Fs Assignment


This page gives an overview of assignment submission plugims within the assignment module.

Overview of an assignment submission plugin

An assignment submission plugin is used to display custom form fields to a student when they are editing their assignment submission. It also has full control over the display the submitted assignment to graders and students. Plugins participate in all assignment features including backup/restore, upgrades from 2.2, offline grading, group assignments and blind marking.

  • An assignment submission plugin can add settings to the module settings page.

  • An assignment submission plugin can show a summary of the submission to students and graders.

  • An assignment submission plugin can add form fields to the student submission page.


Assignment submission plugins were added with the assignment module rewrite for Moodle 2.3.


A great example is the "onlinetext" submission plugin included with Moodle core.

File structure

The files for a custom submission plugin sit under "mod/assign/submission/<pluginname>". A plugin should not include any custom files outside of it's own plugin folder.

Note: The plugin name should be no longer than 11 characters - this is because the database tables for a submission plugin must be prefixed with "assignsubmission_" + pluginname (17 chars + X) and the table names can be no longer than 28 chars (thanks oracle). If a plugin requires multiple database tables, the plugin name will need to be shorter to allow different table names to fit under the 28 character limit.

All examples in this document exclude the required copyright and license information from source files for brevity.


To start with we need to tell Moodle the version information for our new plugin so that it can be installed and upgraded correctly. This information is added to version.php as with any other type of Moodle plugin. The component name must begin with "assignsubmission_" to identify this as a submission plugin.

See version.php for more information.

defined('MOODLE_INTERNAL') || die(); $plugin->version = 2012112900; $plugin->requires = 2012112900; $plugin->component = 'assignsubmission_file';


The settings file allows us to add custom settings to the system wide configuration page for our plugin.

All submission settings should be named 'assignsubmission_pluginname/settingname' in order for the setting to be associated with the plugin.

All submission plugins should include one setting named 'default' to indicate if the plugin should be enabled by default when creating a new assignment.

This example from the submission_file plugin also checks to see if there is a maxbytes setting for this moodle installation and if found, it adds a new admin setting to the settings page. The name of the setting should begin with the plugin component name ("assignsubmission_file") in this case. The strings are specified in this plugins language file.

// Note: This is on by default. $settings->add(new admin_setting_configcheckbox('assignsubmission_file/default', new lang_string('default', 'assignsubmission_file'), new lang_string('default_help', 'assignsubmission_file'), 1)); if (isset($CFG->maxbytes)) { $name = new lang_string('maximumsubmissionsize', 'assignsubmission_file'); $description = new lang_string('configmaxbytes', 'assignsubmission_file'); $element = new admin_setting_configselect('assignsubmission_file/maxbytes', $name, $description, 1048576, get_max_upload_sizes($CFG->maxbytes)); $settings->add($element); }


The language file for this plugin must have the same name as the component name (e.g. "submission_file.php"). It should at least define a string for "pluginname". For example:

$string['pluginname'] = 'Awesome submissions';


This is where any additional capabilities are defined if required. This file can be omitted if there are no capabilities added by the plugin.

See Activity_modules#access.php for more information.

$capabilities = array( 'assignsubmission/dungeon:master' => array( 'riskbitmask' => RISK_XSS, 'captype' => 'write', 'contextlevel' => CONTEXT_COURSE, 'archetypes' => array( 'editingteacher' => CAP_ALLOW, 'manager' => CAP_ALLOW ), 'clonepermissionsfrom' => 'moodle/course:manageactivities' ), );


This is where any upgrade code is defined.

See Activity_modules#upgrade.php for more infomation.

function xmldb_submission_file_upgrade($oldversion) { global $CFG, $DB, $OUTPUT; $dbman = $DB->get_manager(); if ($oldversion < 2012091800) { // Put upgrade code here // Savepoint reached. upgrade_plugin_savepoint(true, 2012091800, 'assignsubmission', 'file'); } return true; }


This is where any database tables required to save this plugins data are defined. File submissions define a table that links to submission and contains a column to record the number of files.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> <XMLDB PATH="mod/assign/submission/file/db" VERSION="20120423" COMMENT="XMLDB file for Moodle mod/assign/submission/file" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="../../../../../lib/xmldb/xmldb.xsd" > <TABLES> <TABLE NAME="assignsubmission_file" COMMENT="Info about file submissions for assignments"> <FIELDS> <FIELD NAME="id" TYPE="int" LENGTH="10" NOTNULL="true" SEQUENCE="true"/> <FIELD NAME="assignment" TYPE="int" LENGTH="10" NOTNULL="true" DEFAULT="0" SEQUENCE="false"/> <FIELD NAME="submission" TYPE="int" LENGTH="10" NOTNULL="true" DEFAULT="0" SEQUENCE="false"/> <FIELD NAME="numfiles" TYPE="int" LENGTH="10" NOTNULL="true" DEFAULT="0" SEQUENCE="false" COMMENT="The number of files the student submitted."/> </FIELDS> <KEYS> <KEY NAME="primary" TYPE="primary" FIELDS="id" COMMENT="The unique id for this submission info."/> <KEY NAME="assignment" TYPE="foreign" FIELDS="assignment" REFTABLE="assign" REFFIELDS="id" COMMENT="The assignment instance this submission relates to"/> <KEY NAME="submission" TYPE="foreign" FIELDS="submission" REFTABLE="assign_submission" REFFIELDS="id" COMMENT="The submission this file submission relates to."/> </KEYS> </TABLE> </TABLES> </XMLDB>


This example is from the submission_comments plugin. It shows how to run custom code on installation of the plugin. In this case it makes the comments plugin the last of the three submission plugins installed by default.

