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Community Member
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Department of State

With one tiny letter, we can save at least $50,000.

At DoS, our office acronyms are a foundation of many of our information systems; they are standardized to reflect the name of the office, not the name of the individual who occupies that office. This eliminates the need for widespread change during times of personnel turnover.


The addition of a second Deputy Secretary, however, brought about a change to our acronym conventions that has actually resulted in significant costs. The new acronyms are based on the individuals who hold the Deputy positions, so that each time a new person takes over this office, we spend more than $50,000 to accommodate this change.


The costs arise from having to change physical signage, several websites, org charts, multiple databases, and complex IT and HR systems.


Further, this new convention is at odds with every other acronym at DoS. Our Secretary, for example, is simply "S", not "S(C)" for Clinton. The Deputy positions are the only ones that use this personalized system.


The point of a standard convention is to aid understanding, allow for faster recognition, standardize processes, and hopefully, to save money. This anomaly does the opposite: It confuses employees, it disrupts our normal processes during times of change, and, worst of all, wastes taxpayers' dollars.


Now that there are two deputies, we will have twice the amount of turnover. State has already incurred this sum twice, and with today's swearing-in of William Burns as a new Deputy Secretary, we are again about to spend tens of thousands to convert D(S) -- for Deputy Steinberg -- to D(B).


What I propose is a simple change that will save money up front as well as into the future. We should develop a permanent set of acronyms for the two Deputy positions that, like every other office symbol in the Department, are not tied to a particular individual. We will incur this cost once last time in order to transition to the permanent acronyms, but from that point on, we will save a considerable sum.



Idea No. 14166