Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Global Repositioning Review – A Shocker!

Last month (11/24/08), the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at State released an Interim Review of the Global Repositioning Program and posted it online. Below is the unclassified summary of a full report, which receives limited official distribution. If you really want to see the full report, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests may be made at I think I’ll pass …

The Secretary of State’s Global Repositioning Program (GRP) was designed to increase U.S. diplomatic engagement with a number of high-priority countries around the world. It is an integral part of her overarching strategy of transformational diplomacy.

In general, the new positions are being used effectively. However, their effectiveness is limited by a lack of resources to support their work, including travel and representation funds and locally employed staff. As expected, the shift has reduced the ability of those posts and offices that lost positions to accomplish necessary work, including outreach and voluntary reporting (italics mine). If repositioning becomes regularized, it can be done in a way that takes greater account of the Department’s strategic planning mechanisms and involves prioritizing of posts in terms of overall U.S. interests, and assessments of relative workload. This should be done largely through additional rather than repositioned personnel.

This interim review of the implementation of the GRP makes the following findings:

Post leadership is critical.

GRP positions should be used flexibly to achieve transformational diplomacy goals.

Resource support for the GRP positions is insufficient.

American presence posts need a home office in the Department.

Virtual presence posts are a useful way of structuring outreach, but there is confusion about what they are.

There should be more coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development in the GRP and transformational diplomacy processes.

The Department needs more funds for programs in priority transformational diplomacy countries, particularly if the U.S. Agency for International Development is not present.

The Department should undertake a concerted effort to achieve the Secretary of State’s goal that diplomats should spend less time behind their desks and more time getting out and around their host country.

OIG, in its inspections of posts and bureaus over the past five years, has generally not found an excess of staff that could be cut without impairing U.S. interests.

While the GRP has eased the workload problem in some key posts, it has exacerbated the situation in others.

Guidance should be given to losing posts as to what functions they can cut.

Given tight staffing and shortages of resources, future GRP efforts should be well prepared through a rigorous business plan.

Anyone actually surprised by any of these? I'm sorry if you're shocked to your socks. Related Item: OIG Report ISP-I-09-09: Interim Review of the Global Repositioning Program (PDF)

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