/** * Code run after the plugin database tables have been created. */ function xmldb_assignsubmission_comments_install() { global $CFG, $DB, $OUTPUT; // do the install require_once($CFG->dirroot . '/mod/assign/locallib.php'); // set the correct initial order for the plugins $assignment = new assignment(); $plugin = $assignment->get_submission_plugin_by_type('comments'); if ($plugin) { $plugin->move('down'); $plugin->move('down'); } return true; }


This is where all the functionality for this plugin is defined. We will step through this file and describe each part as we go.

class assign_submission_file extends assign_submission_plugin {

All submission plugins MUST define a class with the component name of the plugin that extends assign_submission_plugin.


public function get_name() { return get_string('file', 'assignsubmission_file'); }

Get name is abstract in submission_plugin and must be defined in your new plugin. Use the language strings to make your plugin translatable.


The "get_settings" function is called when building the settings page for the assignment. It allows this plugin to add a list of settings to the form. Notice that the settings are prefixed by the plugin name which is good practice to avoid conflicts with other plugins.


The "save_settings" function is called when the assignment settings page is submitted, either for a new assignment or when editing an existing one. For settings specific to a single instance of the assignment you can use the assign_plugin::set_config function shown here to save key/value pairs against this assignment instance for this plugin.


The get_form_elements function is called when building the submission form. It functions identically to the get_settings function except that the submission object is available (if there is a submission) to associate the settings with a single submission. This example also shows how to use a filemanager within a submission plugin. The function must return true if it has modified the form otherwise the assignment will not include a header for this plugin.


The "save" function is called to save a user submission. The parameters are the submission object and the data from the submission form. This example calls file_postupdate_standard_filemanager to copy the files from the draft file area to the filearea for this submission, it then uses the event api to trigger an assessable_file_uploaded event for the plagiarism api. It then records the number of files in the plugin specific "assignsubmission_file" table.


If this submission plugin produces one or more files, it should implement "get_files" so that the portfolio API can export a list of all the files from all of the plugins for this assignment submission. This is also used by the offline grading feature in the assignment.


The view_summary function is called to display a summary of the submission to both markers and students. It counts the number of files submitted and if it is more that a set number, it only displays a count of how many files are in the submission - otherwise it uses a helper function to write the entire list of files. This is because we want to keep the summaries really short so they can be displayed in a table. There will be a link to view the full submission on the submission status page.


The view function is called to display the entire submission to both markers and students. In this case it uses the helper function in the assignment class to write the list of files.


public function can_upgrade($type, $version) { $uploadsingle_type ='uploadsingle'; $upload_type ='upload'; if (($type == $uploadsingle_type || $type == $upload_type) && $version >= 2011112900) { return true; } return false; }

The can_upgrade function is used to identify old "Assignment 2.2" subtypes that can be upgraded by this plugin. This plugin supports upgrades from the old "upload" and "uploadsingle" assignment subtypes.


This function is called once per assignment instance to upgrade the settings from the old assignment to the new mod_assign. In this case it sets the maxbytes, maxfiles and alwaysshowdescription configuration settings.


The "upgrade" function upgrades a single submission from the old assignment type to the new one. In this case it involves copying all the files from the old filearea to the new one. There is a helper function available in the assignment class for this (Note: the copy will be fast as it is just adding rows to the files table). If this function returns false, the upgrade will be aborted and rolled back.


public function () { return array('onlinetext' => get_string('pluginname', 'assignsubmission_comments')); }

This example is from assignsubmission_onlinetext. If the plugin uses a text-editor it is ideal if the plugin implements "get_editor_fields". This allows the portfolio to retrieve the text from the plugin when exporting the list of files for a submission. This is required because the text is stored in the plugin specific table that is only known to the plugin itself. If a plugin supports multiple text areas it can return the name of each of them here.


This example is from assignsubmission_onlinetext. If the plugin uses a text-editor it is ideal if the plugin implements "get_editor_text". This allows the portfolio to retrieve the text from the plugin when exporting the list of files for a submission. This is required because the text is stored in the plugin specific table that is only known to the plugin itself. The name is used to distinguish between multiple text areas in the one plugin.


This example is from assignsubmission_onlinetext. For the same reason as the previous function, if the plugin uses a text editor, it is ideal if the plugin implements "get_editor_format". This allows the portfolio to retrieve the text from the plugin when exporting the list of files for a submission. This is required because the text is stored in the plugin specific table that is only known to the plugin itself. The name is used to distinguish between multiple text areas in the one plugin.


If a plugin has no submission data to show - it can return true from the is_empty function. This prevents a table row being added to the submission summary for this plugin. It is also used to check if a student has tried to save an assignment with no data.


A plugin should implement get_file_areas if it supports saving of any files to moodle - this allows the file areas to be browsed by the moodle file manager.


Since Moodle 2.5 - a students submission can be copied to create a new submission attempt. Plugins should implement this function if they store data associated with the submission (most plugins).


