HRC’s Swearing-in Ceremony at Foggy Bottom

HRC’s remarks during her swearing in ceremony is here.

Hard Lessons: USAID, Pushed to the Limit

(Senior USAID official) Ross Wherry, who ultimately directed much of the agency’s reconstruction preparations, began to learn about Iraq planning in mid-2002 through a series of chance encounters, cryptic notes, and indirect suggestions that the agency should develop contingency scenarios

In every aspect of the effort—in both the humanitarian and reconstruction areas—complex contracting regulations and time pressures pushed USAID’s capacities to the limit, exposing structural weaknesses in the U.S. government’s ability to mobilize for contingency relief and reconstruction operations.

At one point (Christopher) Milligan, (USAID’s deputy director for Iraq) was directed to establish indicators for the transportation sector. “I had a turn-around time of four hours to determine how many miles of roads would be re-opened or repaired,” he said.

Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience
Chapter 1 pg. 26 pg. 27 pg. 31
From ProPublica

Quickie: AFSA Opinion Poll Results

An overview of the results of the AFSA opinion poll conducted recently has now been posted online here. I will add a link to the full details once its available. Brief excerpt below:

“Our opinion poll revealed strong sentiment over professional issues. A whopping 98 percent of respondents agreed that “Foreign Service members, especially senior officers, have a duty to provide frank, constructive advice to the political leadership behind closed doors on foreign policy issues and on management issues impacting the Foreign Service—even if that advice is not welcomed by the superior.” Hundreds of comments indicated that people do not believe this has been the case in recent years and are concerned over the lack of open discussion of policy issues.”

Annual Opinion Poll Yields Record Number of Responses
February 2009

That “Reply-To-All" Crisis: Could Have Been Worse

Remember that infamous email storm at the State Department last month precipitated by folks hitting the “reply-to-all” button? AP then reports that “A cable sent last week to all employees at the department’s Washington headquarters and overseas missions warns of unspecified “disciplinary actions” for using the “reply to all” function on e-mail with large distribution lists.”

Apparently, State is not the only organization struggling with this. Robin Wauters of TechCrunch recently reports on how Nielsen management has “finally come up with an adequate solution to declutter e-mail inboxes and inefficiency in office environments: control-deleting the reply-to-all button from the messaging software.”

“In a move that could have come straight from Mike Judge’s Office Space, the company has decided to remove the button from their e-mail program of choice, Microsoft Outlook, affecting all 35,000 employees across the globe. In a memo, republished by Folio, Andrew Cawood, Chief Information Officer for Nielsen Company, writes that the measure will “eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency”.

Previously, the company had an issue with email grouping when a Vice President at Nielsen, managed to accidentally cc all Nielsen employees with a reply carrying the now famous punch line of “Who do you work for, and why do you think copying me on this is appropriate?” Do you think that tops the “I’m important, stop wasting my time” from a certain unnamed ambassador?

The Folio comments are hilarious especially this one on “Q”, a letter of low performance. “X” must be quite apprehensive these days.

not the sharpest knife…

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/28/2009 – 21:34.

In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Q” key from all Nielsen Company computers. We have noticed that the “Q” key is only used 19% of the time throughout a typical work day as opposed to the most utilized letters, A, R ,S, T , and L, This results in unnecessary keystrokes, causing a waste of time and silly words that use the letter Q. Beginning Thursday we will remove all “Q” keys, allowing you to type only words without the letter “Q”. Employees who want to use the letter “Q” can now substitute the “asterisk” symbol for all words containing “Q”….

Removing ‘Q’ from keyboard is brilliant!

Submitted by gpshead on Sat, 01/31/2009 – 15:18.

Now nobody will be able to *uit.

Can’t stop laughing!

Be thankful the State Department did not remove the “reply-to-all” button from your Microsoft Outlook. I s’pose if it happens – you can still use “Ctrl-Shift-R” for that function.