United States Foreign Service

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 13,000 professionals[3] carrying out the foreign policy of the United States and aiding U.S. citizens abroad.[4][5] The current director general is Marcia Bernicat.[6]

United States Foreign Service
The flag of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer
Agency overview
Formed1924; 98 years ago (1924)[1]
Employees13,747[2]
Agency executive
Parent departmentDepartment of State
Map
Map of U.S. Foreign Service posts (2003)

Created in 1924 by the Rogers Act, the Foreign Service combined all consular and diplomatic services of the U.S. government into one administrative unit. 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 265 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.C.; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Commerce; and the United States Agency for International Development.[clarify]

The United States Foreign Service is managed by a Director General, an official who is appointed by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Director-General is traditionally a current or former Foreign Service Officer.[7] Congress created the position of Director-General of the Foreign Service through the Foreign Service Act of 1946.

Between 1946 and 1980, 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 1949.[6][8] Both men were Career FSOs.

Starting on November 23, 1975 until October 2, 2016 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.[8] As the head of the bureau, the Director General held a rank equivalent to an Assistant Secretary of State.[8][9][10] Three of the last four Directors General have been women.[6]


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