United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply
Announcement No: DCS-2015-0001
Position Title: Diplomatic Security: FOREIGN SERVICE DIPLOMATIC COURIER
Open Period: 2/25/2015 – 3/10/2015
Promotion Potential: FE-OC
Duty Locations: Various locations around the World, WW
For More Info: DS Recruitment, 571-345-3783, DSRecruitment@state.gov.
All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement to ensure they meet all the requirements for this position and they fully understand the special circumstances involving a career in the Foreign Service before applying.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, at least 20 yrs old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed. All candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach 60 years of age (preference eligible veterans excepted).
No Applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections 607 (Retirement of Expiration of Time-in-Class), 608 (Retirement Based on Relative Performance), 610 (Separation for Cause), or 612 (Termination of Limited Appointment) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu of separation under these provisions. In addition, no candidate will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service for failure to receive a career appointment under Section 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu thereof.
Specialists separated for failure to receive a career appointment under section 306 may not re-apply to be a Foreign Service specialist in the same skill code, but may apply for another skill code (or to be a Foreign Service generalist).
Full-Time Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by the Tenure Boards.
The Department of State is developing a rank-order 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 in any given year and is subject to change.
Starting Salary: FP-06 — $39,166 to $57,517 per annum. (This figure does not include the 16.14% Overseas Comparability adjustment for overseas assignments or locality pay for domestic assignments.)
Additional Benefits: Tax-Free Housing overseas; Tax-Free Education Allowance for eligible dependents, etc. (Additional information about benefits for Foreign Service Specialists is available online at
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. Foreign Service Diplomatic Couriers assist in worldwide security programs that provide secure transportation services for Department of State diplomatic pouches. The Department carries out this mission at over 275 embassies and consulates around the world, offices in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and other locations in the United States.
The Foreign Service is more than a job – it’s a career. As a member of a diplomatic team, you will not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also will be a representative of your country to the people of other nations. A Foreign Service career involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships, as well as unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to enter this career should be based on extraordinary motivation and a firm dedication to public service.
Many overseas posts are in small or remote countries where harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts exist and where American-style amenities and the latest in technological advances often are unavailable. Personal security frequently becomes an area of concern in countries where there is political unrest or terrorist activity. However, careers in the Foreign Service offer special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U.S. interests abroad.
The Foreign Service strives to maintain diversity in the representation of gender, geographic region, race and ethnicity within its work force.
Each applicant, in order to be considered for selection, must:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be at least 20 years old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed.
- Pursuant to the Foreign Service Act of 1980, be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60 (except for preference-eligible veterans). **
- Be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret Security Clearance.
- Be able to obtain the necessary medical clearance for Foreign Service work.
- Be able to obtain a Suitability Clearance, based on a standards set forth in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Service Manual. For more details see https://careers.state.gov or http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/regs/fam.
- Be able to perform physically demanding duties, including handling heavy pouches.
**If 59 ½ years of age or over and claiming 5 pt. veteran’s preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214. If claiming 10 pt. veteran’s preference, in addition to the DD-214, you must submit your VA letter and SF-15. (Required if preference eligible.)
NOTE: Individuals who have been denied a suitability clearance by a Department of State Final Review Panel within the previous two years are ineligible to apply. This two-year ban runs from either the date of the denial letter or, if the candidate appealed and was denied, the date of the appeals denial letter. (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 and legal restrictions of that position and not based on suitability standards.)
DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES
The duties of a Diplomatic Courier can vary according to the requirements of each mission. Diplomatic Couriers are required to safeguard and escort diplomatic pouches containing classified and sensitive material between U.S. 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 complying with Department of State policies, regulations and implementing the strict security procedures that define the control and movement of U.S. 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 passenger and cargo aircraft, trucks, trains, and ships.
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:
- Serve 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; 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.
- Assist in labor intensive duties, including warehouse duties, sorting and moving heavy pouches, packing materials, escort missions, and working with the cargo crew to move heavy pouches on airport tarmacs.
- 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 Vienna Convention.
- Assess risks to movement of diplomatic pouches and sealed official diplomatic cargo; 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 personnel, and officials of designated foreign governments.
It is important that a Diplomatic Courier has the physical endurance to withstand the challenging physical stresses from working long hours, lack of sleep, extremes of heat or cold, and other discomforts. A Diplomatic Courier must have the physical strength to lift and move heavy items such as diplomatic pouches and crates that may be oversized and weigh as much as 70 lbs or carry heavy equipment.
Some essential functions of the job have a physically demanding component. For instance, a Diplomatic Courier is required to perform work that requires regular and recurring periods of prolonged sitting, standing, bending, and stretching. A Diplomatic Courier is often required to physically move and transport heavy diplomatic pouches. That could involve climbing ladders and working in and around aircraft, trucks, trains, aboard ships, etc. Other essential duties of the job may involve assisting with the recurring lifting of heavy diplomatic pouches and boxes. Related activities include crawling, maneuvering, and working in cramped spaces as well as the occasional moving and transporting of diplomatic pouches that may weigh as much as 70 lbs.
