As I mentioned in my previous post previewing bidding strategies for my upcoming fifth tour, the regular bid season won’t officially get underway until early autumn. But there are some aspects of bidding that start sooner – besides anxiety, networking, and planning – that I didn’t mention. Two of those aspects make up what we call the “early assignments cycle.”
I’m referring to Special Incentive Post (SIP) bidding and Long-Term Training and Detail (LTTD) bidding. The SIP and LTTD bid cycles are abbreviated, occurring before the regular bid cycle so the Department can quickly lock in handshakes for jobs at its highest-priority or most difficult-to-staff posts, as well as external detail and academic positions, respectively, a few months before regular bidding begins. If you receive an SIP or LTTD assignment, your bidding is done and you can watch everyone else sweat it out!
I don’t have a lot of experience with either SIPs or LTTDs. I tried to bid SIP posts from Australia during third tour bidding in 2018, but as an untenured second tour officer bidding mid-level for the first time, the experience was so unsuccessful and short-lived I don’t think I even mentioned it on the blog. And last time I bid in 2021 I didn’t really understand what LTTDs were; most of them were offered above my rank at that time. Finding out about how LTTDs work now has been a little like discovering a hidden level of a video game I thought I’d already scoped out and understood.
This time around I plan to throw my hat in the ring for both SIP and LTTD jobs. This isn’t because I don’t want any jobs in the regular bid cycle – much to the contrary, I have my eye seriously on at least a dozen of the projected vacancies! I just want to try something new and see what happens. I’ve learned a long time ago in the Foreign Service not to self-adjudicate out of opportunities. Maybe SIP or LTTD will work out and maybe they won’t, but in the meantime, here are some of my unofficial, bidder perspectives on the process. A note that none of the information in this post is intended to constitute instructions or policy.