US Mission Pakistan: Ambassador Hoagland Visits Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque

On February 18, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland and U.S. Consul General in Lahore Nina Maria Fite visited the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, two of Pakistan’s most famous landmarks. The tour started at the Fort’s Alamgiri Gate, which was restored with a grant from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), which is helping conservation of Pakistan’s national heritage. Afzal Khan, Punjab Deputy Director of Archaeology, led the tour.  According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided more than $1.8 million towards 17 different cultural and archeological projects in Pakistan over the past decade. Ten of these 17 sites were in the province of Punjab.

Badshahi Mosque

Photo by Derek Brown | Click on photo to view slideshow

The Badshahi Mosque or the ‘King’s Mosque’ in Lahore was commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673. It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world.  It is Lahore’s most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction.

The Lahore Fort also known as Shahi Qila was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 along with the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore. According to UNESCO the 21 monuments preserved within the boundaries of Lahore Fort comprise an outstanding repertory of the forms of Mughal architecture at its artistic and aesthetic height, from the reign of Akbar (1542-1605) through the reign of Shah Jahan (1627-58). “The property in general maintains the authentic layout, forms, design and substance of both complexes and the constituent layouts, elements and features associated with the Mughal artistic and aesthetic expressions of the 16th and 17th century. Maintaining authenticity of workmanship necessitates that contemporary repair and conservation work use and revive traditional techniques and materials.”

The photos of this visit were posted in the embassy’s account in Flicker and Facebook. Although generally well received online, one FB user complained about the Lahore visit in the embassy’s FB page:

Arslan Talib All traffic were blocked due to this person. at least they should not block trafic from all sides
Saturday at 12:42am
Richard Hoagland ‎@ Arslan Talib: I agree with you — we should NOT block traffic. That was not my choice. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Saturday at 1:03am

Nice to see Ambassador Hoagland in FB, addressing the issue within minutes with an apology.  More photos posted here in Facebook. And the photos are gorgeous! It turns out that the photos were taken by somebody familiar – Derek Brown!

[gigya src=”http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649″ width=”500″ flashvars=”offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=/photos/usembpak/sets/72157629062512556/show/&page_show_back_url=/photos/usembpak/sets/72157629062512556/&set_id=72157629062512556&jump_to=” allowFullScreen=”true” ]

The last time I posted about Derek Brown, awesome travel photographer and USAID EFM was in October 2010 when he had the Imagining the Muslim World Photo Exhibit in Washington, D.C. Photos from that exhibit was also carried by IIP and posted in several embassy websites. And now he is in Pakistan!  Oh, lucky mission!

Domani Spero

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Photo of the Day: Mongolian Sledgehammer – Do Not/Not Try This at Home

A Mongolian service member uses a sledgehammer to smash a concrete block off the chest of another serve member during a martial arts demonstration by Mongolian military forces at the Mongolian Day ceremony Feb. 18, at International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur

(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur)

According to ISAF, Mongolia has been part of the mission since 2010, contributing more than 100 troops in Afghanistan. They are involved in the training of Afghan National Army in Kabul and providing stability and security to Afghan populations in the northern part of the country.

 

 

Officially In: Jeffrey D. Levine – from HR to Estonia

On February 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jeffrey D. Levine to the next Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jeffrey D. Levine, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as the State Department’s Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment since September 2010.  Prior to this position, he was Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary from 2007 to 2010.  From 2003 to 2006, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Other overseas positions include: Management Counselor in Brasilia, Brazil (1999-2002); Management Officer in Nicosia, Cyprus (1995-1998); Consular/General Services Officer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1988-1990); and Consular/Political Officer in Lima, Peru (1985-1987).  In Washington, Mr. Levine served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Management (1994-1995), Hungary Desk Officer in the Office of Eastern European Affairs (1993-1994), and Watch Officer in the State Operations Center (1992-1993).

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt State University and a Master’s Degree from National Defense University.

US Embassy Tallinn was established on October 2, 1991, with Robert C. Frasure as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, also subsequently commissioned as Ambassador. If confirmed, Mr. Levine would succeed career diplomat, Michael C. Polt who was appointed chief of mission to Tallinn by President Obama in 2009.

A nice coincidence of note — the most recent Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment (HR/REE), that is, Mr. Levine’s predecessor was appointed Ambassador to Iceland in 2010. Another previous Office Director who served in HR/REE was appointed Ambassador to Cape Verde in 2008.  So just in the last five years or so, all career diplomats who served as top gun in REE went on to an ambassadorship.  That is a pretty darn good record.

