2017 FSO and FSS Hiring Numbers-background

FSO, FSS, and Consular Fellows 2017 Fiscal Year Hiring Rates

The Foreign Service Officer (FSO), Foreign Service Specialist (FSS), and Consular Fellows hiring numbers for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 have been released!

If you have been following the blog for some time, then you know I enjoy learning this information and presenting it to you visually. I’ve done it for the last two years and find it an important tool to gauge the health of the Foreign Service. Additionally, I think it is a great measure to compare available opportunities (or the lack of opportunity) for aspiring Officers and Specialists.

The data, which was made available on the Foreign Service Forum (if you follow the link, you will notice that I requested this data over a month ago (Jan. 3), and it took multiple check-ins before the moderator(s) provided the information), should not be a surprise if you have been keeping up with the news.

To jump to it, the hiring numbers are the lowest I have on record (FY 2010-2017).

Please note, the 2017 Fiscal Year is from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017, and likewise for previous years.


Quick facts:

  • Hiring rates for FSOs dropped nearly 38% from the previous year.
  • Hiring rates for FSSs dropped nearly 5% from the previous year.
  • Total hiring rates dropped nearly 24% from the previous year.

The FSO program saw a big decline from the previous year, and continues its overall downward trajectory since 2010. It looked as if it might have been leveling out, but with the new administration a new direction was chosen. Expectation for FY 2018 is continued decline in FSO hiring numbers.

The FSS career is more “stable”, in the sense that even though fewer numbers were hired, and there is decline, there is stronger consistency when compared to the FSO. I am interested to see how this continues.

New to the listing, though not shown in the graph, are the hiring rates for Consular Fellows. In FY 2017, 127 Consular Fellows were hired. I have heard rumblings that the State Department has been using the Consular Fellows Program to staff what would be entry level FSO positions, recruiting from off the Register. This is an obvious workaround to the hiring freeze, but it is important to note that the Fellows Program does not automatically lead to becoming an FSO. For FY 2018, I expect the number of Consular Fellows hired to increase.

I fully admit that the above paragraph is from what I have heard in the “rumor mill”, so I welcome constructive comments if you know better, and I will edit as applicable.

It is also important to note that the FSO numbers provided do not break down how many folks were hired after going through the FSOT process or a fellowship (e.g., Pickering).

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

EDIT: February 12, 2018 – Diplopundit just published the following related article: “A Look at @StateDept Staffing Losses Between FY2016-FY2017 #ThisCouldGetWorse

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12 thoughts on “FSO, FSS, and Consular Fellows 2017 Fiscal Year Hiring Rates”

  1. Any data showing the hiring # for each career track (cone)? Any data showing the staffing levels for each career track (understaffed, overstaffed, etc)?

  2. Terrific post Jack! I really appreciate your thoughtful analyses, enthusiasm, and dedication to the FSO process as shown by your fantastic website. It is inspiring. In an earlier post, you projected 46 might be the number of new hires for the coming year. This, combined with your trend analysis, paints a bleak future for diplomacy and the diplomatic process. I remain hopeful that this is temporary. We need more, not less, diplomacy and diplomats. Any data available to project how many diplomats retire and/or leave the foreign service each year? Combining those data with your trend analysis would reveal loss of recruitment to the FSO workforce and strengthen justification for new hiring. Perhaps these analyses can be shared with members of Congress to illustrate the dramatic, negative impact current hiring policies are having on soft power. Have you considered doing so? Thanks again! You rock!

    1. Thanks John, I completely agree! More data would be awesome. Unfortunately, State hesitates to provide such information. It may be out there, I just don’t know where to look. If you find out, I am happy to do an analysis.

        1. Thanks for pointing out this informative letter from AFSA. It is eye-opening and I enjoyed reading the call to defend the Foreign Service and other recent letters from the President of AFSA. As a followup, the Up-Or-Out policy of the Foreign Service will accelerate reduction to the Foreign Service if there are no upper positions to fill. This, combined with continued reduction in annual new FSO hires, will result in a rapid and massive FSO reduction. Lets hope that soon, Congress and Americans will demand an increase to hiring and for diplomacy in general. What a difficult time to apply to become a diplomat. I wished I had applied back in 2010!

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