So, I requested information from our onward post. I was put on the newsletter list, which is great. I can remember the days when posts wouldn’t even do that. But, I was told that I could get the welcome materials on the Department intranet. You know, that “open net” to which I have no official or practical access. Again.
Call me a dreamer, but after 25 years in the Foreign Service, and lots of experience in online content management, I have some ideas how this could and should work.
I should have a State Department login. Maybe a different one than an officer, with a different level of access. I don’t need the Super Secret Handshake Level Clearance, for heaven’s sake. I don’t care about any of that Very Important Diplomatic Stuff. That’s not my job.
My job is to get this family moved to and successfully settled at our next post. This is why I absolutely should be able to access:
→ All post orientation materials, especially regarding housing. Hello! I am the one organizing the shipments! I need to know if there aren’t going to be any closets in the place, or if there isn’t going to be a garage or a yard. This is really basic information, people.
→ All information available about schools at post (which I don’t need any more, thank God, but still).
→ The Global Address List for the post. I should be able to directly email anyone at post from whom I need information. For example: the Community Liaison Office Coordinator (CLO), the Medical Unit, and the General Services Office. I mean directly, without having to hunt down names and emails. That is a pointless waste of my time–and the time of anyone I have to pester to get them, including my husband.
→ Current job listings, so that I can apply before arriving for positions at post. Shouldn’t embassies hire the most qualified people for positions, not just the ones who happen to already be there? Seems to me that broadening the pool of applicants for positions could only be a good thing. Healthy competition and all that.
→ Current and archived issues of the post newsletter and/or classified advertising. Because, you know, people departing post want to sell stuff, and people arriving at post want to buy stuff. How can I buy stuff if I don’t know it’s for sale?
→ Links to any post social networks: email groups, Facebook groups, and so on.
→ Information regarding language training at post.
→ Information about the community association (if there is one) commissary, health club, and any other services available to the post community.
Or hey, how about an internet site with a login for each spouse? That would work, too, if State were willing to put real, useful information on it. In this lifetime.
Sit back for a minute and think about how awesome this would be. Not just for incoming spouses. Imagine how much time it would save each and every CLO, if they could just direct newcomers to a link with most, if not all, of the information that they need.
Oh wait, I wouldn’t even need to ask the CLO for the link. I could just go right there. All by myself! Like, you know, a person with a brain who can be trusted to do more than schlepp suitcases every two or three years!
Well, that was a nice little daydream. Must go now. I have to bug my husband to go on his Super Secret Net Thingy and email me stuff about Warsaw. Because, you know, email is totally secure, right?
Addendum: when I posted this on Facebook, several people pointed out that the Overseas Briefing Center will email these materials to me. I did actually know that, and of course it is a good thing, but it is still inefficient and silly. Every Foreign Service family moves every two or three years. WHY, WHY, WHY is this information not online in a place where we can get to it ourselves?