There has been a lot going on. We've moved back from California to London, and we have moved back to G's old flat in London. This took some time, as we waited for the tenants to move out, and then had some repairs done. We've been combining our luggage from Berkeley with our old stuff from storage – effectively combining three households into one. Oxfam came to collect boxes of books, redundant hi-fi equipment, duplicate crockery and other treasured posessions.
I have started back at DFID, as Director of Global Development Effectiveness. G has made an even tougher transition – from successful investment banker, via an MBA in the States, to starting work a couple of weeks ago at Marie Stopes International.
I've been doing a lot of traveling – getting to know my opposite numbers in Berlin and Tokyo (Germany and Japan hold the G8 Presidencies in 2007 and 2008 respectively), an aid effectiveness conference in Manila, and a meeting of the Donors Assistance Committee in Paris on improving the coordination of health programmes. I've spoken at conferences on the importance of good governance for development, on the need for better donor coordination as aid increases, on the need for global programmes to be more integrated into country systems, on the role of NGOs in the international process, and on the need for a stronger results culture in development. I've been getting to know my colleagues in No.10, the FCO, Treasury, DTI and elsewhere in Whitehall. And I'm involved in policy development from improving our efforts to tackle international corruption, planning the scale up of Government aid, raising the game of the international community in the fight against AIDS, resuscitating the trade talks, and understanding how DFID's "country-led approach" applies in countries with governments that are less than fully committed to improving the lives of their own citizens.
It is, frankly, a mixed blessing to be back in London and at DFID. I miss the sunshine of California; the easy lifestyle of working from home; the intellectual freedom of working in a think tank; and good friends that we made on the West Coast. But it is good to be back among friends and family in London, to be at home in one of the great cities of the world. Despite the inevitable inconveniences of working in a bureaucracy, I am really enjoying being back in DFID. I'm working with really great team of people. I really admire the way my colleagues combine professionalism with passion for our mission.
Blogging is still a bit unfamiliar to my fellow civil servants, and I still don't really know what I'm allowed to do. I think I'm going to re-enter the water, a bit cautiously, and see how it goes.
It is good to be back.