2 FAH-2 H-100

2 FAH-2 H-110


(CT:PMO-15;   04-11-2022)
(Office of Origin:  M/SS)


2 FAH-2 H-111.1  Objective

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This handbook will:

(1)  Define Chief of Mission (COM) authority over, and responsibilities to, U.S. Government employees, positions, operations, and activities overseas as specified in relevant Presidential Directives and legislation noted in 2 FAH-2 H-112 and 2 FAM 113.

(2)  Guide you in determining who is under COM authority and security responsibility at a mission.

(3)  Explain the mutual responsibilities of the COM and those personnel under COM authority, including rightsizing, staffing, and country clearance.

(4)  Explain what COM security responsibility is, how it differs from COM authority, and how it affects different categories of personnel abroad.

(5)  Provide additional guidance in exhibits on how to determine COM authority, control mission staffing, and keep track of personnel subject to COM security responsibility.

2 FAH-2 H-111.2  Authorities

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a. Foreign Service Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-465) Section 207 (22 U.S.C. 3927).

b. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (Public Law 87-195).

c.  Omnibus Diplomatic Security (DS) and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (22 U.S.C. Sections 4802 and 4805).  See 2 FAM Exhibit 111.3(I).

d. National Security Decision Directive 38 (“Staffing at Diplomatic Missions and their Overseas Constituent Posts”) from June 1982.  See 2 FAM Exhibit 111.3.

e. FY1989 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

f.  Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-77).

g. President’s Letter of Instruction to Chiefs of Mission.

h. State-Justice-Treasury Memorandum of Understanding of 1996.

i.  State-Department of Defense (DOD) Memorandum of Understanding of 1997.

j.  Department of State-Government Accountability Office (GAO) Memorandum of Understanding (12/15/1988).  See 2 FAM Exhibit 111.3(J).

k. Department of State-Library of Congress (LOC) Memorandum of Understanding (3/14/89).

l.  Other authorities (statutory, executive order, MOUs, etc.) as applicable.

2 FAH-2 H-112  Chief of Mission Defined

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A COM is the principal officer in charge of a diplomatic mission of the United States or of a United States office abroad which is designated by the Secretary of State as diplomatic in nature, including any individual assigned under 22 U.S.C. 3982(c) to be temporarily in charge of such a mission or office. Usually, the U.S. Ambassador to a foreign country, or the Chargé d’affaires, is the COM in that country.  Other COMs include:

(1)  The chiefs of certain permanent U.S. Missions to international organizations (i.e., the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [USOECD], the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna [UNVIE], USUN, OAS, OSCE, USNATO, U.S. Mission to the European Office of the UN, USEU, USAU, and USASEA).

(2)  The Principal Officers of the Consulates General in Hong Kong and Curacao.

(3)  For additional information see 1 FAM 013.2, Responsibilities of COMs, 1 FAM 013.5-3, Staffing Abroad, and 2 FAM 113, COMs and Principal Officers.

2 FAH-2 H-112.1  Chief of Mission Authority

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a. Presidential directives and U.S. law are the sources of COM authority. These sources give the COM the authority to direct, supervise, and coordinate all U.S. Government executive branch employees in the COM’s country or area of responsibility.  This includes U.S. Direct Hire (USDH) employees and Personal Service Contractors (PSCs), whether assigned permanently or on temporary duty or an official visit, and all Locally Employed (LE) Staff regardless of hiring mechanism (whether a direct hire or hired on a PSA, PSC, or other mechanism by the Department of State or another U.S. government agency – see 3 FAM 7121).  These authorities also place the COM in charge of all Executive Branch activities and operations in his/her Mission.  This authority is subject to some exceptions and exclusions noted in 2 FAH-2 H-112.1 paragraphs b and c.

b. Exceptions: There are three groups specifically excepted from COM authority by statute or presidential directive:

(1)  Personnel serving under the command of a Geographic Combatant Commander (GCC) (see 2 FAH-2 H-116.2);

(2)  Executive branch employees officially on the staff of an international organization and performing the functions of that organization (see 2 FAH-2 H-116.4);

(3)  Voice of America correspondents (but not other employees of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)) on official assignment;

c.  Exclusions: The following individuals are excluded from COM authority:

(1)  Members of the Legislative and Judicial branches; 

(2)  Individuals who do not have a direct employer-employee relationship with the U.S. Government executive branch including those affiliated with the U.S. Government such as: Eligible Family Members (EFMs) (who are not employed by the Department in any capacity), educational exchange students, Fellows, government grant recipients, and non-U.S. Government employees who work for commercial contractors or non-governmental organizations.

d. Non-Executive branch agencies and COM authority:  There are numerous non-executive branch agencies that have signed memoranda of understanding with the Secretary of State agreeing to abide by the same rules as those under COM authority.  These MOUs identify the scope, mutual interests, and responsibilities between the COM and the agency in carrying out activities in foreign locations.

2 FAH-2 H-112.2  How To Determine Who Is Subject To Chief Of Mission Authority

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a. The following are guidelines for Post Management to determine which activities and/or personnel are under COM authority.  Post Management staff must use this information when they become aware of a new activity or personnel in the COM’s area of responsibility to confirm if the activity or personnel is subject to COM authority.  There are two questions:

1) Is the activity subject to COM authority, and

2) Is the individual subject to COM authority? 

    Post must review documentation that clarifies the type of activity to be performed and employment category of the individual(s) involved in order to determine whether an activity or person is subject to COM authority.  After this review, the COM may consult with the relevant bureau’s executive office before making a final determination. Direct questions and complex cases to M/PRI and L/M for assistance in making a determination of COM authority. See COM authority decision chart in 2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-112 for a listing of different types of activities and persons.  

(1)  Activity:  The activities and operations subject to COM authority include all U.S. executive branch activities, not otherwise excluded, in the COM’s area of responsibility. These activities may be incorporated into an Integrated Country Strategy, or relate to it only tangentially, but will serve U.S. national interests as determined by the Ambassador, the State Department, and the Mission’s Country Team. There are times when an activity is subject to COM authority, but the individuals carrying it out are not, such as an AID-run project on combatting a disease (the activity is subject to COM authority) that is staffed by commercial contractors (these personnel are not subject to COM authority). 

(2)  Employment:  All U.S. Government executive branch employees fall under COM authority, unless they fall under one of the exceptions or exclusions noted in 2 FAH-2 H-112.1 above.

b. Factors that do not affect COM authority determinations: The following factors are NOT relevant to determining if someone is subject to COM authority: work location, security responsibility, status of forces agreement, passport (whether regular, official, or diplomatic), diplomatic accreditation, mere reference to a large section of the U.S. code without further information (see 2 FAH-2 H-115 paragraph b(2) for an example), or ICASS support.  While these factors may apply to an employee who is subject to COM authority, they can also apply to those employees not subject to COM authority (e.g., it is possible for an employee not under COM authority to have diplomatic accreditation).  The Chief of Mission Authority Matrix in 2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-112 at the end of this section provides guidelines for who is and is not under COM authority. 


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a. The COM has the following responsibilities to those subject to his/her authority.

(1)  Direct, coordinate, and supervise all U.S. Government personnel under COM authority, including all employment categories, whether American or foreign national, direct hire, PSA or PSC, full-time, part-time or intermittent work schedules, or employed on a permanent or temporary basis.

(2)  Provide country-specific policies and directives required to accomplish mission objectives.

