22 CFR 11.11 - Mid-level Foreign Service officer career candidate appointments.
(a) General considerations -
(1) Authority. Pursuant to sections 302 and 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), all Foreign Service officers shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. All appointments shall be made to a class and not to a particular post. No person shall be eligible for appointment as a Foreign Service officer unless that person is a citizen of the United States. Such appointment is initially to career candidate status, with subsequent commissioning to career status governed by Volume 3 (Personnel), Foreign Affairs Manual section 570.
(2) Veterans' preference. Pursuant to section 301 of the Act, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 3320 of title 5 of the United States Code, the fact that an applicant is a veteran or disabled veteran, as defined in section 2108(3A), (3B), and (3C) of such title, shall be considered as an affirmative factor in the selection of candidates for appointment as Foreign Service officer career candidates (22 U.S.C. 1234).
(3) Purpose and policy. The Mid-Level Career Candidate Program of the Department of State supplements the Junior Foreign Service Officer Career Candidate Program to meet total requirements for Foreign Service officers at the mid-level. The purposes of the Mid-Level Program are: (i) To provide expanded opportunities and upward mobility for outstanding members of the Foreign Service with high potential who have been serving with particular success in other occupational categories; (ii) to permit the recruitment of a limited number of highly skilled and qualified personnel from outside the Foreign Service to meet specific needs which cannot be met from within the career Service; and (iii) to assist in meeting the Affirmative Action goals of the Department of State. This section governs appointments to generalist occupational categories (that is, administrative, consular, economic and political) at classes FS-3, 2, or 1. All appointments above FS-1, regardless of occupational category, are govern by § 11.30 (to be supplied). Appointments to Specialist occupational categories below the Senior Foreign Service are governed by § 11.20. Successful applicants under the Mid-Level Program will be appointed to career candidate status for a period not to exceed 5 years. Under precepts of the Commissioning and Tenure Board, career candidates may be granted tenure and converted to career Foreign Service officer status. Those who are not granted tenure prior to the expiration of their career candidate appointments will be separated from the Career Candidate Program no later than the expiration date of their appointments. As provided in section 310 of the Act, such separated candidates who had originally been employed by the Department of State with the consent of the head of their agency shall be entitled to reemployment rights in their former agency under section 3597 of title 5, United States Code.
(4) Sources of candidates -
(i) Department. The great majority of mid-level entrants will be career employees of the Department of State and the Foreign Service of proven ability who possess high potential for advancement. On the basis of the needs of the Foreign Service, the Department will approve the mid-level appointment of Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel on its rolls who apply, for whom the Bureau of Personnel issues a certificate of need, and who are found qualified by the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service.
(ii) Other Federal Government agencies. Personnel with similar qualifications from other Federal Government agencies may also apply for the Mid-Level Program based on agreements between the Department and those agencies.
(iii) Other. Other candidates may be drawn from non-Government sources, including minority and women applicants for the Department's Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program.
(b) Eligibility requirements -
(1) Citizenship. Each person appointed as a Foreign Service mid-level career candidate must be a citizen of the United States.
(2) Service. (i) On the date of application, a candidate must have completed a minimum of 9 years of professional work experience, including at least 3 years of service in a position of responsibility in a Federal Government agency or agencies. For this purpose, a position of responsibility is defined as one in the Foreign Service at class FS-5, in the Civil Service at GS-9, or in the Armed Forces as first lieutenant or lieutenant junior grade, or higher. Academic studies, particularly those related to Foreign Service work, may be substituted for part of the required experience. The duties and responsibilities of the position occupied by the candidate must have been similar to or closely related to that of a Foreign Service officer in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, and overseas work experience. In addition, a candidate must currently be in, or have been in, a grade or class comparable to FS-4 or higher.
(ii) Candidates from outside the Department who at the time of application lack 3 years of service in a position of responsibility as defined in the preceding paragraph may, however, be considered if they are found to possess a combination of educational background, employment, experience, and skills needed by the Foreign Service at the mid-level.
(3) Age. All career candidate appointments shall be made before the candidate's 60th birthday. The maximum age for appointment under this program is based on the requirement that all career candidates shall be able to (i) complete at least two full tours of duty, exclusive of orientation and training, (ii) complete the requisite eligibility period for tenure consideration, and (iii) complete the requisite eligibility period to receive retirement benefits, prior to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 prescribed by the Act.
