United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply
Announcement No: SPS-2014-0003
Position Title: Diplomatic Security: Foreign Service Security Protective Specialist
Open Period: 11/05/2013 - 11/18/2013
Series/Grade: FP - 0085 06
Promotion Potential: FP-04
Duty Locations: MANY Vacancies in Throughout the World
For More Info: DS Recruitment, 571-345-3783, DSRecruitment@state.gov
Who May Apply
Important: All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement before applying.
Who May Apply: United States Citizens*
*Applicants must be American citizens and at least 20 years of age to apply. Candidates must be at least 21 but must not have reached their 37th birthday at time of appointment. (The age restriction does not apply to preference-eligible veterans.)
Limited Non-Career Appointment; 18 month initial appointment may be extended periodically up to a maximum of 5 years of service.
The Department of State is developing a rank-order register to fill a limited number of Foreign Service Diplomatic Security Protective Specialist (SPS) vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service. Applications are accepted ONLY during the period specified above.
Area of Consideration: All Sources.
Location: All assignments will be directed by the Department according to the needs of the service. Assignments may be to any Foreign Service post abroad which, in most cases, will be classified at the high or critical threat level. While SPSs may be assigned to any Foreign Service post abroad, current requirements exist in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and North and South Sudan. Initial training and orientation will be held in the Washington, DC area.
Grade and Starting Salary Range: FP-06: Starting Salary: $44,737 per annum*, includes the 16.52% Overseas Comparability Payment.
The U.S. Department of State is the lead foreign affairs agency formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy and representing U.S. interests throughout the world.
- Please go to http://www.usajobs.gov/ for application instructions.
- Successful applicants are appointed to the Foreign Service as Limited Non-Career Appointment (LNA) employees with a federal benefits package.
- Appointments will be made for an initial 18-month period and may be extended periodically up to a maximum of five years.
- There is no conversion mechanism to a career Foreign Service position. SPSs are encouraged to apply to become a Foreign Service specialist, but must meet the applicable qualifications and complete the standard application and assessment process.
- The appointment may be terminated by the US Government at any time with at least 30 days notice unless the termination is for cause. In this case, the 30 days notice is not applicable.
- The SPS may terminate the appointment by written notification at least 30 days in advance.
- Promotion potential is to the FP-04 level. SPS will be administratively promoted from the FP-06 to the FP-05 level after 12 months of satisfactory performance of duty. Promotion to the FP-04 level will occur after 18 months of satisfactory performance in grade as a FP-05.
- Individuals who have been found unqualified for employment by a Department of State Final Review Panel within the previous two years are ineligible to apply (unless the individual was a candidate for a Special Agent position with the Diplomatic Security Service and the decision to deny eligibility was based on the candidate’s inability to fulfill the unique duties of that position).
All applicants, in order to be considered for selection, must:
- U.S. citizenship required
- Be at least 20 years of age to apply and at least 21 to be appointed, but must not have reached their 37th birthday at time of appointment. (The age restriction does not apply to preference-eligible veterans.)
- Be available for worldwide assignment
- Qualify for TS/SCI security clearance and obtain a suitability clearance
- Obtain an appropriate medical clearance for Diplomatic Security Protective Specialist position
For more details see http://careers.state.gov/specialist/selection-process or http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/regs/fam.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES
Security Protective Specialists of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) at the FP-06 level provide a variety of personal protective services to Department officials and employees at overseas locations in accordance with Department of State and Bureau of Diplomatic Security established protective security policies, standards, and procedures.
- In the absence of supervisory level Security Protective Specialists or Special Agents, may serve as Detail Leader for contractor staffed protective security details;
- provides physical protection for Department officials and employees at overseas locations, primarily at high threat posts;
- drives the lead vehicle, principal’s vehicle or follow-vehicle as required in motorcade or similar operations;
- provides body protection as part of protective formations during principal’s walking movements;
- provides static coverage at principal’s residence, in a Command Post or other location as required;
- reviews and assesses information relevant to the assigned protective operation to anticipate problems or incidents;
- responds to emergency situations in accordance with established Bureau of Diplomatic Security protective security policies, standards, and procedures;
- serves as a member of advance teams that plan and coordinate protective operations;
- conducts site surveys to assess factors affecting the protective environment of sites to be visited;
- carries and operates weapons and other specialized equipment required in the conduct of protective operations; maintains requisite level of skills in firearms and other protective equipment and trains other SPS personnel in these skills.
