Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WP: Uncle Sam Wants You for Foreign Service

From today's Federal Diary in the Washington Post:

Uncle Sam Wants You for Foreign Service

Luis E. Arreaga got right to the point.

"We are hiring.

We are hiring.

We are hiring."

Arreaga, director of the State Department's office of recruitment, examination and employment, was speaking to a large room full of hopefuls at a job fair last week at the Ronald Reagan Building. It was sponsored by Devex, which provides recruiting services for international development agencies.

Arreaga's message essentially was repeated in a cable that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent to Foreign Service officers on Saturday, as my colleague Karen DeYoung reported yesterday. But while Clinton's cable spoke about the need to "surge" the number of officers in Afghanistan, Arreaga is trying to find people to go all over the world.

And he's not alone.

Officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the government's Millennium Challenge Corp., which provides services in targeted poor countries, also were there to recruit people who can help define President Obama's foreign policy.

USAID, Uncle Sam's foreign assistance agency, plans to double, to 2,200, its rank of foreign service officers by 2012.

"We have never hired like this before," Tom Davis, USAID's outreach and marketing chief, told a panel discussion at the fair.

Davis said his agency is looking for people in many areas, including health, finance and contracting. USAID plans to hire more than 300 people this year.

"We do not have enough officers to administer all those programs," he said. "We do not have enough foreign service officers overseas."

USAID is particularly interested in finding the right people to send to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan -- critical places, though not exactly the garden spots of the world.

"If you are fluent in any Arabic dialect, please come and see me today," Davis said.

Sherri Kraham, an acting vice president at the Millennium Challenge Corp., distinguished her small and relatively new agency -- it's just five years old -- by telling potential applicants that those characteristics can work to their advantage.

"When you come to MCC, you have lots of opportunity to influence the way we do things," she said.

Uncle Sam's hiring efforts are going on all over town. At the Washington Convention Center yesterday, Kathie Ann Whipple, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, spoke to finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows program. The 786 finalists, out of 5,100 who applied, are vying for about 400 jobs at about 80 agencies.

Whipple had these words of wisdom: "As a federal employee, you will have a hand in establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquillity, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty. And remember that you will be expected to take a leadership role in making good on those constitutional goals and that more than 300 million Americans will be counting on you to live up to your oath. Think about that the next time you hear someone complain that it takes too long to apply for a government job as compared to the private sector."

She did not explain what those lofty goals have to do with valid complaints about a federal hiring process that is largely regarded as in need of great repair.

1 comment:

Consul-At-Arms said...

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