Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taking Care of Business, Every Day

Hello, friends

This past week I hung out with the folks in the Business Management division.  I spent the first two days with the Chief, Kris Butcher, who was very kind and shared his Alaskan vacation candy that was produced in Virginia with me.  We spoke of many things, including some helpful information for me about retirement and the thrift savings plan (I can already see myself on those golf courses).  A lot of our discussion revolved around the budget as well.  The Canal had only received its budget for fiscal year 2017, which ends in September, a few short weeks ago.  This means the park was pretty much operating in the dark, using last years budget as a guide and scaling it back in case they had to face cuts this year.  Luckily, the budget ended up being pretty similar to that of 2016, so the park is in pretty good shape financially.  They actually have some money they need to spend, which is a lot harder than one would think.  With the various sources of funding, types of projects they can be used for, time frame they can be used in, and approval deadlines approaching and some already passed due to the tardiness of the budget, it ends up becoming a big puzzle, where certain funding is pledged to a project with the intention of later backing it out and replacing it with another funding source.  It was enough to make my head spin.  It sounds like Kris has a good team backing him up though, he never stopped mentioning them.

Since everything else going on the park has to flow through Business Management in one way or another, everything costs money after all, I got to touch on a variety of park topics.  Even though it is probably the farthest thing from being a law enforcement ranger that people would think of, being with this division really hammered home the goal of this first internship for the program, gaining an understanding of how the park functions as a cohesive whole.  One event that really punctuated this was the weekly scrum meeting I got a chance to sit in on, where the chiefs of each division meet with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent to go over the past week and share any important information.  At the end of the meeting it seemed like poor Kris was saddled with about three or four times as many tasks as anyone else

Aside from the scrum meeting, I sat in on a variety of meetings that Kris was attending, including two that were actually scheduled at the same time! Kris does not have a time turner like Hermione Granger did.  All I can say is, I am pretty happy the Proranger program does not lead to a job in business management.

Wednesday was my park visit by our dear program directors and manager, so no business was managed that day, at least not by me.  But nonetheless, many good times were had and many selfies were taken.  We even got to have lunch with a former Proranger now working at Harpers Ferry, Jordan Keiffer.

Thursday I helped Tiffany update some spreadsheets tracking vehicle maintenance and helped perform an inspection of some of the vehicles in the park's fleet.  I also get to check out some of the parks archives, including some pictures dating back to the 70's and some structural blueprints dating back to the 30's.  Tiffany has just started a huge project to collect and catalogue many of the park's records, another daunting task I am glad I am only spending a day or two on.  I was also treated to a pulled pork sandwich that day, always much appreciated.

Friday I spent the day with Blyth, who normally does procurement, but like many in the park and the agency, she has been wearing more and more hats as of late.  That day it included doing some payroll and some management of the uniform cache.  I helped do some hole-punching, filing, and carrying of boxes.  But Blythe and I had some very good and wide ranging conversations as well that caused they day to practically fly by.

This weekend my family came to visit me, hence the post a few days later.  But I think I will save that for another post.

Oh and sorry about no pictures, I know that is what you guys are really here for.  It was more of a mentally stimulating week than a visually stimulating one.  Try again next time!

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