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Cablegate: Oms of the Future: Nea Regional Oms Conference -

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 115847

B. STATE 64893
C. STATE 54943
D. STATE 32780


1. Twenty-eight participants from 21 NEA posts joined the
eight Cairo OMSes for the first NEA Regional OMS conference
hosted in Egypt February 21-23. Conference topics centered
on the OMS of the future. Gary Pergl, Director of the
Office of Career Development and Assignments (CDA), opened
the conference with an address on his "View of the OMS of
the Future." Other conference speakers addressed EERs;
Cultural Diversity; the Year in Review; E-Diplomacy and the
OMS Webpage; OMSes from other Diplomatic Missions; SiprNet
Resources and Microsoft Certification; Bidding and Lobbying;
and Ambassador Welch's "A-Team of Tomorrow". DVCs with then-
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman
and then-NEA Assistant Secretary of State Bill Burns ended
the second day. The final day was devoted to OMS roundtable
discussions and lessons learned.

2. The Office of Management and Training Division (OMT) at
FSI presented two training opportunities on the margins of
the conference: "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"
and "Managing Up." The first course, offered before the
conference began and for the first time to an all-OMS group,
was "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" on February 15-
17. At the end of the conference, "Managing Up" was offered
on February 24. This landmark conference was open to any
OMS regardless of level or experience. End summary.

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Summation of Conference Topics

3. Director of the Office of Career Development and
Assignments, Gary Pergl, opened the conference with an
address focusing on timely information on new OMS promotion
criteria, recently formally presented in cables from
Washington on the Career Development Program for Specialists
(refs A and B). His awareness of OMS issues and willingness
to discuss them was encouraging and informative.

4. E-Diplomacy and the OMS Webpage presented by Theresa
Tierney, Office Management Practice Expert in the Office of
e-Diplomacy, examined the many resources available to OMSes
and how the webpage has brought many of those resources to
one site. This kind of knowledge-sharing environment is an
excellent starting point for other post-specific webpages,
handbooks, etc. Participants recommended more OMS training
on maintaining websites and provision of a point of contact
to help with questions down the road.

5. OMS Coordinator from HR/CDA Claudia Romeo and Director
of OMT Donna Stoffer presented a session entitled "The Year
in Review" and reviewed some of the recommendations from the
2004 Washington OMS Conference that have been put in motion.
One overwhelmingly common request from the Washington
conference was more training, domestically and overseas.
Washington is beginning to respond. This regional
conference brought two training opportunities for OMSes.
This session highlighted many more courses open to the OMS
at FSI including: PK 250 - First Assignment at Main State;
PK 205 - How to Arrange Travel using Travel Manager 80; PK
330 - New Ways to Problem Solve; PK 302 - Professional
Development for the OMS; numerous Fast Track courses; and
new certification offered through SAIT/OMT giving Microsoft
certification plus Siprnet, Portal X, and Word comprehensive

6. The panel discussion with Junior and Senior generalists
"What We Expect from Each Other", revealed a surprising
point. A-100 training does not include discussion of
interacting with OMSes. At the least, junior officers need
a better definition of OMS roles during their orientation.
Better would be a combination of some aspects of JO/OMS
training and sharing of OMS concerns with incoming officers.

7. A breakout session presented by Cairo's HR Officers
Shelia Moyer and Angelika Chin discussed "Career Mobility".
For the OMS this is a well-identified need. Given that OMS
advancement is limited, OMSes can consider the Mustang
program and the Functional Specialization Program (FSP).

8. "EERs - It's all about You", presented by Pat Keegan, an
OMS in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and a veteran of
many promotion panels, was a good refresher with helpful
guidance and insight into how promotions are negotiated in
the panel. One should be proactive and in control of one's
EER for best possible results. It would be interesting to
review examples of high, medium, and low ranked EERs to see
what the panel sees.

9. Theresa Tierney presented the SiprNet and Microsoft
certification presentation was informative and showed the
need for more training on SiprNet. More training is
becoming available at FSI.

10. "Bidding and Lobbying," a breakout session with Gary
Pergl and Claudia Romeo, provided excellent information, but
more information on the actual process would have been
helpful. Many OMS spend most of their career overseas and
the intricacies of the bidding process are not as apparent
from outside Washington.

