The Foreign Service Journal, April 2009

A P R I L 2 0 0 9 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 43 A F S A N E W S ing restrictions on rehiring annuitants to meet the ongoing or longer-termcritical personnel needs of government depart- ments. As a general rule, the Depart- ment of Defense may rehire recently retired annuitants without salary and hours limitations for positions that 1) are hard to fill or for which there is a severe shortage of candidates; 2) are critical to the department’s mission or are neces- sary to complete a specific project; 3) re- quire unique or specialized (including language) skills and experience; 4) focus on mentoring less-experienced employ- ees; or 5) provide continuity during or- ganizational transitions. By gaining similar authorization to lift salary and hours limitations, the De- partment of State could use re-employed annuitants to reduce its shortfall in crit- ically needed personnel and provide continuity during department expan- sion and training of new Foreign Service officers. C harles Dickens wrote,“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Right now I am trying to figure out what the “best of times” part is. Senator Judd Gregg, R-N.H., recently withdrew from consideration for Secretary of Commerce. As you all know, this is the second nomination we have seen withdrawn. What are we — chopped liver? Sen. Gregg withdrew because of his conflicts with our policy issues and because he realized that he could not be his own man in this administration. From what I understand this was not exactly a bolt of lightning, but something that came to him over time. Perhaps it is just as well that he is not our Secretary of Commerce. Unfortunately, this double whammy comes at a time when the Foreign Com- mercial Service most needs a leader who can help us fight for resources. Most of you may have heard that we are facing a severe budget shortage this year of al- most $24 million — more than 10 percent of our total budget. We have had to enact strict budget-cutting measures, eliminating virtually all regular travel. That puts a serious crimp on an organization with 70 offices around the world and more than 100 in the United States. These measures were very carefully and in- telligently considered by our manage- ment, and we appreciate greatly that they have committed not to undertake furloughs or lay-offs in this process. But as careful and well thought out as this process has been, we have al- ready cut to the bone. After eight years of cost-cutting, our focus now needs to be on getting more resources. That is hard to do without a Secretary of Com- merce, but it is time for the career people at Commerce and in the Foreign Com- mercial Service to step forward and fill the void of leadership, by going to the Hill and theWhite House to make the case for increasing the Commerce Department work force. That should not be hard: every tax dollar appropriated to the Commercial Serv- ice yields $430 in export sales for the U.S. Last year we produced $80 billion in documented export sales to more than 200 markets. How didWall Street do? Yet whileWall Street financial institutions are getting $800 billion from the U.S. gov- ernment, we could pay the needs of our organization many times over just on their bonuses. The penny-ante policy of these budget cuts is grossly wasteful. The $230 mil- lion that the U.S. government spends on the entire Commercial Service budget be- comes shredded in its effectiveness for want of 10 percent of that amount. And here is the “best of times”part. I believe that yes, it can be done. This ad- ministration has the right ideas. This president understands the importance of soft power and smart power. He knows that building economies is the heart of a safe and free world, and commerce is the only tide that can lift these sinking boats. This problem cannot be fixed with a short-term funding measure. It is time to fully fund and fully staff the Department of Commerce. As this article goes to press, we are hopeful that Secretary-designate Gary Locke, with his interna- tional experience, will arrive in time to lead the recommitment effort. V.P. VOICE: FCS BY KEITH CURTIS The Best of Times or the Worst of Times? With the current AFSA Governing Board’s term coming to an end, the fu- ture of this programwill depend on fol- low-up work by others. Since only 47 out of 268 embassies, consulates and missions applied to participate, there is room for expansion should more su- pervisors withmentorship responsibili- ties (including deputy chiefs of mission, principal officers and office deputy di- rectors) encourage their employees to engage in professional development by way of these discussion groups. In ad- dition, for the June 2008 Foreign Affairs Professional Reading List to continue to serve as an up-to-date resource, revi- sions every year or two will be necessary. For now, AFSA thanks all of those who contributed to the success of this pilot project. That list includes Under Secretary Burns and the staffs of the As- sociation for Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Ralph J. Bunche Library, the Office of the Historian and the Of- fice of eDiplomacy. We especially thank the Una Chapman Cox Foundation for its financial support. Libraries • Continued from page 39 Last year we produced $80 billion in documented export sales to more than 200 markets. How did Wall Street do?