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Published on January 27th, 2011 | by Editor

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Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services Ignore LE Staff

Labor-Management satisfaction, productivity gains and cost savings were the main objectives President Obama had in mind when, on December 9, 2009, he issued executive order #13522.

EO 13522 calls for Federal agencies to work together with employees and unions to improve the delivery of high quality services to the American people. The order also created the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations.

Within the Federal workforce, both management and labor seek to serve the public and accomplish Government’s mission in an effective and efficient manner, but these intentions can be sidetracked because of tensions, dissatisfaction, and plain old misunderstandings.

Since December 2009 Government agencies have been reporting to the Council on their labor-management cooperative initiatives. Both State and USAID have issued reports (State reportUSAID report) and implementation plans to the Council as well. Unfortunately, even though the comment period for both plans ended in the first part of 2010, neither report mentions the Locally Engaged Employees (LES).

Both State and USAID must believe that cost savings and productivity gains can be accomplished without over 50% of their workforce getting involved. Since the LES are not represented at all at the Washington level, they have been excluded from contributing to the Forums. In spite of efforts by the International Foreign Service Association (IFSA) to initiate social dialogue with the State Department, LES representatives were turned down. In this era of tight budgets a more positive attitude, one which promotes partnership between Management and LE Staff may lead to enormous gains in productivity and effectiveness.

Unfortunately, the comment period for both plans ended in the first part of 2010 and LE employees were not invited to comment on or participate in the development of the plans. Moreover, neither report mentions the Locally Engaged Employees (LES) although LE employees are the backbone of diplomatic operations and provide a myriad of essential services to the American people. Of the 80,000 employees working in U.S. diplomatic missions, 53,000 are LE employees. The voices and input of LE employees are critical to improving the efficiency of the operation of American diplomatic missions. The Department of State should recognize IFSA and involve IFSA and LE employees in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of American diplomatic missions.

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