A 3-Page Memo on the Proper Use of the Office Coffee Pot?

Al Kamen inquired about this report in his column some months ago. Matthew Lee of AP got first dibs of the leaked report last week. Digger of Life After Jerusalem posted a link of the AP report saying “Since I am not an idiot, I will just post this without comment.”  TSB of The Skeptical Bureaucrat has linked to the AP report carried by WaPo. I’ve been looking for this report since last week and was told it will be online “within a few weeks.” The OIG website says the report was finally posted on 02/26/10 –The Bureau of Public Affairs (ISP-I-10-39) Feb 2010. In any case, I finally got to read it this morning. 
On the Assistant Secretary, that would be P.J. Crowley — this is what the report says:
“Although the Assistant Secretary is approachable, gregarious, and easy to talk to, bureau personnel desire and require better, more, and regular communication from him, particularly regarding his strategic vision and goals for the Bureau, as well as his plans for organizational structure and the responsibilities of senior personnel. Employees throughout the Bureau, including some in the front office, lamented their lack of knowledge as to who is actually doing what. During the inspection, the As­sistant Secretary hired a senior, experienced advisor to oversee the strategic planning process. This individual is working diligently and making inroads on this important assignment.”
It had good things to say about the former Spokesman Ian Kelly (currently awaiting Senate confirmation to be Ambassador to OSCE):

“The spokesman, who is also a deputy assistant secretary, is an experienced, com­petent Senior Foreign Service officer. He received high marks from bureau personnel for strong mentoring and his friendly, outgoing, and helpful demeanor.”

Also had good things to say about Robert Wood, the Deputy Spokesman (did he head out to be DCM some place in EUR?): 

“The deputy spokesman is a skilled, profession­al briefer who often responds to questions without referring to the briefing book. He served effectively as Acting Assistant Secretary and spokesman for 4 months during the transition to the new administration, and he is the only current senior member of the front office to have worked for both the previous and current administrations. Staff members consider him to be a good mentor and a helpful colleague.”

The Office of Electronic Information (the folks who run the webs) came out with good marks. Did you know that during the first 9 months of the present administration, the website posted a total of 61,000 pages of online information — nearly as much information as was published in the last 8 years com­bined?
The Historian’s Office came out with acceptable marks — remember it went through an internal and very public upheaval in the closing days of the last administration (see the revolt of the historians in late 2008-2009?).     
The Office of Broadcast Services (PA/OBS) came out of this not too good:   
“The office enjoys a strong reputation for customer service and technical expertise. However, acrimonious internal management problems have eroded teamwork and contributed to a tense and unproductive work environment. Bureau management must take action to address the leadership issues in the office.” Some items of note:
#1: Many in the office, even those who are sympathetic to the office director’s goals and objectives, describe the workplace climate as contentious and acrimonious, with mutual mistrust between the office director, who was appointed in 2005, and the employees in the office.
#2: Tensions have boiled over into confrontations be­tween the office director and employees that resulted in disciplinary or administra­tive actions against subordinates on several occasions. Several employees expressed concerns to the OIG team that violence in the workplace could result because of the high levels of workplace animosity and tension.
#3: Employees gave the office director especially low marks for fairness, allowing dissent, and problem solving. […] The office director attributes employee discontent to resistance to change among the staff and weaknesses in their technical skills, which he felt he has addressed forthrightly. Elsewhere the OIG team found that no performance evaluation had been prepared for the office director in the past 2 years.
#4: Approximately three-quarters of staff interviewed by the OIG team cited a range of poor management practices — to include micromanagement, public humiliation and bullying of subordinates, failure to show proper respect for racial and religious diversity, a strongly directive management style, and a focus on exact performance of the technical elements of broadcast production, to the exclusion of interpersonal management and team building — as serious leadership failings that have damaged relations between employees and their supervisor.
#5: Many of these employees are not productively engaged. One employee spends 90 minutes a day editing video clips, and performs no other duties (now that IS a cushy job)!
#6: One employee cited a three-page memorandum that the office direc­tor issued to all staff on the proper use of the office coffee pot as an example of the unproductive interchange that now prevails. Seriously? Man, I want to read that memo, pronto!  
OIG Recommendation 15: The Bureau of Public Affairs, in coordination with the Bureau of Human Resources, should transfer the office director for the Office of Broadcast Services to a nonsupervisory position. (Action: PA, in coordina­tion with DGHR).