The format_for_log function lets a plugin produce a really short summary of a submission suitable for adding to a log message.


The delete_instance function is called when a plugin is deleted. Note only database records need to be cleaned up - files belonging to fileareas for this assignment will be automatically cleaned up.


This file is the entry point to many standard Moodle APIs for plugins. An example is that in order for a plugin to allow users to download files contained within a filearea belonging to the plugin, they must implement the componentname_pluginfile function in order to perform their own security checks.

See File_API for more information. Example:

function assignfeedback_file_pluginfile($course, $cm, context $context, $filearea, $args, $forcedownload) { global $USER, $DB; if ($context->contextlevel != CONTEXT_MODULE) { return false; } require_login($course, false, $cm); $itemid = (int)array_shift($args); $record = $DB->get_record('assign_grades', array('id'=>$itemid), 'userid,assignment', MUST_EXIST); $userid = $record->userid; if (!$assign = $DB->get_record('assign', array('id'=>$cm->instance))) { return false; } if ($assign->id != $record->assignment) { return false; } // Check is users feedback or has grading permission. if ($USER->id != $userid and !has_capability('mod/assign:grade', $context)) { return false; } $relativepath = implode('/', $args); $fullpath = "/{$context->id}/assignfeedback_file/$filearea/$itemid/$relativepath"; $fs = get_file_storage(); if (!$file = $fs->get_file_by_hash(sha1($fullpath)) or $file->is_directory()) { return false; } // Download MUST be forced - security! send_stored_file($file, 0, 0, true); }

Useful classes

A submission plugin has access to a number of useful classes in the assignment module. See the phpdocs (or the code) for more information on these classes.


This abstract class is the base class for all assignment plugins (feedback or submission plugins).


This is the base class all assignment submission plugins must extend. It contains a small number of additional function that only apply to submission plugins.


This is the main class for interacting with the assignment module.

It contains public functions that are useful for listing users, loading and updating submissions, loading and updating grades, displaying users etc.

Other features

Add calendar events

Moodle 3.1

From Moodle 3.1 onwards, submission plugins can add events to the Moodle calendar without side effects. These will be hidden and deleted in line with the assignment module. For example:

// Add release date to calendar $calendarevent = new stdClass(); $calendarevent->name = get_string('calendareventname', 'assignsubmission_something'); $calendarevent->description = get_string('calendareventdesc', 'assignsubmission_something'); $calendarevent->courseid = $courseid; $calendarevent->groupid = 0; $calendarevent->userid = $userid; $calendarevent->modulename = 'assign'; $calendarevent->instance = $instanceid; $calendarevent->eventtype = 'something_release'; // For activity module's events, this can be used to set the alternative text of the event icon. Set it to 'pluginname' unless you have a better string. $calendarevent->timestart = $releasedate; $calendarevent->visible = true; $calendarevent->timeduration = 0; calendar_event::create($calendarevent);

This code should be placed in the "save_settings()" method of your assign_submission_plugin class.

3 FAH-1 H-2420 


(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
(Office of Origin:  HR/CDA)

3 FAH-1 H-2421  subchapter Definitions

(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
 (State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

Assignment:  A tour of duty to a FS position that exceeds six months.  An assignment overseas will only be considered as completed for the purposes of this subchapter if it satisfies such minimum period of continuous service overseas as may be specified herein.

Department:  The Department of State.

Detail:  The temporary loan of your services to an international organization during which time you retain your status as a Department employee.

Detail assignment:  An assignment to a position outside the Department where you retain your status as a Department employee.

Directed assignment:  An assignment made by the Director General (DG) relying on the overall authority he or she exercises on delegation from the Under Secretary for Management;

Director General (DG):  The DG of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (DGHR) or the HR deputy assistant secretary (DAS) to whom he or she has delegated decision-making authority.

Standard operating procedure (SOP):  The specific references made in this subchapter to auxiliary and supplementary material that further details procedures and processes that apply to the FS assignment process.  Such material does not, however, constitute “policies and regulations” as defined in 3 FAM 1112.1.

Tandem:  A couple of which one spouse is a career or career candidate employee of the FS or Senior FS and the other spouse is an employee of one of the agencies (Broadcasting Board of Governors, , and Department of Commerce) authorized to use the Foreign Service Personnel System (22 U.S.C. 3922).

Transfer:  A secondment to an international organization when you are separated from the Service for the duration of your secondment.

We or HR/CDA:  The Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources.

You:  A career or career candidate employee of the FS or of the Senior FS.

3 FAH-1 H-2422  Authority

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The procedures outlined in this section are based on provisions of law cited in 3 FAM 2421 and the delegations of authority referenced in 3 FAM 2422.  The DG has delegated responsibility for the management and administration of the Career Development Program (CDP) to the directors of the Office of Career Development and Assignments (HR/CDA) and the Office of Performance Evaluation (HR/PE) jointly, and for the open assignments system to the Director of HR/CDA.  HR/CDA’s assignment panels (3 FAH-1 H-2425.3) exercise their functions on behalf of the DG who retains the right to amend or reject the panels’ decisions.

b. The DG may also, at any time, direct your assignment on the basis of Service need, whether or not you have bid on the position.