(3)  Respond to offices requesting country clearance for visits by U.S. Government personnel subject to COM authority.  The COM may grant, withhold, or limit country clearance. Refer to section 2 FAH-2 H-114 for additional information.

(4)  Respond to agency requests to change the size, composition, or mandate of their staffing regardless of the duration or purpose of the proposed position or assignment.

(5)  Periodically review staffing levels and make adjustments as needed to carry out mission goals.  The COM will work with M/SS to establish appropriate overseas staffing levels for the mission (except for personnel and activities under the command of a GCC or regional inspector general offices under the jurisdiction of the Inspector General of the U.S. Agency for International Development, see 2 FAH-2 H-113.3 below).

b. Those persons subject to COM authority and agencies with personnel subject to COM authority have the following responsibilities. 

(1)  Comply fully with all applicable country-specific policies and directives of the COM including COM-issued Security Directives.

(2)  Coordinate with and keep the COM currently and fully informed with respect to all current and planned activities and operations,

(3)  Obtain COM approval before changing the size, composition, or mandate of staff and when assigning personnel to the mission or host country, regardless of the duration or purpose of the proposed position or assignment, whether full-time, part-time, or temporary. See 2 FAH-2 H-113.1 on NSDD 38 for further guidance; and

(4)  Request country clearance for any employee who will be in country on official business. The COM has the authority to grant, withhold, or limit country clearance. Additional information can be found in sub-section 2 FAH-2 H-114.  For employees assigned to post for 365 days or longer, the assignment notice serves as their request for country clearance.  Employees who will be in country for 364 days or less must request permission using eCountry Clearance.

2 FAH-2 H-113.1  COM Responsibility To Manage Staffing (Rightsizing and NSDD 38)

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a. All agencies must obtain Chief of Mission (COM) approval before adding or removing any position subject to COM authority, whether permanent or limited duration (see 2 FAH-2 H-112.1), or changing the mandate of any such position (e.g., supervision, portfolio).  The COM makes a decision based on post priorities, availability of working space that meets all required security standards, security and administrative support, and the ability of the agency to support the financial cost of the position (see 2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-113 for details).  A decision memo should be provided to the COM with responses to address  concerns in paragraph f below, for all position requests whether they are coordinated by the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS) or managed by post (see paragraph b below).

(1)  The post’s Human Resources Officer (HRO) is responsible for position management.

(2)  The HRO shall:

·         Ensure the accuracy of all data maintained in post’s overseas personnel management system for personnel under COM authority;

·         Provide section/agency heads a list of their personnel for review on a quarterly basis;

·         Abolish unfunded, vacant overseas hire (LE Staff and EFM) positions;

·         Maintain current and accurate position descriptions for overseas hires, review hiring requests, and ensure funding is available prior to posting vacancy announcements; and

·         Coordinate with section/agency heads on compliance with the President’s Letter of Instruction on managing vacant positions.  The President’s Letter of Instruction directs all agencies under COM authority to submit requests to the COM to abolish positions that have remained vacant for at least two years.  The COM has the authority to approve or disapprove these requests based on policy priorities and consultations with the requesting agency.

(3)  Section/Agency Heads shall:

·         Confirm positions are current, accurate, and funded;

·         Ensure vacant positions established via National Security Decision Directive 38 (NSDD 38) are filled within 24 months of the initial vacancy or request agency/bureau action to initiate abolishment; and

·         Assess the need for vacant overseas hire positions and abolish them if no longer required.

b. M/SS’s Policy and Global Presence Directorate coordinates bureau and agency requests for changes to positions covered by the NSDD 38 process through an online system.  A position is subject to the NSDD 38 process if it meets all the following criteria and is not a local position, as defined in 3 FAM 7121:

(1)  It is permanent, meaning it is needed and funded for at least 12 months, whether by one person or by a series of temporary duty staff.

(2)  It is a direct-hire position regardless of whether the individual who will fill it is a U.S. citizen or not.  Note that Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas (DETO) arrangements are direct hire positions and are subject to COM authority and the NSDD 38 process when the duration is 12 months or longer and country clearance for less than 12 months. DETO arrangement positions are not added to the mission staffing pattern (see 3 FAM 2368).

      Note: USPSC or TCNPSC positions are considered direct-hire positions.

    Example:  USAID plans to hire a non-Kenyan to work in Kenya in a position that is subject to COM authority.  This position must go through the NSDD 38 process.

    For more information, see the Policy and Global Presence Directorate’s NSDD 38 share point page.

c.  In addition to (b) above, as a matter of policy, the Department conducts the NSDD 38 process for direct hire local positions that must be filled by Foreign Service Nationals, as defined in 3 FAM 7121.

d. Post manages the approval process of all positions under COM authority that do not require the Policy and Global Presence Directorate’s coordination, including:

(1)  Local positions filled by LE Staff hired under local PSA or PSC authority,

(2)  Local positions filled by Eligible Family Members (EFMs), including EFMs hired under the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP).

e. Positions under COM authority which are not subject to the NSDD 38 process (for example, temporary positions, those of less than 12 months' duration still require COM approval.  The country clearance process explained in 2 FAH-2 H-114 is used for personnel not permanently assigned to the mission.

f.  When seeking COM approval for any position change, the requesting bureau or agency should use the questionnaire listed as 2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-113.  Information in the requestor’s proposal should include but is not necessarily limited to:

(1)  For a position increase:

·         The degree to which these employees or contractors support mission priorities;

·         The legislative or regulatory approval for the change;

·         Why this function cannot be accomplished from the United States, a regional center or through the use of TDY, contract, or other personnel;

·         Whether there is available office and/or functional space that meets security standards;

·         The space and administrative support cost requirements; and

·         The agency’s acceptance of and ability to pay the costs required to provide space and consume administrative and security support services.

(2)  For a position decrease:

·         What event(s) changed the need for the position;

·         How the functions of the position(s) to be abolished will be met in the future;

·         Who will be responsible for the residual workload; and

·         If required, whether advance notice been given to Post’s ICASS Council and Service Provider of intent to withdraw current level of service ( if yes, provide date of notice).

(3)  For a limited duration position:

·         COM approval includes concurrence with its abolishment date; therefore, no NSDD 38 request is required to abolish a limited duration position.

·         For an extension, a NSDD 38 request is required at least six months in advance of the position’s expiration date.

·         Post shall abolish the position upon departure of the incumbent.

g. Approvals: All COM decisions on approved positions should be included in the relevant online personnel system, including date approved and any unique conditions or notations (e.g., time limits, ‘not to exceed’ date, or other unique details that define the limits or responsibilities of a position).

h. Disapprovals: The COM and the requesting agency should work together to resolve any concerns the COM may have about a requested position.  If the COM and agency cannot mutually agree on a proposed position, COMs may refer questions to the appropriate regional bureau and M/SS’s Policy and Global Presence Directorate.

(1)  The Policy and Global Presence Directorate will assist with the resolution process in accordance with NSDD 38 policies for positions it coordinates as listed in paragraph b.  

(2)  The regional bureau will coordinate the resolution process for post-managed positions listed in paragraph c.

