Page 14 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2013

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April 2013
the foreign Service journal
actors in Africa; the weakening of the
inter-American human rights and press
freedom system; the looming media
vacuum in Afghanistan; China’s rela-
tionship with the foreign press; mobile
security; self-censorship in Mexico;
citizen journalists in Syria; censorship
by extremists on stories of religion; cov-
erage of oil in Africa; and the prospects
for a global press freedom charter in a
time of increasing challenges.
—Steven Alan Honley, Editor
You’ve Got Mail!
here has certainly been plenty of
gloom and doom lately about the
future of snail mail, beginning with
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s
January announcement that the United
States Postal Service will end Saturday
home delivery in August. But there is
also some good news
: A recent study
by the National Bureau of Economic
found that USPS remains the
most efcient national mail delivery
system in the world.
Alberto Chong, Rafael La Porta,
Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes and Andrei
Shleifer, NBER researchers, set out to
analyze the factors that promote ef-
cient government service. Tey sent let-
ters to non-existent business addresses
in 159 countries (10 per country) to
determine which governments would
be able to return all of the letters to the
sender, and how long it would take to
do so.
Only around 60 percent of the letters
were returned, and the average global
return time was six months. But USPS
not only returned all of the false-address
mail, but did so almost three times faster
than other industrialized states, includ-
ing Canada, Norway and New Zealand.
Te NBER researchers attribute this
efciency to the USPS’ high-quality
management and technology. For exam-
ple, the efective utilization of a postal
code database renders delivery more
efcient and promotes the detection of
errors. (Te researchers also found that
countries using the Latin alphabet had a
higher rate of return.)
As further confrmation
, an Oxford
Strategic Consulting assessment
that America has the best postal service
among the 20 largest economies in the
world. Tis high level of efciency is
especially impressive when one consid-
ers that USPS handles around 40 percent
of the world’s mail.
—Jef Richards, Editorial Intern
Dennis Does the DPRK
asketball star Dennis Rodman has
always been a colorful fgure, but
his recent visit to Pyongyang at the
invitation of North Korean dictator Kim
Jong Un may represent a new high (or
Launching the U.S. Diplomatic Center and Museum
n her March President’s Views
column, Susan Johnson highlighted
the Jan. 25 reception in the Benjamin
Franklin Room that marked the ofcial
launch and start of the construction
phase of th
e United States Diplomacy
which will be located at the 21st
Street entrance of the State Department.
Outgoing Secretary of State Hill-
ary RodhamClinton, joined by former
Secretary of State James A. Baker, Deputy
Secretary William Burns and Ambassador
Elizabeth Bagley (the project’s chief fund-
raiser), among other luminaries, attended.
A video of the event
is now available for
Secretary of State John Kerry has
asked Ms. Bagley to continue her fund-
raising eforts, which recently brought
in a million-dollar pledge from General
Electric. As of late February, the Foreign
Afairs Museum Council was holding
more than $13 million, and another $3.5
million for the project was in the State
Department’s Gift Fund. Te General
Services Administration recently issued
the invitation to bid on construction of
the external pavilion.
As President Johnson noted in her
column, AFSA has long endeavored to
explain to the American people, whom
we have the privilege to represent over-
seas, what diplomacy is and why they
should support a premier, professional
diplomatic service. Te USDC will serve
as an important vehicle for this efort,
and deserves and needs our concrete
We invite all AFSA members to visit
o make a contribu-
tion, and watch for regular updates on
our campaign to make the U.S. Diplo-
macy Center a reality.
Steven Alan Honley, Editor