Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Can We Put That Away, Please?

No, Madam is not referring to the occasional disturbed Amcit who believes that his personal parts are so attractive that local ladies - or gentlemen, or children - would like to admire them in public places. She is talking about consular records.

Some otherwise well-run consular sections remain cluttered after hours with files of ongoing fraud investigations, death and custody cases, immigrant visa cases, and loose documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards - anything and everything left where it was used last.

As you know, Madam will be the first to say so if she believes that the FAM or the consular management handbook have wandered off base. But with this issue she stands staunchly with the most conservative of our managers.

We need to remember five points:

- There are people who pass through the consular section after hours, from the MSG to painters and plumbers. An escort can only watch so many workers. These folks might be absolutely honest, but they still have no need to know about consular cases. The temptation to learn about them should be removed.

- Even within a consular section, need-to-know rules apply. No consular employee - officer or LES - should have casual access to a file or a case that he or she is not actually working with.

- Mischief can happen.

- If there isn't enough secure space or containers to store everything as required, it is the consular chief's responsibility to acquire that secure space or those containers.

- A cluttered desk is NOT a sign of genius.

In a well-run consular section, every day is lockdown day. At every close of business we must make sure that computers are logged off, of course, but also all files and sensitive documents are secured;  foils, passports, cash, stamps and seal are locked up. And it should be the section chief himself or herself who makes it obvious that he or she is cleaning up his own work space and locking things away properly, then performing the benign but firm final sweep of the entire section. Leading, as always, by example.

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