Housecleaning at the World Bank

Al Kamen
Columnist July 17, 2012

Attention, World Bank staff: Clean up your workstations and look sharp! Your new president, Jim Yong Kim , is visiting the bank’s Middle East and North Africa offices Wednesday.

You thought President Obama’s schedule was tightly choreographed? He’s got nothing on Kim.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Kim’s journey, from his office in the main building on Pennsylvania Avenue to the bank’s other office building across 18th Street NW, is timed to the minute.

But first things first.

“Please unpack any of your remaining boxes,” advised an an e-mail to the staff last week, and “move any empty boxes/large items for trash to the freight elevator . . . and generally please ensure that the area inside and outside of your office space is neat and clean.”


The Federal Emergency Management Agency welcomed Flat Stella, left and Flat Stanley. The World Bank, however, might call them clutter. (Brittany Trotter/FEMA)

“Note that while JYK will probably get the ball rolling, we are supposed to ensure that TTLs [task team leaders] are not shy in case he does not.”

“The President will be in our meeting area from 11:18 to 11:28,” another e-mail said.

“Please note that he will be shaking everyone’s hand, so it would be great if everyone could be here by 11:10 so we are ready when he arrives.”

More details came in another note reminding that the schedule was “tight, so it turns out each director or sector manager will only have 1 minute to introduce their team and what it does . . . so think big picture!!”

The schedule looks like this:

10:35 — Inger Andersen, the bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, and another official pick up Kim in his office.

10:42 — “arrive at J building, via Tunnel” under 18th Street (presumably someone timed this accurately, moving at the pace the president walks).

Then he goes up to the fifth floor.

10:45 to 10:55 — “meet with first 5th floor groups in North atrium.”

10:56 to 11:04 — “Ops and Strategy team.”

11:05 to 11:15 — “PREM [Poverty Reduction and Economic. Management] and FPD [Finance and Private Sector Development] also on 5th floor, South Atrium.”

JYK then goes up the stairs

11:18 to 11:28 — “SD [sustainable development] on 6th floor.”

11:30 to 11:36 — “HD [ human development] on 6th floor.”

“elevator to 2nd floor.”

11:38 to 11:45 — “CMUs [country managers]”.

11:45 — “end of visit.”

As it turns out, this plan builds on a long tradition at the bank intricately orchestrating presentations for royal visits. When James Wolfensohn was president, we’re told, staffers once rented artwork for a day to spruce up their area for his visit.

Let’s just hope Kim doesn’t go over to the J building too often.

She’s been everywhere

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton may not be able to best predecessor Condoleezza Rice’s travel record in terms of miles logged, but she is clearly on pace to set an insurmountable record for most countries visited.

Last month, Clinton’s total hit 100 countries, edging past former Madeleine Albright’s record of 98. She tacked on two more, Mongolia and Laos, on her latest 13-day, 27,000-mile swing, the Associated Press reported.

One Clinton staffer told the AP that the most recent itinerary — France, Afghanistan, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel — was “especially absurd, even for us.” That grousing may have been the fatigue speaking.

In any event, Clinton has so far flown 843,458 miles, according to the State Department Web site, well behind Rice’s 1,059,247.

But Clinton’s most recent burst of travel has vaulted her into first place in terms of days on the road, with 351 days to Rice’s 326. After that, just a couple hundred thousand more miles and she’ll have the trifecta.

Clinton would hardly break a sweat. Her traveling staff, on the other hand . . .

Two-dimensional

We can only assume that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to provoke critics with its latest batch of hires.

FEMA’s newest employees are Flat Stanley and Flat Stella, the popular cardboard-cutout children’s characters. The pair blogged Monday about their first day as part of the federal workforce, when they received their marching orders from Administrator Craig Fugate (helping educate kids about emergencies) and had their photos taken for their government IDs.

With all the scrutiny surrounding federal workers these days, we’re pretty sure House Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa will be all over this one.

There are so many questions about these new hires: What GS level are they? Are they political appointees? And why is it that Flat Stella doesn’t have her own Web site?

In a development sure to inflame the critics further, a FEMA spokesman explains to the Loop that they got their jobs through a family connection: Fugate’s young nephew asked his uncle to take pictures with Flat Stanley in Washington. He complied, and was surprised at the positive reception Stanley got whenever he brought him along. So he decided to bring him on full time (nepotism alert!) to help with the agency’s youth outreach.

Best not to send them to the site of some emergencies, like the Western wildfires. They’re a little flammable.

The hits keep coming

Shakespeare suggested killing all the lawyers, and others certainly have recommended the same treatment for lobbyists.

But just how to do that? We got some helpful instructions from no less an august source than the U.S. Congress. An e-mail sent Monday from the offices of the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate provided guidance on “How to Properly Terminate a Lobbyist.”

Let’s see, there’s always concrete shoes over the Belgian loafers . . .

But turns out “termination” is a clerical matter, not a felonious one: The e-mail was intended to help those who must file under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and it covered what to do when a lobbyist leaves a firm or stops lobbying for a particular client.

Which would make for a pretty dull episode of “The Sopranos.”

He’s a fan

Bill Clinton was in London last week at a meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative. A session moderator, actress Ashley Judd, asked him what he was reading these days.

The former president, we are told, mentioned Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne’s latest work, “Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent.”

“This is the best thing E.J. has written in 20 years — since ‘Why Americans Hate Politics,’ ” Clinton said, according to a source.

If it’s as good as “Why Americans Hate Politics,” must be pretty good. It’s also gotten praise from folks on the right and left as well as an upbeat review in this paper.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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