The Foreign Service Journal, September 2006

institutions —and we certainly still do. When I was in USIA, Edward R. Murrow was our leader, and I think our public diplomacy was at its zenith. He insisted that if PD were to work, it had to be believable — and to be believable, it had to be the truth. Telling America’s story to the world was not hard, because we had such a good story to tell. We were not to “shade the truth.” The main thing I learned from my experience in both agencies was that we have to go for the long haul. Too often we give too much atten- tion to quick fixes. We should be just as concerned about how things are going to be in 10 years as in the next 10 months. This is often not the case. In USAID, our project evalua- tions always had a section at the end for “lessons learned.” I thought this was the most important part of the evaluation and I gave it serious thought, but I found that other mis- sions and projects seldom learned from our experience. I complained and asked that the section be named “Lessons to Be Learned” and that other missions and projects really benefit from our experience. I noted that other missions went right on making the same mistakes that we had corrected. We must make sure that we are making a better country and world for our children and grandchildren — that is what public diplomacy and for- eign aid must be doing. Charles B. (Chuck) Green FSO, retired Malibu, Calif. Job-Specific Training for IMS Carl Stefan is right on with many of the points in his May Speaking Out regarding the information man- agement specialist training program, “What Are We Training IMSers to Do?” I’m just finishing up my first Foreign Service assignment and the new-hire training process is still fresh in my mind. I agree that there is an undue emphasis on training for tech- nical certifications, and the certifica- tion mill my new hire class ran through didn’t do nearly enough to get us ready for the actual work at post. Three months of generic A+, Windows and Exchange certification classes, and only six weeks of State- specific training? Reversing those numbers would go a long way in bet- ter preparing new hires for the field. Although there wasn’t enough of it, the State-specific training (most of it at the Warrenton Training Center) was extremely helpful. The highlight was the two-week Simulated Opera- tions Course that put us through the paces of preparing pouches, trouble- shooting the phone system and administering the servers. It gave us a chance to pull together everything we had learned and was the first time I got a realistic picture of what being an IMS entailed. We need more of these kinds of classes, and fewer generic ones. Being taught by IMSers who had served in the field was invaluable; they could clearly articulate how to apply the things we learned to work in the field in a way that contract Windows-certification instructors couldn’t. While there are plenty of capable people out there with certifications, having a certification certainly doesn’t automatically make someone capable. Metrics and accountability are impor- tant, but pursuing the goal of having all new hires certified in this or that is a metric that doesn’t correlate with the ability to perform the job. Gene Tien IMS Embassy Khartoum IMS Work & Personal Responsibility Carl E. Stefan’s May Speaking Out appears dated because many changes have occurred at FSI’s School of Applied Information Technology. To FSI’s credit, it asked our IMS class for feedback on how to improve future FSI/SAIT classes. Our group, the 82nd IMS class, was a strong propo- nent of eliminating the Microsoft cer- tification requirement and replacing it with classes that are more relevant to the State Department’s IMS shop. FSI/SAIT recently eliminated the requirement to certify in Microsoft Server 2003 and replaced it with State-relevant courses. When I was going through FSI/SAIT in 2005, we had a 10-day “Practical Examination,” where we applied what we learned in a setting that resembles an embassy or a consulate Information Program Center. In Jeddah, where I now work, one of the casualties of the Dec. 6, 2004, al-Qaida attack was the FSN tele- phone technician. With that position vacant, the everyday maintenance of the consulate phone system became part of my job as the new IMS. Without going into details, the way the consulate buildings are laid out, the age of the telephone wiring and the hot temperature outside made maintenance of the telephone sys- tems very demanding. But the tech- nical training I received at FSI pro- vided me with enough knowledge to effectively handle the day-to-day upkeep. When I didn’t know some- thing, I would consult with my super- visor, Riyadh or the regional informa- tion management center, and they were all helpful. Eventually, we were able to hire a new FSN telephone technician, and I’ve trained him using much of the knowledge I acquired at FSI/SAIT. The radio system also needed S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 6 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 7 L E T T E R S