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FSCE Career Progression and Assignments

The FSCE career field has several standard duty titles related to the responsibilities anticipated during any particular assignment. The three most common are Project DirectorConstruction Manager, and Construction Executive. While there is a Professional Development Program (PDP) for Construction Engineers, it is more tailored to the specialty than the PDP for Generalists
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Because the Foreign Service is a rank-in-person structure, your pay doesn't change based on the position you hold (which is the case for the Civil Service). But you still get all the work that comes with a more demanding job. However, the FSCE structure is relatively flat, so on one overseas assignment you might report to someone back in DC, and then they end up reporting to you the next time around.

Project Director (PD)
Typically the most sought-after job for FSCEs, they are the top OBO project person at an overseas post. They are usually also the Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) for developing contract modifications and formal communications with the contractor. Additional responsibilities include managing the budget and personnel. The Project Directors are rated on by the regional Branch Chiefs in DC.

What grade do you have to be to be a PD? Any and every grade at or above FP-3. I was a PD on my third tour (Nicosia, Cyprus) for a small project. 

Construction Manager (CM)
The second-highest position on an OBO project, Construction Managers are tasked with more of the technical compliance issues, quality assurance, and the technical side of the project. In larger projects, a third FSCE may be assigned as a Project Controls Engineer.

What grade do you have to be to be a CM? Usually two grades below the PD, so basically any grade at or below FP-01. 


Construction Executive (CE)
The Washington DC-based Construction Executive is basically the OBO Bureau's desk officer for a project in construction. Their day is mostly paperwork related to funding and passing along reports from the field. They report to regional Branch Chiefs, who report upward to various directors within OBO. Additionally, Construction Executives are included in the design reviews prior to construction and occasionally sent out to the field to provide relief for PDs & CMs taking R&R. These positions may also be filled by Civil Service employees to provide continuity between FSCE assignment rotations.

What grade do you have to be to be a CE? I'll be honest here. It's an entry-level position, and while it is useful for learning how things are done in the Bureau, the position didn't always exist. Many of the current FSCE upper management never had a tour as a CE. Since it's Washington, DC, it's also the default location used as a holding area for people when there aren't enough jobs in the field to place everyone. Personally, I think that advances in communication technology over the last decade have made the CE position a bit redundant, considering that the Project Director can do all of the same tasks remotely and with greater detail. Most of my current Construction Executive tour has been in support of projects in the design phase before the construction contract award, as the construction advisor to OBO's domestic Project Manager.  


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