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FSCE Job Description in Real Terms

The position description for the Foreign Service Construction Engineer position is how HR describes what we do to potential candidates. I'll be describing what we do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis based on my last 5 assignments. Generally speaking, there are two facets to the job: Overseas Assignments and Domestic (Washington DC) assignments.
Passport Stamp that says "Click Here to Read Post"
OBO has a recruiting video that you can find it at this link: https://careers.state.gov/aiovg_videos/construction-engineers-in-the-u-s-foreign-service/

If you don't have an hour to spend listening to a teleconference, here's my own anecdotal account.

Overseas Assignments
It's right there in the job title: "Foreign Service". At post, OBO FSCEs are primarily tasked with delivering a fully functional facility as close to schedule and budget as possible. Due to the various factors related to international construction of diplomatic facilities, nearly all projects run over schedule and incur some sort of contract modification to the construction contract (using programmed contingency funds, etc)

Daily: <still in draft>




Domestic (Washington DC) FSCE assignments
Working a domestic assignment managing the paperwork for construction isn't what you think of when you hear "Foreign Service Construction Engineer", but most will spend 4-6 years in DC during their career. 


Weekly: You know that scene from Office Space where Tom Smykowski says "Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?" 

We have a similar situation in DC where the projects send in a Weekly Activity Report (WAR), which the construction executives take and highlight something for the area branch chief to submit up the reporting chain. 

Personally, I think the weekly activity report from the field could accomplish the exact same thing by highlighting what should be reported up the chain with only minor tweaks to the "template" (it's not really a template, but the content is similar). But it's not my circus, so the decision in DC is to have Construction Executives (who are generally new-hires with less experience) distill the reports from project directors with 10-20 years experience to then be passed up to senior management. See the disconnect there?

Monthly: Also, our "TPS Reports" are called PPRs, which are Project Project Reports.  We currently track most of our construction details in excel spreadsheets that are pulled into Power BI to create one-page project summaries. But there are lots of details that we're also responsible to know that aren't currently tracked in those spreadsheet, and without the will or technical understanding to tell the consultants what is needed...nothing changes. Most project directors keep a "shadow tracker" of the information which doesn't get reported to DC except when requested. 

Tangent: TPS reports in Office Space are actually a real thing. The letters stand for “Testing Procedure Specification,” and the reports needed to be filled out for quality assurance purposes, though no one really understood why. As such, they've become a huge symbol of pretentious corporate management culture, and redundancy in the workplace. Office Space turned the TPS report into a life lesson, and they suddenly became the catch-all term for meaningless exercises imposed upon employees by inept and uncaring management. 

<still in draft>

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