Page 37 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2013

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the Foreign Service journal
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april 2013
37
gave the campaign traction occurred. First, Foreign Service
Director General Marc Grossman confrmed in October 2000
that he would not raise any objections to the substance of our
message or methods of garnering support.
Second, Election Day (Nov. 7) produced a muddled outcome
rather than the decisive decision we had anticipated. Tis gave
us additional time to ramp up the number of signatures for our
letter, which stood at an anemic 138 at that point.
Tird, the Open Forum highlighted the SOS for DOS cam-
paign in a well-attended meeting on Nov. 9. Tat meeting
continued for almost two hours, with nonstop comments and
suggestions from the foor. On Dec. 5, Open Forum Chairman
Alan Lang distributed a summary of the meeting (the unedited
transcript ran to 80 pages) as an all-hands telegram to the feld.
Te confuence of these events reinvigorated the steering
committee (see box), which decided to set a goal of a thousand
signatures for the letter that would be delivered to the next
Secretary of State. Of course, we had no way of knowing then
that it would be Dec. 12 before we even knew the name of the
next president, let alone the name of the next Secretary of State:
General Colin Powell.
We also asked our Foreign Service and Civil Service col-
leagues to identify specifc problems and ofer their ideas for
how to fx them. Tis elicited dozens of concrete examples.
Before the holiday season, the steering committee adopted
a symbol: a small, notched blue ribbon, inscribed with “SOS
for DOS.” As further evidence of his support, Director General
Grossman agreed to wear the ribbon after we updated him on
the progress of the campaign.
Te new year began with a Jan. 3 article in the
New York
Times
, headlined “From His Perch, Powell Scans the World.” Te
article reported that “Blue, lapel-sized ribbons, snipped with a
symbolic cut, are appearing on diplomats’ jackets this week as
part of an organized campaign suggesting that the general elimi-
nate ‘blue-ribbon’ commissions set up to study a department
whose employees feel unappreciated and underfnanced.”
Te article stated that State Department employees had writ-
ten an accompanying manifesto urging Gen. Powell to “choose
action over words” to help bring America’s diplomacy into the
21st century. Te article quoted our manifesto—“Te era of quill
pen diplomacy is over”—and noted that “SOS for DOS”meant
that there was an emergency at the State Department. Shortly
after the article appeared, we zoomed past our original goal of
1,000 signatures to reach 1,129. So we set a new goal of 1,500.
On Jan. 24, 2001, Curt Struble and I met with Grant Green,
who headed the transition ofce and would soon become under
secretary for management. He received us warmly and spent
45 minutes discussing the SOS for DOS initiative. We empha-
sized the broad, grassroots support for fundamental change at
State and the conviction that the institution’s resource prob-
lems require better management, in addition to more fnancial
resources. Green assured us that he saw a great deal of common
ground between our letter and Colin Powell’s own view of State’s
problems.
Meeting Colin Powell
On Monday, Jan. 29, when the signature count stood at 1,474,
we were notifed that our requested meeting with Secretary
Powell would be at 11 a.m. the following Friday, Feb. 2. (Te sup-
porter count reached 1,614 that evening.)
Representing the steering committee, Curt and I met with
Sec. Powell, who received us in a warm and gracious manner. We
summarized the history of the initiative, emphasizing its future-
looking orientation and pointing out that it had begun before
anyone knew the outcome of the presidential election or who
would be the new Secretary of State. We described how the efort
was focused on presenting the message of needed reform at
State and highlighted the commitment of the signers to support
We quickly realized that for any reform efort to be successful,
it had to be embraced by the rank and fle,
as well as by management.
SOS for DOS Steering Committee
Ted Strickler, DS/OFM
Curt Struble, WHA/BSC
Glen Johnson, VC/VO
Frank Moss, CA
Stephanie Kinney, M/DGHR
John Campbell, FSI
Wayne Logdson, WHA/EX
Christina Gross, EUR/PRP