Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Getting acquainted with Work

So after 5 weeks of orientation, DLI's are then sent to their assigned functional areas to begin familiarizing themselves with the work of the organization and to obtain some on-the-job training.  Each of my classmates all have related different experiences thus far in the past two weeks ranging from simply taking online training or looking for anything to do to even already becoming a country desk officer.  I think though a lot also depends on a lot of self-initiative and your boss.

My experience has been pretty good.  Since I already had a contracting background, much of the processes and activities are already very familiar.  Last week I was tasked with doing several contract modifications to current contracts in order to revise to add incremental funding (government funding for contracts is only available for effort 18 months in the future at which point additional funding will then need to added).  The only part of this I was unable to do was make the administrative modification in USAID's contract system since I have not yet had the required instructor training and been granted access.  (not really in a rush to get this access and start using it :P)

In between doing these modifications, I have a very intimidating list of online and instructor-taught training classes that I started to work on.  In order for me to obtain my warrant which allows me to sign contracts to obligate funding, I need various trainings and certifications.  

This week, I was assigned a cost analysis to perform on contractor proposals for an RFP for a new effort.  Basically, I read through the proposals and then analyzed whether the costs were reasonable and compared them to what we are wanting in the RFP. Then, I got to make recommendations for the negotiator on what is or is not reasonable, what they should negotiate at, and provide all the justification and information to make that argument.

It's a very time-consuming process but I actually enjoyed it.  I learned a lot about the type of work USAID does as well as how contractor's structure their proposals.  Some of these contractors propose ridiculous rates and salaries that it's unbelievable.  To think they have been taking taxpayer money at some of these rates is crazy.  There so many better places resources could be used than lining the pockets of some of these contractors to better help people and we're going to change that.

On a less work related subject, my DLI class continues to organize social functions and gatherings each week and we all do a decent job of keeping in touch.  Next week, we all get to come back together for a week of "Consolidated Training" where we will all debrief our experiences thus far, share advice, and get additional required training.  An event I'm looking forward to is a field trip to spend the day at the State Department in the "F" Bureau which monitors Foreign Assistance.  I've been in this bubble of USAID and it will be interesting to see the other agencies in which we will need to work with together so closely once out in the field.

DLI-17 with Dep. Admin. Steinberg on our first day of orientation.

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