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Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

EER Tips

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Unfortunately for most Foreign Service folks it is Employee Evaluation Report (EER) time again.  The rating period ended on April 15, and if your post is being timely you should have your final submissions to the review panel right now.

I’ve written a lot of EERs – whether as the rated employee, rater, or reviewer.  Over time you see the same mistakes being made, and while my more experienced colleagues have undoubtedly similar experience, here are a few things to avoid at all costs in your EER.  Your EER is the only thing the panel sees when it comes to promotion time.  Assuming promotion is important to you, you should give it your best effort.

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Written by OSB

25/04/2013 at 22:02

Posted in Foreign Service

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RQ: Advanced Degrees

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A reader asks,

I’ve read that State doesn’t take Masters or PhDs into account when making your initial salary offer.  Why not?  This seems like it would discourage a lot of otherwise qualified future FSOs.

I sympathize with those earning an advanced degree when they get an offer of employment – I was one of them!  But I think it makes sense in the end.  Keep in mind that I have no idea what the actual reasoning behind the policy is (above my pay grade), but here are some thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by OSB

23/04/2013 at 07:12

RQ: Overseas Housing

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A reader recently asked ,

 What is FSO housing like overseas?  Does it vary with family size or rank?

Someone posted a similar question on the State Careers Forum, which, while having a sizable peanut gallery offering sometimes terrible answers/advice, does OK sometimes (as long as you put more weight on the green checked-users).

Housing overseas, first of all, is free.  You’d be surprised how many things people find in their housing units to complain about when they effectively pay $0 in rent and $0 in major repairs (plumbing, electricity, structural issues if there are any).  Post’s Housing section, usually a General Services Office function, normally does a good job maintaining the residences and making them habitable.  Now, “habitable” varies greatly from country to country.  European apartments tend to be small, especially if you have a large family.  Housing assignments do take family size into account, but it’s also important to remember that your housing also depends on the rank of the position you’re serving in.  Funny how FSOs have rank in person, but housing goes by rank in position! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by OSB

21/04/2013 at 09:32

New (Brief) DS Vacancy Announcements Open

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Both the Security Engineering Officer and Security Technical Specialist vacancy announcements are open from April 10 – April 22.  This is the first time in about a year and a half that the SEO position has been open for applications.

As always, I am happy to answer questions about either position within certain limitations.  I do require non-spam e-mail addresses, though.  Contact me at [this blog name] at gmail dot com.

Written by OSB

10/04/2013 at 02:30

Travel Warning: Colombia

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for Colombia on Monday.  It reads as follows:


October 03, 2012

The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Cartagena and Bogota, but violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural areas and parts of large cities. This replaces the Travel Warning for Colombia issued February 21, 2012, to update information on recent security incidents and terrorist activity.

While the Embassy possesses no information concerning specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, we strongly encourage you to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Two people were killed and approximately 60 injured by a car bomb during an assassination attempt on the life of a former Interior Minister on May 15, 2012. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including some in Bogota itself. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and narco-traffickers, including armed criminal gangs (referred to as “BACRIMs” in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia’s major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade. Read the rest of this entry »