(4) Certification of need. Before the Board of Examiners may process a candidacy, the Director General of the Foreign Service must certify that there is a continuing, long-term requirement, consistent with the projections of personnel flows and needs mandated by section 601(c)(2) of the Act, for a combination of professional work experience, educational background, skills, and capabilities possessed by the applicant which cannot reasonably be met from within the ranks of the career service, including by special training of career personnel and/or limited appointments pending completion of such training, if feasible. No applicant may be appointed in an occupational category or at a class level for which the Director General has not certified a need. Such certifications shall take into full account the latest published skills resources inventory and shall be based on a written assessment of the assignment and promotion effects on career members of the Foreign Service. A separate certification of need is not required for applicants under the Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program, as the hiring goals established by the Secretary constitute the certification for applicants under that Program. The exclusive employee representative will be advised promptly in writing on request of the number, nature, and dates of the certifications of need issued since the last request, including an affirmation that each such issuance has been in accordance with the requirements of this section.
(c) Recruitment -
(1) From within the Department. It is the Department's policy to encourage eligible personnel on its rolls to apply for appointment as Mid-Level Foreign Service officer career candidates including, in particular, the following categories: (i) Members of the Foreign Service whose performance has been consistently of a high caliber, and whose background, experience, and general qualifications indicate that they can compete favorably with Foreign Service officers; and (ii) Civil Service personnel who are serving in positions to which Foreign Service officers are normally assigned, who have superior records, and whose general qualifications indicate that they can compete favorably with Foreign Service officers.
(2) Other. The Department also encourages highly qualified applicants from other agencies of the Federal Government, and from outside the Federal Government, who meet the statutory and other eligibility requirements, to apply for the Mid-Level Program. Appointments from these sources for available openngs are made on a highly competitive basis to fill specific needs of the Foreign Service at the Mid-Level.
(d) Methods of application -
(1) Forms. Application is made for a Mid-Level Foreign Service officer career candidate appointment but not for a specific class. Applicants for mid-level entry must complete Standard Form 171, “Personnel Qualifications Statement,” and Form DSP-34, “Supplement to Application for Federal Employment,” and forward them, together with an autobiography not exceeding four typewritten pages in length, to the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service for consideration.
(2) Qualifications evaluation panel. The Board of Examiners establishes a file for each applicant, placing in it all available documentation of value in evaluating the applicant's potential for service as a Foreign Service officer. A Qualifications Evaluation Panel of deputy examiners of the Board of Examiners reviews the file to determine whether the applicant meets the statutory and other eligibility requirements, to assess the applicant's skills relative to the needs of the Foreign Service, and to recommend whether the applicant should be examined for possible appointment under the Mid-Level Program.
(e) Examination for mid-level appointment. The submission of an application to the Board of Examiners does not in itself entitle an applicant to examination. The decision whether to proceed with an examination will be made by the Board of Examiners after a thorough review of the candidate's qualifications and a determination of eligibility for appointment following receipt of a certification of need for that candidate.
(1) Purpose. The mid-level examination is designed to enable the Board of Examiners to determine a candidate's aptitude for the work of the Foreign Service at the mid-level and fitness for a Foreign Service career.
(2) Class. In determining the Foreign Service officer class for which a candidate will be examined, the Board of Examiner's presumption will be for the class which is equivalent to the candidate's current salary level. In evaluating qualifications and in conducting examinations, the Board of Examiners will determine whether the candidate's qualifications compare favorably with Foreign Service officers at the candidate's current salary level. However, the Board of Examiners, at its discretion, may certify a candidate for appointment as a career candidate at a class other than that equivalent to current salary level in those instances where the Board determines that the candidate's qualifications clearly warrant such action.
(3) Written examination. A written examination will not normally be required of candidates for mid-level appointment. However, if the volume of applications for a given class or classes, or a particular functional specialty, is such as to make it infeasible to examine all candidates orally within a reasonable time, such candidates may be required to take an appropriate written examination prescribed by the Board of Examiners. Candidates whose score on the written examination is at or above the passing level set by the Board of Examiners will be eligible for selection for the oral examination.