THE SECURITY PROTECTIVE SPECIALIST (SPS) POSITION
The Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is seeking highly qualified and motivated men and women with extensive experience in protective security operations to serve in the Foreign Service at certain U.S. embassies, consulates and regional offices abroad.
This workforce will be deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and North and South Sudan and other high threat posts to supplement DS Special Agents in the supervision of contractor personnel and the provision of personal protection for Department employees. As members of a diplomatic team, Security Protective Specialists not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also represent the United States to the people of other nations.
SPSs will work in tandem with DS Special Agents to ensure that a DS SPS or SA is always present and involved with every protective motorcade element. The SPS may act as the Detail Leader and may supervise contractor personnel. Security Protective Specialists will receive Limited Non-Career Appointments. Appointments may be extended periodically up to a total of five years of service. Extensions beyond five years are not permitted. Federal retirement benefits accrue during time spent as a DS Security Protective Specialist. SPS will receive annual in-grade salary increases (step increases). Promotion will be in accordance with the following schedule:
- After successful, satisfactory completion of 12 months of service, FP-06 SPS will be administratively promoted to the FP-05 level.
- After successful, satisfactory completion of 18 months of service at the FP-05 level, SPS will be administratively promoted to the FP-04 level.
All assignments will be at the needs of the service. After the initial tour, SPSs may be transferred to other high threat posts overseas for two consecutive 2-year tours of duty.
There is no provision for election of post of assignment.
A limited, non-career appointment to the Foreign Service involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships along with unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to accept such an appointment must involve unusual motivation and a firm dedication to public service.
The overseas posts to which SPSs will be assigned may expose the employee to harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts and where American-style amenities may be unavailable. Assignments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and North and South Sudan are particularly challenging and may result in bodily injury and/or death. However, a limited appointment to the Foreign Service offers special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U.S. interests at home and abroad.
While college level studies are desirable, the minimum educational requirement for a SPS candidate is a high school diploma or GED.
BASIC QUALIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
- At least three years of general experience in domestic or overseas security operations within the last seven years. Experience must have been progressive and culminated in at least one year in a position with increased levels of responsibility. Experience in protective operations at high threat locations abroad is particularly desirable.
- U.S. citizenship
- High School diploma or GED
- Be in compliance with the Selective Service Act (male applicants only)
- Successfully complete all written and oral selection examinations
- Successfully undergo a background investigation and qualify for a TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (TS/SCI) security clearance and obtain a suitability clearance
- Pass a stringent medical examination
- Be available for worldwide assignment
- Pass physical fitness tests (to include a timed 1 ½ mile run and gender and age-specific repetitions of push-ups and sit-ups) and be fit for strenuous physical exertion
- Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license
- Be willing to carry and, if necessary, use firearms. Qualify with firearms throughout the period of appointment
- Foreign language ability is desirable but not mandatory
- Successfully complete all required training
WORK EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS
FP-06 level - At least three years of experience in domestic or overseas security operations within the last seven years in the areas identified in the Qualifications section of the announcement. Experience must have been progressive and culminated in at least one year in a position with increased levels of responsibility. Experience in high threat locations abroad is particularly desirable.
How Candidates Will Be Evaluated:
Candidates will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, technical and writing skills, awards, training, and self-development as it relates to the position. Selection for this position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications and most likely to succeed in the Foreign Service.
THE FOREIGN SERVICE LIMITED NON-CAREER APPOINTMENT (LNA) SELECTION PROCESS
The Foreign Service selection process may be lengthy, multi-staged, and due to the limited number of appointments available, highly competitive. It commences upon receipt of the candidate’s application materials and will continue until a candidate is appointed from a list of eligible candidates (a process which can sometimes take a year or more), or the candidacy is terminated.
Current plans call for the entire selection process (qualifications evaluation and oral examination) to be conducted in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.
HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED
Candidates will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, awards, training and self-development as it relates to the position. Part-time work experience will be prorated. Candidates will be initially evaluated through an on-line self-assessment/subject matter test administered through http://www.usajobs.gov/. Subsequently, some candidates will be further evaluated through a file review, a writing exercise and oral and written assessments. Those who successfully complete the selection process will be required to obtain the following:
- Medical clearance valid for all High Threat and Critical Threat posts and supplementary medical requirement pertaining to hearing and vision requirements and passing a stress test.
- Top Secret (TS) security clearance with Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) access.
- Suitability clearance as determined by review of a Final Review Panel (FRP).
Once all clearances are received, candidates’ names are placed on a rank-ordered Register. Candidates may improve their standing on the Register by obtaining additional points for qualifying military service (5 or 10 Point Veteran Preference Points). Additional information on the clearance process is available on the Department’s website at http://careers.state.gov/specialist/selection-process.
If claiming veteran’s preference, you must provide a copy of DD form 214 which must include character of service (e.g. Member 4 or Service 2 copy) or Statement of Service/Proof of Service which must include service dates and character of service. If claiming 10 point preference, you must submit a VA letter or disability determination from a branch of the Armed Forces (or documentation of Purple Heart, if applicable) AND a SF-15 (application for 10 point veteran preference).
Application materials become property of the U.S. Department of State and will not be returned. Failure to adequately substantiate work experience by virtue of documentation and verification will result in termination of your application for the position of Security Protective Specialist.
Selection for the SPS position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications.
*NOTE: Qualifying experience would include at least three years within the last seven in one of the following fields or combination. Experience must have been progressive and culminated in at least one year in a position with increased levels of responsibility.
- Employment as a protective security specialist in a domestic or overseas venue
- Employment as a sworn law enforcement officer at the federal, state or local level in a tactical operations unit (SWAT, Special Ops, Executive Protection, etc.)
- Military service –
- With a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in Special Operations/Special Forces, infantry, military police or military investigative organization (CID/OSI/NCIS, etc.)
- All other MOS – if MOS is in a field other than those listed above, other MOSs may qualify if a minimum of one tour of duty was spent in a combat arms assignment in a combat theater of operations.
- Marine Security Guards – if MOS is in a field other than those listed above, MSGs may qualify if a minimum of one tour of duty was spent in a combat arms assignment in a combat theater of operations.
Other security/law enforcement experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis but if not in the areas identified above, qualifying for the position is unlikely.
For consideration of an application, the on-line resume and supporting documentation must clearly demonstrate at least three years of qualifying experience within the last seven years. Experience must have been progressive and culminated in at least one year in a position with increased levels of responsibility.
Applications will be strictly evaluated and those with higher scores attained in the online assessment (See – “Procedures for Applying” below) will receive primary consideration to proceed in the selection/assessment process.
Applicants for the Security Protective Specialist position must not have been convicted of any felony charge. In accordance with the Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act, a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence may not possess a firearm. Applicants must be able to certify that they have not been convicted of any such violation and that they are not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.
Applicants for the SPS position must possess strong oral and written communications skills in order to successfully compete in the Foreign Service’s thorough and competitive assessment process. Candidates must consistently meet a high standard in both written and spoken English. Written skills include proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Oral communications skills include proper sentence structure, delivery, clarity and succinctness. Those whose skills are not at these high standards will be particularly challenged in achieving a competitive score in the assessment process.
Security Protective Specialists must perform duties in the field that are physically demanding. SPSs must be willing and able to meet these physical demands in high-stress, life and death situations. The SPS’s life and the lives of others may depend upon his/her physical capabilities and conditioning. Candidates must pass a thorough medical examination to include Supplemental Physical Qualification Standards. A qualified candidate may not have a medical condition which, particularly in light of the fact that medical treatment facilities may be lacking or nonexistent in certain overseas environments, would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of the individual or others, or would prevent the individual from performing the duties of the job.
Security Protective Specialists are required to perform protective security assignments with physical demands that may include, but are not limited to, intermittent and prolonged periods of running, walking, standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs, quickly entering and exiting various vehicles, enduring inclement weather which may include excessive heat, as well as carrying and using firearms.
