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RQ: What Are Some Important Yearly “Deadlines” In The Foreign Service?

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This week a reader celebrated the end of FY11 (or the beginning of FY12) with an appropriate question;

What are some important deadlines a Foreign Service Specialist might get to deal with?

For completeness I’ll also include some examples of deadlines I know the FSOs deal with also (but current FSOs please feel free to chime in if I misspeak).

Probably the most important date to remember is October 1 of each year.  As eluded to above, October 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year.  Budgeting restarts anew.  Money left over from last year is no longer available (in most cases).  The weeks leading up to the end of the fiscal year (often acronymed “FY”) can be hectic, as bureau-specific deadlines for turning in reports, orders, reimbursements, travel receipts, can all coalesce into, in Steve Jobs’ words, “a big ball of hurt.”  I know that Foreign Service Specialists are generally very busy approaching the end of the fiscal year; as they tend to be more operational in nature.  The General Services Officers, Financial Management Officers, Office Management Specialists, Regional Security Officers, Security Engineering Officers, Facilities Managers, and Information Management Specialists all have major budget responsibilities that need to be taken care of around this time.The end of the calendar year is usually only noteworthy for the lack of people at work due to holiday vacations.  Some offices have calendar-year cycles, but they aren’t particularly common.

The end of each quarter (December 31, March 31, June 30, and September 30) can find due a variety of taskings.  I can’t speak specifics for other offices, but a slew of SEO reports and projections (Quarterly Travel Reports, Quarterly Travel Projections, Quarterly Maintenances, Quarterly Activity Reviews, Midyear Reviews, etc.) are on the quarterly schedule.  Yes, they’re as fun as they sound.

Two of a Foreign Service Officer’s favorite cycles happen to run from April 16 – April 15.  That’s right… performance evaluations and taxes.  Performance evaluations (Employee Evaluation Reports – EERs) are due in the ides of April.  The odds of your EER actually being completed by your rater and reviewer by April 15 are not good; but take comfort that everybody else is late also.

The last service-wide cycle I’ll discuss comes full circle in the summers, which is known unofficially as the “summer transfer season.”  Most Foreign Service employees depart from and arrive to post in the summer months, defined broadly from about the beginning of May to the end of September.   Since tours tend to last three years, every year you can expect about 33% turnover.  In Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen, yearly turnover rates are closer to 75%.  You learn quickly how to graciously apologize for forgetting people’s names.

Be sure to check out past Reader Questions in the Archives.

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