2 FAH-2 H-113.2  COM Authority and the Department of Defense

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a. By statute and presidential directive, Department of Defense official presence abroad will fall under COM authority unless it is under the command of a GCC or officially on the staff of an international organization and performing the functions of that organization.  The most common types of DOD offices under COM authority that have a presence at many U.S. Missions and are fully integrated into the mission structure include Marine Security Guards, Defense Attaché offices, Offices of Defense Cooperation and Seabees.  In addition to these offices, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (Public Law 87-195, Section 515 (22 U.S.C. 2321i)), provides that the President may assign members of the U. S. Armed Forces to a foreign country to perform security assistance functions (conducted under part II of the Foreign Assistance Act, part V of subchapter II of that act, and the Arms Export Control Act).  These forces are also under COM authority and perform one or more of the following functions:

·         foreign military sales equipment and services case management

·         training management

·         program monitoring

·         evaluation and planning of the host government’s military capabilities and requirements

·         administrative support

·         promoting rationalization, standardization, interoperability, and other defense cooperation measures among members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and with the armed forces of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand

·         liaison functions exclusive of advisory and training assistance

b. The following is a partial list of Security Assistance Organizations under COM authority (as of August 2015).  Contact the appropriate area officer in the Political Military Bureau’s Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers (PM/RSAT) office for up to date information on SAOs.

·         JUSMAG-Thai - Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (Thailand)

·         JUSMAG-P - Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (the Philippines)

·         JUSMAG-K - Joint U.S. Military Affairs Group (S. Korea)

·         KUSLO - Kenya-U.S. Liaison Office

·         MAAG - Military Assistance Advisory Group (Peru)

·         MAP - Military Assistance Program (Jordan)

·         MDAO - Mutual Defense Assistance Office (Japan)

·         MILGP - Military Group (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela)

·         MLO - Military Liaison Office (Belize, Brazil, Eastern Caribbean, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago)

·         ODC - Office of Defense Cooperation (Australia, Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vietnam)

·         ODR - Office of Defense Representative (Costa Rica)

·         ODR-P - Office of Defense Representative Pakistan

·         OMC - Office of Military Cooperation (Bahrain, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen (mission is closed for an indefinite period)

·         USDRO - U.S. Defense Representative Office (Panama)

·         USLO - U.S. Liaison Office (Djibouti, United Arab Emirates)

·         USMTM - U.S. Military Training Mission (Saudi Arabia)

·         OPM-SANG - Office of the Program Manager, Saudi Arabian National Guard

·         OPM-FSF - Office of Program Management, Facilities Security Force (Saudi Arabia)

c.  There are many different DOD entities working abroad.  Independent units and special operations forces are often a source of confusion.  The COM must seek guidance from the Department office that has responsibility for security assistance and cooperation programs to confirm in writing whether these entities are subject to COM or GCC authority.  The COM’s regional bureau may be contacted for assistance.  COMs must discuss all DOD personnel and elements with the relevant GCC during the annual review of the Memorandum of Agreement on security responsibility of DOD personnel and elements in country.  See additional information on COM and the DOS-DOD MOU.

2 FAH-2 H-113.3  COM Authority and U.S. Agency for International Development, Regional Inspector General (USAID/RIG) Staffing

(CT:PMO-11;   02-26-2019)

The FY1989 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill exempted USAID/RIGs from the Secretary’s statutory authority to set staffing levels.  This does not affect the COM’s authorities as derived from the President.  USAID/RIGs still fall under NSDD-38, except that COMs may not use NSDD 38 to relocate USAID/RIGs or to interfere with the USAID Inspector General’s investigative responsibilities.

2 FAH-2 H-114  country clearance FOR TDY PERSONNEL

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a. The COM has the authority to grant, withhold, or limit permission for any U.S. government employee to be in country on official business, other than those under the command of a Geographic Combatant Commander (GCC).  All subject personnel must obtain permission before entering the COM’s area of responsibility. COMs may delegate country clearance review authority to constituent post officers, country team members or other subordinates. Personnel assigned to post for more than 12 months must provide an assignment notice which serves as their request for country clearance. Personnel coming to post for less than 12 months must also obtain country clearance in advance of travel. Current policy requires unclassified country clearance requests to be sent through a DOS online program called electronic Country Clearance (eCC) for non-DOD agencies.  Cables may be used in lieu of the eCC program if the country clearances are classified.

b. In addition to eCC, some posts have additional special country clearance requirements. An example is NEA-SCA/EX's orientation and in-processing center that manages visitors as well as permanent staff for certain posts. Personnel wishing to travel to a post should review that post’s information page on the eCC application and initiate informal communications with post and/or the bureau (e-mail, telephone, etc.) prior to requesting country clearance.

c.  Department of Defense and country clearance: M/SS has an agreement with the DOD whereby DOD allows eCC to receive information from its Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System (APACS).  This streamlines the travel approval process for DOD travelers, since they only have to enter their information into one system.  The COM can establish post-specific policies for approving or disapproving official visitors which will be available on either system.  If coordination of the two separate country clearance systems is problematic, the COM may ask DOD visitors to use eCC in addition to APACS.  

d. If a mission has questions about a country clearance requirement for certain DOD personnel, contact the GCC responsible for the military unit, the State bureau responsible for that mission, and M/SS to request guidance.

e. Process for other U.S. Government travelers: Because of sensitivities regarding the strict application of country clearance requirements to Legislative or Judicial Branch travelers, the term “country notification” is used in place of “country clearance.”   Regardless of the name, because of the COM’s security responsibilities (see 2 FAH-2 H-116 below) and the support which posts typically provide to visiting delegations, the established practice is that members and staff from other branches of government are expected to coordinate and receive COM approval before visiting a foreign country on official business.  COM approval should operate on the basis of mutual accommodation.  Official congressional or judicial travel should be facilitated to the maximum extent possible.  If the COM believes the proposed travel is problematic (e.g., due to security concerns or significant timing problems), post should raise these concerns with the Department.  In such cases, post should not send a refusal to travel but should consult with the Department to determine the appropriate course of action.

2 FAH-2 H-115  RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COM AND u.s. government personnel ABROAD not under com authority

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a. The COM is the President’s official U.S. Government representative to the designated foreign country or international organization.  The COM is therefore in charge of and responsible for U.S. relations with the foreign country or international organization in their area of responsibility and always has a coordination role in any U.S. government activity taking place within that area, regardless of branch of government, whether the activity is under COM authority or not. The COM cannot interfere with day-to-day direction or supervision of an office that is not subject to COM authority.  However, while COM authority, as stated in the Letter of Instruction and Section 207 of the FS Act, does not extend to members of the Department of Defense under the command of a GCC (see 2 FAH-2 H-112) or to non-executive branches of government and their staffs, the COM and other USG Personnel and activities are required to communicate and coordinate their activities as noted below. See specific requirements found in DOS-agency MOUs.

b. COM and non-COM U.S. Government employees’ Mutual Responsibilities:

(1) When an element is not under COM authority, the COM and U.S. activity’s representative must still coordinate their activities.  The COM may coordinate on relevant issues such as: protection of mission equities and ensuring unity of purpose in U.S. Government activities, or other areas of concern that can affect the Mission’s activities. COMs may request regular updates on non-COM activities to confirm they do not overlap with COM responsibilities nor increase beyond the written, approved activity. For example, if a DOD mission appears to be expanding or changing focus without an approved directive or legislative instruction, the COM may discuss the matter with the DOD mission as well as contact the regional bureau or other relevant offices in the Department for guidance.  Examples of the type of conditions a COM may request as part of required coordination:

(a)  Regularly scheduled coordination meetings and briefings;

(b)  Limit/control host government contact;

(c)  Require the adherence to security policies such as respecting geographic travel restrictions for security reasons.

