United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply
Announcement No: DCS 2011-01
Opening Date: June 27, 2011
CLOSED: July 18, 2011
Position Title: FOREIGN SERVICE DIPLOMATIC COURIER
Grade and Starting Salary Range: FP-6 $38,394 - $56,383 per annum
Additional Benefits: TaxTax-Free Housing overseas; Tax-Free Education Allowance for eligible dependents, etc. (See "Benefits")
Number of Vacancies: The Department of State is developing a rank-ordered register to fill a limited number of Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service.
Area of Consideration: All Sources
Location: Initial training and orientation will be held in Washington, DC. Those appointed may serve in Diplomatic Courier offices located in: Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Miami, Florida; Pretoria, South Africa; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Seoul, Republic of Korea and Washington, DC.
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 a career in the Foreign Service before applying. All applicants must be American citizens, at least 20 years old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law, all career candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month which they reach 60 years of age (preference-eligible veterans excepted).
Description of Duties
Diplomatic Couriers are required to safeguard and escort diplomatic pouches containing classified and sensitive material between US diplomatic missions and the Department of State. Diplomatic Couriers are entrusted with ensuring the inviolability of diplomatic pouches and their safe and secure delivery throughout the world. They operate under the auspices of international agreements and treaties as governed by the Vienna Convention. They are responsible for Department of State policies, regulations and the strict security procedures that define the control and movement of US diplomatic pouches internationally and within the United States. Diplomatic Couriers spend a substantial portion of their careers living and working overseas in a nearly constant travel status using conveyances to include aircraft, truck, train, and ship.
I. A Career in the Foreign Service
The Department of State is seeking Foreign Service Diplomatic Couriers to serve as international diplomatic couriers. Initially appointed in Washington, DC for training, the Diplomatic Courier career candidate must agree to work at and travel to any of the US Embassies and Consulates worldwide. Candidates must not only agree to travel to any US diplomatic or consular post abroad, but also to be assigned to any of the Diplomatic Courier Offices worldwide, according to the needs of the Foreign Service.
The Foreign Service is more than a job - it's a career. As a member of the Diplomatic Courier team, you will not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but you will also be a representative of your country to the people of other nations. A career in the Foreign Service involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships, as well as unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to enter this career involves unusual motivation, a firm dedication to public service, and a clear understanding of the high level of travel required.
Many overseas posts are in small or remote countries where harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts exist, and where American-style amenities frequently are unavailable. Travel to and from some locations may involve hardships and oftentimes personal inconvenience. However, careers in the Foreign Service offer special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States, and protecting US interests abroad.
II. Foreign Service Selection Process
The Foreign Service selection process is lengthy, multi-staged, and highly competitive due to the limited number of appointments available. It commences upon receipt of the candidate's application materials and will continue until the candidate is either placed on a list of cleared candidates (a process which can take as long as a year) or is determined to be less competitive than other applicants, in which case the candidacy is terminated. Current plans call for the entire selection process (qualifications evaluation and oral examination) to be conducted in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.
A completed application package contains the materials listed in Section V of this Vacancy Announcement. Materials submitted become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned. An application may be terminated whenever any materials do not meet the basic eligibility requirements for employment as a Diplomatic Courier in the Foreign Service.
III. Diplomatic Courier Career
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Couriers are responsible for the security of the Department of State’s Courier-accompanied diplomatic pouch operations worldwide. Diplomatic Courier duties may include the supervision of subordinate staff and the actual performance of some, or all, of the following functions:
- Act as a Diplomatic Courier for the Department of State and other US government agencies that may need to transmit official, government classified or sensitive materials across international boundaries. Identify needed logistical support; provision for the storage or staging of pouches; detect and bring to resolution the cause and impact of delays or other logistical problems; adjust plans and schedules for all related actions to accommodate timely and secure movement of pouches.
- Develop, plan, and implement pouch escort programs and schedules; assess the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and provide practical solutions when problems arise; ensure the proper allocation and expenditure of appropriated funds; and provide timely and appropriate pouch delivery and dispatch services to posts worldwide. Other responsibilities include maintaining internal management controls in order to prevent waste, fraud and mismanagement.
- Manage, regulate, coordinate, or otherwise exercise control over the pouch material. This includes initial planning, provisioning and determining handling and accountability, and oversight of physical accountability (maintenance and management of inventory records, conduct of periodic inventories, and releases from accountability).
