AFSA objects to Amin's characterization of Foreign Service

Wednesday - 10/5/2011, 7:35pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

An executive of the American Foreign Service Association is taking exception to comments by a State Department official criticizing the role of Foreign Service officers.

Kirit Amin, the chief information officer of the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, said he will take a 120-day reassignment with the State Department CIO, citing frustration over the agency's "cronyism" and "nepotism."

In an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio's Jason Miller, Amin said, "The State Department is ruled by the Foreign Service. These guys go overseas and have a good time and come here and have no idea what they are doing. The agency is ruled by them, and even Secretary Hillary Clinton is starting to admit to that. I think the civil service employees are treated like doormats. You fight with them for what's right and they can't take it."

But Daniel Hirsch, state vice president of AFSA, took exception to those comments.

In an emailed statement to Federal News Radio, Hirsch wrote, "These outrageous comments raise serious questions about whether Mr. Amin even understands the basic mission of the agency he is working for, much as protesting that the Department of Defense is "ruled" by the military would raise questions about whether a person understood the purpose of that agency."

Hirsch said in his statement that Foreign Service employees often act under "difficult and frequently dangerous circumstances."

"If Mr. Amin does not 'get' that, then perhaps that is why there appears to be a disconnect between his ideas of how things should be, and those of his Foreign Service colleagues. If so, that may explain his frustration, and the reluctance of others to accept his 'reforms,'" Hirch said.

Hirsch ended his statement with, "If Mr. Amin has been misquoted, we hope his position will be clarified. Otherwise, we hope that the Department will reconsider the value he brings, or does not bring, to the mission of the agency as a whole."

AFSA is a professional association representing 28,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees.

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