(2)  In addition to coordination, certain legislation, Presidential Directives, DOD Directives, or other orders may require COM concurrence, or that the COM play a specific role in certain DOD activities not under COM Authority. These directives can only be modified by explicit Presidential Directive or legislation. Examples include:

(a)  National Defense Authority Act (NDAA) 1208 requires COM concurrence in order for any DOD training and equipping of Iraqi forces to occur.

(b)  Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 25 requires a specified role of the COM on combatting terrorism.

(c)  The President’s Letter of Instruction requires the COM and the GCC and other non-COM executive agencies “to keep each other fully and currently informed”  and “routinely coordinate on all activities of mutual interest.”

(3)  If there is such a directive or legislation, the COM may request a copy to confirm the respective roles between the two offices.  If the COM has a concurrence or other specified role, the details will be written in the directive or legislation. There may be confusion, particularly with Defense offices that exist outside of a GCC, about the relationship between their activities and the COM.  Post Management may contact the respective regional or functional bureau if additional guidance is required. Do not accept verbal assurances.

      Example:  A Defense office may cite “Title 10” as proof that they do not fall under COM authority. Title 10, however, is a major piece of legislation and includes regulations on the Marine Security Guards, among other things, which are under COM authority.  This reference thus is not sufficient to determine whether they are subject to COM authority and Post may ask for the relevant documentation in order to make a determination.


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a. Title 22 U.S.C. Section 4802 provides that the Secretary of State “shall develop and implement (in consultation with the heads of other Federal agencies having personnel or missions abroad where appropriate and within the scope of the resources made available) policies and programs, including funding levels and standards, to provide for the security of United States Government operations of a diplomatic nature and foreign government operations of a diplomatic nature in the United States.  Such policies and programs shall include:

(1)  Protection of all United States Government personnel on official duty abroad (other than Voice of America correspondents on official assignment and those personnel under the command of a United States area military commander [now known as GCCs]) and their accompanying dependents;

(2)  Establishment and operation of security functions at all United States Government missions abroad (other than facilities or installations subject to the control of a United States [GCC])”

b. Title 22 U.S.C. 4805 provides that other federal agencies, with or without reimbursement, may provide assistance to the Secretary and perform overseas security functions as authorized by the Secretary.  Additionally, it states that nothing contained in [the Diplomatic Security Act] shall be construed to limit or impair the authority or responsibility of any other federal, state, or local agency with respect to law enforcement, domestic security operations, or intelligence activities as defined in Executive Order 12333.

c.  The President’s Letter of Instruction states: “Under my direction, the Secretary of State is, to the fullest extent provided by the law, responsible for the overall coordination of all United States government activities and operations abroad…. You [the COM] and the Geographic Combatant Commander must continually consult and coordinate responses to common threats...Unless an agreement between the Secretary of State and the head of another agency provides otherwise, you are responsible for the security of all United States government personnel on official duty in [country], except for personnel and elements under the command of a Geographic Combatant Commander, VOA correspondents on official assignment, U.S. government executive branch employees officially on the staff of an international organization and performing functions of that organization, or the authorized accompanying dependents of any of these categories of USG personnel…I expect you to take direct and full responsibility for the security of your Mission and all the personnel for whom you are responsible, regardless of their location."

d. General coordination occurs in Washington, D.C., through the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) and the Washington Liaison Group (WLG). The OSPB develops, coordinates, and promotes uniform policies, standards, and agreements on security operations outside the United States, including programs and projects that affect all U.S. government civilian agencies represented abroad under COM authority.  (See 22 U.S.C. 4801 et seq.: the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Anti-terrorism Act of 1986, 12 FAH-6 H-014 and 12 FAH-1 H-011 for more information.

e. Additional information concerning security responsibilities and requirements for U.S. Government facilities and personnel assigned or associated with an overseas mission can be found in 12 FAM.

2 FAH-2 H-116.1  Secretary of State and COM Security Responsibility and Evacuations

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a. Title 22 U.S.C. Section 4802 also provides that “[t]he Secretary of State shall develop and implement policies and programs to provide for the safe and efficient evacuation of United States Government personnel, dependents, and private United States citizens when their lives are endangered.”

b. Guidance for evacuating U.S. government personnel and their eligible dependents is detailed in the Emergency Action Plan Handbook (see 12 FAH-1).

c.  Evacuation and security for private U.S. citizens is managed by the Mission’s Consular section. A COM may not maintain information on the whereabouts of private U.S. citizens without their consent, compel them to register with the Embassy, or force them to participate in government-organized evacuations. The COM may provide assistance to those U.S. citizens who request it, but it must be handled within the limitations of the Privacy Act.  See the 7 FAM for more details.

2 FAH-2 H-116.2  Security Responsibilities of Mission Personnel 

(CT:PMO-13;   05-12-2020)

a. Security Responsibilities of the Deputy Chief of Mission, Regional Security Officer, the Management Counselor/Officer, and Post Emergency Action Committee members are addressed in 12 FAM.

b. Anyone living or working on U.S. Mission property is expected to follow COM security policies when they are physically present to ensure the security of the mission community.  USDHs under COM authority must comply with COM security policies at all times when abroad on a mission with the U.S. Government.  The COM may take action deemed necessary to protect U.S. Government mission personnel and property if security policies are not followed, including (as appropriate) but not limited to:  restricting who may be on mission property; restricting who may reside in a U.S. Government-provided residence; or removing an employee, dependents, or cohabitants from post; dismissing LE Staff, consistent with local law; revoking TDY employees’ country clearance (3 FAM 3770 and 3 FAM 4300).

c.  Such policies and directives may include, but are not limited to:

(1)  USDH employees must inform their supervisor and the Regional Security Office of the whereabouts of themselves and EFMs at all times and verify contact information.  This includes providing information in advance of any travel away from post of assignment at all times (for example a COM may require notification if personnel travel 50 miles outside of the city).  Notification must occur whether the travel is within or beyond the COM’s area of responsibility, on personal or official travel, whether off-duty or in leave status. 

·         Examples of when a USDH employee must inform supervisor/RSO to verify contact/whereabouts information; an EFM arrives from or departs to a school away from post; an EFM child leaves on a school trip to another country; an EFM leaves country on holiday; the employee travels outside the post of assignment to a meeting during the workday, but will return that evening.

(2)  Participate in Post’s emergency notification system and security drills and confirm the whereabouts of their EFMs and any cohabitants as required.

(3)  As appropriate, act in an emergency capacity required by the COM.  

(4)  Employees must ensure EFMs and any cohabitants understand and comply with applicable mission security policies when on mission property.

(5)  Inform the regional security office of any information that may affect the safety and security of Chief of Mission personnel, facilities and sensitive and classified information.

d. Agency and section chiefs subject to COM authority must participate in security as required by the COM which may include being a member of the EAC, providing information to the COM/EAC concerning personnel and emergency preparations, or in any other capacity required to ensure mission security.

e. EFMs employed by the mission in a local position are subject to COM authority and must comply with employee security responsibilities and participate in post’s emergency notification system when on duty. 

f.  EFMs not employed in any capacity by the U.S. Government are not subject to COM authority, but are under the COM’s security responsibility by virtue of their declared relationship with the employee. EFMs are expected to follow security policies to ensure the security of the wider mission community and are encouraged to participate in the emergency notification systems at post. The COM may require EFMs to provide emergency contact information, attend security briefings, and participate in emergency action drills. 

g. MOHs and others who, at the request of the sponsoring employee, receive COM permission to reside in a U.S. government-provided residence are by definition cohabitants.  They receive incidental security oversight and are expected to follow security policies to ensure the security of the wider mission community. They are encouraged to participate in the emergency notification systems at post.  See section 2 FAH-2 H-116.3 below for more information.

h. LE Staff must:

(1)  Report their whereabouts when on official duty, whether in the country of employment or on TDY, and inform supervisors when they are away from the office.  When specifically written into their contract, LE Staff will also be required to provide whereabouts information when not on duty (this may occur in contracts with other agency TCNs). 

