Revisiting the Global Repositioning Dance er Program

You remember Condi Rice’s Global Repositioning Program? Of course, you do! Most especially if you were in the middle of language training and suddenly heard that you’ve been repositioned. Well, it wasn’t you, really. It wasn’t personal.  One day you were learning Dutch, the next thing you know that position in Brussels had been moved to Shanghai. What were they thinking? Heck if I know! I understand that you end up taking that GSO position in Country X?  Really, they did not speak Dutch there?  I also heard that you absolutely refused to talk about that “learning” experience? I’m really sorry it went down like that. Don’t you just hate it when you get a program with a nice name and no juice to fire up the truck? How do you get from point A to point B is beyond me.   
Anyway, I see that the OIG has posted some new reports online. I was actually looking at the compliance follow-up review of US Mission Brazil (not as riveting as the 2008 report, I tell you) when sitting under it is another report on the OIG inspection of US Embassy Brussels from 2009. I scrolled through the report and what do you know – the report actually talked aboutt the GRP (also known as the Foreign Service’s Half-Baked Fiasco)! Excerpt below:         
Officer losses due to the Global Repositioning Program (GRP) initiative hit the political and economic sections particularly hard and caused their consolidation. The new joint section is responding well to the ongoing integration process, but reporting has been reduced.
Embassy Brussels has been forced to reduce its work on economic and political issues since the 2004 inspection. The GRP, which shifted Foreign Service resources to posts in China, India, and elsewhere, eliminated two political and economic officer positions in Belgium. The downsizing no longer justified separate economic and political sections, each of which had been led by an FS-01 counselor. The Embassy combined the two sections under a single political-economic counselor at the FS-01 level in 2008 and eliminated the second FS-01 position.
In addition to the counselor, two political officers, an economic officer, and two LE staff members make up the political-economic section, augmented by frequent short-term interns. The Embassy has recommended in its MSP, the addition of a third LE position to help its efforts in furthering bilateral cooperation in counterterrorism and terrorist financing, and in fostering Belgian development assistance to Afghanistan and Africa. The OIG team sees merit in this request. Once an entry-level officer (ELO) position is restored to the section in the summer of 2009, it will return to roughly the right size. Another ELO is expected in the summer of 2010.
So – just to get this straight in my head – two political and economic officer positions in Belgium were repositioned a couple or so years back. One position was restored to Brussels in 2009. Another one will be restored in the summer of 2010. How many other posts out there that lost officers under the GRP have now regained those officer positions?    
I do wonder – what do you call this kind of fun exercise? There must be a word appropriate for such programs, they roll on, then they roll back (or roll of the cliff). Would “ro-ro” programs be acceptable?          
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“Focused Reorganization” of the “T” Bureau is On

Laura Rozen over at Politico talks about the proposed restoration of the arms control bureau (State moves to restore arms control bureau): 

Following a GAO report blasting a 2005 reorganization of the State Arms Control and International Security bureau, the State Department’s “T” bureau is circulating plans and soliciting feedback on a proposed reorganization of the bureau to beef up its arms control focus and staffing.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher held a town hall meeting this morning to kick off the effort which over a 100 employees attended. The memo is also being circulated on the Hill.
The bureau has about 600 employees in three divisions – Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI) headed by Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and Verification Rose Gottemoeller; International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), currently lead by acting Assistant Secretary Van Van Diepen; and Political-Military Affairs (PM), headed by Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro.
The proposed re-vamp would essentially move more arms control people and functionality to Gottemoeller’s shop, which would be renamed “Arms Control, Verification and Compliance,” (from the Bolton-era VCI, sans the arms control, of which Joseph and the past administration were largely skeptical). It would also move a fewer number of people from Gottemoeller’s division to ISN, the more sanctions and verification-oriented shop. (State is supporting veteran arms control hand Steve Mull, currently an aide to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, for the A/S ISN job, but the appointment is still languishing at the White House). Pol-Mil would be unaffected by the proposed changes.

