Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ongoing news

Benghazi issues continue to flow through congress and the news, but they don’t appear to filter down to my level – at least, not directly.  While it doesn’t come up in our daily conversations much, it’s still disturbingly fascinating, like a car wreck.  Some construction changes and projects are developing as a result of the Accountability Review Board findings, so we’ll be accommodating those soon.  It’s fascinating to have a better understanding of the issues’ implications though, like pieces of a puzzle coming together for a complete picture.  I’m a big fan of perspective.

Our Construction Management office’s building floor is starting to get reconfigured over the next few months to accommodate more people in a more open cube layout.  It should be interesting, particularly considering how tight quarters are now.  For example, someone ordered about a dozen boxes of hard hats, but we don’t have much storage space in our current configuration, so they ended up getting stored in a currently-empty corner office.  Assuming the new layout has less storage space, it may encourage us to use more digital formats for files.  At least, that’s the Glass Half Full way of looking at this opportunity.  So long as I can keep my red Swingline, I'll be happy.

I’ve been catching up with the Facilities Managers who were in my same specialist class since most of them left for their posts about a month ago.  It sounds like each of them was dropped into opportunity zone.  They’re very, very busy with work.

Like anywhere else, it's not all work at work. I recently overheard someone giving a compliment by saying, "I like your shirt - it looks like a margarita." I thought it was awesome.  I think it was a Friday, so I’m guessing that wasn’t a coincidence.

(This post written while listening to Violent Femmes Promise)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The news

OBO life has been pretty straightforward lately: we're finally finishing the Employee Evaluation Report (EER) season, we're heading into the heart of proposal season, and we may be getting some new hires soon.  The last bit would be fantastic, it seems like we could use the help, particularly with some recent staffing changes in Africa branch where we're losing a key person to the London embassy project.

The most interesting recent info is actually in the news, although that's probably generally not a good thing.  First was an April 11 opinion article in the Washington Post by some high level individuals.  It purports that Foreign Service political appointees are undermining the institution because they are short-term officials that don't "notably" contribute on a long-term basis like career staff do.  It also suggests that the State Department's General Service (a.k.a. civil service) system should be adapted to become more like the Foreign Service system.  It concluded by appealing to Secretary Kerry for change.  The article spawned a lot of controversy - we'll see if anything comes of it.

Then, just this week, Kathleen McGrade, age 64, and Brian Collinsworth, age 46, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges from a scheme to steer more than $60 million in State Department contracts to a company they controlled.  Not good.

Back to matters at hand, we new hires from the 127th Specialist class are hoping to help with the NEW new hires' introduction to The System in a "pay it forward" way like the class before us.  We have no idea on the timing, though, so we'll just play it by ear.  Until then, time to get back at it!

(This post written while listening to 311 All Mixed Up)