(2)  Follow security policies and participate in security preparedness.

(3)  Report any information that may affect the safety and security of Chief of Mission personnel, facilities, and sensitive and classified information (see 3 FAM 4127).

i.  U.S. Government employees and agencies not under COM authority but on official business abroad are expected to coordinate on security issues in the COM’s area of responsibility. 

2 FAH-2 H-116.3  COM Incidental Security Oversight for  Personnel not Under COM Authority or Security Responsibility on U.S. Mission Property

(CT:PMO-15;   04-11-2022)

a. Individuals who are residing in, working in, or visiting a facility under COM control, but are not themselves under COM authority or security responsibility (such as contractors, domestic staff, MOHs, and other cohabitants), receive incidental security oversight from the COM due to their presence in a U.S. Mission. As a condition of their presence on U.S. Government facilities, they are expected to follow security policies. They are not required to follow security policies when away from U.S. Mission property. They may be included in security drills when on Mission property in order to maintain the overall security of the mission.  Contract employees may be contractually required to comply with COM security policies at all times (See 2 FAH-2 H-116.5 for additional information on contractors).

b. If a contractor, MOH, household guest, domestic staff, or other cohabitant violates security or safety regulations, guidelines, or instructions, the COM may take action deemed necessary to protect mission personnel and property, including restricting who may work or reside in U.S. Government property, as noted in 3 FAM 4300 and 3 FAM 3770.

c.  The COM must give permission to the responsible employee for any non-EFM to reside in U.S. Government-provided residences. The COM may require that these individuals receive a background check and adhere to security policies when they are in Mission facilities. As an example, the COM may require cohabitants to provide emergency contact information, attend security briefings, and participate in emergency action drills. The sponsoring employee is responsible for their compliance (see 12 FAM 275 for further information and requirements for cohabitation of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in U.S. government facilities and 3 FAM 4128, Personal Domestic Worker Employment, concerning required contracts for domestic staff of a U.S. Government employee).

2 FAH-2 H-116.4  COM Security Responsibility and the Department of Defense

(CT:PMO-13;   05-12-2020)

a. In 1997, the Secretaries of State and Defense co-signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing security responsibility for DOD elements and personnel in foreign areas and not under the command of a GCC.  The State/DOD MOU is used worldwide, through individual country memoranda of agreement (MOAs) between the COM and the relevant geographic combatant commander (GCC).  Each country's MOA assigns operational control of overseas security functions for all DOD elements/personnel in country and not under the command of a GCC to either the COM or the GCC, thereby eliminating “gray areas” that have led to confusion over security responsibility for some DOD elements or personnel.  All messages with DOD country clearance and staffing requests and COM authorization and approvals must clearly define who has operational control of security—COM or GCC.

b. The DOS-DOD MOU reinforces COM authority, including by confirming how it applies to certain DOD elements.  When the Department cannot provide adequate security and DOD does not assume responsibility for security, COMs should initiate a review to determine whether to withdraw these personnel from harm’s way.  All countries must have a current MOA signed by the COM and GCC.  Meanwhile, it is important for all COMs to identify DOD elements under their authority.  COMs are required to provide the updated MOA annually to M/SS.

2 FAH-2 H-116.5  COM Security Responsibility for U.S. Government Personnel Not Subject to COM Authority but Under COM Security Responsibility

(CT:PMO-7;   04-03-2018)

Mission offices may organize travel and meetings for U.S. Government employees who are not subject to COM authority, but who are COM’s security responsibility.  As noted in H-116 above, title 22 U.S.C. Section 4802 requires the Secretary, and by extension the COM, to provide for the protection of all United States Government personnel on official duty abroad (with certain explicit exceptions) and their accompanying dependents.  The President’s Letter of Instruction also gives the COM security responsibility for all United States Government personnel on official duty abroad (with certain explicit exceptions) and their accompanying dependents.  All U.S. government personnel who are the COM’s security responsibility are generally expected to coordinate with the COM when in the COM’s area of responsibility (see 2 FAH-2 H-115 paragraph b(1)).  Thus, while some U.S. Government personnel are not subject to COM Authority, the COM has security responsibility for them. Whether the mission manages their travel or not, these employees are expected to request permission to travel in the COM’s area of responsibility, and are expected to abide by COM security policies including, but not limited to those pertaining to restricted travel areas (see 2 FAH-2 H-114 and H-115).  As part of the coordination, these employees are expected to contact the mission in advance of travel and provide a POC while in the COM’s area of responsibility in case of emergency.  This will enable them to be included in security and evacuation planning (see 2 FAH-2 H-116 and 2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-116).

2 FAH-2 H-116.6  COM Security Responsibility and Commercial/Third Party Contractors

(CT:PMO-6;   04-20-2017)

a. Third party contractors, or commercial contractors, also known as non-personal services contractors (NPSCs), are employed by someone other than the U.S. Government and therefore do not fall under COM Authority.  Without an employer-employee relationship, NPSCs are not covered under the 22 U.S.C. 3927 or the Diplomatic Security Act; they therefore do not fall within COM authority or the Secretary of State’s statutory responsibility and COM’s responsibility under presidential directive to protect U.S. Government personnel (with the exceptions mentioned in 2 FAH-2 H-112.1 paragraph b) on official duty abroad.  As a result, the U.S. mission is not required to provide security for commercial firm employees as it does for U.S. Government employees, unless a specific contractual provision has been approved by the COM and communicated to the Regional Security Office (see Federal Acquisition Regulation, section 52.225-19.) 

b. NPSCs working within a U.S. mission facility overseas may receive incidental security oversight because of the security measures undertaken by the COM to protect the facility and post.  Posts may, under exceptional circumstances (posts with high terrorism or criminal threats or other post-specific threats), provide these NPSCs security awareness information similar to that received by U.S. Government employees.  However, anti-terrorism and security training is normally the responsibility of the commercial firm; any arrangements going beyond the incidental benefits noted above must be written into the contract if they are required.

c.  Commercial firms are encouraged to participate in the Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in Washington, DC where they can receive security-related information.   A U.S. incorporated or affiliated commercial contractor can join OSAC by applying via the OSAC website.  OSAC, in cooperation with Diplomatic Security, has formed individual OSAC Country Councils to enable resident U.S. private sector organizations to exchange security-related information.

