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Performance management handbook (recognition) - chapter 16

Chapter 16. Awards for Foreign Service Employees 


Foreign service employees are eligible for awards covered in this Handbook, with the exception of Quality Step Increases (QSIs). Specific guidance on the establishment of awards programs for foreign service employees should be directed to the Office of Foreign Service Personnel Human Resources, U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, International Trade Administration.


This chapter is applicable to American Foreign Service Officers and Administrative Assistants/Secretaries, and Foreign Service local employees of the Department of Commerce.

Meritorious Service Increase

A Meritorious Service Increase (MSI) is an increase in a foreign service employee's rate of basic pay from one step of the employee's class to the next higher step of the class. It is the foreign service equivalent of the QSI.

For foreign service officers and administrative assistants/secretaries, MSIs are granted based on recommendations of a selection board when performance during the past year is regarded as superior but not warranting promotion. Additionally, the employee's performance must have been sustained at a high level for a sufficient time that it is considered characteristic of the individual's performance and is, therefore, expected to continue in the future. MSI’s are also considered when the foreign service employee is recommended for promotion but is ineligible.

For foreign service local employees, MSI's are recommended by the supervisor for outstanding performance that is expected to continue into the future.