Viewing cable 08STATE71787
Title: FEEDBACK FROM THE BALTIC COUNTRIES ON THE FY 2008

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08STATE717872008-07-03 16:39:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Secretary of State
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DE RUEHC #1787 1851635
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P 031639Z JUL 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA PRIORITY 0000
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN PRIORITY 0000
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UNCLAS STATE 071787 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EE LG LH AMGT EAID
SUBJECT: FEEDBACK FROM THE BALTIC COUNTRIES ON THE FY 2008 
OPERATIONAL PLAN PROCESS 
 
REF: RIGA 318 
 
 ¶1.  We would like to thank posts for their hard work in 
completing FY 2008 Operational Plans (Op Plans).  This was 
the first year your posts completed Op Plans, and we 
appreciate the efforts that went into this process. 
 
¶2.  The Op Plan process is a key aspect of the Secretary,s 
foreign assistance reform, providing a comprehensive, 
interagency picture of how resources received by posts will 
be used to support assistance objectives and the 
transformational diplomacy goal.  This new process gives the 
Secretary and the Department the tools to strategically 
allocate resources to improve effectiveness, impact, 
efficiency, and coordination.  By providing details on 
proposed activities, tactics, and results, the Op Plan 
process provides the Department with the information needed 
to refine and defend resource requests, inform the allocation 
of appropriated funds, and explain to the Secretary, 
Congress, OMB, and the public how the United States is 
fostering progress in specific countries and toward achieving 
regional and global objectives.  To achieve these goals, the 
Op Plan process must be comprehensive, covering all State 
Department and USAID programs managed both by Washington and 
in the field. 
 
¶3.  We appreciate posts, feedback on this year,s Op Plan 
process.  While we have made major changes to the Op Plan 
process since its pilot year for FY 2007, including 
significant reductions in the amount of data collected and a 
streamlined review process, we continue to seek ways to 
improve the process so as to both gather the data necessary 
for the Department and minimize the burden on our posts and 
USAID missions.  This includes continuing to evaluate whether 
we have struck the right balance for posts managing only 
limited security assistance programs. 
 
¶4.  Realizing that posts going through the Op Plan process 
for the first time would experience difficulty, we took 
measures that would minimize the burden for posts: 
 
-- In August 2007, all posts were asked to identify an Op 
Plan coordinator who would be responsible for the development 
of post,s plan, coordinating the work of the country team, 
and interfacing with Washington staff on guidance, 
troubleshooting, and questions (STATE 115037).  We believe 
that posts that did not identify coordinators until late in 
the process had more difficulty completing their Op Plans. 
Without identified coordinators, it is not clear that 
tailored guidance and other assistance intended to make the 
Op Plan process easier reached the appropriate staff at posts 
when it would have been most helpful. 
 
-- Given that posts around the world manage foreign aid 
portfolios of widely divergent scales and complexities, we 
recognized from the outset that a one-size-fits-all approach 
would not be appropriate.  Therefore, we provided 
supplementary guidance for partner countries receiving only 
military assistance (FMF and IMET).  This guidance was 
developed by the Bureau for Political-Military Affairs, with 
input from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), to 
assist Security Assistance Officers, Defense Attaches, and 
Political-Military Officers at post in completing an 
abbreviated Op Plan for countries receiving only FMF and IMET 
assistance.  This guidance was available online and provided 
to posts in mid-March. 
 
-- Lastly, every post was assigned a point of contact in the 
Office of the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance to help 
posts navigate the Op Plan process.  To the extent that posts 
had difficulty in preparing their submissions, had questions 
on guidance, or required assistance with the Op Plan 
software, they were strongly encouraged to take advantage of 
this resource.  Additionally, Office of the Director of U.S. 
Foreign Assistance staff held widely publicized weekly 
conference calls in the month leading up to the Op Plan 
submission deadline to help posts work through issues arising 
with their plans. 
 
¶5.  As difficult as the preparation of the Op Plan has been 
for many posts, we appreciate posts, support for the 
Secretary,s goal of integrating assistance with policy goals 
and ultimately providing better accountability to the 
taxpayer.  We believe that, having gone through the process 
for the first time this year, posts will find it an easier 
exercise in future years.  But we will continue to look for 
ways to ease the burden on posts and stand ready to provide 
both improved guidance and direct technical assistance as 
necessary. 
 
¶6.  Finally, we should note that the inclusion of SEED 
'graduate' countries in the annual SEED report will be ended, 
starting with the FY 2008 report.  As a result, the three 
Baltic posts will not be required to contribute to this 
annual report this fall or in future years. 
RICE