2 FAH-2 H-116.7  COM Security Responsibility and U.S. Government Employees Assigned to the Staff of International Organizations (IO)

(CT:PMO-13;   05-12-2020)

a. The President’s Letter of Instruction to COMs exempts U.S. Government Executive Branch employees officially on the staff of an international organization (IO) and performing functions of that organization from COM authority and security responsibility.  This reflects the practical reality that such personnel are working for the IO, on an IO mission, rather than for the U.S. Government or on a U.S. Government mission.  They also may live and work in remote locations outside the embassy, its compound, and the general official American community.  However, these personnel must still obtain COM country clearance before entering the country on official business.

b. Typically, it is the IO and not the U.S. Government that is responsible for providing security, administrative, and other support for U.S. Government employees on the IO staff.  Post must specifically agree to any day-to-day responsibility (e.g., administrative support) for U.S. Government employees on the staff of IOs.  See 6 FAH-5 H-352.5 for details.

c.  DS programs such as residential security and local guards are generally provided only for post-owned/leased housing and official facilities.  Employees assigned to an IO who neither work nor live in post-controlled spaces would not be included in these programs. The Secretary of State’s overall security responsibilities under Section 103 of the Diplomatic Omnibus, however, do not exempt U.S. Government employees serving with an IO from being subject to the Secretary's security responsibility. The Regional Security Officer (RSO) is available to assist where necessary and appropriate (e.g., for security briefings and as a resource to recommend residential security countermeasures appropriate for the area’s threat levels).  

d. The provision of post services to U.S. Government employees detailed to IOs is not mandatory.  Post should take into consideration the cost of services supplied compared to the level of effort to track and invoice an agency. Any request for security or other support services for an employee detailed to the staff of an IO must be approved by the COM based on the ability of the post to provide appropriate services within existing resources and will be fully reimbursed by the detailed employee’s home office.  If the COM determines security support will burden the post or put mission personnel or the detailed employee at risk, the COM may contact their Regional Bureau for guidance and coordination with the executive agency responsible for the employee.  For details on how employees detailed to an IO may request services, see 6 FAH-5 H-352.

e. Services offered to personnel who are not under COM authority must not include notifying them to the host country government as members of the U.S. mission for purposes of obtaining duty-free privileges, local tax exemptions, or other privileges and immunities reserved for members of diplomatic missions. The IO is responsible for the employee’s diplomatic accreditation with the host government and for all issues related to privileges and immunities.  Exceptions must be approved in Washington (see 2 FAM 221.2).

2 FAH-2 H-116.8  COM Security Responsibility and Fulbright Grantees or Other U.S. Government Sponsored U.S. Citizens

(CT:PMO-8;   05-03-2018)

a. While overseas, Fulbright grantees and other students, scholars, teachers, fellows, and other types of exchange visitors or federal grantees are typically treated as private U.S. citizens and must receive the same information that private U.S. citizens receive in accordance with the No Double Standard policy outlined in 7 FAM 050. The Department, through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) or the Embassy Public Affairs Section, has various agreements with relevant non-U.S. government organizations or with Fulbright Commissions, depending on the program with which the individual is affiliated, that may provide guidance and assistance for their welfare and security (see 12 FAH-1 Annex K Addendum 3.2 paragraph(3)). For further, current information, contact ECA or the Embassy Public Affairs Section.  ECA provides periodic guidance by cable to posts/commissions in drafting country-specific Emergency Action Plans (EAP) for the Fulbright Program and related academic programs in the event of a crisis situation.  Post Public Affairs Sections should contact the relevant ECA Program Office for guidance.

b. The Public Affairs Section is typically the designated liaison responsible for maintaining contact with and knowing the whereabouts of individuals under U.S. Government sponsorship in their area of responsibility. In addition to the Fulbright Program, U.S. citizens may be in-country as part of one of several programs that fall under ECA, where the Department has a responsibility to provide guidance and assistance for their welfare and security.  These ECA programs may include: the Critical Language Scholarship Program, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships, various Teacher Exchanges that are not Fulbright activities, English Language Fellows and Specialists, research fellows associated with Overseas Research Centers (under CAORC), high school youth exchanges including NSLI-Y and YES Abroad, and university representatives and students participating in other programs.

c.  All participants are advised to enroll in the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) as soon as possible (for additional information on STEP see 7 FAM 040.  Governing or administrating organizations are encouraged to participate in OSAC, described above.   Should evacuation become necessary for any reason, ECA and the relevant Program Office will confer with post/commission and coordinate with post efforts to facilitate the participants' evacuation as needed. Under these circumstances, the ECA Program Office will provide support to post as necessary. Grantees in or traveling to remote areas or out of country should keep their point of contact in the designated U.S. mission informed of their locations.

2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-112  
Chief of Mission Authority Matrix

(CT:PMO-14;   06-10-2020)

The chart below provides information on who is and is not under Chief of Mission authority and contains general guidelines on others working with U.S. Missions abroad.  The information on privileges and immunities is purely illustrative and cannot be relied upon as applicable to any given situation. L/DL must be contacted to obtain accurate advice on privileges and immunities.

See 2 FAH-2 H-112 above for details on determining who is under COM authority.


Type of Position

Receives Privileges and Immunities?

Receives ICASS Services?

Other Considerations

Under COM Authority

All U.S. government executive branch permanent positions (including USDH and U.S. PSCs) not falling under one of the exceptions below.

Members of a diplomatic or consular mission are generally accredited and enjoy privileges and immunities under the VCDR or VCCR. Other bilateral agreements may cover the mission or other groups of personnel. Peace Corps permanent staff members typically do have privileges but do not have immunities.

Services may be provided in accordance with ICASS policy and COM directives/policy.

Typically these are declared members of the diplomatic or consular mission and receive

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy.  NSDD-38 required to establish, abolish, or change, mandate of any direct-hire positions.

All USG executive branch TDY employees including USDH, PSC, Locally Employed staff.

USG official visitors generally are not accredited, nor enjoy privileges and immunities, under the VCDR or the VCCR. Temporary visitors may, in rare cases, receive privileges and immunities under a bilateral agreement

Services may be provided in accordance with ICASS policy and COM directives/policy.

Typically these are NOT members of the diplomatic or consular mission but can be with Host Government approval. Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy

Country Clearance Required.

Locally Employed staff (LE Staff) and third country nationals (TCN) hired by the U.S. Mission through PSA, PSC or direct hire in country of assignment.

LE and TCN staff are typically nationals of, or resident in, country. Nationals or permanent residents usually do not enjoy any privileges or immunities.

LE Staff and TCN employees will get services while they are at the office as required in the performance of their duties. ICASS services would typically not extend to their residences unless included in their contract, approved by the COM and the ICASS council, and in some cases by the Regional Bureau.

Typically not members of the diplomatic or consular mission, but may be consular agents.

COM approval required to establish, abolish or change mandate of the position (per the President’s Letter of Instruction).

Explicit  Exceptions

DOD forces/or other elements under GCC Command: Applies to DOD employees engaged in operations explicitly under authority of the GCC.  Exempted in President’s Letter and FS Act.

Individuals in this category may be covered under SOFA or bilateral agreement. 

ICASS services maybe provided if approved by the COM, paid-for and can be provided within existing capacity. 


6 FAH-5 H-394 charging Agencies services provided to personnel or entities not under COM authority


Not a member of the diplomatic mission unless so defined in a bilateral agreement.

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy

Country clearance may be required by Presidential Directive or DOD policy.

Explicit ExceptionsIO Staff:  USG employees officially detailed to an IO and performing functions of the IO.


Exempted in President’s Letter.

 Any privileges or immunities they may have are generally controlled by the IO.


ICASS services may be provided if approved by the COM, paid for by sponsoring agency within existing capacity.

2 FAH-2 H-115 U.S. Government employees assigned

IO’s and

6 FAH-5 H-352.5 on IO’s and ICASS

Typically will not be members of the diplomatic or consular mission

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy

Country clearance required by President’s letter


VOA Reporter on official assignment.


