As of August 4, the Secretary of State has granted limited exceptions to the freeze. Specifically (from the FLO website): “The Secretary approved an exemption to the hiring freeze that will allow the Department to fill a number of priority EFM positions that are currently vacant. This exemption gives posts authority to fill critical vacancies supporting security, safety and health responsibilities.”
As of August, 831 positions have been filled but we understand this may be the last tranche of exemptions. This may mean that approximately 76% of positions essential for running an overseas mission will be vacant. Some good news is that there is a brand new CLO in Moscow — very useful with the draw down in Russia.
In Africa, as many as 1,000 EFM jobs need to be filled for 1,600 direct-hire FS employees: embassies cannot function without EFMs filling these jobs – they require a security clearance that local personnel cannot obtain. Some posts have reported losing as many as 60 EFMs during the summer reassignment cycle. This is already jeopardizing security on top of quality work (officers in some posts have to leave their jobs to escort custodial staff in secure areas or to clean spaces themselves!).
On August 22, the AAFSW EFM Employment Working Group sent letters to Senator Ben Cardin of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to eight senators who are members of the Foreign Service Caucus explaining how the EFM hiring freeze is preventing our missions from functioning.
Ann La Porta for the AAFSW EFM Employment Working Group