The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2014 - page 12

able or fair personnel policy, is truly
deplorable. Perhaps AFSA could use
Juliet Wurr’s compelling story to kick off
an effort to bring HR out of the dark ages.
Edward L. Peck
Ambassador, retired
Chevy Chase, Md.
Metrics Can Help
Ray calls an overreliance on numbers
naïve and disparages the view that “what
gets measured gets done.”
Amb. Ray is correct that developing
smart metrics is hard. But we should not
succumb to the belief that diplomacy is
too difficult to measure.
There’s no doubt that leaders must
be able to manage a host of intangibles
and that the State Department must
frequently respond to unforeseen events.
Those situations require flexibility and
And it is precisely because we deal
with so much uncertainty that a sound
strategic plan with smart metrics is so
important. In times of crisis, it can tell us
where we have capacity to surge and help
us prioritize. Over the long run, strategic
plans and indicators give leaders visibil-
ity on how their organizations stack up
against stated goals.
In my own experience working on
the department’s Economic Statecraft
“stretch targets” established by Deputy
Secretary Thomas Nides, I saw firsthand
how metrics gave senior leadership
insight into the breadth of the work eco-
nomic officers carry out and its impact
on the U.S. economy. The measurements
weren’t perfect, but they improved over
time. We revised some queries to make
themmore precise, and dropped some
categories that didn’t reveal much.
Although we started off measuring
they will have no long-
term support if they lose
their medical clearance,
forcing them to leave the
Service, due to a disabling
illness that they would not
have contracted in health-
ier parts of the world.
Richard G. Brown
FSO, retired
San Miguel, Mexico
Bring State Out
of the Dark Ages
Juliet Wurr’s Speaking Out column was
painful enough to read for its own sake.
But for me it also revives memories of
the equally unacceptable and inexcus-
able mistreatment of a Foreign Service
colleague in the late 1950s. I find it
extraordinarily difficult to accept that
the problem has not been addressed by
AFSA—and resolved—many years ago.
Playing in the garden with his daugh-
ter during troubled times in Cyprus, an
FSO opened the gate when the bell rang,
and was shot four times. Rushed to a
Navy hospital in Greece, he was slowly
recovering, on sick leave, until that ran
out. Then he used annual leave, until that
ran out, and then was placed on leave
without pay!
A newly minted junior officer, I met
him after he was brought back to Wash-
ington, where an official car and driver
took him to and from the State Depart-
ment for a few hours a day so he could
be paid. He told me he had patiently
accepted the situation—until he learned
that a Navy pilot who had broken his
leg while skiing, and was not required
to use any of his leave, would receive 30
days of convalescent leave when he was
The fact that similar outrages continue
today, in gross violation of any reason-
A Disgraceful Situation
I was disgusted and infuriated
to read about the Department
of State’s limp response to the
distressing situation of FSO Juliet
Wurr, which she describes in her
in your
November issue (“Keeping Faith
with State’s Wounded Warriors”).
During my own Foreign Service
career(s) at the Department of State and
U.S. Information Agency (1961-1999),
I was aware of cases in which compas-
sionate arrangements were made and
extraordinary assistance provided to
Foreign Service personnel who had
experienced severe health problems in
the course of their overseas assignments.
In some cases, those illnesses may not
have been due to health threats specific
to the posts where those individuals had
served, yet the department found ways
to help the afflicted officers contend with
the implications of their permanently
damaged health.
Ms. Wurr is clearly a dedicated officer,
who has put her own safety and health
on the line in a series of extreme hard-
ship posts. So it is outrageous that State
cannot find a way to support her case
more forcefully against the ignorant
responses of the parochial bureaucrats in
the Department of Labor.
It is also scandalous that, in a period
when FSOs are increasingly being pres-
sured—and not subtly—to prove their
merit by opting for extreme hardship
posts, the department has apparently
not found it necessary to brief them on
the need to purchase personal disability
State praises and sometimes even
promotes officers like Ms. Wurr, confer-
ring special awards on them for their
service to our country. But it also sends
them overseas without any warning that
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