Group urges pay equity for Foreign Service officers overseas

The American Foreign Service Association applauded congressional testimony by a State Department official who urged lawmakers to change the way pay is calculated for Foreign Service officers posted overseas.

That request came in March 8 testimony by Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom in response to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on fiscal 2017 State Department and USAID reauthorization.

“We must work hard to retain [top talent] in a competitive labor environment,” Higgenbottom stated. “Due to inequities in the Foreign Service pay schedule, Foreign Service officers deployed overseas have absorbed cuts to their basic pay compared to their domestic counterparts. In addition, our colleagues from other agencies with whom we serve overseas do not face this discrepancy.”

To remedy that inequity, AFSA has been advocating for the implementation of full “overseas comparability pay”—locality pay at the Washington, D.C., rate—for Foreign Service members posted overseas.

AFSA notes that the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act granted the State Department temporary authority to pay full OCP to Foreign Service members posted overseas, phased-in over three stages. While first two went through, the third one is still pending.

“The Foreign Service is the only federal government entity that is globally deployed with an enduring physical presence in almost every country in the world,” said AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson. “Yet, when our members deploy abroad to embassies alongside their military and intelligence community colleagues, the only member of that trio to take an 8-percent cut in basic pay is the one from the Foreign Service.”

“In the interest of fairness, we would like to see that remedied by congressional action to pass the third and final tranche of OCP,” she said. 

Reader comments

Mon, Nov 16, 2020 Joe hanoi

OCP is meant for Foreign SErvice Officers who are obliged to serve overseas, not for civil servants who can work at their US desks until they retire

Fri, Aug 25, 2017

Yes, overseas civilians working for the government are all in the same situation. The post allowance should be adjusted accordingly OR OCP should be given to all U.S. gov't civilians working overseas.

Tue, Feb 21, 2017

I agree! Particularly since the ever fluctuating overseas post allowance (set by dept of state) is to cover the cost of living between Washington DC and the foreign post of assignment. So we should all receive DC locality pay...

Tue, Feb 21, 2017

I agree! Particularly since the ever fluctuating overseas post allowance (set by dept of state) is to cover the cost of living between Washington DC and the foreign post of assignment. So we should all receive DC locality pay...

Wed, Sep 7, 2016

This is a great idea. Federal employees overseas should get comparable pay as those stateside, but this should include all federal employees located overseas. They have forgotten that DOD civilian employees are stationed overseas as well and are suffering from the same disparity. Unfortunately these supplemental appropriations only affect the Foreign Service and have left the DOD civil service employees still suffering from a 14% to 35% pay deduction as compared to our stateside counterparts depending on location. To make things worse, this gap only widens every year when the president offers an increase to locality pay and not base pay. For example, this year President Obama authorized a .6% locality pay for those stateside. Unfortunately, that means that stateside employees get a .6% pay raise and those stationed overseas do not receive this additional increase.

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