The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

There I was … growing old. Actually, since I am still typing, that should have been ‘There I is …’, as are many of my long-term colleagues. So, in addition to talking about what new aches and pains we were accumulating bodily, career endings are also discussed.

Offsets – now being relabeled in many places as international or industrial collaboration, localization, ‘country-ization’ (pick a country), etc., is not going away. The blossoming of offset policies in the late 1980s and 1990s generated a here-to-fore not needed skillset. That skillset developed along multiple lines. In large companies, there was eventually a cadre of offset-wonks that set the stage for many of the largest programs of the time, as well as helping support and staff organizations such as GOCA, DIOA, and ECCO. But all good things – including experienced staff – come to an end. Many companies are now dealing with the retirement of their experienced offset staff. In a number, succession planning is at work, and I can report (but won’t name) several companies that are either onboarding folks new to offset to coattail the old hands, or keeping the old hands as part-timers or consultants to help in the rearing of the next generation of Industrial Collaborationists.

This is beneficial for both sides (obligors and recipients). Contacts can be transmitted from the outgoing to the incoming staff. Countries can have a feeling that the obligors’ transitions are orderly and well-trained. Programs will not be left hanging as new staff come up to speed. Since the corporate world (especially in the US) usually transitions faster than the government world (especially overseas), this should provide some additional stability in the business/government nexus.

Moral: Don’t gap offset positions – routine contacts are vital for any phase – planning, proposing, negotiating, and implementing. Train your new folks (such as at the GOCA semi-annual training seminars) to give them a leg-up on what to think about and expect – and to network, since much of offsets involves pumping that network for partners, projects, and government contacts.