Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mail received: Don't worry about tacky ESTA ... now used to USG tackiness ...

The logo for Tacky Films.Image via WikipediaReceived from one of DiploPundit's European correspondents:  

Hi DS:

Don't worry about being tacky with ESTA.  We've become used to USG tackiness.  What about Embassy mothers bringing eggs for the Embassy egg hunt, Embassy guests bringing food for Embassy Xmas receptions, etc? 

Our DCM is leaving and ADMIN asked for money for the Embassy goodbye party.  So uncouth.


In fairness, we should point out that most posts we know, do not have a separate budget for the Easter Egg Hunt or other holiday events. We think most CLOs get their money for events like this from their employee associations, if post is lucky enough to have one.  We remember hunting for white eggs when only brown ones were available, buying eggs, dyeing eggs, even stuffing plastic eggs -- all from years of living half sane overseas (a far and distant memory now). We also remember being asked to simply sign up and show up for the egg hunt. 

We remember office Halloween decoration contests with zero office budget. We remember trick o' treats in various offices because it was dangerous to do it anywhere else (all candies employee donated).  We remember tons of Christmas potluck parties. Just as we remember Christmas decorations bought/donated by one officer or another because holiday decoration is not a line item in anyone's ever shrinking pot of money.
Not new, some decades in the making....that incredible shrinking budget.

We understand the need for something familiar in all of the above even if some of our friends and the locals sometimes find them a tad tacky. (Yes, please come, but bring your own eggs).    

But soliciting for the boss' farewell party -- that line item, we do not recognize as a need and would actually consider as super duper tacky.           

We don't think the Admin Section has a right to ask for monetary contributions for the Deputy Chief of Mission's farewell party.  Can't you just have a BYOF to the DCM's party? Or have the DCM pay for his/her own party? Or have the ambassador pay for his/her deputy ambassador's party? Or just have a speech and goodbye party? How about having a Front Office Open House so folks can come by to say goodbye to the deputy ambassador but do not  have to stay around for drinks and peanuts?

Things organized from the top down often doesn't come off too well.  The organizers usually have one idea and the herd usually has another.  We once heard about one of these management-organized goodbye parties for one of the chieftains who was not very well-liked. The local employees resisted being asked to contribute (which should have been a heads up), the Americans paid up to have food and drinks but it was still a command performance event after quitting time.  Quite a crowd, half or more probably resentful to be there after office hours. Top official asked for a round of applause and all that was heard was a couple or so hands clapping, and one of them was the top official's.  There were lots of toe-countings to avoid watching the honoree's embarrassment. True story. Unfortunately, no photos available.

We all know that regulations in 2 FAM 962.1-6 authorize post management officers to solicit and accept certain gifts from private sources but that's for the official Fourth of July events, subject to conflict-of-interest and other limitations.  We don't think it has anything on soliciting for in-house farewell parties, whether you like the guy or not.

Besides 2 FAM 960 clearly says that "No Department employee may engage in solicitation or other fundraising activities, for U.S. Government use or for the use of an outside organization, without prior authorization, in writing, from the Under Secretary for Management, except as specifically authorized in 2 FAM 962.1-1 through 2 FAM 962.1-11 or 3 FAM 4123.4.

We've looked there, too. Nothing for send-off parties.  

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