The United States Foreign Service is the primary personnel system used by the diplomatic service of the United States federal government , under the aegis of the United States Department of State. It consists of over 13, professionals  carrying out the foreign policy of the United States and aiding U. Created in by the Rogers Act , the Foreign Service combined all consular and diplomatic services of the U. In addition to the unit's function, the Rogers Act defined a personnel system under which the United States Secretary of State is authorized to assign diplomats abroad. Members of the Foreign Service are selected through a series of written and oral examinations. They serve at any of the United States diplomatic missions around the world, including embassies , consulates , and other facilities. Members of the Foreign Service also staff the headquarters of the four foreign affairs agencies: the Department of State , headquartered at the Harry S Truman Building in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D. Between and , the Director General was designated by the Secretary of State. The first Director General, Selden Chapin , held the position for less than six months before being replaced by Christian M. Ravndal , who held the position of Director General until June of Starting on November 23, until October 2, under a departmental administrative action, the Director General concurrently held the title of Director of the Bureau of Human Resources. The two positions are now separate. Initially there were two services devoted to diplomatic and consular activity. The Diplomatic Service provided ambassadors and ministers to staff embassies overseas, while the Consular Service provided consuls to assist United States sailors and promote international trade and commerce. Throughout the 19th century, ambassadors, or ministers, as they were known prior to the s, and consuls were appointed by the president, and until , earned no salary. Many had commercial ties to the countries in which they would serve, and were expected to earn a living through private business or by collecting fees. In , Congress provided a salary for consuls serving at certain posts; those who received a salary could not engage in private business, but could continue to collect fees for services performed. Lucile Atcherson Curtis was the first woman in what became the U. Foreign Service. The Rogers Act of merged the diplomatic and consular services of the government into the Foreign Service. An extremely difficult Foreign Service examination was also implemented to recruit the most outstanding Americans, along with a merit-based system of promotions. The Rogers Act also created the Board of the Foreign Service and the Board of Examiners of the Foreign Service, the former to advise the Secretary of State on managing the Foreign Service, and the latter to manage the examination process. In Congress passed legislation affording diplomatic status to representatives abroad of the Department of Commerce until then known as " trade commissioners " , creating the Foreign Commerce Service. In Congress passed similar legislation for the Department of Agriculture , creating the Foreign Agricultural Service. Officers were expected to spend the bulk of their careers abroad and were commissioned officers of the United States, available for worldwide service. Reserve officers often spent the bulk of their careers in Washington but were available for overseas service. Foreign Service Staff personnel included clerical and support positions. The intent of this system was to remove the distinction between Foreign Service and civil service staff, which had been a source of friction. The Act replaced the Board of Foreign Service Personnel, a body concerned solely with administering the system of promotions, with the Board of the Foreign Service, which was responsible more broadly for the personnel system as a whole, and created the position of Director General of the Foreign Service. It also introduced the "up-or-out" system under which failure to gain promotion to higher rank within a specified time in class would lead to mandatory retirement, essentially borrowing the concept from the U. The Act also created the rank of Career Minister, accorded to the most senior officers of the service, and established mandatory retirement ages. The new personnel management approach was not wholly successful, which led to an effort in the late s to overhaul the Act. Information Agency, and U. Agency for International Development. It abolished the Foreign Service Reserve category of officers, and reformed the personnel system for non-diplomatic locally employed staff of overseas missions Foreign Service Nationals. It created a Senior Foreign Service with a rank structure equivalent to general and flag officers of the armed forces and to the Senior Executive Service. It enacted danger pay for those diplomats who serve in dangerous and hostile surroundings along with other administrative changes.
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