Advertisements

Pick the Ambassador with the Hottest Lei

This was Ambassador Huebner’s first official visit to Samoa.  Ambassador Huebner presented his credentials to the Head of State, his Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi. While in Samoa, Ambassador Huebner also met with Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, key government officials, diplomatic corps, private sector and educational institutions. 
Photo from US Embassy New Zealand
Ambassador Roemer visited the Sulabh International Center in New Delhi on January 15, 2010. Dedicated to promoting human dignity and hygienic sanitation practices, the Sulabh Center has developed practical waste management technologies and offers educational programs for former members of the “scavenger” community.
 Photo from US Embassy New Delhi
In a significant outreach to the Muslim Community, Ambassador McGann was a chief guest and delivered a keynote address to about 3000 Muslims in Fiji, at the Fiji Muslim League’s National Celebration to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammed.
 Photo from US Embassy Fiji/Facebook
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry visits the Kunar Construction Center (KCC) in Afghanistan. I don’t think this photo was dated.  Doesn’t that lei look kinda ticklish?
  
Photo from US Embassy Kabul
Colombo, November 9, 2009:  The U.S. Ambassador, Patricia A. Butenis, officially opened a new ice cream plant in Batticaloa District as part of a dairy revitalization project that will increase the incomes of 4,000 dairy farmers and create new jobs in the former conflict-affected area.
Photo from US Embassy Sri Lanka
That folks is part of the realities of diplomatic life, especially in countries where they loved leis.  Whether you dig those leis or not, you got to wear them and look happy in them.  For some reasons none of the European countries seem to appreciate the garlands around your neck practice.  At least, we have not been able to find proof of it.  I do wonder if this practice is confined to places in Asia and the South Pacific? Why is it important? It’s not.  Really.  It won’t be a deciding factor when you submit your bidlist.  


Quickie: Personal Branding in the Diplomatic World

Anand Giridharadas has a provocative piece in the NYT last week related to the State Department’s Web 2.0 presence (see Branding and the ‘Me’ Economy | NYT | February 26, 2010):
The gospel of self-improvement has taken varied forms throughout history and is perhaps America’s most successful export. But in the digital age, the idea of improving yourself is under siege by a similar-seeming but utterly different gospel: that of self-branding.
[…]
The rise of the personal brand reflects changing economic structures, as secure lifetime employment gives way to a churning market in tasks. It suggests a new unscriptedness in institutions as we evolve from the broadcast age to the age of retweets. It augurs a future in which we all function like one-person conglomerates, calculating how every action affects our positioning.
[…]
[A]mong the more remarkable places to watch the spread of off-message personal branding is in the very message-conscious world of diplomacy.
In the United States, for example, the State Department has allowed tech-savvy senior officials like Jared Cohen, Alec Ross and Katie Stanton to maintain robust personal brands. On Twitter, they report on affairs of state and encourage giving to Haiti, while also offering lighter fare, from daily minutiae (“best diplomacy training is coaching my 7 y/o’s basketball team”) to film reviews (“Soderbergh’s ‘The Informant’ was pretty mediocre”).
Mr. Ross and Mr. Cohen have Twitter fan bases of around 300,000 each, while the State Department’s official channel has about 14,000.
Recognizing this disparity, the State Department sent an unconventional delegation to Moscow last week with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the actor (and feverish tweeter) Ashton Kutcher and the tech-savvy Mr. Cohen as models of what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls “21st-century statecraft.” Some at the State Department worry about security risks and misstatements by diplomat-tweeters. But Ms. Stanton, who once worked at Google, said that personal brands — her Twitter biography is “Mom. Public Servant. Cupcake Connoisseur” — might convince skeptical foreigners to give the United States another look.
“It’s easier to trust individuals than institutions,” she said.
The author concludes that “Personal branding will, of course, change not just big institutions but also the lives of brandable individuals. Will it improve job security or simply increase our anxiety? Will it divert power and influence from the well-educated to the merely well-branded? Will brand-building distract us?”
And he left us with some food for thought: “But is the society always better off with the undigested utterance, the instantaneous attempt at positioning? And in marketing ourselves, will we neglect the pursuit of actually improving?”
Two of the three individuals mentioned in this article are I’m guessing, political or limited appointees who came in with Secretary Clinton (Jared Cohen came in 2006 during 66th tenure; don’t know if he is Civil Service).
I added active links above.  Read the whole thing here


