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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
FEBRUARY 2013
39
AFSA NEWS
career. Today, by contrast,
many of the initiatives of
Economic “Stagecraft”—I
use that epithet because so
many of the eforts seem
to focus as much on show
(witness “Economic Day”) as
substance—anything but col-
laborative. Some of my econ
colleagues tell me that much
of this angst started with the
FCS repositioning program,
where we closed ofces that
shifted more work on to
State.
Some of you might be
saying, why worry? In the
end, each chief of mission
will sort out these cables and
initiatives as they see ft. To
understand why this matters,
I invite you to read the Janu-
ary Speaking Out column
by Commerce’s Dan Harris,
regional director for East
Asia and the Pacifc, on the
possibilities of moving FCS
into State.
At the same time all this
is going on, we are facing a
major internal reorganization
of the International Trade
Administration.
If any of the many organi-
zational possibilities are to be
successful, they will have to
preserve the FCS’s business-
oriented culture. Expanding
exports and creating jobs in
the U.S. have given com-
mercial work unprecedented
priority. Potentially, there are
both efciencies and greater
economies of scale to be
gained for the critical com-
mercial work of expanding
and protecting our nation’s
economic well-being.
Now that we have the
elections behind us, and the
very serious business of set-
ting priorities and containing
government costs ahead of
us, we need to focus on how
to get this right. Let us look
carefully at all the options,
for there is much to lose, as
well as much to gain in this
area vital to our nation’s well-
being.
n
FCS VP VOICE | BY KEITH CURTIS
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP.
The relationship between the
Foreign Commercial Ser-
vice and the Department of
State’s Bureau of Economic
Afairs has been a bumpy
one during the 25 years that
I have served in the Foreign
Service. But it seems to have
gotten even bumpier in the
last two years because of the
double whammy of FCS shift-
ing resources from lower-pri-
ority to higher-priority mar-
kets and thereby requiring
more coverage from State,
at the same time that State
has put renewed emphasis
on economic issues in its
Quadrennial Diplomacy and
Development Review.
Over the course of my
career I have tended to
ignore as much as possible
bureaucratic turf battles,
which are uninteresting in
the short run and unimport-
ant in the long one. I prefer
to get my job satisfaction
from gettng things done and
having real hands-on, results-
oriented experiences with
U.S. businesspeople, rather
than writing a memo or cable
to Washington about who did
what. My experience in the
feld is that there has always
been more than enough work
to go around, so it never
made any sense to fght over
who does what.
I have a high regard for
the abilities of my econ
colleagues and have almost
always enjoyed working with
them in a friendly and col-
legial way. In fact, to borrow
a phrase, “Some of my best
friends are econ ofcers.” I
would like to thank them for
their help, and the fun we
have had together. The best
of the best are those that
have low regard for their own
bureaucracy.
In this respect,
The
Foreign Service Journal
’s
October issue on the new
generation of ofcers was
very insightful. The new of-
cers—more than 60 percent
of whom have joined since
9/11—see the bureaucracy as
one of the biggest problems.
What has changed is a
serious and alarming lack
of coordination in Wash-
ington. And unfortunately,
this seems to be more by
design than by accident.
In the past, a serious cable
on worldwide Commercial
Service issues would have
never gone out without the
clearance of our agency. I
can recall several joint cables
being sent by the Secretar-
ies of State and Commerce
on these issues during my
Now that we have
the elections
behind us, and
the very serious
business of
setting priorities
and containing
government costs
ahead of us, we
need to focus on
how to get this
right.
Nominate a Colleague for an AFSA
Dissent Award by Feb. 28
Time is running out to nominate a colleague for
one of AFSA’s Constructive Dissent Awards. Let’s
recognize those who have had the courage to step
forward with a valid argument worthy of changing
course or policy. The deadline for the 2013 AFSA
Dissent Awards is Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. For more infor-
mation and the nomination form, please go to
www.
afsa.org/dissent.
Nominations must be submitted
to Perri Green at
green@afsa.org.
Much to Lose, Much to Gain