 

Related item:

February 16, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Officially In: Mark A. Pekala – from HR to Latvia

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark A. Pekala as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark A. Pekala, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is currently the Director of the Entry-Level Division in the Bureau of Human Resources.  Previously, he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in France (2007-2010), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (2005-2007), and the Deputy Chief of Mission in Estonia (2002-2005).  In 2001, Mr. Pekala was Director for Russian Affairs for the National Security Council.  Mr. Pekala’s previous Washington posts have included: Senior Watch Officer in the Department of State Operations Center; Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States; and Russia Desk Officer.  Additional overseas assignments have included: First Secretary to the U.S. Mission to NATO in Belgium; Political Officer in Azerbaijan; and a Consular Officer in Poland.

Mr. Pekala received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.I.A. from Columbia University, and an M.Phil. from Columbia University.

If confirmed, Mr. Pekala would succeed career diplomat, Judith Garber who was appointed by President Obama to the US Embassy in Riga in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Officially In: Makila James – from WHA to Swaziland

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Makila James as the next Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland. The WH released the following brief bio:

Makila James, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as the Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs at the Department of State.  From 2007 to 2009, she was the Deputy Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs.  From 2006 to 2007, she was the Principal Officer of the Consulate General in Juba.  Previously, Ms. James was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff from 2003 to 2006.  Other positions in Washington include: Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy; International Relations Officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs; Desk Officer in the Office of West African Affairs; and Watch Officer at the Operations Center. Overseas assignments include: Political Officer in Zimbabwe; Political/Economics Officer in Nigeria; and Consular Officer in Jamaica.

Ms. James received a B.A. from Cornell University, a Masters in National Security Studies from the National Defense University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School.

 

If confirmed, Ms. James would succeed career diplomat, Earl Irving who was appointed by President Obama as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Mbabane in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

US Embassy Caracas: Where do I begin, to tell the story of how bad a post can get?

In 2007, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General conducted an inspection of the US Embassy in Venezuela. At that time, the inspectors determined that 1) skillful leadership of a focused and imaginative Ambassador has kept the U.S. government as effectively engaged as possible in Venezuela; 2) The Ambassador and DCM have worked through an outstanding and empowered regional security officer (RSO) to instill an admirable culture of security at Embassy Caracas – a post operating in a critical threat environment; 3) The energetic consul general manages an efficient, cost-effective operation that emphasizes staff cross-training and cooperative public outreach with other mission elements. More here. It was generally a good review.

In Fall 2011, less than five years later, the OIG returned for another round of inspection. The new report includes 71 recommendations and 41 informal recommendations and has the following key judgments:

  • Lengthy staffing gaps in the front office have undermined mission oversight and contributed to management deficiencies and poor morale. Now that the front office is fully staffed, the chargé and the deputy chief of mission (DCM) are addressing these shortcomings.
  • [REDACTED]
  • Past inadequate front office oversight, prolonged staffing shortages in key management positions, weak section leadership, and lack of a customer service focus combined to produce significant deficiencies in support.
  • [REDACTED]
  • The information management program faces immediate challenges. Bandwidth limitations and diplomatic mail operations, in particular, require urgent attention.
  • The consular section is emerging from an lengthy period of ineffective leadership. [REDACTED] The challenge has public diplomacy, security, commercial and management ramifications.
  • Political and economic reporting has been effective, despite restricted access to Venezuelan policymakers. More analytical reporting is needed.
  • The public affairs section (PAS) has a robust program, including a network of effective binational centers that take the embassy’s message nationwide. However, the PAS needs to develop formal written media engagement and alumni outreach plans.

That’s not all.  Staffing gaps, inexperience staff, lack of leadership and unrealistic mission goals plagued the mission:

  • The embassy has been without an ambassador since July 2010 and is short staffed in key areas. Staffing is complicated by a preponderance of first-tour, entry-level officers (ELO) and inexperienced LE staff, because of attrition caused in part by low local salaries. Both permanent staff and temporary duty support visits have been restricted by Venezuelan visa issuance, which impinges on mission operations.
  • Between July 2010 and October 2011, the two interim chargés, including the current DCM, relied upon a series of acting DCMs, which contributed to inconsistency and confusion regarding internal direction within the mission and interactions with Washington. While performing front office duties, embassy section heads could not provide consistent supervision for their sections nor adequate mentoring to junior staff.
  • As noted in the Executive Direction section, the front office is committed to the embassy’s MSRP [Mission Strategic and Resource Plan] goals. However, few political and economic ELOs report having read the MSRP. Discussions with section heads suggest that the MSRP is viewed as less relevant to their ongoing reporting and is given little emphasis. They indicate that the plan cannot anticipate reporting on the erratic Chavez government and that opportunities to influence the Venezuelan Government are so limited that some MSRP targets are unrealistic.