In addition, candidates must have vision that is correctable to 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other, no color blindness, adequate night vision and good peripheral vision. Candidates must have good hearing with no loss of greater than 30 decibels at 500, 1000, 2000 Hz level. The musculoskeletal system should have no deformities, diseases or limiting conditions that would interfere with the performance of duties.
The Office of Medical Services will conduct or arrange for a physical examination of each applicant offered a position to ensure that the candidate meets the physical and medical requirements necessary to perform the essential functions of the job and can meet the standards required for a worldwide medical clearance.
Applicants must be available for worldwide service, and be able to tolerate intensive world travel, living away from family, and working and living in difficult and / or isolated conditions.
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 the accredited 60 credit hours. An official transcript from the accredited college or university that confirms award of the degree or 60 credit hours is required prior to appointment.
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.
Three years of work experience with progressively increasing responsibility. Experience should demonstrate that the candidate has the ability to analyze problems, gather pertinent information and data, plan and organize work, form solutions, implement action, and communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Although not a requirement, fluency in a foreign language is desirable.
Specialized experience must demonstrate 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.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 59 and posses a valid U.S. driver’s license. Education and experience qualifications must be met. Male candidates must be in compliance with the Selective Service Act.
Superior Oral and Written Communication Skills: In order to pass the Foreign Service’s thorough and competitive assessment process, successful candidates must consistently meet a high standard for English, both written (overall structure as well as grammar, spelling and punctuation) and spoken (overall structure as well as delivery, clarity and succinctness). Those who fall short of this standard will have little chance of passing through the Foreign Service’s highly competitive assessment process.
Professional-level speaking ability in a foreign language is welcome, but not a requirement for applying. The applicant must be willing to be trained by the Department of State in a foreign language to meet a job requirement or expectation. These will be important considerations in the competitive promotion process.
Prior to appointment, Diplomatic Courier candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation to determine eligibility for a TOP SECRET security clearance and suitability for appointment to the Foreign Service. Candidates must undergo an extensive medical examination to obtain a class one medical clearance for worldwide service. A final review of a candidate’s complete file is conducted to determine suitability for the Foreign Service.
In addition, Diplomatic Courier candidates must meet supplementary physical standards to include, but not limited to, additional vision and hearing requirements (as mentioned above under ‘physical demands’). For example, candidates must be willing and able to lift and move heavy pouches. The standards for the Diplomatic Courier position can be found at https://careers.state.gov/downloads in documents entitled “DS supplementary physical qualification standards.”
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. Initial evaluations of candidates will be conducted through an online application screening. Those applications which rank at or above a predetermined cut score will be further evaluated to confirm that they meet the minimum qualification requirements. Selection for this position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications.
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 the candidate is appointed from a list of eligible candidates (a process which can sometimes take as long as a year or more), or the candidacy is terminated.
Those who have successfully completed the entire selection process will be required to obtain the following:
- A Top Secret security clearance
- A valid class 1 medical clearance and supplementary medical requirement pertaining to hearing and vision requirements
- Pass a final suitability review
Once all clearances are received, candidate names are added to a rank-order register. Candidates can improve their standing on the register by obtaining additional points for qualifying military service and / or proven language ability as determined by the Foreign Service Institute. More information on these two points, as well as the clearance process, is available on our website at https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-service/specialist/selection-process. Selection for this position will be made only from among those candidates possessing the best qualifications. Incomplete packages will not be considered.
Application materials become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned. Failure to adequately substantiate education and work experience by virtue of documentation and verification will result in termination of your application for the position of Diplomatic Courier.
Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.
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To apply, applicants must first register on 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, select the “apply online” button to the right. This button will transfer you to Gateway to State.
Follow the “apply online” instructions at Gateway to State by answering self-assessment questions for the specific job to which you are applying. When completed, the information you provided at USAJOBS and the answers to the Gateway to State questions will become your application. Your registration, resume, and responses to questions will be used to evaluate your qualifications for this job. In addition, you must fax or upload the additional required documentation to complete your application package.
You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on the closing date of this announcement to complete the application process and supply the required documentation outlined in this vacancy announcement. Please be aware that the application time is short and that your application package MUST be complete and RECEIVED by the closing date. No exceptions.
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 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 their 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.
If you are having technical difficulty with the application process, please contact the helpdesk by calling 1-866-656-6830 or by emailing email@example.com. Please note the helpdesk is available Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7 pm EST.
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 current completed, signed, and dated Minimum Qualifications Checklist (pdf). Minimum Qualifications Checklists from prior announcements will not be accepted.
- Copies of transcripts that confirm your award of an Associate’s Degree or your completion of 60 equivalent undergraduate hours from an accredited college or university.
- If claiming veterans’ preference, you must provide a copy of DD214 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. In addition, 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 veterans preference).
