Foreign Service Officer

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In the United States and several other countries, a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) is a professional career diplomats. While, in the broadest sense of the term, U.S. Foreign Service Officers (FSO) are civil servants, they have a distinct rank structure. Due to the need to represent the United States, may not have some of the administrative protections of a domestic government employee in a nonsensitive job.

Since 1975, the Director General of the Foreign Service, a position with Assistant Secretary rank, has also been the chief of human resources for the Department of State. The third-ranking position in the Department, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, is traditionally reserved for a Foreign Service Officer. Some FSOs have served as Deputy Secretary of State or as acting Secretary of State (e.g., Lawrence Eagleburger).