Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Fear of the General

It was an odd day today at work.

Our headquarters (remember I work for a unit within the Pentagon)....came out recently with some awful tough language on attending conferences.  All that GSA business in Vegas come to haunt a bunch of government organizations.  We got this presentation today, with all the new rules.

You have to ask special permission now to attend any conference.  For the most part, you generally get accepted for these.  But there's this little hook....there's a database tracking everything now.

So you enter the data....you and six folks are to go to some conference in St Louis, Missouri.  So you enter around twenty fields of data, and even estimate the cost to the conference.  Figure it's going to run around $1,700 for travel, room and registration fees.  Don't even bring up a rental car.

Then there's this tab on the input area for comments after you come back.  They want you to list your contacts and people you interfaced with during the conference.  They also want your feeling if the conference was worth the time and money invested.  What did you get out of the trip.  In the old days....you would have one-lined this and never worried about anything coming out of this mess.

Well....here's the funny thing.  Our three-star general is pretty pumped up on this conference business and expenditures   Once a week.....he logs onto the database and looks at those who wrapped up a conference and what their comments are.  Then, as it was laid out to us.....he might actually pick someone out and call them up.

You can imagine this call.  Captain Joe sitting at his desk and General Hawk calls in.  Captain Joe is sitting there for about ten seconds in silence.....in disbelief.  Then he says it has to be a practical joke, and asks who the heck this is.  Course, General Hawk gets a bit peppy at this point.  Captain Joe now realizes that this is the REAL General Hawk.  So he's a bit sorry.

Now General Hawk jumps into the list of people that Captain Joe met up with: Ms Jones, Ms Culpepper, Ms Witty, Ms Duncan, and Ms Hinds.  The General has a perception that Captain Joe might have made up these names and really didn't meet much of anyone.

Now the General moves onto lessons from the conference, and Captain Joe is sweating a good bit.  He somehow rattles off some vague things that he remembers, and General Hawk is satisfied.  Captain Joe?  Well....he's got the fear of God in him now.  He won't ever attend another conference unless the General orders him to go.

One by one....the General might actually accomplish what his master goal is....cutting the travel budget.  Course, that Wednesday call is going to worry a bunch of folks now.  And most of them just won't believe it's the real General at the other end of the line.

Yeah, it was an interesting day.  Me?  I haven't been to a conference of any type in seven or eight years.  My general impression is that half of them are worthless and you'd be better off to just hear some guy talk via a VTC-set-up for half-an-hour, than waste two hours in fancy hotel operation with a lot of bogus info.

Just my two cents.

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