County councilman accepts temporary State Department job Gray to work 8 weeks on selection board

June 23, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, has taken a temporary job with the State Department in Washington.

Starting today, he will begin evaluating foreign service officers for promotion -- something he also did in 1988.

Then, he worked for the State Department two weeks. This time, he'll be there eight weeks, serving on a foreign service selection board.

"One of our objectives is to address the perception and concern over promotional opportunities for women in the foreign service," Mr. Gray said.

The U.S. District Court ruled in 1992 that the State Department had discriminated against women in promotions. Several female foreign service officers filed suit again recently, alleging that the discrimination is continuing.

In addition to addressing the issue of discrimination against women, the panel "will be reviewing the job description, work quality, work volume and overall performance" of more than 1,000 foreign service officers, Mr. Gray said. "We will look at the extent to which they have enhanced their skills, gotten more schooling, and learned new languages."

Mr. Gray will be the only non-State Department employee on a five-person panel.

Most panelists on the foreign service selection boards are former ambassadors, deputy chiefs of missions, and career foreign service officers, Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray is a professor of political science at Morgan State University.

He will not resume his teaching responsibilities until fall and the County Council does not schedule activities in August.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gray thinks he can work around his council schedule.

"There's some flexibility," he said, "although it sometimes means coming back and working [at the State Department] until 2 a.m."

The selection board panel meets every day to review the previous day's work, and he will be expected to keep up with the workload regardless of his council responsibilities, Mr. Gray said.

"I don't know how I happened to be recommended" in 1988, Mr. Gray said. "This time, I was on the list when they needed a senior, veteran person."

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