- Plan, coordinate and implement travel and pouch transportation support needs domestically and at posts serviced worldwide, including motor vehicle operations and needs, issuance of travel orders, and ticketing for commercial and military air and surface transportation. Evaluate, negotiate, and participate in awarding contracts with commercial organizations and other government agencies involved in provision of, or support of, travel and transportation.
- Enforce Department of State pouch regulations required to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic pouches from the point of origination to international destinations as governed by the terms and authorities of the Vienna Convention.
- Assess risks to movement of diplomatic pouches and cargo to ensure against any infringement of diplomatic rights and privileges as established by the terms of the Vienna Convention; detect and report attempts to damage or subvert the principle of inviolability of the diplomatic pouches and cargo.
- Conduct, administer and implement diplomatic pouch security training and training assistance programs for US foreign affairs agencies’ personnel, and officials of designated foreign governments.
INITIAL ASSIGNMENTINITIAL ASSIGNMENT
Diplomatic Couriers will normally be assigned to one of the Regional Diplomatic Courier offices located in: Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Miami, Florida; Pretoria, South Africa; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Seoul, Republic of Korea and Washington, DC. Couriers are assigned regional responsibilities and serve Foreign Service posts in several countries, which will require frequent travel. A substantial portion of a Diplomatic Courier’s career is spent overseas and in nearly constant travel status. All Diplomatic Couriers must successfully complete approximately 12 to 14 weeks of training in the Washington, DC area before commencing their initial tour of duty assignment.
INITIAL SALARY AND SALARY INCREASES
Initial salary at appointment will normally be at the first step of the Foreign Service grade FP-6. Exceptions may be made to increase the step levels based upon such factors as having a master’s degree in a related field and/or other directly related specialized experience. However, the maximum salary is limited to the grade FP-6.
Salaries are determined at the time a final offer of employment is made. Entry-level salaries for federal civilian employees, appointed without a break in service, will be set at the step within the Foreign Service grade FP-6 that is nearest to the base salary rate of their previous salary, providing that the previous experience is job-related.
Upon relocating overseas, salaries may be adjusted to include cost-of-living allowance, post differential, danger pay, and/or other allowances specific to posts of assignment. The actual differences in pay will be determined by the location of assignments.
Couriers will be administratively promoted from grade FP-6 to the FP-5 level after 12 months of satisfactory performance, and to FP-4 after an additional 18 months of satisfactory performance. To proceed beyond the FP-4 level, Couriers are considered for promotion annually, in competition with their peers.
QUALIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
General requirements for employment in the Foreign Service are explained on-line at the website: http://careers.state.gov/specialist/who-we-look-for. Male applicants born after December 31, 1959 must be in compliance with the Selective Service Act. Applicants must possess a valid US driver’s license. All applicants must be US citizens. An initial qualification review is conducted of all applicant files to determine if they meet the minimum qualifications for the position. Much of that information is contained within the minimum qualifications checklist which is enclosed in this announcement. Only qualified, competitive applicants will be invited to take a proctored writing skills examination. The ability to draft an essay demonstrating a strong command of English grammar, spelling and punctuation is essential. A passing grade on the written examination allows the applicant to proceed to further evaluation of qualifications. A written questionnaire must be satisfactorily completed before a personal oral interview will be administered. Candidates who are successful in all phases of the assessment process will be given the oral examination. Candidates who are unsuccessful in any phase of the assessment process may re-apply, providing that one year has passed since the closing date of the last announcement, and that a Diplomatic Courier Vacancy Announcement is open at that time.
Candidates must be at least 20 years of age and must have or be within nine months of receiving their Associate’s degree in order to apply. A candidate cannot be appointed prior to his or her 21st birthday and must be appointed prior to his or her 60th birthday (preference-eligible veterans excepted).
Prior to appointment, Diplomatic Courier candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation and be found eligible for a Top Secret security clearance. 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.
Those who have successfully gone through the selection process will be required to obtain:
- A valid medical clearance
Class one medical clearance (unlimited clearance for worldwide assignment). This means that candidates must be generally healthy and free of medical conditions that might require specialized or follow-up medical care that cannot be obtained worldwide.