Security Protective Specialists perform other functions that may require jumping, dodging, lying prone, as well as wrestling, restraining and subduing attackers, or detainees. SPSs must be able, if necessary, to conduct security inspections that may require crawling under vehicles and other low clearances or in tight spaces such as attics and crawl spaces.
Sometimes it may be necessary for a SPS to assist with installing or maintaining security countermeasures, which might involve lifting heavy objects and working on ladders or rooftops. SPSs must be skilled at driving and maneuvering a motor vehicle defensively or evasively in a variety of situations and at various speeds.
Security Protective Specialist candidates are expected to already possess many of the skills discussed in previous paragraphs but all will receive identical training to insure consistency. This training will include firearms training, defensive tactics, restraining an attacker and specialized driving techniques. SPS candidates must be able to participate in and complete all aspects of their training.
Candidates must be willing and able to travel extensively throughout the world. Traveling and assignments abroad may involve working in remote areas where traditional comforts and medical facilities are limited. SPSs may be required to travel to locations of civil unrest where conditions are potentially hostile and where performance of duties is conducted under hazardous circumstances.
How to Apply
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Step #1 - REGISTER – Applicants must first register on USAJOBS at http://www.usajobs.gov/ and create an online federal resume. Your online resume must be typed or you may cut and paste an existing resume into the space provided. Once you have completed the registration process, print the document that you just created and then select the “Apply Online” button in the vacancy announcement.
Step #2 - APPLY – Follow the “Apply Online” instructions in the vacancy announcement where you will answer self-assessment questions for the SPS position. When completed, the registration information/resume you provided at USAJOBS and the answers to the “Gateway to State” questions will become your application. Your registration, resume, and responses to the questions will be used to evaluate your qualifications for the SPS position. You will also be asked to fax or upload three or four documents to complete your application package.
Technical assistance with your online application can be obtained by contacting the Help Desk at email@example.com OR by calling (866) 656-6830 or (703) 269-4944 between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Eastern Time.
If faxing, please print the fax coversheets generated at the end of the on-line application process. Then fax the supporting documentation to the number listed on the computer generated fax coversheets prior to the closing date of the vacancy announcement.
If faxing, it is extremely important that only the system-generated cover sheets, and the phone number included on them, be used for faxing the required documents. The cover sheets are coded to insure that your documents are automatically attached to your online application. Please ensure that each document is faxed separately with the appropriate system generated cover sheet.
**IMPORTANT** Be sure to print BOTH coversheets and fax your documents in separate transmissions.
NOTE: The fax coversheets contain an important ID number; keep a copy for your files.
Important: Whether you upload or fax, please submit all your documents at the same time. If you must send any additional documents after your first submission, be sure to include your first group of documents along with the additional documents. This is because subsequent submissions erase prior submissions.
You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on the closing date of this announcement to complete the application process and supply the required documentation outlined in this vacancy announcement. Application packages MUST be complete and received by the closing date to receive consideration.
Due to the volume of applications, fax lines can become jammed and documents may not successfully attach to your application on the final days/hours of the application announcement. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CANDIDATE TO VERIFY THAT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACHED TO THE APPLICATION PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. Applicants can do so by going back into your application and verifying that documents have been attached. Applications received without required documents will be deemed ineligible. You are encouraged to submit your application early, and to go back into your application to confirm that your documents have been attached.
All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement to ensure that they meet all the requirements for this position before applying.
Applicants will have the option to either electronically upload or fax their documents into the system.
The following numbered documents are required for a complete application package.
- The SPS Minimum Qualifications Check Sheet (PDF)
- A two page typed (double-spaced) narrative autobiography that discusses your background, personal interests and hobbies, your motivation for joining the Foreign Service and your motivation for becoming a Security Protective Specialist.
- An original signed Declaration for Federal Employment (OPM form OF 306)
- If 37 years of age or over and claiming veterans preference, you must provide a copy of DD form 214 which must include character of service (e.g. Member 4 or Service 2 copy) or Statement of Service/Proof of Service which must include service dates and character of service. If claiming 10 point preference, you must submit a VA letter or disability determination from a branch of the Armed Forces (or documentation of Purple Heart, if applicable) AND a SF-15 (Application for 10 point veteran preference).
