Update: Changes to State Department Foreign Travel Training Courses During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Effective September 9, 2020, Current Status of Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) Training (formerly HTSOS)
FACT training was cancelled through the week of August 31, 2020 but FACT training courses will resume in the month of September with smaller class sizes. Space is available in the FACT course beginning September 14, 2020. If you are required to take FACT per 13 FAM 301.4-2 and are scheduled to travel abroad on official duty (regardless of whether the travel is PCS or TDY) after November 30, 2020, please take a moment to register for an available FACT course.
The global pandemic has altered how the Department delivers training to personnel. Please be assured that Diplomatic Security (DS) has, working closely with MED, adjusted its training protocols in accordance with the most current medical and Departmental guidance, to include training smaller student populations, so that training will be conducted in a safe and healthy environment. DS has conducted three pilot FACT classes using applicable social distancing and necessary PPE to ensure that all training objectives can be fully met.
Existing Blanket FACT Waiver
The Under Secretary for Management approved a blanket FACT waiver in April 2020, and it remains in effect for the following personnel:
- U.S. government personnel from any department, agency, or entity for whom FACT training requirements would normally apply, who are scheduled to travel abroad on official duty, (regardless of whether the travel is PCS or TDY) before December 1, 2020. This waiver is valid until their next official travel to the U.S. after FACT training resumes.
- Those personnel who have current FACT waivers and were scheduled to complete FACT between March 16, 2020 and November 30, 2020. This waiver is valid until their next official travel to the U.S. after FACT training resumes.
Although no memo is required for those personnel who benefit from the aforementioned blanket FACT waiver, those individuals must complete the online High Threat Security Overseas Seminar (HTSOS) (soon to be named Counter Threat Awareness Training (CTAT)) course prior to departure if they have not done so in the past year. This will provide for a minimum level of training for those who have not yet taken HTSOS/CTAT, or a refresher for those who have completed it within the past several years. Confirmation of HTSOS/CTAT completion must be indicated in the personnel’s country clearance request.
Posts, bureaus, agencies, and individual personnel are expected to monitor FACT training requirements and ensure required training is completed during the next official travel back to the U.S. once FACT training fully resumes. Changes to the FACT policy that went into effect on March 23, 2020 can be found here: 20 STATE 31716.
Effective June 2, 2020, the High Threat Overseas Training Seminar (HTSOS) has been renamed the Counter Threat Awareness Training (CTAT).
Effective March 20, 2020, the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat Course has been cancelled until August 31, 2020. The Registrar will do their best to re-enroll students in future sessions, based on availability, when activity returns to normal. The Department of State is addressing the process for allowing FACT waivers under certain circumstances and when guidance is in place, it will be messaged to all personnel and agencies affected
In anticipation of some employees having an urgent need to travel to post without having completed FACT due to the current cancellation of FACT. Waivers are an available option for employees with PCS or TDY travel to posts before the next available FACT course offering. The current waiver process remains in effect. It is recommended that any employee who believes they might require a waiver complete the online Counter Threat Awareness Training (CTAT) (formerly HTSOS) course as soon as possible, as prior completion of that online course is a condition of receiving a FACT waiver.
Additional Updated Guidance to FACT and CTAT Training:
A new threshold for FACT has been approved. Instead of requiring FACT for all U.S. government personnel working overseas for 45 or more cumulative days in a calendar year, FACT is now required when those personnel work overseas for 90 or more cumulative days in a 12-month period. Personnel working overseas for less than 90 cumulative days in a 12-month period will not be required to take FACT.
In addition, the validity period for FACT and CTAT has been extended from five years to six years. This will allow one additional year for personnel to obtain a new FACT or CTAT certificate.
Official international travel under the Department of State Chief of Mission (COM) requires training prior to travel. All personnel performing official international travel for less than 90 days cumulative for the calendar year are required to complete the High Threat - Security Overseas Seminar (HTSOS) course online via the Commerce Learning Center (CLC). Personnel going on official international travel for 90 days or more cumulative for the calendar year (extended TDY or Permanent Change of Station) are required to complete the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) course.
High Threat - Security Overseas Seminar (HTSOS) (soon to be Counter Threat Awareness Training-CTAT)
Traveling internationally fewer than 90 days cumulative for the calendar year?
HTSOS fulfills a Department of State mandatory training requirement for all personnel traveling internationally for less than a cumulative 90 days for the calendar year. HTSOS is not required for, and does not include, non-official (personal) international travel.
HTSOS training on the CLC takes approximately 5 hours to complete all modules. The HTSOS completion certificate is valid for 6 years, at which time the training must be completed again.
If an individual is executing official international travel and does not have access to the CLC, the HTSOS (HT401) is accessible via the Department of State Foreign Service Institute (FSI) website which carries a registration fee of $80.
Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT)
Traveling internationally for 90 days or more (e.g. Permanent Change of Station to overseas post) cumulative for the calendar year?
Personnel who will incur 90 days or more of official international travel cumulative for the calendar year on temporary duty [or on permanent change of station (PCS) orders] are required to complete the 5-day FACT course. Enrollment procedures, cost, course schedule and other information regarding this training can be found at the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Service Institute (FSI) website. This course is valid for 6 years.
A valid FACT course certificate will be recognized in lieu of the HTSOS requirement for official international travel.
The Department of State requires specific Counterintelligence briefings prior to approving official government travel to some countries.
Applicable DOC travelers will be notified of this requirement via their eCountry Clearance response message directing them to contact Diplomatic Security's Counterintelligence division (DOS/DS/CI) to receive this briefing. DOC is able to provide the DOS briefings directly to Department travelers so please contact your bureau’s Field Servicing Security Office to ensure compliance with this requirement.
- Security Training Requirements for Official International Travel, memo dated December 27, 2019 from the Director for Security
- Expanded Mandatory Training for International Travelers and Permanent Change of Station, memo dated October 19, 2016 from the Director for Security
- Travel Tips from the ODNI National Counterintelligence and Security Center
- Department of State Travel Advisories
- Department of State Memo: Blanket FACT Waivers Due to COVID-19 FACT Cancellations
For questions related to HTSOS or FACT training requirements, please contact the Office of Security Training Program POC at OSY-PPCD@doc.gov.