- A Top Secret security clearance
- And undergo a suitability review
Candidates must be willing and able to travel extensively throughout the world, utilizing whatever means are available. Traveling and assignments abroad may involve working in remote areas where creature comforts and medical facilities are limited. Diplomatic Couriers may be required to travel to locations of civil unrest where conditions are potentially hostile and performance of duties is conducted under hazardous circumstances. Diplomatic Couriers are also required to assist in the physical movement of diplomatic pouches, some of which may weigh hundreds of pounds.
Applicants must have at least an Associate’s level degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university at the time of appointment. Official transcripts must confirm the Associate’s degree or 60 credit hours. Applicants currently pursuing an Associate’s degree may apply up to nine months preceding their graduation. An official transcript that confirms award of the degree or 60 credit hours is required prior to appointment.
IV. Qualification Requirements
GENERAL AND SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS
|GRADE LEVEL||SALARY RANGE||GENERAL |
|FP-6||$38,394 - $56,383||3||1||4|
General experience is three years of progressive responsibility; experience which demonstrates that the candidate has the ability to analyze problems and identify significant factors; gather pertinent information and data; recognize solutions and implement action; plan and organize work; and communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
Although not a requirement, fluency in a foreign language is desirable.
Specialized experience demonstrates that the applicant has acquired and is able to apply a combination of specific knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to a Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier position. Examples are:
- Experience in office operations in a government agency or a business, or an industrial firm servicing a client or client organization, demonstrating initiative, ingenuity, resourcefulness and judgment required to organize, implement and accomplish tasks;
- The ability to think logically and objectively, to analyze and evaluate facts, and to apply sound judgment in assessing the practical implications of solutions such as those required for negotiating contracts, and scheduling services or production runs;
- Responsibility for planning and scheduling resource needs, or organizing requirements for deliverables;
- Experience preparing written and oral reports and presentation of findings in a clear and concise manner;
- Interpersonal skills, including cultural sensitivity, discretion, tact, and capacity for obtaining the cooperation and confidence of others during team efforts and when supervising; and
- Experience scheduling airline and other transportation. Dealings with routing practices and customs processes, or with agents or officials involved in transporting materials across international boundaries, is also credited.
All experiences must demonstrate progressive responsibility. The experience must include at least four of the six specialized experience areas listed above. Evidence of working and/or living in a multicultural environment is desirable.
SUBSTITUTION OF EDUCATION FOR EXPERIENCE
- Applicants with 18 credit hours of undergraduate level study in addition to an Associate’s level degree may substitute that academic achievement for one year of general experience.
- A Bachelors degree from an accredited university may be substituted for two years of general experience.
V. Procedures for Applying
We are not currently accepting applications for this position. Please subscribe to receive email updates regarding this vacancy.
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.
- A completed, signed, and dated Minimum Qualifications Checklist (pdf).
- A copy of college or university transcripts showing an Associate's degree or confirming 60 undergraduate credit hours.
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 fax coversheets prior to the closing date of the vacancy information.
**IMPORTANT** Be sure to print both coversheets and fax your documents in separate transmissions.
NOTE: The fax coversheets contains an important ID number; keep a copy for your files. Be certain to follow the instructions, otherwise you WILL lose consideration for this job.
All required documents must be received by the closing date of the Announcement. Incomplete application packages will not be considered.
Application packages that are complete by the closing date of the Announcement will be assessed to determine if initial qualifications were met. Candidates will be notified if they are to be further considered or if their 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 entail appearance before a Board of Examiners panel to participate in an oral and written assessment. The board is composed of Diplomatic Couriers and other employees of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
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 a career in the Foreign Service before applying.
(Diplomatic Courier Candidates)
Completed applications from candidates who were successful in the online application process are reviewed to ensure that candidates meet the minimum qualifications for the position.
Only a very limited number of those applicants will be invited to an assessment that takes approximately three hours.
Teams from the Board of Examiners will conduct those assessments.
The assessment consists of a hand-written essay, a Qualifications Evaluation Process and an Oral Assessment. Various phases of this process are scored using the following dimensions: written and oral communication, 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.
In the oral assessment, questions posed to applicants may address current events, motivation, interpersonal skills, objectivity and integrity as well as some technical hypothetical questions concerning the Diplomatic Courier position.
The assessment/examination process is comprised of four phases:
- A 45-minute written essay;
- A written qualifications evaluation questionnaire;
- An oral qualifications interview; and
- An oral assessment administered by a member of the Board of Examiners and a member of the Diplomatic Security Courier Service.
We are currently planning to conduct examinations only in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.
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 may not 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 provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department. All decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.