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T
he Foreign Commercial Service tortuously continues the post downsizing
process. Initially, the list of potential closures included up to 30 posts; but it
is nowbelowadozen, as political realities enter the process. For example,Dublin
was on the earlier list, but it wasn’t long before Irish-American forces weighed in
and took it off the list (what were they thinking?).
The Government AccountabilityOffice would like to think that downsizing can
be a simple, straightforwardmanagement process. But they sometimes seemto lack
a basic understanding of their own political environment. Meanwhile, as the days
tick on, the failure of the budgetary process becomes compounded. The basic real-
ity is that it takes up-front spending
to wrestle any long-term savings
fromcuts and closures, with little time
left in this fiscal year to see any sav-
ings. In addition, the closure of FCS
posts will inevitably affect the budgets
and workloads of our fellow Foreign
Service agencies.
We continue to debate howopen
this process should be. Releasing
information about FCS post closures
too early can be very destructive to
morale and functionality. But letting the process be dominated by the rumor mill
can cause evenmorewidespread demoralization and paralysis. Therefore, the soon-
er the specifics are made known, the better.
This is an educationprocess for everyone involved, but especially for a newgroup
of members of Congress who, frankly, have not had the time to fully understand
the impact of their decisions. We talked to one staffer several weeks agowho seemed
convinced that sending $70million in aid toRussia didn’tmake sense. That is, until
we pointed out that the money could be going toward supporting the agreement
to dismantle nuclear warheads now pointed at our homes, buildings and leaders.
The great irony of this process is that the more you cut the budget to support
exports, the more you will widen the deficit. As we have repeatedly told key mem-
bers on theHill over the last severalmonths, FCS candocument $359worthof exports
we helpedmake happen for every $1 appropriated. At an average corporate tax rate
of 23 percent, each dollar generates over $83 in tax revenue. If you want to narrow
the deficit, increase spending on export programs, don’t decrease it. This is an argu-
ment Republicans should understand.
We can only hope that this important and necessary educational process sinks
in before it is too late.
If you want to narrow the deficit,
increase
spending on export
programs, don’t decrease it.
This is an argument Republicans
should understand.
V.P. VOICE:
FCS
BY KEITH CURTIS
Spending Money to Narrow the Deficit
38
F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L / J U L Y - A UGU S T 2 0 1 1
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AFSA/FSJ PANEL:
Work-Life Balance in
the Foreign Service
BY DONNA AYERST
O
n May 26, AFSA followed up the
May issue of the
Foreign Service
Journal
— which focused on
work-life balance — by hosting a panel
discussion on the topic. The panel, mod-
erated by Faye Barnes, president of the
Associates of theAmericanForeignService
Worldwide, includedKathleenM. Lingle,
executivedirectorofAlliance forWork-Life
Progress; Judy Ikels, chief of the State
Department’s Work-Life Division in the
Bureau of Human Resources; StephenK.
Morrison, a senior commercial officer on
assignment to the U.S. Export Assistance
Center; and Margot Carrington, Foreign
Serviceofficer and recipient of a2010-2011
Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Leave
Fellowship toconduct researchon the chal-
lenges facing working women.
The term “work-life balance” was
coined in1986and iswidelyused, butwhat
does it mean? According to Lingle, it is
about the juggling act everyonewhoworks
does: “It’s the intersectionof the four balls
we juggle: career, family, community, self.”
“Balance is elusive in the Foreign
Service,” saysCarrington, who is usingher
CoxFellowship to look intoways toachieve
balance to enhance the Foreign Service
mission. “Workplace flexibility enhances
employees’ lives and, in turn, their pro-
ductivity and sense of accomplishment.
But workplace flexibilitywhile at an over-
Continued on page 50
Judy Ikels displays State’sWork/LifeDivision’s new
logo at AFSA on May 26.