The Consular Section’s Constant Struggle:

The typical wait time for NIV appointment for visitors visas at US Embassy Caracas is currently at 264 days.  The OIG report has redacted the current staffing numbers of the embassy, so besides the already known staffing gaps, here are other issues the Consular Section is struggling with:

  • In all Department sections, but especially the consular section, there is a preponderance of first-tour ELOs. In an environment where surging workload and local government hostility combine to fundamentally challenge the mission, recruiting more experienced ELOs would make a difference.
  • With some 250,000 applicants, Embassy Caracas is one of the top 10 nonimigrant visa (NIV) processing posts in the world. In the past five years, visa demand has grown by 77%. [REDACTED] According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Venezuelan visitors spend approximately $2.5 billion in the United States each year, mostly in Florida. By not meeting visa demand, potential tourism export earning (and U.S. jobs) are being lost.
  • A diligent but overextended visa chief manages the unit, supported by a talented deputy. LE staff expressed concerns about the lack of attention to customer service and to factory-like working conditions in the visa unit. The visa chief and deputy have recently introduced a thorough orientation and training program for incoming ELOs, all of whom are first-tour officers.
  •  The commulative effect of an appointment system, convoluted entry process, and crushing backlog, combined with the inevitable staffing gaps and computer system problems, means that consular managers are constantly struggling with resource [REDACTED] challenges.

The Management Section’s Incoherent Services

Management services are incoherent and customer service is poor. Client feedback unanimously points to frustration with lack of information and clarity from service providers, from pre-arrival to post-departure. Management policies and notices do not contain clear information on what the client should expect or where to go for help. Lines of responsibility and authority are so blurred within management functions that no one is clearly accountable for any given task. The management counselor has not clearly defined the responsibilities of each section nor held individuals accountable for their performance.

And nobody knows about nonacceptance of free labor?

The embassy has accepted volunteer work and, on occasion, has asked eligible family members to perform official tasks without compensation. Eligible family members routinely begin work prior to being officially cleared and processed for employment. The Antideficiency Act1 prohibits the acceptance of voluntary services and generally allows uncompensated services only under narrowly defined conditions, such as the 5 U.S.C. § 3111 exception authorizing acceptance of voluntary service from students.

We have to recognize the challenge and stress that comes with living in a state sponsored hostile environment like Venezuela. But it’s hard to read this report and not wonder if some folks just did not know what they were doing or if they gave up trying.  For example:

  • The embassy’s required Designation of Responsibilities document available on the Internet is dated September 2004. That’s the one that says which officer is responsible for what. The OIG report did not say if this document had been updated since 2004, or if it is available but not disseminated.
  • The FSN handbook was written in 2005 and is terribly out of date.
  • Hotel and restaurant survey  which is used for lodging and meals and incidentals expenses for per diem rates have not been updated since January 2006. Caracas was #100 in the most expensive cities in the world for expatriate employees in 2010, and was ranked #51 in 2011.
  • Embassy Caracas has not submitted an updated education allowance survey since 2007. The Department’s Standardized Regulations requires completion of Department form DS-63 report annually for each school that U.S. Government dependents attend.
  • FSN  staff members throughout the mission have never received training, including those in need of technical skills in general services, human resources, and financial management. The mission policy on training dates back to 2004.

One bright light in this report is that of an Assistant Regional Security Officer for Investigations whose cooperation with working-level local law enforcement entities, resulted in 50 arrests and fewer fraudulent documents submitted with visa applications. His investigations into visa malfeasance also led to the dismissal of three FSN staff members in 2010.

