22 CFR 501.5 - Mid-level FSO Candidate Program (Class 3, 2, or 1).
(a) General. The mid-level FSO Candidate program, under the provisions of section 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, supplements the junior-level Career Candidate program to meet total requirements for Foreign Service Officers at the mid-level in the Foreign Service. Foreign Service limited appointments of FSO Candidates are made to Class 3, 2, or 1 for a period not to exceed five years. Occasionally, appointments may be offered at the Class 4 level. The FSO Commissioning Board will determine whether FSO Candidates have performed at a satisfactory level and demonstrated the required level of growth potential and competence, and will make a recommendation on commissioning as Foreign Service Officers. FSO Candidates who are not recommended for commissioning prior to the expiration of their limited appointment will be separated from the mid-level program.
(b) Sources of applicants.
(1) The Broadcasting Board of Governors draws a significant number of FSO Candidates from Board employees who apply, and are found qualified by the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service (BEX).
(2) The Board also draws Candidates from outside applicants who possess skills and abilities in short supply in the Foreign Service and who have capabilities, insights, techniques, experiences, and differences of outlook which would serve to enrich the Foreign Service and enable them to perform effectively in assignments both abroad and in the United States. Minority applicants are recruited for mid-level entry under the COMRAT program. Appointment from sources outside the Board is limited and based on intake levels established in accordance with total Broadcasting Board of Governors FSO workforce and functional requirements. Such appointments are based on successful completion of the examination process, and existing assignment vacancies.
(c) Eligibility requirement -
(1) Broadcasting Board of Governors Employees. On the date of application, employees must have at least three years of Federal Government service in a position of responsibility in the Board. A position of responsibility is defined as service as an Overseas Specialist at Class 4 or above or as a Domestic Specialist at GS-11 or above within the Board. The duties and responsibilities of the position occupied by the applicant must have been similar or closely related to those of a Foreign Service Officer in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, and overseas experience. Board Domestic and Overseas Specialists must be no more than 58 years of age on the date of redesignation or appointment as an FSO Candidate.
(2) Applicants Under Special Recruitment Programs. Minority and women applicants must be no more than 58 years of age, must have approximately nine years of education or experience relevant to work performed in Broadcasting Board of Governors, must be knowledgeable in the social, political and cultural history of the U.S. and be able to analyze and interpret this in relation to U.S. Government policy and American life.
(3) Outside Applicants. On the date of appointment, applicants must be no more than 58 years of age, with nine years of relevant work experience and/or education, or proficiency in a language for which the Board has a need, or substantial management expertise. Relevant work experience is defined as public relations work, supervisory or managerial positions in communications media, program director for a museum or university-level teacher of political science, history, English or other relevant disciplines. Appointments from these sources for the limited vacancies available are made on a competitive basis to fill specific Service needs after ensuring that the vacancies cannot be filled by Foreign Service Officers already in the Foreign Service Officer Corps.
(d) Application Procedures.
(1) Applicants must complete Standard Form 171, Application for Federal Employment; Form DSP-34, Supplement to Application for Federal Employment; a 1,000 word autobiography; a statement affirming willingness and capacity to serve at any post worldwide; and transcripts of all graduate and undergraduate course work and forward them to the Special Recruitment Branch, Office of Personnel (M/PDSE).
(2) The filing of an application for the Foreign Service does not in itself entitle an applicant to examination. The decision to proceed with an oral examination is made by a Qualifications Evaluation Panel after determining the applicant's eligibility for appointment and reviewing the applicant's qualifications including his/her performance, and administrative files (or equivalents), claimed language proficiency and other background or factors which may be related to the work performed by FSOs. An oral examination is given only in those cases where the applicant is found to possess superior qualifications, proven ability, and high potential for success in the Foreign Service.
(e) Examination process -
(1) Written Examination. A written examination will not normally be required of applicants for FSO Candidate appointments. However, if the volume of applications for a given class or classes is such as to make it infeasible to examine applicants orally within a reasonable time, such applicants may be required to take an appropriate written examination prescribed by the Board of Examiners. Those who meet or exceed the passing level set by the Board of Examiners on the written examination will be eligible for selection for the oral examination.
(2) Oral examination.
(i) Applicants approved by the Qualifications Evaluation Panel for examination will be given an oral examination by a panel of Deputy Examiners approved by the Board of Examiners. The oral examination is designed to enable the Board of Examiners to determine whether applicants are functionally qualified for work in the Foreign Service at the mid-level, whether they would be suitable representatives abroad of the United States, 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. The oral examination is individually scheduled throughout the year and is normally given in Washington, D.C. 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.
