USAID reinstates foreign service applicants

By Michael Igoe 06 December 2017
The Ronald Reagan Building, which houses the U.S. Agency for International Development. Photo by: LeanneMarie1215 / CC BY

WASHINGTON — Applicants for the United States Agency for International Development’s foreign service still don’t have jobs, but at least they won’t have to start the hiring process all over again.

In late October, USAID abruptly informed candidates for the agency’s foreign service — many of whom had spent more than a year in the application and clearance process — that the positions they had applied for no longer existed. They still don’t, but now those job seekers will be allowed to remain on USAID’s active roster for jobs that may or may not become available in the future. The news comes as a qualified consolation prize for applicants otherwise faced with having to start the lengthy foreign service application process all over again.

Devex first reported on the job cancellations on Oct. 31, and on Nov. 2 Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, questioned USAID Administrator Mark Green about the decision in a congressional hearing.

Read more Devex coverage on USAID:

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“With respect to the story that you’re referencing, we have not eliminated positions. We are still under a hiring freeze,” Green said at the time.

One week later, Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Green expressing his concerns about the job cancellations.

“Given the substantial investments the U.S. government has already made to prepare these applicants for careers in foreign service, I question the utility of denying these applicants only to spend new resources on the same process for these applicants should they choose to re-enter the application process,” Cardin wrote on Nov. 9.

That argument apparently resonated with USAID’s leadership.

“We recognize that you have invested a great deal of time and effort in the application process, and we appreciate your patience. After further review, USAID is pleased to inform you that the Foreign Service Center in USAID’s Office of Human Capital and Talent Management (HCTM) has reinstated you as an active applicant to the Career Candidate Corps (C3) Program of the USAID Foreign Service,” the agency’s notification, which was sent on Monday, reads.

The notice cautions that USAID continues to implement a hiring freeze in line with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s redesign process, and that reinstatement as an active applicant is in no way a guarantee of future employment.

Still, some of the applicants who had previously seen months of time and effort vanish into thin air were encouraged.

“Long road ahead, but at least there is still a chance,” one of them wrote to Devex.

Read more Devex coverage about the future of U.S. aid and development policy under the Trump administration.