Exempted in President’s Letter and Foreign Service Act..

It depends on individual agreement or arrangement between the United States and host country. 

ICASS services may be provided if approved by the COM, paid for by sponsoring agency and can be provided within existing capacity.


6 FAH-5 H-394  charging Agencies services provided to personnel or entities not under COM authority

Not a member of the mission

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy


Country clearance required

Excluded – Not USG Executive Branch Employees

Non-Executive Branch USG:

All legislative and judicial branch USG employees and personnel.

Individuals in this category usually do not enjoy any privileges or immunities.

ICASS services may be provided if approved by the COM, paid for by employee’s or sponsoring agency and can be provided within existing capacity.


6 FAH-5 H-394   charging Agencies for services provided to personnel or entities not under COM authority

Can be members of the mission in limited circumstances

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy

Country clearance or notification required

Third Party Contractors:  Employees of private companies, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations or other partners.

Individuals in this category usually do not enjoy any privileges or immunities, unless accredited under the VCDR or VCCR or unless privileges or immunities are provided under a bilateral agreement.  Pursuant to 2 FAM 221.2(d-e) Director General of GTM approval is required to accredit non-USG employees as member of a diplomatic or consular mission.


Services must be addressed in contract. ICASS services may be provided in accordance with ICASS policy and can be provided within existing capacity. 

FAR 52.225-19 Contractor Personnel

6 FAH-5 H-352.4 Non-PSC  Contractors

6 FAH-5 H-394  charging Agencies  for services provided to personnel or entities not under COM authority

6 FAH-5 H-352.4 Contracts (Non-PSCs with Individuals and Institutions)

Can only be members of the diplomatic or consular mission if DOS Director General of GTM expressly approves pursuant to 2 FAM 221.2(d-e).

Passports according to Consular Affairs Passport Policy

Country clearance may be required by contract.


·         VCDR: Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

·         VCCR: Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-113  
Questions and Sample Language for Decision Memos to COM to Request Position Changes

(CT:PMO-13;   05-12-2020)

The below questions are those used when requesting approval of increases or decreases in positions through the M/SS Policy and Global Presence Directorate’s automated system.  Post may find these questions useful when reviewing requests that are processed at post and do not need to go through M/SS for review.


Request to COM Approval of an increase/decrease in positions


A. Authorizing Official: include the title, full name, business phone, and email.


B. Location of Requested Position: identify the city and country.


C. The Number of Actions Requested: a request may include more than one position and may also include a mix of actions to increase, decrease, or change the responsibilities of a position or positions.


D. Other COM-approved agency positions: the following questions must be answered: 


Do you have COM approved positions at the proposed location (city)?  (Yes/No)  

If Yes, Provide the number of COM-approved positions, whether approved locally or through the NSDD-38 process:


US-based / Off-shore-based approved NSDD-38 Positions


U.S.-based PSC

Off-shore hired TCN

Locally Recruited Direct-hire


Locally Approved Positions

Local Hire




E.     Position Classification and Staffing Information for requested position: Provide details of the position:


Action Requested (increase, decrease, extension, modification, Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas - DETO)

Employment Type (US-based direct-hire, US-based PSC, off-shore hired TCN, locally recruited direct-hire, locally recruited PSA)

Pay Plan, (e.g. GS, FS, MIL, FSN, Other) and Pay Grade

Position Title

Duration of Position (e.g. Permanent or Limited – specify number of months or years, if limited)

Requested Date for an Employee to Encumber the Position


F.      Position Justifications


1.   Justification for Requesting an Increase:


a.     Provide a summary of the requested position’s roles and responsibilities.  This should be no more than a short paragraph and a complete position description is not required.

b.     Is there a specific legislative authorization or presidential directive associated with the function of the proposed position?

If Yes, provide the citation

c.      Is the requested position justified in the post’s most recent strategic planning documents, such as the Mission Resource Request?

d.     Is this a regional position?  

If yes:

- What geographic areas will be covered?

- State your Agency’s reason for selecting this post for a regional position:


e.     How will the agency perform the function if this request is not approved?

f.      List support requirements for the position(s)

g.     Is this position to be located in the Controlled Access Area (CAA)? (Yes/No)

h.     What kind of management support is expected of post (e.g. office space, housing, medical, check-cashing services, DPO, pouch, or classified equipment)?

i.      Is funding available for the requested management support?  

If yes, briefly describe the arrangements.  If no, when is it expected?

2.   Justification for Requesting a Decrease


a.     Provide the original case number or document number establishing the position.

b.     What event(s) eliminated the need for the position?

c.      Has notice of intent to withdraw current levels of service been given to ICASS providers at post? If yes, provide the date of notification:

d.     Additional information:  If available, provide the NSDD-38 case number, post approval cable MRN and the date the position was established. 

Sample Language in Post memo documenting the COM’s decision on a position (post may find the samples of COM decision cables on the NSDD-38 website useful in creating their post documents).  Written documentation must be provided in response to all position requests – both those that go through the NSDD-38 system and those that are managed by post.  Post managed decision documentation will be maintained at post, and is not sent back to the Policy and Global Presence Directorate.


Approval (may be with conditions/limitations)

Subject: Response to (Agency) Request to Add (number/type) Position(s) in (Post)

The Chief of Mission has reviewed and approves the (Agency/section) request to add the following (type of position – e.g. local hire PSA, PSC, etc.) to (Post), effective (month/year):

If there are limitations/conditions on the approval, note “approves the request with conditions.” In the next paragraphs, list them:  approval is contingent on funding/leasing of adequate office space, or of host government approval of subject activity, position is limited to a specific duration in time or an event, or is contingent on agreement to comply with specific requests (such as locating office in specified area) etc.


Position title, grade


The functions of this position cannot be accomplished through the use of TDY, contractor, or other types of local hire personnel.


Post confirms that (the requesting agency) will fund the necessary financial requirements and agrees with estimated ICASS costs.


(Requesting agency) notes current staffing of X direct hires and Y locally employed staff (including this new position).




Subject: Response to (Agency) Request to Add (number/type) Position in (Post)

The Chief of Mission disapproves the (Agency/section) request to add the following (type of position – e.g. local hire PSA, PSC, etc.) to (Post), effective (month/year).

Explanation of reason for disapproving request such as:

Lack of sufficient office space that meets security standards, not relevant to mission priorities, lack of consultation and planning before submitting the request, security, financial, support limitations, other concerns.  The memo can include guidance on further information the requesting agency could submit and/or circumstances that would change COM decision.

2 FAH-2 Exhibit H-116  

(CT:PMO-13;   05-12-2020)

The below chart identifies individuals in the COM’s area of responsibility that may be accounted for in an emergency based on guidance in 2 FAH-2 H-116 and 12 FAH-1 H-735 on Personnel Emergency Notification Systems. 

COM Security Responsibility and Emergency Notification






Type of Mission/COM security role

Security obligation and operational control

Incidental security oversight


Coordination of security (includes groups where security operational control is delegated from COM to another USG entity)


Part of Consular Affairs Notification System







Types of Personnel included in each Category

All USDH employees subject to COM Authority and their EFMs


DOD personnel covered in Annex A of the country-specific security MOA


LE staff of the U.S. Mission when on duty (not typically evacuated)


US and TCNs hired on PSCs.

Non-COM authority personnel living or working in Mission facilities, including: Non-PSC/commercial contractors, MOHs, ORE staff, USDH employees’ domestic staff, unpaid interns, commissary and rec association employees, etc.