3 FAH-1 H-2423  Principles

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The Department’s Career Development Program (CDP) for the FS derives from statutory authority in 22 U.S.C. 4023, and from regulations that are included in 3 FAM 2420.

b. The assignment of members of the FS is based on provisions of law contained in 3 FAM 2421 and the regulations cited in 3 FAM 2420 as a whole.

c.  An assignment, for the purposes of this subchapter, will be to any FS position for more than six months.  For assignments to overseas positions, you must fulfill the following minimum continuous service requirements in order for the assignment to be considered as a completed one for the purposes of this subchapter:  10 months for a one-year tour of duty (TOD), 20 months for a two-year TOD, and 30 months for a TOD of 3 years or more.  For nonstandard TODs overseas, the minimum continuous service requirement will be at least 83% of the period of assignment.

d. In considering your assignment, the DG’s paramount consideration is the needs of the Service.  3 FAM 2424.2 outlines other concerns that are taken into account during the assignment process.

3 FAH-1 H-2423.1  Worldwide Availability

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. 22 U.S.C. 3901(a)(4) is the legal basis for this section; these provisions are amplified in 3 FAM 2424.

b. We may assign you to any position, on a worldwide basis, as we determine necessary in the best interests of U.S. foreign policy and the efficient functioning of the Service.

c.  The decision of an assignment panel (3 FAH-1 H-2425.3-1), or of the DG on review or appeal (3 FAH-1 H-2425.3-2) is binding upon you.  If you refuse to accept such a decision, you are subject to disciplinary action, including separation from the Service per 3 FAM 4300.

3 FAH-1 H-2423.2  Continuous Service in the United States (SOP A-4)

(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
 (State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. You may not serve longer than six years in the United States without a waiver from the DG.  Such a waiver will only be issued in certain special circumstances.  The waiver will be issued for one or two years, depending on the reason.

b. The DG will only consider an extension beyond eight years of domestic service under special circumstances.

c.  For purposes of application of the six- and eight-years rules, you must have satisfied the requirements for a completed assignment overseas, as specified in 3 FAH-1 H-2423, paragraph c.

3 FAH-1 H-2424  Foreign Service (FS) Career Development Program

(CT:POH-115;   08-31-2005)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The Career Development Program (CDP) is designed to prepare you for senior levels in your specific career track.  The CDP is focused on the development of the professional, leadership, language and technical skills you will require at such levels through training and a range of assignments and experiences.  It is also designed to ensure that Service needs are met.

b. The program is based on four principles.  Your career should reflect observance of these principles over time:

(1)  Operational effectiveness, including a breadth of experience in several regions and functions;

(2)  Leadership and management effectiveness;

(3)  Sustained professional language and/or technical proficiency; and

(4)  Responsiveness to Service needs.

c.  For an explanation as to how the CDP’s requirements relate to eligibility for promotion into the Senior FS (for generalists) or into this or other professional-level grades (for specialists), see the procedural precepts for FS promotion boards at 3 FAH-1 H-2320.  See also SOP B-24 regarding waiver provisions for the CDP requirement of service at a hardship/danger pay post.

3 FAH-1 H-2425  The Open Assignments System

3 FAH-1 H-2425.1  Purpose

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The open assignments system (SOP A-1) is designed to obtain the most effective match of personnel to FS position vacancies in the Department and at posts overseas in a transparent and equitable manner.  The paramount consideration remains meeting Service need.  To the extent possible, it also considers your assignment preferences as well as those of the bureaus.

b. The system also takes into account other statutory and regulatory requirements, including mandatory career development and training.  Assignments overseas, including for the purposes of career development requirements, will only be considered as completed if they satisfy the continuous service requirements outlined in 3 FAH-1 H-2423, paragraph c.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.2  The Role of the Office of Career Development and Assignments (HR/CDA)

3 FAH-1 H-2425.2-1  Structure and Organization of HR/CDA

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The director of HR/CDA, and his or her deputy, is responsible for the management of this office and its personnel.  The director may create divisions of the office, that he or she believes will help ensure the efficient operation of the office and for the administration of the open assignments system.

b. The director will ensure that information on the responsibilities of such division(s) is available to you so that you know whom to contact in connection with your assignment process.

c.  The employees in HR/CDA are divided into three basic groups.  While each group has specific responsibilities, all balance these with a parallel responsibility to the Department and its overall personnel policy.

d. The first group advises you and your colleagues on career development and assignment issues and reflects your preferences in the assignment process.  Members of this group also provide guidance to employees regarding the elements of the CDP.  The second group represents the interests of the Department’s bureaus.  The third group processes the messages that authorize your travel to and from post and handles related administrative issues.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.2-2  Operation of HR/CDA

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. HR will operate and maintain an electronic system for submitting and recording your assignment preferences (bids).  We will consider as valid only those bids that you submit via this system unless, in extraordinary circumstances, we authorize submission of bids in an alternate written form.

b. We will also maintain, and make available to all employees, standard operating procedures (SOPs) which complement and provide further detail for this subchapter of the handbook.  We may change these procedures in the interest of greater efficiency, clarity, and equity as the need arises.  Any material changes that affect the operation of the Open Assignments System will be reflected in the series of annual messages (see 3 FAH-1 H-2425.4) available to all employees prior to and during each assignment cycle.