The most recent Ambassador to Caracas was Patrick Duddy who served from August 6, 2007 to September 11, 2008, during the Bush Administration, and was expelled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Eight months after that he was returned as Ambassador to Caracas by the Obama Administration. He left the mission on July 2010. That same month, Larry Palmer was nominated by President Obama.  By December 2010, the Venezuelan Government had withdrawn its agrément on the appointment of Larry Palmer to Caracas.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, James M. Derham,  who retired from the Foreign Service in 2008 after a career of more than 30 years is the current Chargé d’Affaires, and just one of the interim chargés temporarily assigned to Caracas since 2010.  I don’t know how much longer he will be in Caracas or if he can effect a mission turnaround during a limited assignment.

Officially In: Richard Norland – from National War College to Georgia

English: Richard B. Norland, U.S. diplomat. U....

Image via Wikipedia

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Richard Norland to be the next Ambassador to Georgia. The WH released the following brief statement:

Ambassador Richard Norland, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, serves as the International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commandant at the National War College.  From September 2007 to July 2010, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan.  Prior to which, he served for two years as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Additional overseas assignments have included: Deputy Chief of Mission in Riga, Latvia; Diplomat with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs team in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan; Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin; and Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He was Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Ambassador Norland has a B.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and National War College.

A better outline of his previous assignments is here.  He served two years in Kabul and presumably a year in Mazar-e-Sharif.  Ambassador Norland speaks French, Russian, Norwegian and Latvian. He and his wife, Mary Hartnett, have two children.

If confirmed, Ambassador Norland would succeed career diplomat, John Bass who was appointed by President Obama to the US Embassy in Tbilisi in 2009. No political appointee has yet succeeded in getting appointed as US Ambassador to Georgia.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Officially Moved: Carlos Pascual – from Special Envoy to State/ENR

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate  Carlos Pascual to be the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources (ENR). The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Carlos Pascual has served as Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs since May 2011.  From 2009 to 2011, he was U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.  Previously, from 2006 to 2009, he was Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.  Prior to joining Brookings, Ambassador Pascual served as the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the Department of State from 2004 to 2006.  From 2003 to 2004, he was Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia.  Ambassador Pascual served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2000 to 2003.  From 1998 to 2000, he was Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.  He previously served as the NSC Director for the same region from 1995 to 1998.  Before joining the NSC, Ambassador Pascual was the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) Deputy Assistant Administrator Europe and Eurasia.  He previously served with USAID in Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique. 

Ambassador Pascual received his M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and his B.A. from Stanford University.

We have posted here about Ambassador Pascual when he became the first public casualty of WikiLeaks in March 2011.  Two days after that, his resignation was announced On May 2011, Ambassador Pascual was appointed as Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs.

If confirmed, he would be the first Assistant Secretary appointed to head the Bureau of Energy Affairs, a bureau created three months ago.

 

Related item
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

Frienemies Strike Again: Two American Advisors Shot in the Head Inside Afghan Interior Ministry

As if things cannot get any worse over there —

According to USAToday, a gunman killed two American military advisers with shots to the back of the head Saturday inside a heavily guarded ministry building, and NATO ordered military workers out of Afghan ministries as protests raged for a fifth day over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. army base.

The LA Times reported that the details of the killings of the two Americans Saturday remained murky hours after the shooting. Although the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force confirmed the deaths of two of its service members in Kabul, it did not disclosed their nationalities.  However, Afghan officials speaking on condition of anonymity reportedly identified the two as American military officers who were advising the Interior Ministry.

Below is an excerpt from a WSJ report:

Top U.S. military officials said they were still trying to determine the identity of the attacker. But one Western official in Kabul said that the two Americans were shot by an Afghan police official who was upset about the burning of Qurans earlier this week at a U.S. military base.
[..]
Coalition officials in Kabul dismissed claims by some Afghan officials that the two Americans were killed by a Western colleague.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the two American military officers were found dead in a secure office on the compound by one of their colleagues. It remained unclear who killed the pair, or how the attacker got inside the well-protected part of the ministry, he said.

But other Afghan, Western diplomatic and military officials said that initial reports indicated that the gunman was a member of the Afghan security forces.

Photo by Spc. David Bonnell

Members of the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program hold a meeting with the mock Afghan Minister of Defense during field training at Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, June 9. The civilians will deploy to Afghanistan later this year to assist the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior become self-sustaining. Photo by Spc. David Bonnell

Also today, the ISAF commander condemns the attack on ISAF personnel at the GIRoA ministry:

KABUL, Afghanistan – “I condemn today’s attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today,” said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

“We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered.”

“For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul,” continued Gen. Allen.

“We are committed to our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to reach our common goal of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan in the near future.”

