Thursday, February 25, 2010

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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