(4) Oral examination -
(i) Purpose. The oral examination will be designed to enable the Board of Examiners to determine whether candidates are functionally qualified for work in the Foreign Service at the mid-level, whether they have the potential to advance in the Foreign Service, and whether they have the background and experience to make a contribution to the Foreign Service.
(ii) When and where given. The oral examination is individually scheduled throughout the year and is normally given in Washington, DC. At the discretion of the Board of Examiners, it may be given in other American cities, or at Foreign Service posts, selected by the Board.
(iii) Examining panel. Candidates recommended by a Qualifications Evaluation Panel for examination will be given an oral examination by a panel of deputy examiners of the Board of Examiners. That panels shall include at least one officer from the functional or professional specialty for which the candidate is being examined. Examining panels shall be chaired by a career officer of the Foreign Service. Determinations of duly constituted panels of deputy examiners are final unless modified by specific action of the Board of Examiners.
(iv) Content. The Examining Panel will question the candidate regarding the indicated functional or professional specialty; knowledge of American history, government, and other features of American culture; familiarity with current events and international affairs; and other matters relevant to the candidate's qualifications for appointment.
(v) Grading. Candidates taking the oral examination will be graded numerically according to standards established by the Board of Examiners. The candidacy of anyone whose score is at or above the passing level set by the Board will be continued. The candidacy of anyone whose score is below the passing level will be terminated and may not be considered again until 1 year after that date.
(5) Written essay. Candidates who take the oral examination will be asked to write an essay during the examination day, on a topic related to Foreign Service work, to enable the Board of Examiners to measure the candidate's effectiveness of written expression.
(6) Other exercises. Candidates who take the oral examination also may be asked to complete other exercises during the examination day, to enable the Board of Examiners to measure additional aspects of performance related to Foreign Service work at the mid-level.
(7) Background investigation. Candidates who pass the oral examination will be eligible for selection for the background investigation. The background investigation shall be conducted to determine suitability for appointment to the Foreign Service.
(8) Medical examination. Candidates who pass the oral examination, and their dependents, will be eligible for selection for the medical examination. The medical examination shall be conducted to determine the candidate's physical fitness to perform the duties of a Foreign Service officer on a world-wide basis and, for candidates and dependents, to determine the presence of any physical, neurological, or mental condition of such a nature as to make it unlikely that they would be able to function on a world-wide basis.
(9) Final review panel. The entire file of candidates who pass the oral examination will be reviewed and graded by a Final Review Panel, consisting of two or more deputy examiners of the Board of Examiners, after the results of the background investigation and the medical examination are received. The Final Review Panel will take into account the grade assigned by the oral Examining Panel, as well as all other available information concerning the candidate, and decide whether or not to recommend the candidate for appointment. The candidate's file will then be submitted to the Board of Examiners for approval. If approved by the Board, the candidate's name will be entered on the rank-order register for the class and functional specialty for which the candidate has been found qualified. The candidacy of anyone who is not recommended for appointment by the Final Review Panel shall be terminated and the candidate so informed.
(10) Foreign language requirement. All candidates who pass the oral examination will be required to take a subsequent test to measure their fluency in foreign languages or their aptitude for learning them. A candidate may be appointed without first having passed an examination in a foreign language, but the appointment will be subject to the condition that the newly appointed career candidate may not be converted to career Foreign Service officer status unless, within a specified period of time, adequate proficiency in a foreign language is achieved. For limitations on promotions see Volume 3 (Personnel), Foreign Affairs Manual, section 874.
(11) Certification for appointment -
(i) Departmental employees. A candidate who is a career employee of the Department, for whom a certification of need has been issued, will be certified by the Board of Examiners for appointment after satisfactorily completing all aspects of the examination process. The appointment certification will specify the class and salary for which the candidate has been found qualified.
(ii) Others. Other successful candidates will, after being approved by the board of Examiners, have their names placed on the rank-order register for the class and functional specialty for which they have been found qualified. A separate rank-order register may be established for candidates under the Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program. Appointments to available openings will be made from the registers in rank-order according to the needs of the Foreign Service.
(12) Termination of eligibility. Candidates who have qualified but have not been appointed because of lack of openings will be removed from the rank-order register 18 months after the date of placement on the rank-order register. The Board of Examiners may extend the eligibility period when such extension is, in its judgment, justified in the interests of the Foreign Service.