“The specific muscle movements between bureaus and rationalization of offices … would be small, targeted and discreet,” the State Department official said.

Josh Rogin of The Cable has more on this in Clinton rolls back Bolton-era arms control shakeup (FP | February 24):
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday announced plans to reorganize the “T” bureau at the State Department, seeking to roll back changes made by former Under Secretary John Bolton during George W. Bush‘s presidency.
Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher, who leads the T bureau, explained the rationale in a town-hall meeting with about 200 staffers Wednesday morning.
“Arms control, verification, compliance, and nonproliferation will no longer be starved for resources; quite the contrary, these missions along with our political-military efforts will be adequately resourced and well-staffed with first rate professionals,” she told her personnel. “The proven and time-tested tools of arms control have been seriously underutilized, if not neglected, by the United States, and nonproliferation efforts have at times lacked focus and follow-through. This dysfunctional approach culminated in the 2005 reorganization.”
The 2005 reorganization consolidated three bureaus into two, joining arms control and nonproliferation together into the ISN bureau, in what was then touted as a streamlining measure. A 2009 GAO report said that State was never able to demonstrate that the changes produced any benefits. Current officials saw the move as a way to marginalize both efforts.
HRC’s letter to the “T” staff and management says: “We are undertaking a focused reorganization of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and the Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. The goals of this reorganization are to realign the missions of the VCI and ISN bureaus to better leverage their support for key national security objectives and to create dedicated organizational advocates for (1) arms control and verification and compliance, and (2) nonproliferation.”
I have written previously about the “T” bureau in 2009.  I don’t know what to say – be prepared to move desk?
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Quote: The Diplomat’s Life: Controlled Schizophrenia

In the novel Mathews recounts a truism of diplomatic life which his friend McAuliffe has told him: “It’s a kind of controlled schizophrenia, the diplomat’s life,” he (McAuliffe) said. “You wonder which side of the brain you really want to live in, the public one or the private one.”

by James Thomas Snyder
The Consul’s Wife
W.T. Tyler, Henry Holt, 1998
hardcover, 216 pages

HRC Pitches for Proposed State Dept Budget

HRC appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (Washington, DC | February 24, 2010) on the President’s Proposed Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2011 for the Department of State and Foreign Operations. Excerpt below:

Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion. That’s a $4.9 billion increase over 2010. Of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in “frontline states” – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, and that is a 2.7 percent increase, and with that money we will address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people, the right technology, and the right resources.
Let me just highlight three areas where we are making significant new investments. First, the security of frontline states.
In Afghanistan, this past year, we have tripled the number of civilians on the ground, and this presence will grow by hundreds more with the $5 billion in this budget. Our diplomats and development experts are helping build institutions, expand economic opportunities, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence and al-Qaida and join their fellow Afghans in the pursuit of peace.
In Pakistan, our request includes $3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people. This includes funding of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative. Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen, to help counter the extremist threat and build institutions there as well.
In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission. Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of the military presence, but they rather should provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government and the United States. So our request includes $2.6 billion for Iraq. These are resources that will allow us to support the democratic process, ensure a smooth transition to civilian-led security training and operational support. These funds will allow civilians to take full responsibility for programs, and the Defense budget for Iraq will be decreasing by about $16 billion – and that’s a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment.
None of what we intend to do can be accomplished if we don’t recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job.

The State Department and USAID are full of talented and committed public servants, but we have too often neglected to give them the tools they need to carry out their missions on the ground. And rather than building our own expertise, we have too often relied on contractors, sometimes with little oversight and often at greater cost. This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 for the State Department and 200 for USAID. It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, which is a crucial tool in our efforts to respond to crises.

Now, while deploying these personnel generates new expenses in some accounts, it will reduce costs by changing the way we do business. As we are ending our over-reliance on contractors, we’re actually showing we can save money, plus bringing these functions inside and improving oversight and accountability.
Video of her appearance before the Subcommittee is here.
Full text of her testimony is here.