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.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I'm a real boy now! There are many milestones in a career as a FSO with USAID. Milestones include things like tenure, being commissioned, and as a Contracting Officer (CO) with USAID, being warranted.
The warrant is part of the US Government's procurement system in which authorized individuals are allowed to obligate government funding to procure goods and services or obligate grants. At USAID, since development work is mostly implemented through partners (contractors or grantees), this is an important function. A USG warrant is specific to each Agency and generally will require being certified through the Federal certification system as well as Agency requirements.
At USAID, the requirements for warrants for new COs include obtaining the first level of federal contracting certification, completion of Agency courses related to grants (assistance) and development, plus at least a year's experience at post. I received my warrant recently and have been transitioning to the role of signing awards and documentation instead of only drafting and preparing documents. Of course, I'll still maintain current responsibilities for awards outside my threshold but I'll have another level of responsibility in my work and I'm looking forward to the experience.
The next milestone to strive for now is becoming tenured.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
The health of US Government employees and families assigned abroad is taken seriously. Healthy employees makes productive employees and knowing that your health is being watched over by the government can be beneficial and not always an intrusion or burden.
The Foreign Service requires a certain standard of health before employment is offered and, throughout one's career, the health of the employee and their family is considered as they take assignments abroad. The State Department manages the medical clearance process for USAID. When switching to a new assignment to another country, the employee must again be medically cleared to be able to work in that country. It is important that the employee's family be medically fit for the country, as well, or they wouldn't be able to safely accompany the employee. This is very different than working in the United States where an individual's health cannot be a consideration for employment.
Many larger posts have a Medical Unit at the embassy staffed with doctors and medical staff assigned to take care of the health needs of embassy employees. This includes basic medical checkups and medical evacuation (medivacs) for employees to locations where necessary medical treatment can be obtained. We experienced the medical evacuation process recently when a necessary operation was required and the medical care in Indonesia not sufficient for the procedure.
After diagnosis and consultations with the Med Unit and external specialists, if the condition warrants it, the Med Unit will authorize the employee or family member to seek treatment in a neighboring country with high standards of medical care. In Indonesia, the primary destination for operations is Singapore; however, we elected to have the operation done in Thailand and the Med Unit was able to accommodate. With this authorization, the USG (one's respective agency) will then cover costs for the patient to travel for the operation and then act as secondary payer for the operation. So after one's insurance covers the costs per the individual policy, the USG will then step in and help pay for the remainder.
This is a really great benefit we've been able to utilize working abroad with USAID and highlights the commitment the government has to keeping its employees healthy abroad. Here's to good health.