Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

I know I shouldn't, but I find this WaPo article to be slightly amusing from my perch as a City Council staffer who has written more than one piece of legislation calling for some report on something.

The nation's diplomats are drowning in paperwork, the State Department's inspector general says, churning out hundreds of mind-numbing reports every year that are too long, too expensive, hard to understand and nearly impossible to track.
The reports, mandated year after year by Congress and the State Department, cost the agency's far-flung embassy staff more than $50 million a year to complete, Inspector General Harold W. Geisel concluded in a 55-page report released this month. Completion of some reports, covering issues from human rights to child labor, has become a full-time job for employees based in Washington and stationed abroad.
In the District, at least under Fenty, these reporting requirements were often simply ignored.  My old boss Councilmember Catania was often quoted as saying that the Council doesn't pass laws, we pass suggestions, which are then most often roundly ignored by the Executive.

In a few weeks or months, when I am a newly minted FSO tasked with compiling one (or several) of these reports, I won't find it all that funny.  Congress, unlike the Council, doesn't pass suggestions.

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