Spies Like Them

February 21, 2011

Apply for U.S. Department of State jobs in Afghanistan

February 16, 2011

The U.S. Department of State is seeking to hire highly skilled and motivated United States citizens to serve our nation in Afghanistan. Please click here (http://careers.state.gov/ap-jobs) for more information about qualifications, the selection process, compensation and benefits, etc.

We are pleased to inform you that we are still accepting applications for the positions listed below. Please click on the links to view the vacancy announcements, and to start the online application process on USAJobs.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens able to obtain the required security, medical, and ethics clearances.

Pet Peeve #2 – Pets Are Not People?!?

February 16, 2011

This is only a pet peeve because I’m a huge dog lover, but no, Fido is not a “member of household” under State Department regulations. Despite the fact that pets have an enormous impact on employee moral, especially for officers posted in less than ideal posts, the State Department does not make any special accommodations for your pets.

Housing Example: Fido chews through your government-provided Drexel Heritage dining room table; you are on the hook for making the table whole again either through repair or replacement.

Shipping Example: Fido needs to get to China with you? Get ready for a possible 30-day quarantine in Beijing Customs once doggy or kitty arrives in country. Doggy has to get to Dubai with you? If he’s snub-nosed, no airline will fly him to Dubai (Middle Eastern airlines have lost a few snub-nosed dogs due to respiratory issues and none will take these types of dogs again). If he’s not snub-nosed but over 20 pounds, doggy will have to fly by cargo and not in the cabin with you. Keep in mind most air cargo holds are not climate controlled. As you can see, the list of logistical challenges in shipping a pet could be very, very long.

Behavior at Post Example: Somehow your pet gets out of your house and causes an incident that effects the community, such as doggy bites the guard to your house or community enclave or kitty is decimating the local endangered bird population. In a case like this, post management (which includes the Ambassador) could require you to remove your pets immediately at your own cost.

Lastly, in many places, veterinary care and attitudes towards pets is not to US standards and customs.  In leasted developed countries be ready for emergency contingency planning and possible mistreatment of your pets if you leave it unattended in public places.

In sum, the official policy of the State Department to traveling pets is that they are a privilege but not an entitlement. That being said, there are many sympathetic colleagues (such as me) who can help iron out some of the wrinkles in safely getting your pets to your overseas post and settling in safely and happily.

High Quality Overseas Education for My Kids?

February 1, 2011

Yes, it’s true; when you’re posted overseas the State Department is obligated to ensure your children receive the same level of education they would receive as if they were residing in the United States.

What does this mean? In many cases this means your children can attend some of the top international schools for free. In summary, the policy is:

  • You must be serving overseas. (If you’re assigned to D.C. you’re on your own.)
  • Each overseas post determines which local school (or schools) at post qualifies as meeting the basic requirements of emulating a quality of education comparable to what your children would receive in the U.S.
  • Whatever this school charges for education per year is the amount the State Department will reimburse you for each school-aged child.
  • There is no limit to the number of children the State Department will support. (Again, this is not to encourage you to have lots of children, and each child of course must be in your legal custody.)

Example: You’re assigned to Bangkok and you have a high school-aged child.  If the “Overseas School of Bangkok” is a school approved by post and the school charges $5,000 a year in tuition, then the State Department will reimburse you up to this amount every year for your child, regardless of where your child is.  This means you can send Bobby to boarding school in London if you want, but the State Department would only reimburse up to $5,000; anything more you would pay out of pocket, anything less and the Department only reimburses the lower amount and you don’t get the rest of the balance.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of twists and turns related to this benefit, all of which are covered in the official regulations titeld “Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 270 Education Allowances”, located here.