• The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Global Talent Management Family Liaison Office’s (GTM/FLO) Professional Development Fellowship (PDF) program for 2020-2021 is currently reviewing applications.
    • Open to spouses and partners of direct-hire U.S. government employees from all agencies serving overseas under COM authority, PDFs support spouses and partners in their efforts to develop, maintain, and/or refresh their professional skills while overseas. Subject to budgetary constraints, PDF selectees receive from $1,000 up to $2,500 on a reimbursable basis for enrichment activities. Selectees will self-fund a minimum of 25 percent of the activity upon which their PDF is based. In order to ensure full consideration of each application, those interested in applying should read this guidance carefully and in its entirety.

Program Considerations

The total amount awarded during this program period will be subject to budgetary constraints. The 2020-2021 program will have a minimum individual PDF amount of $1,000 to  $2,500. The selection committee will not consider incomplete or late applications, or requests below the minimum amount requirement. The 2020-2021 PDF period will cover activities that commence on or after August 1, 2020, and conclude no later than July 31, 2021. Please note that the Department will not reimburse activities that are undertaken before and after the dates announced in this guidance.


  1. Applicants must be the spouse or partner of a direct-hire U.S. government employee (“sponsor”) assigned to and residing at an overseas post under COM authority during the fellowship period. “Partner” for the purpose of this announcement includes same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners who may or may not be on orders. Applicants must be accompanying their sponsor to post.
  2. PDF selectees must reside overseas during the 2020-2021 PDF period, and activities must commence while the selectee is overseas. If the selectee temporarily returns to the United States, they may continue their PDF activities as long as the time in the U.S. does not exceed 30 days. If the period in the U.S. exceeds 30 days due to unforeseen circumstances, e.g., disruption of assignment due to evacuation, the selectee must inform FLO within 10 days after the initial 30 days in the U.S. in order to seek guidance.
  3. Spouses and partners of employees on domestic assignments, on temporary duty (TDY) exceeding 30 days in the U.S., or in long-term training in the U.S. are not eligible to apply. Spouses and partners of employees on unaccompanied tours, who are residing in the U.S. during the fellowship period, are not eligible to apply.
  4. Applicants who have received a previous PDF and who meet the eligibility requirements may reapply. However, applicants who have received PDFs for the two preceding consecutive program periods must wait one program year before reapplying.

Application Procedures

  1. Applicants should submit a completed application form, available on the FLO’s PDF website.
  2. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application is complete and submitted on time. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. Applications that are missing information once the deadline has passed will be considered incomplete.
  3. Applications must contain a synopsis followed by a detailed description of the proposed professional development activities.
  4. The proposed activities must take place during the PDF program period, August 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021.
  5. Professional development activities should be directly related to the applicant’s professional interests, and the proposal must explain how the activities will enhance the applicant’s skills and/or future employment potential.
  6. Proposals may include a wide range of activities, including but not limited to, taking classroom and distance learning courses, obtaining or renewing professional and language certifications or licenses, and participating in professional conferences.
  7. Budget proposals should provide a detailed, itemized breakdown of the entire cost of the proposed activity. If the provider of the proposed activity has not yet published updated costs for the PDF program year, the most recently published costs must be used in the application. Fellowship awards are limited by the amounts listed in the application.
  8. All complete applications received by the April 30, 2020 deadline will be acknowledged by email. Due to the volume of applications, notification of receipt may take up to three weeks after the deadline.
  9. If the application is received after the deadline, applicants will not receive an email acknowledgment.

Application Deadline

Submit applications to FLO as soon as possible, but no later than April 30, 2020, 11:59 PM (EDT), via email to All applicants will be notified of results by early August 2020, after PDF selection committees have convened.

Reimbursement of Allowance Costs

Fellowship costs will be reimbursed after the 2020-2021 PDF activity is completed and the selectee submits documentation for reimbursement. Funds will be deposited into the selectee’s designated U.S. bank account within eight weeks of receipt and review of the complete reimbursement request. The Department is unable to deposit reimbursement in installments or to a third party on behalf of the selectee. The selectee may claim reimbursement only after the activity is fully complete. A certification of completion must be included in the package. selectee will be responsible for at least 25 percent of the proposed allowable costs. Under no circumstances can PDF amounts be increased after an applicant is selected; however, the amount reimbursed may be less, reflecting actual costs. Only originally approved activities (with the corresponding itemized breakdown as listed on the application) will be reimbursed. Activities not explicitly approved by the PDF committee will not be reimbursed. Modification to any component of the approved project must be approved by FLO. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that only allowable costs are included in their application and, if selected for a PDF, that the costs mirror the approved project. If an application is approved, FLO will accept prepaid invoices on or after April 1, 2020, provided the activities start overseas on or after August 1, 2020. Selectees must ensure that invoices identify them as the recipients.

