Bureaucratic memos often stray far enough from basic English to be considered a distinct language. A wonderful example comes to us from Terry R. Little, acquisition management adviser at the Missile Defense Agency.
In a memo last month to "All Element Program Managers," Little wrote: "The Missile Defense Agency Director wants to capitalize on the extraordinarily hard work undertaken throughout the agency to develop and deliver Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) capabilities. Our purpose is to realize the solidarity of your hard work, reduce the distractions and facilitate the commonality in our focus, and maximize the efficient utilization of MDA resources.
"The goal is to eliminate wasted energy and encourage harmonizing individual energies towards the common vision to develop and field an integrated BMDS capable of providing a layered defense for the homeland, deployed forces, friends, and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges in all phases of flight.
"I am forming the BMDS Integration Working Group (IWG) to harmonize the separate element contracts into a coherent whole. The IWG will need to have insightful discussions, innovative coordinate actions, and a collegial environment to form and evaluate alternatives that reward integrated BMDS demonstrated capabilities."
Then, inexplicably, Little lapses into English. "To assist with the IWG's success, I need your support," he writes. But he says not to forget that "the timeline is very aggressive. I would like to have the harmonization path ahead. . . ."
Any more New Age harmony and we'll all assume the lotus position and start chanting.
Meanwhile, Little manages a program that used to be called the Boost Phase Intercept Program. Then it was determined that you would have to be really, really lucky to knock out enemy missiles in the boost or launch phase, so the name was changed to the Kinetic Energy Intercept program. But the program remained the same.
Though a Republican program, the KEI has had a rocky time on the Hill. The Republican Congress whacked its budget last year and this year cut an additional $163 million.
KEI put out a "Top Ten" list last month of the technical issues the program needed to resolve to stay on track, including such minor things as the booster for the rockets and the means of finding the target.
But it appears there are only nine items on the list. Maybe Congress cut the program because they felt KEI couldn't count?
Nonprofits Fear U.S. Logo Is a Bull's-Eye
A nasty battle is brewing between nonprofit international aid groups and the Agency for International Development. Seems AID is demanding that the groups put the AID logo on vehicles and projects when AID is paying most of the tab for the activities.
The foreign aid law, AID deputy chief Frederick Schieck said, requires that "programs shall be identified overseas" if taxpayers are paying. Aid recipients should know that the American people are providing this, he said.
But putting the AID logo on vehicles and projects these days, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, is like pasting a bull's-eye on the pickup, the groups argue. With aid workers getting kidnapped and killed, the timing doesn't seem quite right.
Schieck said AID was "well aware" the organizations are "concerned, correctly," and "we're not trying to ram this down anyone's throat. . . . We're very sensitive to the security issue." For that reason, AID officials overseas, not in Washington, would have the authority to waive the requirement.
But, he noted, "taxpayer recognition is required by law" and making sure people know who is helping them is "important to the U.S. national interest." Schieck said a proposed regulation would go to the Federal Register in the next month or so.
The aid groups say it has been long-standing AID policy not to require a logo for grantee organizations, such as CARE, Save the Children or Catholic Relief Services. Those groups get money from various entities, not just AID -- as opposed to AID contractors, which are mostly private commercial firms.
"At a time when members of Congress are being told to keep a low profile overseas," said Bob Lloyd, a government relations liaison for the Association of Private Voluntary Organization Financial Managers, "AID apparently wants aid groups to hang a light on themselves."
And the security problem is not limited to a few places, Lloyd said. "Make a list of all the countries where there's been a terrorist incident -- Indonesia, Kenya, Jordan, the West Bank, Kyrgyzstan -- there's a ton of them."
Program here! Get your program here! The tight coordination between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden was so close that administration officials have trouble keeping the two apart.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that Ahmed Shah Massoud, the former Northern Alliance leader in Afghanistan, "lay dead, his murder ordered by Saddam Hussein, by Osama bin Laden, Taliban's co-conspirator." Actually, Hussein had nothing to do with that hit.
Later, Rumsfeld said: "Saddam Hussein, if he's alive, is spending a whale of a lot of time trying not to get caught. And we've not seen him on a video since 2001." He meant bin Laden.
Yup. Tighter than ticks, those two.