Cablegate: Estonia: Oig Review of Impact of Required Reporting
DE RUEHTL #0070/01 0361553
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051552Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0392
INFO RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN
UNCLAS TALLINN 000070
DEPARTMENT FOR OIG/ISP AMB. DAVID ZWEIFEL
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/NB
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT ASIG PHUM EN
SUBJECT: Estonia: OIG Review of Impact of Required Reporting
REF: State 9541
1. This is Embassy Tallinn's response to reftel OIG request on the
impact of required reporting. Post's answers are keyed to the
questions from para 3.
a. Which mandated reports require most time and attention from
Department personnel at your embassy?
Human Rights Report
International Religious Freedom Report
Trafficking in Persons Report
INCSR I and II
Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement
b. What section or unit is assigned responsibility for gathering
information and preparing these reports?
The Political/Economic section prepares all the reports. The DCM
reviews all reports, engages in substantive discussion with
drafters and with Washington on any items that become contentious.
c. How many employees are involved in preparing and submitting each
report? Please specify Department direct hire staff, local
employees, eligible family members, contractors or other.
Human Rights Report, 3 officers, 1 local employee
International Religious Freedom Report, 3 officers, 1 local
Trafficking in Persons Report, 3 officers, 1 local employee
INCSR I and II, 3 officers, 1 local employee
Country Commercial Guide, 3 officers, 1 local employee
Investment Climate Statement, 3 officers, 1 local employee
d. How many person hours (by report and employee category) are
required to prepare each of the mandated reports? What proportion
of the embassy or mission's total personnel or other resources does
Human Rights Report - 144 hours total for the various versions;
International Religious Freedom Report -- 51 hours;
Trafficking in Persons Report - 61 hours
INCSR I and II - 61 hours each
Country Commercial Guide -- 43 hours
Investment Climate Statement - 43 hours
These reports take approximately 403 man-hours per year. The
Political/Economic Section has three direct hire officers and four
local staff. Assuming 2,000 work hours per employee per year,
these reports take approximately 2.9 percent of the section's time.
e. Does required reporting, as it is currently being produced,
support and reinforce other mission goals or divert resources from
Some of the reporting helps to support mission goals, but for the
most part the reports divert resources from other projects.
Specifically, gathering data for the Human Rights, TIP, INCSR, and
IRFR allow us to interact with the corresponding contacts,
reinforcing USG interest in each of these fields. However, none of
these are mission priorities as Estonia has a good track record on
these issues. The CCG and ICS are useful products for U.S.
companies thinking of doing business in Estonia, which supports the
mission goal of promoting U.S. exports.
f. What resource measures has the embassy taken (redirecting
personnel to this instead of other duties, hiring additional local
staff or eligible family members, requesting additional fulltime
positions) to fulfill requirements for mandated reporting?
None, the demands of these reports were factored into the embassy's
work plan, so no additional "surge" resources are needed to handle
g. Which parts of the process (information gathering, analysis,
drafting, internal editing, negotiation of the final text with
Washington) consume the most resources?
Information gathering and drafting are the most labor intensive.
h. How clear and helpful are Department instructions for preparing
each of these reports?
In general the Department guidance is far too long and detailed.
For instance, the instructions for the 2009 Human Rights Report
were 76 pages long, and for the Investment Climate Statement were
17 pages long. Even worse, this year we received the ICS
instruction very late; some parts were delivered to Post six days
after the report was due. Guidance often changes from year to
year, making it harder to reuse elements of last year's reports
when the situation has not changed, and the guidance is sometimes
confusing or poorly written. There were several instances this
year when Post had to go back to Washington for clarification of
poorly worded instructions.
i. What percentage of the embassy's overall reporting on an issue
such as human rights or trafficking in persons docs the annual
required draft represent? Does your post submit reporting cables on
these issues throughout the year, or gather and discuss information
but submit it formally primarily in the required annual draft?
Human rights and trafficking in persons are not major problems for
Estonia, so the HR and TIP reports constitute the majority of our
post's reporting on these topics. HIV is included in the INCSR,
since the local problem is driven by intravenous drug use, but most
HIV reporting is conducted separately.
j. Do other mission agencies besides the Department make
significant contributions to the preparation of mandated reporting
in these areas?
2. SUGGESTIONS FOR STREAMLINING/MODIFYING THE PROCESS:
In order to preempt contentious debate, overly complex tracked
changes and standoffs between posts and Washington offices, review
of updates should be conducted via DVC or online. In this way,
posts and Washington-based officers can eliminate
misunderstandings, mischaracterizations and typos. Such direct
connections would also underscore the value that both sides place
on the issue -- not just the product, a distinction that is often
lost as versions and reversions get passed back and forth. This is
not to suggest that every session be conducted this way, but at
least one session for per report should be.