What to Expect Next
Application packages that are complete by the closing date of the Announcement will be assessed to determine if initial qualifications were met. The candidate will be notified by email if he/she is to be further considered or if the application is not competitive.
Competitive Applicants: The limited number of applicants who are identified for further consideration will be notified of the next phase of the selection/assessment process. That process will include oral and written assessments conducted by the Foreign Service Board of Examiners (BEX) and subject matter experts from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
TEST SITE INFORMATION
The assessment process takes approximately four hours. Foreign Service Board of Examiner Teams including members of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security will conduct the examination at DS Headquarters located in Rosslyn, VA.
The approximately four-hour assessment consists of written examinations and oral assessments. Various phases of this assessment process are scored using many of the following dimensions: written and oral communication skills, motivation, composure, interpersonal skills, judgment, resourcefulness, initiative and leadership, adaptability/flexibility, perspective and breadth of knowledge, cultural awareness and experience, stability and adjustment, analytical and synthesizing ability, planning and organizing. Questions posed to applicants may address current events, motivation, interpersonal skills, objectivity and integrity as well as some technical hypothetical questions concerning the SPS position.
For additional information, please refer to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s web site at www.state.gov/m/ds or http://www.diplomaticsecurity.state.gov/ or the Department of State’s Human Resources web site at careers.state.gov/ Selected candidates: Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral assessment are the responsibility of the candidate.
Salary, Allowances, Benefits
Salary and Allowances: Initial salary will generally be at the FP-06, Step 1 ($44,737) – which includes a 16.52% Overseas Comparability Payment. Entry-level salaries are non-negotiable. When assigned overseas, in addition to base salary, SPSs will receive all applicable Department overseas allowances. While assigned to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and North and South Sudan, SPSs will receive both danger pay and post differential which result in a substantial increase to base pay. Danger pay and post differential allowances may differ for other high threat posts.
Federal employees without a break in service may be appointed at a salary level above Step 1. Appointments will be made at a step which most closely matches the highest previous federal salary (rounded upwards) up to the FP-6, Step 14 level.
Additional Benefits: Tax-Free Housing Overseas; Danger Pay; Post Differential; Overtime Compensation; Holiday Pay and Holiday Premium Pay; Night Shift Differential; Accrual of Annual and Sick Leave; Life Insurance; Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB); Participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS); Separate Maintenance and Educational Allowances; Compensation for Disability or Death.
Details on Compensation and Benefits are available at http://careers.state.gov/work/worldwide/benefits
Initial Sign-on Bonus: Any Foreign Service Specialist hired after October 1, 2013, who demonstrates FSI-tested Arabic language ability, will receive a one-time recruitment bonus.
INITIAL TRAINING ASSIGNMENTS
All Security Protective Specialists must complete approximately 22 weeks of initial training/orientation at the Diplomatic Security Training Center (DSTC), the Foreign Service Institute and/or some other facility in the Washington, DC area. The training program develops and tests proficiency in job-related subjects that include use of firearms, physical fitness, personal defensive tactics, driving skills, emergency medical procedures, and protective security techniques. Proficiency is measured through a series of scored practical exercises as well as subject matter-specific and comprehensive written examinations. Failure to successfully complete any aspect of the training program is grounds for separation.
Executive Branch agencies are barred by 5 US Code 3303 as amended from accepting or considering prohibited political recommendations and are required to return any prohibited political recommendations to sender. In addition, as mandated by 5 US Code 3110, relatives of federal employees cannot be granted preference in competing for these employment opportunities.
It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether that discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors.
The Department of State provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodations for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department at ReasonableAccommodations@state.gov within one week of receiving their invitation. Decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.
ALL POTENTIAL APPLICANTS ARE STRONGLY URGED TO READ THIS ENTIRE VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT TO ENSURE THAT THEY MEET ALL OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS POSITION AND THAT THEY FULLY UNDERSTAND THE SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES INVOLVING AN APPOINTMENT IN THE FOREIGN SERVICE BEFORE APPLYING.