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A stronger, more capable department of state.

When I joined the Foreign Service 30 years ago, I never dreamed I would be shaping the future of the State Department and strengthening the capacity of the Foreign Service and Civil Service to advance U.S. interests overseas. I feel privileged to be chosen as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources and fortunate to be supported by such a talented team in the HR Bureau.

The State Department has changed during the last 30 years. Both Foreign Service and Civil Service employees are now serving at unaccompanied posts in greater numbers than ever. As DG, one of my top priorities is to focus on assigning our men and women to posts and positions where they can best achieve our highest foreign policy goals.

This year, the Department is ontrack to fill more than 800 positions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (AIP). Dedicated Foreign Service and Civil Service employees and Locally Employed Staff will continue to volunteer for these tough assignments, and I'm committed to helping them and their families manage these high-stress assignments. I know that we must take a long-term view about how we staff AIP posts in the years to come, and I will look at ways to sustain our staffing.

As more and more of our colleagues serve in unaccompanied posts, this highlights the importance of HR's efforts for our family members. Juggling the demands of career and family is not a challenge just for those serving in an unaccompanied tour, but for all employees. As a career Foreign Service Officer, a parent and part of a tandem couple during most of my career, I understand the struggle to find work-life balance. While I was Ambassador in Liberia, I saw firsthand the benefits of one of HR's more successful programs--the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP). There are additional EPAP opportunities for family members this year, and I am committed to strengthening this and other programs that help our employees successfully balance competing demands.

Another key priority is to continue to build a workforce that more accurately reflects the United States. We have made some strides in diversity recruitment, but need to continue to focus on recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce that includes the disabled, veterans and minorities.

We have been fortunate to increase the workforce over the last few years through Diplomacy 3.0. These increases in personnel coupled with a shortage of mid-level employees have led to a sizable experience gap. About 35 percent of our Foreign Service employees have less than five years of experience with the Department. Another priority will be ensuring all Department employees have strong leadership and mentoring throughout their careers.

In today's complex world, the State Department cannot stand alone. Our success depends on productive partnerships and relationships with other agencies. So, as DG, I will work to ensure that all our employees are fully prepared to work with our interagency partners by encouraging details to other agencies, training and assignments that hone these skills and fostering a "one team, one mission" esprit de corps.

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As we work to build our civilian power, we must make the best use of all our people through workforce flexibility. We will continue to create more opportunities for Civil Service employees to work overseas, so we can draw on their expertise and help fill staffing gaps. And, we will continue to develop and manage programs to fully utilize and develop our LE Staff.

As I work on these priorities, I know I can count on your support and your feedback. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these and any other HR matters via unclassified e-mail at DG Direct.

BY LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD DIRECTOR GENERAL
COPYRIGHT 2012 U.S. Department of State
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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Direct from the D.G.
Author:Thomas-Greenfield, Linda
Publication:State Magazine
Date:May 1, 2012
Words:620
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