Avoiding Crisis

the next crisis

with 4 comments

For those of you who have been following my journey to thirty you know that it has recently come to an end….and while I’m not going to stop blogging I will be making a few changes around here.

First off, the title, or more specifically the URL of this blog will have to be changed. I think i’ll stick with the whole Avoiding Crisis title, ’cause, well, I like it and have grown quite fond of it. Eventually I’ll move over to avoidingcrisis.wordpress.com, but until I have the time to set that site up I’ll still be here at journeytothirty.

And now…drum roll please…my next crisis.

We’re moving. Again. We don’t know where we are going. At least not yet. We also don’t know exactly when we’ll be moving. All I can tell you is that it will probably be sometime between June and August of 2008.

Based on some of the comments I received when I wrote this post I’d say that some of you are quite interested in this whole process that we are about to go through to find out where we will be moving to. So, instead of making you all wait another week or so until the process official begins (rumor has it that this journey of ours is going to kick off sometime around the 20th), I thought I’d give you a crash course on what it’s like for us “to bid” on our next assignment, what’s involved, and how and when we find out where we are going to go next.

It all starts when the list comes out. My husband will receive an email about this and immediately go and print out the list of potential assignments from all the different geographic regions. He will then immediately call me and tell me about all the unexpected assignments that are now on the list as well as those assignments that we thought would be on the list but somehow aren’t. He will also give me a list of his top choices, by first glance. I’ll wait until that evening to get a good idea of what we are up against.

Now remember, for my husband, this is an employment issue. Each one of these assignments is a job. He cares about that. I do not. I do not care about what the job is. I care about the place, the location. Okay, so that’s not exactly true. Typically, I know what he is looking for, what jobs are better for his career and I know what level he is and which jobs are below his grade and which are above.

So within the guidelines provided by the Department of State – for example, how many different geographic regions have to be included in our top five choices — 3 if you care to know — and the parameters as set by my husband’s career, I get to work.

I get the list. I immediately blacken out every assignment that is not a possibility or a good match. Then I start to look at different factors, such as security, crime, housing, activities, weather, schooling, child care, household help, cost of living, pet care, etc. This time around for example schooling will be a big issue since my oldest will be starting kindergarten. This information helps us to either eliminate and/or rank order locations.

My husband and I typically come up with our own lists and then compare. We discuss and merge. Sometimes I even throw a fit or two to get my way.

Our process is complicated a little because of something called a Class 2 medical clearance. Which means, that because of this, we are required to have our bid list vetted through the medical office first. This doesn’t tend to be a huge issue for us. Some see it as a blessing in disguise because it means that your spouse (and you with him) can’t get shipped off to some shit hole without adequate medical care.

Apparently though, after almost 5 years overseas and no problems, my clearance may be changed to a Class 1. This will then make things a bit easier – at least eliminate one step in an already bureaucratic process. If my class 2 clearance isn’t removed then we may face some challenges this time around seeing how we are set on bidding on several posts in Africa. Needless to say I don’t expect a smooth ride through this process.

And now I’m sure you’re wondering what happens after we finalize our list, right? How and when do we find out about our assignment. Hold your horses, I’m getting to that. Just one more hoop to jump thorough: Promotions.

See, things just can’t be easy. Ever. This year we have the added component of promotions to deal with.

Here’s the deal. My hubby is up for a promotions this year. It’s a competitive promotion, which means that it’s not guaranteed. And if I understood the process by which competitive government promotions, especially those in the Department of State, worked, I’d share it with you, but seeing that I myself don’t understand a single thing about it, we’ll just leave it at that.

So here’s how this factors in. Non promoted hubby has one bid list. This can include assignments that are at his current grade level as well as others that are one step above his grade (we call that a stretch). Promoted hubby can not bid on assignments below his grade level so the new level makes all previous bids, aside from stretch bids, completely useless.

Now, you’re thinking, why does this matter. It matters because we don’t find out about the promotions until one week before the bid process closes. Seriously. I know. Only in the government. See the list comes out in mid/late August, promotions are announced early Oct. Final bids are due mid Oct. Yeah. The timing sucks.

Okay…so now, the part you’ve all been waiting for – how assignments are made and when we find out where we are going to go

Honestly, the answer to that question is: I have absolutely no clue. No f-ing clue.

We send our list in. My husband does some internal/office politicking, reaching out to important people, telling anyone who will listen and who may make a difference, how much we really want to go to a particular place, etc.

Though, I have to tell you, I’m not sure how well this works. See during our last bidding process we lobbied quite hard for Bogota, Colombia. Saying that we hardly pushed for the assignment in Buenos Aires is an overstatement. But still, we ended up in BA. Not that I’m complaining or anything. But you ask for Bogota get Buenos Aires. Go figure.

Our list goes to Washington, DC and somehow, through a whole convoluted bureaucratic process that I don’t completely understand it winds up in front of a panel of people who somehow decide who goes where.

All this time we are busy keeping our eyes on the bid list (the electronic one) to see which positions have been filled and which ones are still open and how that coincides with our own list. Then, somehow, someday, typically 3 months after we had sent our list in, we hear a rumor that we’ve been paneled. But that’s just a rumor so my husband has to find out the percentage at which that rumor is or isn’t true.

After you find out which post you’ve been paneled for you can begin to relax, but you can’t let your guard down. See, the paneled assignment still has to go through HR and be approved. And there is always a small chance that in between the time that you’ve been paneled and HR gets your file something changes and you have to be repaneled. That or HR doesn’t approve of your assignment – for what reasons I’m not sure – and you go back to the paneling process.

Now, if all the assignments you’ve bid on have already been filled then you get a notice that you must re-bid. Pretty much if you’ve bid only on overseas assignments and get a call that you need to re-bid, what you’re being told is that you need to get your ass back to the United States. Well, at least that will be the case for us.

And really that’s the process. It starts in August and ends sometime between December and February. And then after we find out where we are going to go there’s yet another crazy process of actually getting there. One that inevitably has my husband and I saying on multiple occasions, “you’d think these people have never moved anyone before.”

And that folks is the short version of what I’m about to go through.

Just imagine what the long drawn out version is like.


Written by nicolemarie

August 14, 2007 at 10:12 pm

4 Responses

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  1. It must be hard not knowing and waiting, but also exciting.


    August 15, 2007 at 7:22 am

  2. Wow. That’s crazy. But, yea, it must be exciting in some ways. And Africa. . .wow. . .that would be interesting.

    Could he ever potentially get sent to a place that doesn’t allow dependents?


    August 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

  3. Dawn, yes it is always a possiblity that he could be sent to what we called an unacompanied post. As long as there are people willing to go to these types of posts and volunteer/bid on these types of assignments it’s unlikely that he will be “directed” to go. However, it is always a possibility.

    We have actually given this type of assignment a lot of thought but have ruled it out at the current time. If he was, to say, go to Iraq, then I would return back to the States for the year that he would be gone. We know a lot of people who have done this. It is a real possibility in the future, just not this time around…well, at least we hope not. Truth is, you never know.


    August 15, 2007 at 9:49 am

  4. […] list” is, and find your self completely lost as to what I’m talking about, read this and I’m sure it will make a whole lot more […]

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