Non-Allowable Costs

  • Membership fees and subscription costs, except those for the purpose of providing electronic access to course content
  • Travel
  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Per diem
  • Childcare
  • Startup business costs, such as, but not limited to: supplies, assessments, test kits, tool kits, uniforms, materials used to make goods, equipment or tools used to provide services or goods
  • Hardware, software, or equipment
  • Books, except those required for course completion
  • Course materials and supplies
  • Printing costs
  • Salary or other payment for services of assistants, translators, etc.
  • Shipping and handling fees
  • Bank fees
  • Late fees
  • Any costs not included in the approved PDF application

Selection Committee

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee chaired by FLO and will include representatives from the Office of Overseas Employment and the respective regional bureau to which the sponsoring employee is assigned.

Selection Criteria

The selection committee will consider the following criteria:

  1. Lack of availability of employment options in the applicant’s profession at her/his post of assignment.
  2. Correlation between the proposed activity and professional development of the applicant.
  3. Where applicable, a connection between the proposed activity and other effort(s) on the part of the applicant to develop, maintain, and/or refresh her/his professional skills (e.g., the proposal can be part of a larger professional development plan).
  4. Favorable consideration will be given to those activities that will benefit overseas communities under COM authority through provision of services that are otherwise not readily available and/or are in great demand.
  5. Proposals from applicants residing at Historically Difficult to Staff (HDS) posts (see section below) will receive favorable consideration as will proposals from posts where no Bilateral Work Agreement or de facto work arrangement are in place. A list of HDS posts is below.

Project Completion

The activities of PDF selectees must commence and be completed during the 2020-2021 fellowship program period, i.e., on or after August 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021. There will be no extensions and no exceptions to this requirement. At the end of their project, selectees must submit a project report describing program activities and accomplishments. Additionally, selectees must provide a financial report with detailed accounting of the project and related expenses corresponding to the approved items. Selectees will receive specific instructions on project completion requirements after acceptance of their PDF.

Withdrawal from the Program

The Fellowships awarded through this program constitute a financial commitment on the part of the Department. It is imperative that applicants accepting a PDF understand this commitment and, should they decide not to complete their approved PDF activity, notify FLO as soon as possible but no later than January 5, 2021. Notifying FLO by this date will allow FLO to offer the available funds to another applicant within a reasonable timeframe. Selectees who withdraw or otherwise do not complete their program activity and do NOT notify FLO by January 5, 2021, will not be eligible for consideration for a PDF for the next two consecutive program periods. Selectees who withdraw as a result of unforeseen events, e.g., evacuation, serious illness, etc., should contact FLO as soon as possible, and FLO will review these on a case-by-case basis.

Points of Contact

For additional information please consult the Professional Development Fellowship Webpage and read through the frequently asked questions (FAQs). For questions not answered on the website, email or call FLO at (202) 647-1076. PDF program updates will be announced via the CLO network at posts worldwide, the FLO Weekly, FLO’s email subscription service for registered family members, and the FLO Facebook page. FLO encourages all PDF applicants to subscribe to the FLO Weekly.

Historically Difficult To Staff (HDS) Posts for Summer 2020

AF Posts

Abidjan, Abuja, Antananarivo, Asmara, Bamako, Banjul, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Conakry, Cotonou, Djibouti, Douala, Freetown, Juba, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Luanda, Malabo, Monrovia, Ndjamena, Niamey, Nouakchott, Ouagadougou, Yaounde

EAP Posts

Port Moresby, Shenyang, Wuhan

EUR Posts


NEA Posts

Baghdad, Basrah, Beirut, Cairo, Dhahran, Erbil, Jeddah, Kuwait, Riyadh

SCA Posts

Almaty, Ashgabat, Dhaka, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Kabul, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar

WHA Posts

Caracas, Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Port-au-Prince

U.S. Department of State

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