I spent the last four weeks in Procurement training, passed both my tests and now qualify for a contracting warrant for the U.S. Department of State. This sums up my thoughts on Procurement training. I was on the bus early on during the class, and one of my classmates, fresh out of A-100, was gushing about the course. “Yes, it is very dry, but every day just confirms that I was right to choose Management cone!” Every day that I was in the class confirmed for me that my personality is better suited to other types of FS work. This is what you get when you fill out the application for the Foreign Service at 20 and don’t have a clue about what the different cones mean, or what you even like yet because you are still in college. Go figure.
Guys, I’m trying to conally rectify. For you non-FS folks reading that going “what the heck did you just type…?” – conal rectification (yes, it really is called that,) is the administrative process to change career tracks, or cones. I want to change from Management to Public Diplomacy. I can always just bid on only PD jobs instead of MGT since we are all generalists and are expected to be able to do any and all jobs, but you get promoted in competition with people from your same cone. If I’m in competition with MGT officers and haven’t done any MGT work, it is very unlikely that I’ll ever get promoted. I’ve been planning to conally rectify since Cambodia, and now that I have my next PD job I’m getting closer to meeting the requirements.
All that aside, I am glad I got to take procurement training. I’ve already caught myself using what I’ve learned in keeping in touch with my team back in Rio and directing them through various ongoing procurement processes at post. I mean, it is bone dry, but I am glad to have it because it will make me a better officer in the long run. I have so much more appreciation for GSOs now – they seriously have the hardest job at post. I wish A-100 included a section on “how to be nice to your GSO –aka how to do purchasing/e-services requests/what the heck is ICASS?”
GSOs have to manage an extremely complicated government contracting process that we learn in only four weeks. I know military officers going through the Defense contracting training right now, and it is a minimum of two years of training before they get their warrants. And we have to follow the same regulations (more or less). If that isn’t stressful, I don’t know what is.
In addition, GSOs at a small post also manage housing, motorpool, shipping, customs, visitors, and more. Anything I can do to make their lives easier I will do, and this class was super helpful for that. PD officers are notorious for not being specific in their asks from GSO, and I have learned just how important that is. I’m sorry, my former GSOs from Phnom Penh. I promise I’ll be better in the future.