- A two paged, double spaced narrative autobiography (5000 characters maximum) which discusses your:
- Personal background
- Personal interests, hobbies and travel
- Any professional experience not included in the employment application
- Motivation for applying for a Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier career
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 these system-generated cover sheets, and the phone number included on them, be used for faxing these documents. The cover sheets are coded to ensure 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. 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.
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.
For additional information, please refer to our website at https://careers.state.gov.
Both official and unofficial transcripts are acceptable as part of the application process.
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.
Only those application packages that are complete and submitted 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 oral and written assessments. The board is composed of Diplomatic Couriers and other employees of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Submitted materials become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned.
Completed applications from candidates who were successful in the online application process and who scored at or above the determined cut score will be reviewed to ensure that their application package and documents meet the minimum qualifications for the position.
Only a very limited number of these applicants will be invited to an assessment that takes approximately three to four hours.
Teams from the Board of Examiners will conduct those assessments.
The assessment consists of a two-step Qualifications Evaluation Process, a written essay 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 will address current events, motivation, interpersonal skills, objectivity and integrity as well as some hypothetical questions concerning the Diplomatic Courier position.
The assessment / examination process is comprised of four phases:
- A 20 minute written qualifications evaluation questionnaire
- A 25 minute oral qualifications interview
- A 45 minute written exercise (essay); and
- An oral assessment administered by a member of the Board of Examiners and a Diplomatic Courier.
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.
All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications. A limited number of selected candidates will be invited to come for an oral assessment at a Department of State facility in the Rosslyn, VA office.
Selected candidates: Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral and written assessments are the responsibility of the candidate.
Health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, generous paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures. Overseas benefits include paid housing or a housing allowance and paid education for dependent children between K-12.
Additional Benefits: Tax free housing overseas, tax free educational allowance, etc. (See Compensation and Benefits on our website at careers.state.gov, for more information.)
Any Foreign Service Specialist hired after October 1, 2013, who demonstrates a Foreign Service Institute (FSI)-tested Arabic language ability, will receive a one-time recruitment bonus.
Newly-hired Diplomatic Couriers are assigned at the FP-06 level. Initial base salary upon appointment will be within the FP-06 pay grade. The specific step within this grade depends on experience level and salary history, and will be determined at the time of an offer of employment. The entry-level salary for current Federal civilian employees without a break in service will be set at the rate, within the Foreign Service FP-06 grade, which is nearest to their previous base salary; however, the maximum salary is limited to the step 14 of the FP-06 grade.
Salaries at the time of appointment may also be adjusted to include domestic locality pay. Overseas salaries may be adjusted to include a 16.14% overseas locality / comparability payment, cost-of-living allowances, post differentials, danger pay, and / or other allowances specific to the post of assignment. The actual differences in pay will be determined by the location of assignments.
Competitive Promotion and Within-Grade Increases:
Diplomatic Couriers appointed at the FP-06 level will be administratively promoted to the FP-05 level following completion of 12 months in class with satisfactory performance, and to the FP-04 level after an additional 18 months of satisfactory performance. To proceed beyond the FP-04 level, Diplomatic Couriers are considered for promotion annually in competition with their peers. The highest possible competitive promotion is to the FE-OC level. Due to the limited number of yearly competitive promotional opportunities, promotion panel selections are based on published criteria and quality of performance.
In general, Foreign Service employees with documented satisfactory performance are eligible to receive a within-grade increase annually up through step 10 and biannually from steps 10 through 14.
All employees are evaluated, in writing, at least once a year. The employee is an active participant in this process. The evaluations form the basis for promotions, which are made by a panel of more senior employees. In addition to the formal training program, Diplomatic Couriers advance in their career by performing well and taking progressively more responsibilities in their assignments.
All Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier career candidates are considered for tenure after they have acquired two years of experience in the Foreign Service as a career candidate and have been administratively promoted to the FP-04 level. A tenuring board recommends tenure based on demonstrated ability to perform satisfactorily along with the potential to perform at higher levels. If tenure is not granted during the first review, a second review will be made one year later. Failure to achieve tenure within the prescribed time frame of four years is grounds for separation.
Initial assignment will be to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., for orientation and training.
After orientation and training, the initial assignments will be made to domestic locations in the Washington, DC area or in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area, or to Diplomatic Courier Offices overseas in locations such as: Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Pretoria, South Africa; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Seoul, Republic of Korea. Initial assignments are made in accordance with the needs of the Foreign Service.
Following the mandatory two assignments as an entry-level employee, the Diplomatic Courier bids on subsequent domestic or overseas assignments every one to three years. Specialists serve with the management team at their Foreign Service posts. They may have an opportunity to participate in non-technical embassy work and in social and community activities as part of the embassy family. After the first two assignments, employees may request assignments in any embassy or consulate worldwide where Diplomatic Courier positions are available. Assignments are made in consultation with the employee’s Career Development Officer, taking into consideration the needs of the Department, the particular interests / skills of the employee, career development requirements, family circumstances, and individual preferences.
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 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 to the oral assessment. 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 a career in the Foreign Service before applying.