c.  Once you have been duly assigned, we will inform you in writing (A-16) of that decision.  At an appropriate point, and in advance of your need to transfer, we will also issue you the necessary orders (3 FAH-1 H-3760) that will authorize use of departmental funds to pay, as appropriate, for travel, training, per diem, and other expenses you incur between postings.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.3  Assignment Panel Assignments and Assignment Panel Appeals

3 FAH-1 H-2425.3-1  Assignment Panels

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. Except as indicated below, only assignment panels, subject to review by and appeals to the DG (3 FAH-1 H-2425.3-2) are authorized to assign you and other Department personnel to FS positions.

b. The only exceptions are as follows:

(1)  Directed assignments including those of entry-level career candidate members of the FS (3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-6) and for certain limited noncareer appointments (3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-13);

(2)  Assignments based on the DG’s decision to reverse a panel decision (3 FAH-1 H-2422); and

(3)  Chiefs of mission (COMs), designated chiefs of mission, ambassadors, deputy assistant secretaries of State, deputy chiefs of mission and principal officers (3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2 and 3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-3).

c.  While the panels record these assignments for administrative purposes they may not amend them.

d. The DG may decide at any point, and in the interest of efficiency or equity, to change the structure, membership, or operation of the assignment panels.

e. At present, the DG has authorized the operation of two panels.  The Mid-Level Panel assigns FS-02, FS-03, tenured FS-04 generalists as well as mid-level specialists who are at grade or are being proposed for stretch assignments within the FS/FP-02 to FS/FP-03 range.  The Interdivisional Panel makes all assignments other than those specifically reserved to the Mid-Level Panel, including, but not limited to, all assignments to long-term training, detail assignments, details and transfers.

f.  The director of HR/CDA chairs the Interdivisional Panel.  The deputy director chairs the Mid-Level Panel.

g. Only HR/CDA employees may serve as members of a panel.  Panels are constituted, however, so that both your interests and those of the bureaus are fairly represented.

h. The deliberations of the panels are protected.  Panel members are not authorized to discuss, outside of HR, the specifics of how a decision was reached or how individual members voted.  This is to protect the ability of the panel to be forthright and frank in its discussion of proposed assignments and in order to preserve its ability to reach the best decisions possible.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.3-2  Assignment Panel Appeals

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. You have 10 days to appeal a panel decision, in writing, to the DG.  If you are appealing a decision of the panel to assign you to a position, you must identify specific reasons that show service in such a position would impose undue hardship on you personally or professionally.  You may also appeal a decision of a panel not to assign you to a position for which the panel considered you.

b. Bureaus of the Department may also appeal a panel decision, within the same time frame, to the DG.  Bureau appeals must delineate why the assignment of the employee would run counter to the efficient operation of the office or post.

c.  The decision of the DG will be final and binding upon you as well as on a bureau.  There is no appeal beyond the DG in either case.  Your failure to accept the decision by the DG will make you subject to disciplinary action outlined in 3 FAM 4300.

d. You may not appeal a directed assignment.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.4  Open Assignments Notifications

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. We will announce, on an annual basis, the rules for filing assignment preferences (bids) during an annual assignment cycle.  With respect to bargaining unit positions, we negotiate implementing procedures and appropriate arrangements for employees who are adversely affected by management’s assignment actions with the American Foreign Service Association.

b. We will also inform you of the related procedures regarding the operation of the open assignment system.  We will ensure that this information is made available to all employees serving domestically and overseas.  You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with all provisions relevant to your assignment situation and observing all rules and guidelines that apply to you.

c.  We will not normally change fundamental procedures, once the assignment cycle has begun, although we reserve the right to do so if Service need so requires.  In that event, we will notify you as soon as feasible and permit you reasonable time to make any changes in your bids that may be required under the revised procedures.

d. We will publish a list of all available positions (provided by the Department’s bureaus under guidelines we supply) to be filled in an annual assignment cycle.  The list will include such out-year positions as are designated under standards published as noted above.  In addition, we will advertise, in general, other positions (such as assignments and details outside the Department, 3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-9) available to employees in the assignment cycle.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.5  Terms and Conditions of Bidding

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

Certain issues and concerns will be relevant to the bidding and assignment process.  These may include, but are not limited to the following:

(1)  The procedure that the panels will follow in determining assignments.  These may include, among others, when you may be identified for a specific assignment (SOP B-3), or when you may be designated for such an assignment (SOP B-4).  With regard to the latter point, if you fail to file bids in a manner and by the deadline we specify, you are also subject to being designated for assignment;

(2)  The schedule that the panels will follow in making assignments to certain positions; for instance, the time periods when you are eligible to be assigned depending on the nature of the position and/or your grade.  In that regard, we will also advise when you may be a candidate for positions that are ranked either above or below your grade (SOP B-2);

(3)  The length of time or tour of duty (TOD, SOP A-3) you will be assigned to positions domestically or overseas.  In addition to standard TODs, we intend to maintain specific tours of duty at certain kinds of posts, the length of which may be affected by factors including, but not limited to, hardship differential, Service need differential, danger pay, and the responsibilities of certain positions.  Service overseas may also entitle you to home leave (3 FAM 3430 and SOP A-13) and/or eligible for rest and recreation (R&R, 3 FAM 3720);

(4)  The procedures that are associated with positions at offices and/or posts that have insufficient bidders for vacancies, such as historically difficult-to-staff posts (SOP B-19) or hard-to-fill positions (SOP B-18);

