I’m off to see the wizard ….

Blog Action Day: Think about your environment.Image by millzero via Flickr
there will be light/sporadic blogging for the next (maybe) several weeks while I learn to juggle my new gigs.

Follow the happenings around the FS with Kolbi’s Weekly State Department Blog Roundup, Digger’s Life After Jerusalem and TSB at The Skeptical Bureaucrat. If you need a good hysterical laugh (who doesn’t) visit Michel at Facts are Strictly Optional.

Lots going on — QDDR-lite will be out reportedly soon; DS agents are hunting down the Eikenberry cables leaker/s; Global Operations, the DSS web series is now coming out in April, US Embassy Bishkek closed today until further notice d
ue to recent civil disturbances; Will it go on authorized/ordered departure in the next 24-48 hours?  Have no idea; but at least Manas Air Base is in the same country.

Check out our faves officially covering Foggy Bottom: Josh Rogin of The Cable, Laura Rozen of Politico and Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent   

We’ll see you when we see you… stay safe in your corner of the world — even if you don’t have a coconut tree to perch on or a sunset as gorgeous as this one :-)…

Snapshot: 2/3 Interested in Working

Based on statistics presented in FLO’s 2009 ―Worldwide Family Member Employment overview, close to 10,000 adult family members accompany a U.S. Direct Hire employee on his/her overseas assignment. Of this total, nearly two-thirds expressed an interest in working, while only a third was successful in finding employment. These percentages have remained fairly constant the last several years and as a result, have provided more than ample fuel for the fire that is FLO’s employment advocacy mandate.[…] Many positions filled by family members inside the Mission tend to be clerical in nature and therefore widely viewed by the approximately 75% of family members with degrees (of whom about half have advanced degrees) as not very challenging or interesting.

FLO Direct News
(State Department Family Liaison Office publication)
Summer 2009

Quickie: Foreign Service’s ‘Greatest Challenge’

The Federal Diary covered the Lockheed Martin-AFSA Speaker Series launched on Wednesday with Ambassador Negroponte (see Fluency is Foreign Service’s ‘greatest challenge‘ (April 8): Excerpt below from Joe Davidson:

The “greatest challenge,” according to Negroponte, is the need for officers who can speak the languages of the world.

“There is no substitute,” said the multilingual Negroponte, “for recruiting, training, deploying, retaining and retraining,” officers in languages and geography so they “develop the contacts, the knowledge, the insight, the local and area expertise” needed to help develop America’s foreign policy.

But State isn’t meeting that challenge well enough, according to the Government Accountability Office. In September, it said the department needs a comprehensive plan to address “persistent foreign language shortfalls.”
The second challenge cited by Negroponte is the need for State to provide a mix of policies and incentives “in order to optimize the deployment of officers and their families for a substantial majority of their careers.”

Last year, President Obama took an important step in making international postings more attractive when he signed legislation that begins to close a pay gap for Foreign Service officers, who do not get locality pay as do other federal employees.

Without that law, Negroponte said, there was a “perverse incentive” for Foreign Service officers to serve in the United States. He advocated greater employment opportunities for spouses of officers abroad — “that effort has faltered at various times” — and a reduction in postings to which officers can’t take their families. At least, he said, State should “find ways of compensating for that problem.”

Read the whole thing here.

New Word of the Day: Stress to Impress

“Temporary anxiety caused by the need or want to show off a certain skill in front of a person or group. The skill can usually be attained unless others are watching, causing the stress.”

Person A: “Why were you so sloppy at the NIV window today? You’ve been doing 200 interviews a day for the last six months!”
Person B: “Dude, I felt the stress to impress because the new CG who has not done visa interviews since after A100 had a stop watch over my shoulder.”
Adapted from the Urban Dictionary