The second of our blogs explaining the various responsibilities of the officers at the US Embassy in London. The Management Section is composed of a number of functions that provide back up for the entire Embassy.
I am the Minister Counselor for Management Affairs. Since this is the Government we have to make an acronym so I am the MicMa. We actually have 43 federal agencies that are present in the UK and my section provides all the administrative and logistical support to those agencies so they don’t have to do it for themselves – it’s economies of scale. Whether its HR and hiring and paying people, financial management to prepare internal budgets or the health unit that provides medical services and liaison with local providers – as obviously there are top notch medical providers in London. We also operate IT section that provides our IT backbone and our cell phones, for example. Finally, we have what we call General Services that includes a lot of different kinds of functions, the mail room, shipping, housing. warehousing, supply, the motor pool – all of that comes under the general rubric of General Services.
We also have something we call the Community Liaison Officer (CLO). This is an office that is really varied in what it needs to do. It has several areas of responsibility. It provides advice on schools. We have American embassy children in at least 35 schools and those are only the ones we know of because we pay tuition for them. If your child is in a state school and we don’t pay tuition we don’t know where they go to school. In most foreign posts you have one school – if you are lucky and two is really golden – so thirty-five is very unusual. CLO also provides counseling to family members. In addition to the locally employed staff we have jobs for family members.
One of the difficult things about the Foreign Service is if you are not married to someone who is not a Foreign Service Officer your spouse trails you and doesn’t necessarily have the opportunity to have a career. These jobs for spouses are not ‘make-work’ jobs, they are essential. Spouses get security clearances while non American locally employed staff can not get a security clearance so having a family member who can provide some of that support with a clearance is really critical.