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Tomorrow is the first day of a 2-day "Strategic Review" of my office. We'll have HQ types, Regional types, plus high muckety-mucks from local cooperating agencies (groups that pay part of the cost of most of our projects), and a few other interested parties, all in the office for presentations and discussions. The goal seems to be an assessment of whether we are doing what these various people think we should be doing, and then how well are we doing it.

We have other sorts of regular reviews, including ones involving outside teams assessing the office, but this is something new. And the amount of turmoil surrounding it is at a level I've never seen before. For most reviews, a group of people in the relevant area are told to prepare an agenda and whatever else the reviewers want, other people are told that they will make presentations, the team comes, reviews, departs, and writes up their results.

This Strategic Review has all that, plus many more Arrangements. A tent is being put up in the parking lot for a catered lunch tomorrow (the non-USGS reviewers are only coming tomorrow), and another part of the parking lot will have various equipment displays and demonstrations during the lunch period. Inside the office, again at the lunch period, we're having an open house of sorts: there's a map with a tour route that will take people around most of the halls and through the laboratories, and all along the route technical posters have been put up on the walls. Mostly those posters are near the office of someone working on the topic, and we're expected to be available to discuss them if any of the visitors are so inclined, as you would at a technical meeting.

Other disruptions: the break room is closed for the 2 days, as it's needed as the entryway to the meeting room. All offices had to be cleaned at least somewhat--I used this fiat to make myself clear lots and lots of stacks of paper off my desk (but it's depressing to see how much more paper still needs to be sorted and (mostly) trashed). And we're all requested to be nicely dressed, preferably in some form of USGS-logoed clothing. The reports people have spent several weeks making notebooks of agendas, handouts, and other stuff for each attendee, and nametags, and maps, and all those posters, and signs for the parking areas, and who knows what else.

Oh, and there's a party at one of the section chief's house tomorrow night: attendance is strongly requested, so the reviewers don't outnumber the local staff. I've decided to go for a while at least--must go finish making the broccoli slaw in a few minutes.

Somewhere in the week's confusion I must also find time to run the database tests that took me 4 solid days to run back in March. Got nothing done on this today, and the week is now down to 3 days. It's not looking good for database testing...


Nancy Barber

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September 2018


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