Page 19 - FSJ - 070812

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J U LY - A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
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Akaka has blasted his colleagues for recent budget de-
cisions, calling them shortsighted because they could ac-
tually increase costs to the government in the future.
“The work of the State Department helps build more sta-
ble societies, which minimizes the potential for conflict,
lowering the human and financial costs of military en-
gagement,” he says. “Meeting these critical challenges re-
quires investment in training and professional education.”
But on Capitol Hill, the GAO study looms over State’s
efforts to win that funding. And, at least lately, Coburn’s
take on it — that State needs to prove the value of its
training before it gets more money — is winning.
The GAO report actually said that State was doing a
lot of things right in training its staff. But it also said the
department wasn’t doing enough to evaluate whether its
efforts were making a difference in the field by helping
officers do their jobs better. It also couldn’t show that it
was putting its training dollars into the right classes and
programs, GAO argued, and needed to do a better job of
tracking the outcome of the instruction — not just the
number of classes held and course hours completed.
In particular, the GAO found, FSI doesn’t reach out
enough to bureaus and overseas posts to get a sense of
what kind of training they want their employees to have.
The watchdog agency also said State needs to do more to
formulate professional development plans for each of its
employees, so they will know precisely what they need to
do to advance their careers.
Whiteside says that FSI is responding to those recom-
mendations, and notes that it already applies feedback
from its students on how training helps them do their jobs.
Creative Thinking
Having the funding to hire enough extra officers to allow
for more time in training is crucial. But even if the float
does not materialize, or it takes longer to build than ex-
pected, there are creative steps the department can take.
For instance, Whiteside wants to accelerate ongoing
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