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January 28th, 2014:

The Bid List has been submitted

Today is the deadline for submitting our “bid lists” to the Career Development Officers. The CDOs will review everyone’s preferences and make assignments according to the needs of the service, our qualifications, and our preferred post locations, in that order.

We received the bid list a few weeks ago. It was a list of cities with some information about the number of American officers working there, hardship and danger factors, and language requirements. Every one of the 80+ people in the cohort received the same list. It was our responsibility to research the post and determine which post appealed to us, or maybe had a limiting factor that would make it unappealing. One post, for example, does not allow children (we presume because there is no school for them there).

The list had more cities on it than people in the cohort, so the assignment won’t be a 1:1 match of person to post.

What we submit today is the list with our preference (High, Mid, Low) for each post.

There is no guarantee, promise, assurance, or hint that we will get assigned to a post that we rate “High.” The CDOs were very explicit (repeating themselves many times) that the Needs Of The Service is the deciding factor in making an assignment. If you are the most qualified for a particular post because of language ability, then you will probably be assigned to that post even if you didn’t want to. Or even if you aren’t the most qualified, if other people are less qualified, but won’t fit somewhere else because of timing, then you won’t necessarily get assigned there.

Assignments are not permanent. We change every 2-4 years. We are sort of like migratory animals who stay in one place for a short time, then move on to another place. My first assignment will be for two years. After two years, then I “bid” on another post, somewhere else in the world.

The assignment process is complex. There are 80+ people in our cohort, but there are thousands of other officers who are also changing their posts at the same time. If you picture a high school counsellor making class assignments for 1,000 students, then expand that picture to thousands of officers selecting from thousands of posts, you start to get a picture of how complex this situation is.

Our bid lists are due today. After they are all submitted, the CDOs will go to work making assignments. On February 14, there will be an official announcement of post assignments. It’s a time of high drama. When the assignments are made, some people are excited, some are afraid, some are devestated, some are numb. I’ve heard that officers who are on the compound for other training try to come to the assignment ceremony just to watch the drama. Sort of like people who drive past a car accident on the highway, and slow down to see the wreck.