(5)  Special procedures that may include, but are not limited to, the length of time that you may serve continuously in the United States (SOPs A-4 and A-5) and applicable fair-share service bidding requirements;

(6)  Special allowances available to those who are assigned to certain difficult-to-staff positions (SOP B-22);

(7)  Conditions and deadlines for requesting an extension or curtailment (SOP A-6);

(8)  Considerations that pertain to all assignments to or involving training, including your eligibility for same and any bidding requirements (SOP A-7);

(9)  Which positions are language-designated, the requirements for bidding on these, and how or when bureaus may apply for language waivers (SOP A-8);

(10) When bridge assignments may be appropriate, what options are available to the employee in terms of assignment versus temporary duty (TDY), and the financial implications for each (SOP A-9);

(11) How we consider leave-without-pay (LWOP) requests and what financial and benefit considerations pertain to those granted this status (SOPs A-12 and A-12A);

(12) When a bureau may request creation of a short-tour position outside the parameters of the open assignment system, how we will consider such a request, and how an employee may fill it (SOP A-14);

(13) How and when a bureau may request that a volunteer cable be issued, the conditions under which an employee may respond to such a cable, and how we will consider filling the position (SOP A-15); and

(14) How the Department will fill urgent (now) vacancies and who is eligible to bid on such positions (SOP A-22).

3 FAH-1 H-2425.6  Your Role in the Open Assignment Process

(CT:POH-115;   08-31-2005)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. Your active participation in the open assignment process is critical.  It is your responsibility to read the material we provide for each assignment cycle and to understand the context in which you will be sending us your bids for onward assignment.

b. It is your responsibility to file your bids, complying with the rules and guidelines we announce by the deadline specified.  If you fail to do that, or you do not update your bid list as may be required by the open assignments process, you may be designated for any available assignment (SOP B-4).

3 FAH-1 H-2425.7  Role of the Bureaus in the Open Assignment Process

(CT:POH-115;   08-31-2005)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

Bureaus in the Department play an important role in the assignment process.  Bureaus make their staffing needs and assignment preferences (except in the case of entry-level career candidates) known through those members of HR/CDA who represent their interests in the assignment process.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8  Special Assignment Considerations

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-1  Security and Medical Clearances

(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. 12 FAM 230 governs the question of security clearances in the context of assignments.  16 FAM 200 controls medical clearances.

b. Security clearances:  In addition, assignment to certain designated criteria countries requires an additional clearance (SOP B-11).

c.  Medical clearances (SOP B-12):  A medical clearance for an assignment overseas is valid for two years, or for the length of the assignment, whichever is longer.

d. You are eligible for assignment overseas, from a medical perspective, if you hold Class 1 (worldwide available) or Class 2 (limited availability) clearances.

e. Special assignment procedures (post approvals) apply if you or your EFMs (as defined for the purposes of this section at 16 FAM 100) have Class 2 medical clearances (see 16 FAM 200).  They are designed to ensure that we can make the best possible assignment in the interests of the Service while taking into account your medical situation.

f.  Special assignment procedures also apply for employees with children (who are EFMs) who MED/ECS has identified as having special educational needs.

g. You are responsible for ensuring that you comply with the above-noted procedures.  If you fail to do this, we may designate you for any position worldwide for which MED clears you whether or not you have bid on the position.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2  Chief of Mission Appointments and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Assignments (SOP C-1)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The Deputy Secretary chairs a committee, known as the D committee, which reviews candidates to serve as chiefs of mission (COM), designated COMs, ambassadors, and also as deputy assistant secretaries (DASs) of the Department.

b. The Deputy Secretary selects members of senior Department management to serve on the committee.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2(A)  Chiefs of Mission (COMs)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. In most cases, the regional bureaus will make recommendations to the DG of candidates to be considered by the D committee for appointment as chief of mission (at bilateral and multilateral posts).  The D committee reviews candidates that HR subsequently proposes (SOP C-1) for such positions.  The proposal is made after interdepartmental consultations under established guidelines and following a preliminary security and suitability review.  The committee then selects one candidate and forwards that name to the Secretary for his or her consideration.  Candidates approved by the Secretary are forwarded to the President.

b. In general, most career FS appointees in these positions serve for 3 years.  There is, however, no term per se to a COM appointment as appointees serve at the pleasure of the President.  COMs are appointed by the President and require the advice and consent of the Senate.

·         Presidential appointment:  yes

·         Require advice and consent of the Senate:  yes

·         May elect presidential pay:  yes (career FS only)

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2(B)  Designated Chiefs of Mission (COMs)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

22 U.S.C. 3942 provides the President authority to “assign a career member of the Service as chargé d’affaires or otherwise as the head of a mission (or as the head of a United States office abroad which is designated by the Secretary of State as diplomatic in nature) for such period as the public interest may require.”  The President’s authority under this section was delegated to the Secretary of State by E.O. 12293 of February 23, 1981.  The Secretary has further delegated this authority to the Under Secretary for Management under delegation of authority No. 148-1 dated September 9, 1981.

Presidential appointment:  no

May elect presidential pay:  yes

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2(C)  Personal Rank of Ambassador

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

22 U.S.C. 3942(a)(2)(B)(i) authorizes the President to confer the personal rank of ambassador for a period not to exceed six months.  The purpose of this authority is to accord appropriate status to senior U.S. representatives conducting high-level functions either domestically or overseas.

