Wednesday, March 09, 2011

In Case You Needed Proof of Congress's Disdain for Federal Employees....

If you needed more evidence for Congress's utter disdain for the Foreign Service and other Federal employees, look no further than Joe Davidson's piece in the Washington Post.

One particularly telling section:

The Senate federal workforce subcommittee hearing was chaired by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii). He was alone on the dais, except for a brief appearance by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The top Republican on the panel, Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), was a no-show because, he said, he attended a Budget Committee hearing.

Coburn arrived a half-hour late, told witnesses to expect even less money for staffing and training, and was gone in about eight minutes. He asked no questions.

Coburn's reaction to overseas comparability pay is particularly infuriating..."it's going away." How someone who is supposed to represent Americans and who certainly benefits from the Foreign Service, particularly when he travels overseas, can be so glib about handing us a 24% pay cut is beyond comprehension.

I certainly hope that the next time he travels overseas, he travels economy class, because in his words, "we just don't have the money."

And I hope he gets very little assistance from post, because he doesn't seem terribly interested in us.

Hearing highlights need for Foreign Service training, lack of congressional interest

At a time when some North African and Middle East states are in chaos and America is posting large numbers of civilians in war zones, the United States is sending Foreign Service officers abroad poorly equipped to deal with the critical situations they face.

That's the takeaway of a report by the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Stimson Center, which was discussed at a congressional hearing Tuesday.

"There is little question that under-investment in diplomacy over the last decade or so has left our Foreign Service overstretched and under prepared," the report says.

Yet, despite the gravity of the situation, the hearing had a distinct lack of urgency. The poor attendance by senators was indicative of scant attention too often provided issues involving federal employees - except, of course, when they can be convenient whipping boys.

Former ambassador Ronald E. Neumann, president of the academy, supplied a shot of energy when he told the hearing that "our government lacks sufficient trained Arabic-language-speaking officers to fully understand and assess what is happening - to go beyond the glib, English-speaking reporters in Tahrir Square to take the full measure of what Islamists, younger people, the demonstrators and the jobless are saying off camera."

"We lack these capacities because for years the Department of State has lacked the resources to train enough officers in language skills," he said.

Although the hearing focused on Foreign Service officers, training is a universal issue in the federal workplace and often among the first items to be cut. For State Department workers - and the nation - it's also a matter of national security.

In a forward to the report, Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush, said the study "emphasizes that on-the-job training alone is no longer a sufficient method, if it ever was, to develop a US diplomatic service that is second to none."

The Senate federal workforce subcommittee hearing was chaired by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii). He was alone on the dais, except for a brief appearance by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The top Republican on the panel, Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), was a no-show because, he said, he attended a Budget Committee hearing.

Coburn arrived a half-hour late, told witnesses to expect even less money for staffing and training, and was gone in about eight minutes. He asked no questions.

[...]

Coburn's single focus was saving money. He dismissed State's plans for a 25 percent Foreign Service increase by 2014, saying, "It's not going to be ramped up because we don't have the money to do it."

About overseas locality pay for Foreign Service officers, Coburn said: "It's going to go away. People ought to be expecting that."

[...]

You can read the entire piece here.

8 comments:

Camille said...

Ugh.

Aaron said...

Just recently found this blog, great stuff, keep up the good work!

As to this post, how disturbing. It just doesn't make any sense. I actually just passed the OA, and I am scared to death that of not realizing my dream of joining the FS because of such short sighted policies...

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/03/re-in-case-you-needed-proof-of.html

NoDoubleStandards said...

I'm so fed up, honestly. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Digger said...

I know what you mean NDS...I LOVE my job. But I earn my money. And I am REALLY tired of being Congress's, the Tea Party's and the public's whipping boy.

Nomads By Nature said...

I've linked to your post and hope you don't mind.

Digger said...

I'm glad you did Nomad...I really want people to know about this.

Nomads By Nature said...

Just wanted to let you know that I have linked your post to my blog. http://webtexans.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/behind-the-scenes/