Friday, November 30, 2018


Further to my previous post on promotion within the Foreign Service, another way the Department rewards hard workers is through the process called a Meritorious Service Increase, or MSI (we have lots of acronyms in the Department).

As a bit of a background, up until a few years ago MSI's were rewarded to those employees whom the promotion boards deemed "doing a good job, but not enough to be promoted". This was the bridesmaid list. You did a very good job, but not enough for promotion, so we will give you an additional step increase. For Federal employment, pay is determined by your grade. In each grade there are steps. For IMS (like me) we all come in at a FS-05 (that is our grade). Our initial step is determined by many factors - prior Federal service, job experience, education, etc. The more of those "things" you have the higher step. After 1 year of service, we are all administratively promoted to an FS-04, step whatever. The "whatever" is determined by what step you were previously. So as an example, if you came in at an FS-05 step 14 (14 is the highest step you can have), when you are administratively promoted (or promoted to the next higher grade in general), you go up one grade to your closest step and over 2. So for FS-05 step 14 the pay is $79070/yr. Promoted to the next step you would be FS-04 step 9, or $84176/yr. You get an automatic step increase each year up until step 10, which then becomes every 2 years. If you want to look at the FS pay chart you can visit it here (look at the Overseas Comparability chart).

So back to my story. As I said up until a few years ago MSI's were rewarded by the promotions board if you did a good job but not good enough to warrant promotion. Then the Dept. changed the rules where MSI's are a separate process. Posts nominate worthy staff for an MSI. Before I departed Fiji the cable (a cable is official communication within the Department) came out for nominations for MSI's. I mentioned to my supervisor that I'd like to be nominated for an MSI, as I felt like I had done a bang up job. He said "sure thing, give me a list of bullet points". So I put together a list of accomplishments that I had done during my tour that I felt warranted me to be considered for an MSI.

My supervisor wrote it up (after I departed in April), I sent it off to Washington. There, our Bureau (the Bureau is the group in Washington that is responsible for a particular geographic region) reviews the nominations. If they agree the MSI is warranted, it is passed to the MSI review panel. If they disagree (or if the MSI panel disagrees) it is sent back to Post. The MSI panel convened in September.

About a week ago the results from the MSI panel came out. And I was on it. So for my tour in Fiji, I was promoted AND received an MSI. Double bonus!!

Now what?! I can't sit back on my laurels. Even though I'm not eligible for promotion for another 2-3 years, I can get another MSI during my current tour. The promotion panels look at all of your EER's, so I have to keep performing at a high level to increase the odds of promotion as soon as I'm eligible again.

Onward and upward....

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