Presidential appointment:  no

May elect presidential pay:  no

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2(D)  Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State (DASs)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

The D committee also considers candidates that the Assistant Secretaries of the Department propose to serve for DAS vacancies.  The committee forwards the name of the candidate it approves for each vacancy to the Secretary for his or her approval.

May elect presidential pay:  no

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-3  Deputy Chiefs of Mission (DCMs) and Principal Officers (POs) Assignments (SOP C-2)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The DG chairs a committee, known as the DCM committee that reviews and proposes candidates to serve as DCMs and POs at positions overseas.

b. The DG selects members of Department management to serve on the committee.  The committee reviews, in consultation with HR and the relevant bureaus, the eligible bidders on DCM and PO positions.  The committee then decides on a list of candidates to fill the position.

c.  The committee sends the list of DCM candidates to the COM; the COM may select from among the candidates to fill the position.  If there is no COM at post, or in some cases if the COM is to depart post before the DCM arrives, the committee sends the list of candidates to the Assistant Secretary of the relevant bureau.  The Assistant Secretary, in these cases, selects the DCM.

d. The DCM committee itself selects candidates to serve as POs.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-4  Office Management Specialist (OMS) Assignments for Senior Management and COMs (SOP C-7)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. Department principals (Under Secretaries and above), Assistant Secretaries and equivalents, deputy assistant secretaries (DASs), and officials referred to in 3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-2(A) (hereafter, and for the purposes of this section only, ambassadors) may select an OMS regardless of whether or not he or she is currently available for assignment except as indicated below.

b. The assignment panel will take the necessary action to curtail, as needed, the OMS from his or her current tour and transfer him or her expeditiously (with due regard to allowed leave, and related repayment waivers) to the position in question.

c.  At a post with two ambassador-level OMS positions, the ambassador may select an OMS for the more junior position only from the list of current bidders.

d. The TOD for an ambassador’s OMS will be the standard TOD for the post.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-5  Specialists (SOP B-9)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. Specialists are subject to all of the rules and procedures of the open assignments system except where noted in SOP B-9.

b. Specialists will normally be assigned to positions in their areas of specialization.  Specialists may, however, be assigned to positions outside their designated skill code under certain conditions (see SOP B-9).

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-6  Entry-Level Career Candidates (SOPs B-9 and C-8) [Entry-Level Generalists and Specialists Except Where Noted]

(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The assignment of entry-level FS employees entails different bidding requirements, open assignment notifications, assignment seasons, and TOD.

b. Your first two assignments will generally be to overseas posts except as Service need dictates.  We direct, on behalf of the DG, the first, and in most cases, the second assignments.  You may not appeal these assignments.

c.  We consider a range of factors in deciding on your assignment in addition to Service need.  These may include, among others:

(1)  Your requirements for tenure and career development;

(2)  Family, medical and special educational issues as noted in 3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-1;

(3)  Timing issues relating to departure dates of current position incumbents and any training you require for an assignment;

(4)  Your previous assignment(s), including any hardship and/or danger differentials for those assignment(s).

d. Your TOD for your first two assignments will normally not exceed two years.  In the event that you are approaching the end of your limited noncareer appointment (3 FAM 2240), we will adjust your TOD to take this fact into account.

e. For entry-level generalists only:  Your eligibility for language training will be limited until such time as you may be tenured.  We will endeavor, however, to afford you an appropriate opportunity in your assignments to meet the requirement that untenured generalists reach a given proficiency in a foreign language before being eligible to be tenured (see 3 FAM 2245.7).

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-7  Tandems and Nepotism

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-7(A)  Tandem Assignments (SOP A-11A)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. Subject to the nondiscrimination provisions of 5 U.S.C. 2301(b)(2) and 22 U.S.C. 3905(b), which prohibit, among other things, discrimination on the basis of marital status, we will make a reasonable effort to assign both members of a tandem (see 3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-7) to the same post in positions appropriate to their class levels and qualifications.

b. In order to be treated as a tandem for assignment purposes, the couple must follow all of the guidelines we identify in this regard.

c.  Tandems must know that there is no guarantee that both spouses will be assigned to the same post.  In the event that such assignment does not prove practicable or possible, or could only be accomplished by means of disallowed discrimination, we will consult with each member of the tandem on available options.  Such options may include separate assignments or leave without pay (LWOP; see 3 FAH-1 H-2425.5, subparagraph (11)).  In the event that the spouse on LWOP elects not to bid on such a position, we may identify him or her for the vacancy.

d. The TODs of members of a tandem couple will normally comply with established policies except to the extent that we may decide otherwise under established guidelines.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-7(B)  Nepotism (SOP A-11B)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

See Department regulations at 3 FAM 1300.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-8  Training (SOP A-7)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. You may be assigned to long-term training or short-term training, as defined in SOP-7, as a part of your career development or in the context of your onward assignment.

b. You are required to take certain training as part of your career development, in order to be assigned to a position with supervisory responsibilities, and otherwise as law or regulation may prescribe.  You will be advised, in advance, of when we require you to take such training.

