Is this Super DCM job for you?

Map Source: OIG Report

The OIG inspection of US Embassy Cape Verde has been posted online. The inspection took place in Washington, DC, between January 21 and February 6, 2009, and in Praia, Cape Verde, between March 12 and 21, 2009. Praia is one of our smallest missions staffed by five American Department direct-hire employees and 78 Locally Employed (LE) staff. In addition, the MCC staffs one direct-hire position and four LE staff, and the Peace Corps staffs two direct-hire positions, three LE staff, and 53 volunteers throughout Cape Verde.

The Republic of Cape Verde is an Atlantic island nation located approximately 300 miles west of Senegal, off Africa’s west coast. It is comparable in total land size to Rhode Island. At the time of inspection, the mission was headed by Ambassador Marianne Myles (still the incumbent) and the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was Patrick M. Dunn, who has since moved on.

I thought this report deserves some highlighting because the DCM job in this mission seems to be the Jack-or Jill-of-all trades requiring super multitasking and multi-functional skills. Here is what the OIG says about the DCM:

The DCM spends the largest portion of his time on Embassy management and on promoting the Embassy’s first goal of reducing illegal trafficking. He works closely with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Cape Verdean Government and security forces, and senior LE staff to promote cooperative engagement and training to improve Cape Verde’s capacity to reduce illegal trafficking. The DCM’s responsibilities as management officer, post security officer, and coordinator of U.S. engagement on improving maritime security, stretch him very thin.

The deputy ambassador in this mission is not only the management officer, but also the general services officer, facilities management officer, HR officer and financial management officer. In the absence of a Regional Security Officer, he/she is also the post security officer. As if that is not enough multitasking for one person, the incumbent is apparently also the information systems security officer. It looks like the only thing this position is not tasked to do is conduct visa interviews and guard the embassy compound.

All throughout the report the IG lists down the flavor of this position:

  • The DCM’s responsibilities as management officer, post security officer, and coordinator of U.S. engagement on improving maritime security, stretch him very thin.
  • The management section is under the direction of the DCM, who serves in a dual capacity as management officer.
  • In addition to his direct responsibilities as management officer, the DCM also supervises the consular, economic, political, PD, security, and military portfolios
  • Because Embassy Praia does not have a direct-hire general services officer, GSO operations are under the direction of the DCM/management officer.
  • The DCM/management officer is the Embassy’s single real property manager and thus oversees the housing program.
  • The DCM/management officer provides overall direction, with the LE American general services officer responsible for daily operations
  • The DCM/management officer has overall responsibility for contracting and procurement. He also serves as the alternate contracting officer and has a warrant for acquisitions up to $250,000.
  • The DCM/management officer is the authorizing and approving official for all embassy travel and his LE staff secretary carries out the actual tasks associated with travel.
  • Property management and warehousing is another of the general services functions in the DCM/management officer portfolio, but it is under the direct supervision of the LE American general services officer.
  • Financial management operations are also under the direction of the DCM/ management officer, who serves as the primary certifying officer; funds control officer, and approving officer for cashier operations.
  • The DCM/management officer is responsible for overall direction of the Embassy human resources (HR) operation, and supervises one experienced LE staff HR assistant.
  • With the leadership of the DCM and the drive of the Ambassador’s office management specialist (OMS), the Praia information management section provides adequate support for the entire mission. The Embassy has no American professional information management (IM) staff. The OMS and the DCM manage all IM responsibilities.
  • The DCM is responsible for overseeing IM operations and providing direct American oversight of the information systems center. Although the DCM also serves as management officer and has numerous other responsibilities outlined earlier in this report, he spends the time needed to perform his information systems security officer (ISSO) duties.
  • In the absence of a separate management officer however, the DCM serves as control officer or alternate for about 20 other specific functions relating to management controls.
  • Review of Embassy Praia’s Consolidated Consular Database reveals that the DCM formally reviews both the consular section chief ’s and the part-time vice consul’s decisions regularly.

The OIG report also states that the Embassy has vigorously presented its case for additional management staffing to the Department. Praia requested a general services officer/information management officer position in its rightsizing report in 2006, and again in a revised version in May 2008, but the Office of Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation did not approve the request. The Embassy then requested a management officer position in its FY 2010 MSP submission, and discussion continues with AF. The OIG team believes that the Embassy request has merit, but competing demands for Department resources will require that the embassy prepare a strong case. Specifically, the need must be demonstrated through the performance metrics and uniform service standards contained in the Collaborative Management Initiative. Given the management demands on the DCM, the Embassy justification should also document the negative impact of his inability to carry out supervision, staff development, and other responsibilities in his portfolio.

Demand for resources – right. Baghdad has two management officers; Kabul has one deputy ambassador and at least two assistant ambassadors that I am aware of. Who knows how many ends up in Pakistan before long? Cape Verde is in the middle of the Atlantic, of course; why would it be on anyone’s radar screen?

Things to keep in mind if you want this super-job:

#1. Multitasking is a human delusion. This neuroscientist says that when you multitask you’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly because similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain. Read this one, too.

#2. Don’t hold your breath on AF. You need eyes in the back of your head for oversight, four ambidextrous hands to sign all that needed signing, six legs to get everywhere you need to be – and that’s just for starters.

#3. You cannot ever get sick, period.

Related Item:
OIG Report: Embassy Praia, Cape Verde | Report Number ISP-I-09-41A
June 2009