User Committees Give NCI and Frederick National Lab Employees a Voice

By Brian O’Shea, Staff Writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
Scientific Library User Committee.

Scientific Library User Committee meeting. From left; Howard Young, Tommy Turbyville, Walter Hubert, Randal Johnson, and Andi Gnuschke (committee chair).

Do you want a wider selection of food options at the Discovery Cafeteria? Do you wish Purchasing and Logistics would enhance the current software for more efficient processing? Maybe you’d like to see better defined service availability times at Occupational Health Services (OHS).

Whatever your suggestion, you can make your voice heard by contacting the appropriate user committee online.

Re-established by NCI in 2015, these committees aim to better serve the greater FNLCR population through feedback from government and contractor employees at NCI at Frederick. The eight user committees include the Conference Center, Discovery Café, OHS, Protective Services and Safety, Purchasing and Logistics, Scientific Library, Campus Improvement, and Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM).

In April, a vote was passed to merge the OHS and Protective Services and Safety User Committees in an effort to leverage cross-cutting functions, issues, tasks, and programs within Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), said Terri Bray, director of EHS and chair of the current Protective Services and Safety User Committee. The newly formed committee, known as the EHS User Committee, will become active at the end of June.

Bray said her committee reviews the performance of environmental, safety, health, and security efforts in order to enable senior management involvement in these areas.

“EHS will make an initial determination if immediate action is warranted, and will take that action as necessary,” Bray said. “The information will be discussed with the committee and if appropriate, the submitters may be asked to speak with the committee or a subset of the committee. Responses to feedback will be provided to the person(s) submitting the feedback.”

Andi Gnuschke, Scientific Library User Committee chair, said her committee members use a process similar to Bray’s when responding to community feedback.

“The committee discusses any suggestions/feedback during its regularly scheduled meeting, or via email amongst the members if it is a time sensitive issue,” said Andi Gnuschke, Scientific Library User Committee chair. “We then respond back to the requestor and community as a whole when appropriate.”

Most user committees meet quarterly to discuss submitted feedback.

Purchasing and Logistics User Committee chair, Debi Hogarty, said communication between employees and user-committee members benefits everyone involved.

“This forum provides a dialogue between program areas and the purchasing department to discuss ideas and enhance communications to ensure an effective and compliant procurement process meeting the needs of both entities,” said Hogarty.

Several user committees establish goals to execute throughout the upcoming year to better address feedback from the general community. These goals can also make employees aware of services they may not know exist.

Frank Blanchard, chair of the SPGM User Committee, said an ongoing goal is to address inquiries immediately.

“Signed suggestions are answered via email or phone right away,” he said. “Unsigned suggestions are answered via e-blast or other institution-wide mechanisms. We want to address any issues that come up and look for ways to reach out to the community at large to communicate SPGM’s capabilities and resources.”

According to the OHS User Committee’s charter, the committee’s objectives include seeking customer feedback to ensure that the needs of the workforce are being met, incorporating recommendations and assessing current work processes, and providing recommendations to the Management Operations and Support Branch, NCI.

Each user committee includes a member from the NCI Office of Scientific Operations (OSO) who reports what is being requested by the community back to the associate director, said Julie Hartman, Purchasing and Logistics User Committee’s OSO liaison.

“I believe having the user committees is valuable, but they are only as valuable as the NCI at Frederick community makes them,” she added. “Don’t be shy, share your thoughts, ideas, anonymously if you wish.”

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