(ii) The panel will orally examine each applicant through questioning and discussion. There will also be a writing exercise and an in-basket test. Applicants taking the oral examination will be graded according to the standards established by the Board of Examiners. The application of anyone whose score is at or above the passing level set by the Board will be continued. The application of anyone whose score is below the passing level will be terminated. The applicant may, however, reapply in 12 months by submitting a new application.
(3) Foreign language requirement. All applicants 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 (MLAT) for which a score of 50 points (on a scale of zero to eighty) is necessary to qualify for further processing. No applicant will be recommended for career appointment who has not demonstrated such a proficiency or aptitude. An applicant may be selected, appointed and assigned without first having demonstrated required proficiency in a foreign language, but the appointment will be subject to the condition that the employee may not receive more than one promotion and may not be commissioned as an FSO until proficiency in one foreign language is achieved.
(4) Medical examination. Those applicants recommended by the Board of Examiners for an FSO candidacy, and their dependents who will reside with them overseas, are required to pass a physical examination at the Department of State Medical Division.
(5) Security and suitability considerations. A background investigation or appropriate security clearance update will be conducted on each applicant, and no application may be continued until a security clearance has been granted.
(6) Class of appointment. The Board of Examiners fixes the entry level for appointment as an FSO candidate.
(7) Certification for appointment. After completion of all aspects of the examination, the Board of Examiners certifies to the Board successful candidates for appointment as FSO Candidates. Determinations of duly constituted panels of examiners and deputy examiners are final, unless modified by specific action of the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service.
(8) FSO Candidate registers.
(i) After approval by the Board of Examiners, and certification as to suitability and security clearance by the Board's Director of Security, successful applicants will have their names placed on a register for the class for which they have been found qualified. Appointments to available openings will be made from the applicants entered on the register for the class of the position to be filled. Inclusion on the register does not guarantee eventual assignment and appointment as an FSO Candidate. Applicants who have qualified but have not been appointed because of lack of openings will be dropped from the register 18 months after the date of placement on it (or the completion of an inside applicant's current overseas tour, whichever is longer). Such applicants may reapply for the program, but will be required to repeat the entire application process, including BEX testing.
(ii) Any applicant on the register who refuses an assignment offer will be removed from the Register and will not be eligible to reapply for the program for seven years.
(iii) The Board of Examiners may extend the eligibility period when such extension is in its judgment justified in the interest of the Foreign Service.
(f) Appointment as an FSO Candidate.
(1) An FSO Candidate will be given a four-year Foreign Service limited appointment. Board Career Overseas Specialists will be redesignated as FSO Candidates for a period of four years. The appointment or redesignation may be extended for one year, but must be terminated at the end of the fifth year. The purpose of the FSO Candidacy is to permit on-the-job evaluation of an individual's suitability and capacity for effective service as a Foreign Service Officer.
(2) FSO Candidates will be assigned to Generalist positions overseas, and will compete for promotion with other Generalist officers under the Annual Generalist Selection Boards. FSO Candidates at the Class 1 level may not compete for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service prior to commissioning as an FSO.
(3) The FSO Candidacy may be terminated during the four-year period for unsatisfactory performance (22 U.S.C. 4011) or for such other cause as will promote the efficiency of the Service (22 U.S.C. 4010).
(g) Commissioning as a Foreign Service Officer.
(1) Upon completion of three years' service (most of which will have been overseas), the FSO Candidate will be eligible for commissioning as a Foreign Service Officer. The FSO Commissioning Board will review all FSO Candidates appointed on or after March 1, 1980 and will recommend on tenure.
(2) The criterion used for deciding whether to recommend commissioning of FSO Candidates is the Candidate's demonstrated potential to perform effectively as a Foreign Service Officer in a normal range of generalist assignments up through the Class 1 level. No quota or numerical limit is placed on the number of affirmative decisions.
(3) If recommended for commissioning, and having satisfied the language proficiency requirements, the name of the FSO Candidate will be forwarded to the President and the Senate and, upon approval, the FSO Candidate will be commissioned as an FSO.
(4) If the FSO Commissioning Board does not recommend commissioning of the FSO Candidate during its review, it may recommend extension of the FSO Candidacy to allow for a future review. Under no circumstances will an FSO Candidacy be extended to a total of more than five years.
(5) Candidates not recommended for commissioning or who have not satisfied the language proficiency requirement will be separated from the Service at the expiration of their appointment. However, FSO Candidates who were appointed from within the Board with career status as a Domestic or Overseas Specialist may exercise reappointment rights to their previous category in lieu of separation.