Blogger Writes her Own Travel Warning for Sudan

Port SudanImage via Wikipedia

Michel of FS blog, Facts Are Strictly Optional, is always a hoot to read. Earlier last week she posted about diving with sharks in the Sudan (see I was Swimmin with the Fishes, Yo!).  On Wednesday, she posted about how to include sharks into her conversation at work.   “…nobody really stops to consider how difficult it is to weave that naturally into a conversation.  You have to work at it.” 

In case her readers plan on traveling to Port Sudan, she mercifully wrote an “Updated (and more Useful) Travel Warning” complete with current time, etc. 
Travel Warning United States Department of State
by Michel

This information is current as of today, Fri Feb 26 2010 22:12:58 GMT+0200 (GTB Standard Time).Wed Feb 24 2010 06:26:53 GMT+0300. (nobody knows what time that is in actuality.  It’s an enigma, wrapped around a mystery.  We put it on the warnings so that you have something to do while you pretend to read the below….)
SUDAN
You have to read the whole thing.  Excerpt below for those who are living behind 8-foot concrete walls topped with steel plates and concertina wires, who may appreciate this:
The U.S. Embassy is located at Sharia Ali Abdul Latif, Khartoum; tel. (249) 1-8701-6000.  However, we may move into the new Embassy that was recently built at any given moment because we cannot seem to pick a firm date for the move.  We recommend U.S. citizens drive around and locate what would appear to be a maximum security prison.  This is likely the U.S. Embassy or my house.
Somebody named Madam Le Consul posted in the blog:.
LOVE the travel warning! It is so, so, so what we want to really write instead of the dull blah that will make it to travel.state.gov. Brilliant!
I hope  the Bureau of Consular Affairs and travel.state.gov have since developed a sense of humor.   


Coming Soon – a Corporation for Travel Promotion to the U.S.

CNN reported last week about the passage of the Travel Promotion Act. Excerpt below: 

— A bill that will create a tourism promotion organization for the United States has received its final passage in the Senate.
The Travel Promotion Act calls for a nonprofit Corporation for Travel Promotion that will promote the United States as a travel destination and explain travel and security policies to international visitors.
“This is a historic victory for the U.S. economy and one in eight American workers whose jobs depend on travel,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill, which the Senate passed 78-18 Thursday, in the next 10 days, according to the travel association.
A $10 fee charged to visitors from countries included in the Visa Waiver Program will partially fund the public-private organization. These visitors will pay the fee every two years when they register online using the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
The rest of the funding will come through a matching program of up to $100 million in private sector contributions. If the corporation is able to raise the projected $200 million annually, the organization would be the largest national tourism communications program in the world, Dow said.
Read the whole thing here.
On May 12, 2009, Senator Byron Dorgan introduced S. 1023, the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. Here is his update from the DPC:  
S. 1023 , the Travel Promotion Act,  enjoys bipartisan support.  On September 9, 2009, the Senate passed S. 1023 by an overwhelming vote of 79 to 19. [Roll Call Vote 272, 9/9/09]  On November 6, 2009, the House passed H. Res. 896, which suspended House rules, and agreed by voice vote to a resolution allowing S. 1023, the Travel Promotion Act, to be inserted into H.R. 1299, the United States Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009, as an amendment.  The Senate had previously passed H.R. 1299 by unanimous consent on October 29, 2009. 

On February 24, 2010, the Senate took up consideration of the House Message with respect to H.R. 1299.  Senator Reid offered S.A. 3326, a substitute amendment to H.R. 1299.  On the same day, Senator Reid filed a cloture motion on the motion to concur with the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 1299.
Here is the link to the PDF file of –H.R.1299– United States Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate).  Scroll down to Sec. 9 for the Travel Promotion Act of 2009.