If you have worked or are currently working for the U.S. government or are being supervised by a U.S. government employee (as I am), you may be familiar with the acronym obsession.  Occasionally I receive emails that are almost entirely in acronyms.

For example, just a few weeks ago I received this in my inbox:  “FYSA – wonder if POTUS will discuss this with Pres. SBY?”  The translation:  For your situational awareness, I wonder if the president of the U.S. will discuss this with the president of Indonesia (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono).  The most entertaining part about the acronym POTUS is that it consists of the same amount of letters as “Obama,” and therefore has almost no use outside of a habit of using acronyms wherever possible!

I could pretty easily receive an email on any given day that says something like this:

“FYSA– I’ll be out of the office because I’m attending the AUSA conference.  Please review the CTTA report and keep me posted on the BNPT’s latest.  The report reviewed MILF, ASG and JI so I’m sure the TNI and SBY have something to say about it.  Also read over the USG’s and GOI’s MDGs and the UNDR, which I’m sure will be discussed at the EAS with the ASEAN nations next month.”

In case you didn’t catch that, I’ll translate:

“For your situational awareness– I’ll be out of the office attending the Association of the U.S. Army conference.  Please review the Counter Terrorist Trends Analysis report and keep me posted on the latest from Indonesia’s national counter-terrorism agency.  The report reviewed the terrorist groups, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf Group, and Jemaah Islamiyah so I’m sure the Indonesian military police force and the Indonesian president will have commented on it.  Also read over the U.S. and Indonesian governments’ Millennium Development Goals and read the National Human Development Report, which I’m sure will be discussed at the East Asian Summit with the Organization of Southeast Asian Nations next month.”

Actually my boss isn’t nearly that specific or demanding, but you get the idea.  Sometimes I have to google his acronyms to make sure I’m picking up what he’s putting down.

A few helpful translations for you if you are working for or with the U.S. government so that your correspondence can be more acronym-friendly:

SCOTUS:  Supreme Court of the United States

USG:  U.S. Government

POTUS:  President of the U.S.

v/r:  very respectfully (salutation my boss uses every day)

FYSA:  for your situational awareness

COB:  close of business

DOD:  Department of Defense

USAID:  U.S. Agency for International Development

And here is a link to the acronym translations for some of the main organizations in my field, in case you ever get stuck deciphering an email:  International Acronyms for Institutions.

This morning when I got to work I received instructions to find the NSS as it relates to our research, and locate a title in the WSJ.  I’ll leave you to figure those out on your own.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and is back at work with delicious leftovers for lunch!

(The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policy positions.)