11. The presentation by two FSNs from Embassy Cairo on
"Cultural Diversity: A Mosaic of Life" reaffirmed how
important cultural awareness is at any post. Its importance
should be continuously reiterated to Americans in the NEA
region,and similar FSN presentations should be part of every
post's new arrival orientation. The session also reinforced
the FSN as a valuable resource for asking questions across

12. The panel discussion including OMSes from the Mexican,
French, and Italian diplomatic missions in Cairo was
enlightening and made American OMSes appreciative of
benefits that come with the OMS track such as pay raises,
diplomatic immunity, moving allowances, etc. Participants
suggested that there should be more outreach at all posts to
OMSes of other missions.

13. Ambassador Welch's "A-Team of Tomorrow" was a down-to-
earth presentation with an inspiring message and positive
attitude, showing that Ambassadors do make a difference at
every level of an embassy. The discussion revealed that
newly appointed Ambassadors all attend a seminar at FSI,
which, unlike A-100 for entry-level officers, does include
segments on working with OMSes.

14. Digital Video Conferences (DVCs) from Washington with
Ambassadors Grossman and Burns were well received.
Participants discussed with Ambassador Grossman the issue of
employees who were awarded Meritorious Step Increases (MSIs)
by promotion panels but would not receive them because they
were at the top step of their grade. Ambassador Grossman
said he would look into it, and did, with a positive result
(refs C and D).

The Parking Lot

15. Throughout the conference participants posted ideas,
suggestions, and questions on the parking lot bulletin
board. These issues, which were discussed at the end of the
conference, were either of interest to the larger group or
arose from discussions during smaller group meetings in the
conference. These ideas and questions included:

--Should there be an OMS representative at AFSA?

--Improving training OMSes receive on entering the Foreign
Service to make it more applicable to real situations out in
the field. (Note: Entry-level conference participants felt
their training was much improved over the training OMSes
received in earlier years. End note.)

--Changing the OMS title to something requiring less

--As OMSes often supervise EFMs and LES, leadership and
management training available to OMSes at all levels.

--What awards are eligible to post on your employee profile?

Roundtable Discussions

16. The OMS Roundtable on the last day of the conference
offered a forum to sum up issues and options for addressing
them. After reviewing the parking lot questions, the four
areas of interest - promotions; training and knowledge; OMS
representation; and Y-tours - were identified and discussed
in small groups.

17. Suggestions for promotions included: make entry level
at Grade 6 instead of 7; create positions that open up
higher levels of advancement; and budget money to include
MSIs for those at the top of their step/grade. Other
incentives for increase of pay could include IT
certifications, language designated positions, and the
Franklin Award. Supervisors should be encouraged to help
get "just rewards" for their employees. OMSes nominated for
an award should mention it in their EERs.
18. Suggestions for training/knowledge included: Cone days
(working in the Department in the Cone which you will be
serving, such as an ECON OMS in the EB bureau); sharing
knowledge (e.g., via the OMS Webpage); registering for FSI
Training early as slots fill quickly; using E-Diplomacy as a
learning tool; opening up new skill codes by getting IT
certification, for example (Note: Most conference
participants felt options for training have opened up more
in the past few years, but want it to continue. End note.);
and having rotational assignments at post, such as one year
in political and one year in management.

19. Suggestions for OMS representation included: improving
OMS representation by planning for OMS needs in the MPP and
in the budget (budget proposals should include training;
promotions/awards; representation funds; regional travel;
certification; and step increase pay); considering
professional opportunities such as VIP visits, control
officer duties, lateral specialist positions, and an AFSA
representative for OMSes; and considering a bureau for

20. Y tours provide excursions for OMSes at higher grades,
thereby opening up mid and senior level OMS slots for entry
level. Possibilities include OMS inspector for the OIG
team; OMS assignment to the Hill (Pearson Program); a year
of training (e.g., FSI, business school, self-designed
professional needs/training). Other ideas included domestic
out-of-cone-tours (e.g. HR/GSO/PA/DS training); assignment
to the Pentagon, FCS, Homeland Security, etc.; rover trainer
for EFMs and LES; Una Chapman Cox assignment; domestic
exchange program (i.e., USEU, IDB); OMS recruiter i.e.,
traveling to job fairs); IRM assignment; and an assignment
to expand e-Diplomacy project.


21. So what is the OMS of the future? After two and a half
days of discussion, participants reached a final
determination: the OMS of the future will be a proactive,
well trained, and knowledge sharing professional, an "A-
Team" member of the Foreign Service.

22. This cable was cleared by OMS Coordinator in
HR/CDA/ML/SPEC Claudia Romeo.


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