FY 2016 FSO and FSS Predictions

The FY 2016 FSO and FSS Hiring Rates: Prediction

What will the hiring rate be for Foreign Service Officers and Foreign Service Specialists in Fiscal Year 2016?

I have reviewed data on the State Department website, and I am ready to make a prediction for the upcoming fiscal year (FY).

This is part two of a post I wrote recently titled:

What is the Foreign Service Hiring Data per Cone for Generalists and Specialists?

I fully suggest checking that one out first!


All right, let’s just dive into it!

For FY 2016 I predict lower hiring rates of both Officers and Specialist.

Specifically, I predict the following:

FSO: 200
FSS: 186
Total: 386

If accurate, these will be the lowest known hiring numbers. By ‘known’ I am referring to the data that has been made available (back to 2010):

Foreign Service Hiring Rates

Compared to last year, this is a drop of 90 FSO hires and 73 FSS hires.


I came up with these numbers by drawing on two data sets.

First, FSO and FSS hiring rates were gathered from the State Department’s Foreign Service forum.

Foreign Service Forum

As far as I can tell, making the information public is something new they have only been doing over the last couple of years. I have requested more historical data, but the moderators of the forum will only disclose back to 2010.

If anybody has more data, then please share!

Second, by looking up the budget.

It is buried, but the State Department does disclose these financial documents online, and it can be found here:


I looked at the ‘Executive Budget Summary, CBJ’ section in particular and then within each paper I searched for the “Department of State Summary of Appropriations Enduring Budget” table. I chose this table because it is the most consistent throughout the years and lays out the ‘Actual’, ‘Estimate’, and ‘Requested’ budget information.

Actual- what the previous FY’s budget ended up being
Estimate- what the current FY’s budget is estimated to be
Requested- the budget amount requested for the next FY

I compiled as much data as possible and ended up with the following: The actual budget from 2008 to 2015, the estimated budget from 2009 to 2016, and the requested budget from 2010 to 2017.

The four primary allocations in each request are:

  1. Administration of Foreign Affairs
  2. International Organizations
  3. International Commissions
  4. Related Programs

And looks like this:

State Department Fiscal Year Budget and Hires

After I had pooled together the data, I decided to look specifically at the ‘Administration of Foreign Affairs’ line item to determine FSO and FSS hiring rates.

After some slight reorganizing, you get the following nice looking table:

FY Administration of Foreign Affairs

I next wanted to compare the % change between each value:

FY Percent Change

R to E: % change Requested to Estimate
R to A: % change Requested to Actual
E to A: % change Estimate to Actual

Some things that stand out:

  1. Besides FY 2010, the amount requested is higher than is spent.
  2. Besides FY 2013, the estimate is lower than the final actual value.
  3. Over the last four FYs, the estimate to actual has been within a % point, +/-, which is a significant change from FYs 09-11, where there was an 8 to 17 point difference. This is crucial for prediction purposes.
  4. That said, FY 2016 has a 21-point difference currently. The last time there was this much disparity, was in FY 2011, and the estimated value to actual had a deviation of over 16 points.

I am going to bank on point number three for my prediction.

As historically the estimate is under the actual amount, I removed the FY 2013 change and averaged FYs 2012, ’14, and ’15. The average comes out to 0.57%.

By increasing the estimated value by 0.57%, my predicted Actual FY 2016 budget will be $7,948,381,000.

This is the lowest budget compared to the last eight fiscal years, which have an average budget of just over $10,000,000,000.

Even with a predicted budget, determining hiring rates with these numbers is difficult.

Currently, there is a rumor going around that State is only hiring at attrition. I have no way of validating (State Department Human Resources or BEX representatives who are reading please way in), but I do know hiring rates have been depreciating annually. Additionally, if my numbers are correct, we will be hiring at nearly a fourth of the amount as FY 2010, during the hiring surge.

Now, I did a few calculations, and I could not find a high correlation between the monetary value of the ‘Administration of Foreign Affairs’ line item and hiring rates.

The best relationship I found was looking at the % change between each hiring cohort as it relates to the budget.

On average, each time the budget went down the hiring rate of FSO dropped by about 25%, and the recruitment rate of FSS dropped by about 12%.

However, since the predicted actual budget has a drop similar to the change in FYs 2011 to 2012, I used percentage changes closer to this to come up with my numbers.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, but Jack we want some hard calculations.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide it. I can only offer the best guess as there are no strong correlations and the sample size is small.

However, what I can do is provide all the data I collected. The link below will take you to a shared Google document where you can view the information and then copy it to your own Excel (or equivalent) sheet.

FY 2016 Data Shared

If you have your own prediction, make sure you share it in the comments with a description of how you came up with it!

I look forward to your contributions!


This was a time-consuming project and one that I could not predict until recently when the FY 2017 budget was submitted. I will not know the actual amounts until the fall of this year, once the FY has been closed out.

When the numbers are made public, I will allow myself a +/- of 10 for each category, and a +/- of 20 for the total, to consider having made an accurate prediction.

I do look forward to learning, from whichever outcome, and trying to determine it once more next year!

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