Damn fake partnership! The military advisors were killed reportedly inside the Command and Control room only accessible by people who know the correct numerical combination. Later news indicate that General Allen has also recalled all international military personnel from the ministries

In January 2012, an Afghan wearing an army uniform shot and killed four French troops and wounded others. Late last year, an Afghan army soldier also shot and killed two members of the French Foreign Legion serving in the NATO force.  Which made French President Sarkozy announced that “The French army is in Afghanistan at the service of the Afghans against terrorism and against the Taliban. The French army is not in Afghanistan so that Afghan soldiers can shoot at them.”

Also in January, an Afghan soldier turned his gun on American military personnel while they were playing volleyball at a camp in southern Afghanistan, killing one and wounding three others before being fatally shot

On April 2011, eight US troops and a US contractor  were killed by an Afghan air force pilot at the Kabul airport.

The NYT reported in early 2012 about a subordinate command’s report on mounting casualties killed by Afghan “allies”:

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history).”

Officials have been calling these incidents, “isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis.”  The NYT cited a classified report which found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, that at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.

This latest attack inside the Ministry of Interior shows that these incidents are not isolated cases perpetuated just by boots-on-the ground soldiers.  We have military officers and unarmed civilians working in all parts of Afghanistan ministries – from Agriculture to Women Affairs.  The military advisors have now been pulled back, but how about the civilians?  Even if they grow eyes on the back of their heads, how can they trust that their Afghan colleagues will not one day pull that trigger?

We are wasting our time with frienemies in Afghanistan.  It’s time to leave and begin reconstruction at home and  not in 2014. It will be appreciated at home.

Domani Spero

 

 

Dear State Dept OIG – Please Stop Playing Hide and Seek with Your Reports!

Harold W. Geisel, Deputy Inspector General, Term of Appointment: 06/02/2008 to present

It used to be that we could check the “Featured Items” in the OIG website and get the newest reports straight from the oven.

Sometime back, we’ve noticed that the newest reports were no longer consistently popping up in that section, but are filed in the regional sections of the reports. Which ensures that the reader had to do some digging before they get to read what they’re looking for. Here is what the OIG says about its reports:

Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports are posted on OIG’s Web sites in accordance with section 8L of The Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.), as amended. All reports are reviewed, and redacted when appropriate, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552), and related statues/regulations, plus the President’s memorandum on “Transparency and Open Government”, dated January 21, 2009, and the Attorney General’s FOIA guidelines dated March 19, 2009.

**NOTE: The dates on OIG reports represent the dates the publications were issued/published, not when they were posted to the Web site.

For example, and this is not the first one, we just don’t feel like digging around today — take its “latest” report of its inspection of the US Embassy in the Bahamas. The inspection took place in Washington, DC, between September 13 and 28, 2011; in Nassau,
The Bahamas, between September 29 and October 12, 2011; and in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, on October 2, 2011. The report is dated January 2012. And it is now posted in the OIG’s WHA section and the Featured Items section, but we have no idea when it actually went up online.

Here is the Featured Items section:

Well, I thought, I’d be damn, I am going blind! How could I have missed that report on The Bahamas when it is right there, there sandwiched between Algeria and the Bureau of Administration/GIS?

And then I saw this tweet from the State Department OIG on February 23, 2012 at 9:38 am.  Oooh, I am not going blind, after all!


I hate it when Transparency and Open Government plays tricks with me, I mean, don’t you?  So here is a quick note for the Inspector General of the Department of State:

Dear State Department OIG — Folks, you really need to indicate the dates when you put up your reports online, and stop making us play hide and seek with you. You have posted a note that says “The dates on OIG reports represent the dates the publications were issued/published, not when they were posted to the Web site.” Well, that’s no good, because you got redundant dates there that have no other function except potential confusion.

Let me help you, it’s really quick and easy. See the red circle below? That should be your posted date. Why? Because your OIG reports are only dated by month and year. The report on The Bahamas says: Inspection of Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas Report Number ISP-I-12-08A, January 2012. See? It did not/not say 1/31/12.  So where did that date come from, I’d like to know. And see the red rectangular-ish below? That’s the month and date indicated in the OIG reports.

Do we really need two dates there to confused us?  And I really hate to think of the possibility that these reports are accidentally “slipped” quietly into the queue.

Yes, we really do want to know when these reports are posted for public consumption.  You are very welcome!
Domani Spero