c.  The Foreign Service Institute (FSI; 13 FAM 121) generally administers and provides all training which occurs under the Department’s jurisdiction.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-9  Positions Outside the Department  (SOP A-10)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

We anticipate that, in most cases, we will advertise opportunities to serve in positions outside the Department as part of the notification you receive during an assignment cycle.  In most cases we will organize special competitions for these positions.  We will inform you of any special bidding procedures that apply in this regard.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-9(A)  Detail Assignments

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The legal bases for detail assignments to positions outside the FS are 22 U.S.C. 3983 and 22 U.S.C. 2685.

b. Detail assignments are intended to benefit you and the Department.  They benefit you by broadening your foreign policy skills and expertise.  They also contribute to overall interagency cooperation and provide expertise and support to organizations involved with foreign affairs activities.

c.  Detail assignments may include, but are not limited to the following:

·         Office of a member of Congress or congressional office

·         Other agencies of the Federal Government

·         State and municipal governments

·         Academic institutions

·         U.S. armed forces war colleges

·         International organizations

·         Nongovernmental organizations

d. Detail assignments may not exceed four years of continuous service unless the Under Secretary for Management approves an extension under special circumstances.

e. If we detail or assign you to the office of a member of Congress or to an office of the Senate or House of Representatives, you will have the status of an employee of the Congress for the purpose of payment of travel and other expenses.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-9(B)  Details to International Organizations

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

We may detail you to an international organization for a period not to exceed five years.  The Secretary may extend such a detail up to an additional three years if he or she determines this would be in the national interest.  You will remain an employee of the Department while on such a detail.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-9(C)  Transfers (Secondments) to International Organizations

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The legal basis for this section is 5 U.S.C. 3581 - 3584.

b. An international organization, for the purposes of this section, is a public international organization, or international-organization preparatory commission in which the U.S. Government participates.

c.  We will only consider a transfer if it is requested by an international organization and if you agree with the proposal.  Transfers fall outside the provisions of the Open Assignment Process.

d. If we transfer you to an international organization, you will be separated from the Service for the length of time you are employed by the receiving international organization.  You will retain, however, your rights and benefits as a career member of the Service, during your period of separation and may be eligible for re-employment consistent with the statutory provisions cited herein.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-10  Assignments to CS Positions

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The Director General (DG) may (22 U.S.C. 3983(a)(1)) assign you to a Civil Service (CS) position in the Department.  The DG will generally act in response to a request by a bureau; in any case, you may not initiate such a request.  Such assignments would also require the temporary conversion of the CS position to a FS position, subject to HR procedures in this area, for the duration of your assignment.

b. Such assignments fall outside the parameters of the open assignments process.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-11  Overcomplement (SOP B-16)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. We may assign you to overcomplement status in a bureau for specified reasons of a temporary nature, rather than to a position in the Department.  It is our intention that your status in overcomplement be limited to the minimum time period necessary to make you available for reassignment or separation.

b. In general if you are returning from overseas, you will be assigned to overcomplement in the bureau that has jurisdiction over the post from which you return.

c.  We will assign you to HR overcomplement only with the approval of the DG or the director of HR/CDA.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-12  Central Medical Complement (CMC) (SOP B-7)

(CT:POH-131;   05-01-2008)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The purpose of the central medical complement (CMC) is to provide a temporary assignment designation for individuals who are medically evacuated to the United States for hospitalization or equivalent treatment and/or prolonged medical treatment that is incapacitating in terms of a regular work schedule.  Only the Medical Director (MD), or his or her representative, may authorize us to assign you to the CMC. The MD will authorize assignment only if you have a medical condition requiring your absence from post for at least 90 days that also entails:

(1)  Hospitalization or equivalent treatment in the United States or otherwise unable to work for 30 days or more; or

(2)  An inability to work, or able to report only intermittently while undergoing medical treatment that is expected to extend over a protracted period.

b. During assignment to the CMC, representatives in M/MED will maintain contact with you and your medical providers to keep informed of the medical situation, and will maintain time and attendance reporting.  The Medical Director or designee will notify HR/CDA when you are medically available for reassignment.  You will then have the opportunity to file bids for available vacancies, and all provisions of the open assignment process will apply.  HR/CDA will make every effort to assign you expeditiously to an appropriate vacancy.  Except under extraordinary circumstances, an employee will not remain on the CMC for more than six months.

3 FAH-1 H-2425.8-13  Assignment of Limited Noncareer Appointees

(CT:POH-173;   09-16-2015)
(State only)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees)

a. The DG may make limited noncareer appointments (LNAs) to the FS by virtue of the authority granted under 22 U.S.C. 3943 and in conformity with 22 U.S.C. 3949.  Appointees are members of the FS by virtue of 22 U.S.C. 3903.

b. The regulations controlling such appointments appear at 3 FAM 2290.  LNAs created under these provisions however, are excluded from the application of the assignment procedures contained in this subchapter.

c.  The DG, or an assignment panel, will assign individuals on LNAs to FS positions, except in the case of family member appointments (FMAs; 3 FAM 8210).  Assignment procedures for certain types of LNAs are further addressed as follows:  Career CS employees of the Department (SOP B-18 and B-21), retired members of the FS (SOP B-21), and employees of other Federal agencies (SOP A-10).  In the last instance, such appointments would also be based on a formal written agreement between the Department and the other relevant agency.


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