Paulo)

Family Size 1-2 3-4 5-6 7+
Square Feet 1286 1870 2174 2314

Locality 3 (e.g. Phnom Penh, Kinshasa, New Delhi)

Family Size 1-2 3-4 5-6 7+
Square Feet 1414 2057 2391 2546

This policy was intended to ensure officers have adequate residences for the care of their families and not necessarily an incentive to encourage people to have more children!

Hiring – Regional Medical Technologists

January 15, 2011

Deadline for application is February 28, 2011.

Link for application here.

Description of Duties and Responsibilities

Serving as a Regional Medical Technologists (RMT/MLS) in support of the employees of the United States’ Government and their eligible family members, a medical laboratory scientist works in conjunction with other Foreign Service medical personnel. Regional Medical Laboratory Scientist duties include implementing the following responsibilities at each post assigned:

A. Supervising instrument management and procedures: Manages laboratory, performs testing, collects blood, oversees send-out testing, updates technology, performs cost analysis, implements med polices, performs on-call duty, etc.

B. Training and supervising: Instructs how to perform tests, communicates information, instructs on sanitation inspections, presents food safety classes, instructs on specimen collection, writes safety plan, supervises laboratory staff, provides evaluation input, etc.

C. Assuring quality: Monitors quality control programs, uses computer programs, maintains U.S. standards, reviews proficiency testing program, assesses competency of health unit staff, updates skills, maintains ServSafe® manager certification, liaison for health unit with local laboratories, advises local laboratory professionals.

D. Performing regional duties: Makes travel arrangements, visits regional posts, assesses local diagnostic testing facilities and blood banks, communicates with regional posts, assists with hiring, conducts sanitation inspections, submits reports, searches for means of reliable testing, collaborates with other organizations, designates laboratories for testing biological hazards, collaborates with the CDC, arranges for continuing education, etc.

E. Addressing environmental issues: Determines corrective action, tests water for bacteria, addresses other environmental issues, etc.

Foreign Service Regional Medical Laboratory Scientists are considered “essential personnel” and are on call to provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Hiring – Security Protective Specialists

January 15, 2011

Deadline for application is January 20, 2011.

Link for application here.

Major Duties:

  • In the absence of supervisory level Security Protective Specialists or Special Agents, may serve as Detail Leader for contractor staffed protective security details;
  • provides physical protection for Department officials and employees at overseas locations, primarily at high threat posts;
  • drives the lead vehicle, a principal’s vehicle or follow-vehicle as required in motorcade or similar operations;
  • provides body protection as part of protective formations during principal’s walking movements;
  • provides static coverage at principal’s residence, in a Command Post or other location as required;
  • reviews and assesses information relevant to the assigned protective operation to anticipate problems or incidents;
  • responds to emergency situations in accordance with established Bureau of Diplomatic Security protective security policies, standards, and procedures;
  • serves as a member of advance teams that plan and coordinate protective operations;
  • conducts site surveys to assess factors affecting the protective environment of sites to be visited;
  • carries and operates weapons and other specialized equipment required in the conduct of protective operations;
  • maintains requisite level of skills in firearms and other protective equipment and trains other SPS personnel in these skills.

Pet Peeve #1 – No Personal Appliances at Work

January 15, 2011

Personal convenience appliances are not authorized for use in State Department office spaces. In other words, no coffee makers, microwave ovens, space heaters, fans or anything else that consumes electricity is allowed to be plugged into an outlet in a State Department overseas building.

This may seem like a small issue but it is absolutely infuriating on a day-to-day basis:  can’t brew my own coffee at work, can’t heat up my lunch, can’t cool down when the A/C is down, can’t warm up when it’s below freezing outside and the building heater is doing a poor job of heating the building.

In a prior post where I served, the Facilities Manager would walk around with a pair of heavy-duty scissors and snip the plug end of a power cord of all microwaves, space heaters, fans, etc.

Although I now agree with this policy for occupational safety issues (space heaters are notorious for causing fires), this policy is one of the small inconveniences that makes life in the State Department seem “NQR” (not-quite-right) sometimes.