USG employees not subject to COM Authority on official business abroad including Judicial, Legislative, and certain Executive branch employees (VOA correspondents,

USG employees on the staff of an international organization)


DOD personnel covered in Annex B of the country-specific security MOA (Secretary has delegated operational control of overseas security functions to the Secretary of Defense who in turn delegates it to a GCC) and their EFMs

LE staff (and TCN staff depending on contract) of U.S. Mission when off duty

Private U.S. citizens not located in COM controlled facilities (such as local residents, Peace Corps volunteers, USG contractors, NGO employees, education grant recipients, U.S. citizen visitors  or others).




Post Action

EAC and employees have a mutual responsibility to collect/maintain contact details and maintain accountability

COM may require contact details as a condition of presence in U.S. Mission facilities.



Recommend post collect/maintain contact info (may be a POC for groups).

Consular Affairs provides the STEP system where these individuals may provide contact details voluntarily



Policy on COM Security and Emergency Notification Systems


During an emergency, a Chief of Mission (COM) must have the ability to quickly disseminate information and determine the safety, location, and status of individuals under COM’s security responsibility and security operational control in emergency situations. (See 2 FAM Exhibit 111.3(I) for 22 U.S.C. 4805). 


These policies and tools explain how Missions must account for employees and accompanying dependents under COM security responsibility in a crisis (Ref 2 FAM 031).  The COM is the President’s personal representative and as such is responsible for the effective management of the Mission and coordination of all U.S. government elements in the COM’s area of responsibility, whether they are subject to COM security responsibility or not (see 2 FAH-2 H-115.3 and 116 for more information).


All executive branch agencies with personnel under COM authority are required to keep the COM fully and currently informed of their current and planned activities in the host nation.  They are also required to ensure that employees comply fully with all applicable COM directives (see 22 U.S.C. 3927).  This includes security directives like participation in emergency planning and response as directed by the COM.  In addition, to facilitate fulfillment of the Secretary’s responsibilities under the Diplomatic Security Act for security of certain U.S. government personnel on official duty abroad and their accompanying dependents, other U.S. government agencies operating in the host nation are required to coordinate security and cooperate (through agreements) with the Secretary of State to the maximum extent possible (22 U.S.C. 4805(a)). 

All Posts must institute mechanisms for disseminating information to and accounting for individuals subject to COM security responsibility when threats, emergencies, and other crises occur at Post or threaten U.S. interests elsewhere (ref 12 FAH-1 H-735, 2 FAH-2 H-115 and H-116).  The established program for communicating with individuals subject to COM security responsibility overseas is known as the Post Emergency Notification System (PENS). Private U.S. citizens may use the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). 

The Emergency Action Committee (EAC) is established by the COM at every post, and represents all sections and agencies (12 FAH-1 H-230).  The EAC’s security-related responsibilities are outlined in 12 FAH-1 H-232.  The EAC must help develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), which outlines procedures for response to foreseeable contingencies, per 12 FAH-1 H-030,  and execute the relevant elements of a post’s plan as required in an emergency (12 FAH-1 H-030). 


Part of the EAP requires post to develop and maintain a PENS.  The PENS communication framework must both provide notifications and receive responses using multiple (redundant) communication methods to enable posts to provide accountability as required.  All individuals subject to COM security responsibility as identified in this exhibit and in 2 FAH-2 H-116 must be included in this emergency notification and accountability process.  See 12 FAH-1 H-735 for details on creating and activating PENS and requirements for accountability.  This document identifies the individuals who must be accounted for. 


Categories of Personnel (see also the chart at the beginning of this exhibit):

Personnel who must be included in the PENS and be accounted for in order to confirm COM accountability. These personnel are subject to COM security responsibility and security operational control. When individuals in this category receive an emergency notification issued by the U.S. Mission, they must respond providing their safety status and whereabouts before Post identifies them as ‘accounted for.’ This category includes (See 2 FAH-2 H-116 and 116.2 for further information):

i.      All Executive Branch USDH and Personal Services Contractors (PSCs) subject to COM authority and for which the Secretary of State has not delegated operational control of overseas security functions (including DoD personnel covered in Annex A of the country-specific security Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)), and their authorized accompanying family members.

ii.      Locally Employed Staff (LE Staff) of the U.S. Mission when on duty.

Personnel who receive Incidental Security Oversight and are expected to participate in the PENS. Although the below individuals are not subject to COM security responsibility, it is strongly recommended the COM include them in the dissemination of emergency notifications because of their presence while living or working in Mission facilities.  These groups are expected to comply with security policies to ensure overall security and safety of the community and, if contacted, their response to emergency notifications assures the COM individuals in a U.S. government facility are accounted for (Ref 3 FAM 4181).  (See 2 FAH-2 H-116.3 for further information). This category includes:

i.      Members of Household (MOH), personal employees (e.g., Official Residence Expense (ORE) staff, nannies, maids) in mandated categories in a. sections i and ii above, or others, who are residing/cohabiting in and using U.S. government-provided facilities.  When posted abroad, an employee or contractor must obtain prior approval from the COM or principal officer (PO) prior to beginning to cohabit with a foreign national or a U.S. citizen in U.S. government-provided housing ( 12 FAM 275).

ii.      Third party contractors or other non-U.S. government employees, unpaid interns, or others who are living or working in U.S. government-provided facilities.

Personnel who coordinate security with the COM and may participate in PENS.  These employees may be requested, but not required, to provide individual contact information or a point of contact for a group: This category includes USDH employees who may not be under COM security operational control who are on official business in the COM’s area of responsibility as well as some who are under COM security responsibility, but not under COM authority (See 2 FAH-2 H-115 and 116 for further information on coordination between the COM and these groups) and LE staff when off duty.  These two groups have slightly different requirements:

i.      USG employees not subject to COM Authority and/or where COM delegated security operational control on official business in the COM’s area of responsibility.  These employees are typically under COM security responsibility, but may not be, such as in the case of GCCs.  U.S. government entities not under COM security responsibility still are expected to consult and coordinate responses to common threats.  These employees are expected to abide by security policies as appropriate, including coordinating travel to any areas the COM has identified as dangerous or requiring special security arrangements. It is recommended these groups provide contact details for a POC to allow notification in an emergency and coordinate general security issues. They may be included in PENS, but are not required.  They may receive notifications, but cannot be required to respond. This includes:

USDH employees and PSCs not subject to COM authority (such as Judicial, Legislative, and certain Executive branch employees, U.S. government employees detailed to an International Organization and Voice of America (VOA) correspondent).

U.S. government employees under the command of a GCC and DOD personnel covered in Annex B of the Country-specific MOA for whom operational control of security functions has been delegated to the GCC.

ii.      LE staff of the U.S. Mission off duty.  It is recommended for LE Staff to provide contact information when not on duty. If provided, they will be included in PENS when on or off duty (see 2 FAH-2 H-116.2 h). When off duty, they may receive notifications, but cannot be required to respond.

Individuals who are part of Consular Affairs Notification System. The Bureau of Consular Affairs STEP system allows USCs to voluntarily provide contact details and receive notifications.  This is separate from PENS.  The Post’s consular section is responsible for this group and includes them in the Mission’s evacuation planning.  This group includes private U.S. Citizens, such as local residents, Peace Corps volunteers, USG contract employees, NGO employees, education grant recipients (e.g. Fulbright or other) etc.