Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Return to Adana

During my assignment to Washington, D.C. two tours ago, I had managed a project in Adana, Turkey. As it turns out, corporate knowledge is a valuable thing, so I was called to support a new project there that would benefit from my awareness of the existing conditions. There's just one problem:
There really isn't an easy way to get from my current assignment in Cyprus to Turkey. In fact, it's almost more expedient to send someone from the US to Turkey than it is to send me. The first reason is the whole visa issue. I wrote an earlier post about my difficulties of getting a Turkish visa.

The second reason is the tyranny of distance. In case you didn't read the previous post and are unaware of the situation in Cyprus, the northern third of the island presents particular challenges to official government travel. The condensed version is that there is a policy that prevents me from using an airport in the north to fly approximately 45 minutes northeast to my destination (shown below as the red route). Instead, I have to fly from Cyprus to Athens to Istanbul to Adana (shown as the green route).
How's that for going the long way? I think all told, I left home at 3 am and arrived at the hotel around 10 pm. Fortunately, I was able to make use of the business lounges along the way (2-4 hours at a time), or that would have been even more wearisome.

This was just a quick re-familiarization trip to allow me to confirm that all my paperwork was in order and see the project first-hand. But I also got to do a little shopping with the help of my Google Translate app and was treated to some rather pleasant sunrises and sunsets during my stay.
Since the multiple entry visa is good for a year, I'm expecting a few more trips back in 2018. But maybe next time I'll try to connect through Beirut.

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2 comments:

  1. With the Hiring Freeze, are the FSCE's being spread pretty thin or are you just getting more OT? I'm on the FSCE register but it isn't looking pretty.

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    1. John, this is very good question and answering it properly has a lot of different elements to it.
      1) FSCEs (direct hire State employees) are spread pretty thin. Most projects also have Personal Services Contractors (PSC) which are often retired or hopeful FSCEs, and the key distiction is that they are viewed as Diplomatic Tech & Admin staff at post.
      They can typically fill in for FSCEs, but cannot make decisions as the government representative. The next tier down is the Third Party Contractor, and they aren't usually put in the management role.
      2) Overtime is a whole different conversation. Most projects run 50-60 hours a week. If we must regularly schedule OT to cover that, it's part of the project budget, often 5-10 hours a week.
      However, staffing can also be done in a manner that doesn't require OT so long as there is some coverage on site / on call. I value my family time over money, and am able to delegate work to reduce the need for me to claim OT.
      Overseas, the FSCEs (and other federal employees) are exempt from the FLSA, but there are other codes that provide compensation. FSCEs are specialists, so the rules for us differ from tenured Generalist FSOs.

      For the Adana project, since the OT funds would be coming from there and it would have been a paperwork pain,
      I kept within my 80-hour biweekly pay period cap so that I wouldn't be put in a position of having to file for the "regularly scheduled" OT.

      For more on OT, check out AFSA's OT and Comp Time Rules page.

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