NIST Role Models for Operational Excellence


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Lynda Roark receiving her award from Willie May
Lynda Roark receiving an award for her work from Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Dr. Willie May

Operational excellence: a worthy goal that is often difficult to even to visualize, let alone to implement.

At the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), operational excellence takes many forms, from installing and researching solar panel arrays that provide clean, lower cost power on campus to process changes that reduce the time required for implementing reimbursable agreements.

But one of the more innovative ways NIST promotes operational excellence is through a new award program established by Under Secretary of Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May.

NIST is a technical agency specializing in measurement research. Naturally, NIST accolades are conferred on those scientists and engineers who make outstanding contributions to the advancement of measurement science.

But what about the human resource specialist who hires the scientists? The acquisitions professional who buys the scientists’ equipment? Or the electrician who installs and maintains that equipment? None of NIST’s scientific work would be possible without these individuals and the services they provide.

That’s why NIST Director May created the Director’s Recognition for Excellence in Mission Support: to recognize these exemplary employees who serve in support roles.

“This recognition was created to bring to light those unsung heroes who work every day on administrative and infrastructural functions that are so critical to NIST’s success as the world leader in measurement science, standards and technology,” he says.

Heroes like:

Patrick Murphy, leader of the NIST Grounds Services and Support Group, who found a creative solution to floods jeopardizing sensitive equipment at the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility. Murphy and his crew worked weekends to change the slope of the terrain surrounding the facility, install an underground drainage system, and reroute excess water to nearby fields and ponds.

Chris Hamilton, an electrician at the NIST Boulder, Colorado campus, maintains utilities for the NIST Gebbie Lab, one of the most advanced research buildings in the world with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art research equipment.  Hamilton worked with NIST scientists on a innovative design and installation for a $2 million MRI scanner, preventing months long delays.

Lynda Roark, a contract specialist, saved taxpayers $250,000 by successfully negotiating the price of a critical piece of equipment so that it was within researchers’ budget.

Chris Hunton of the Grants Management Division is a part of the NIST team that crafts all of the agency’s Federal Funding Opportunities and, according to his customers, a consummate professional.  He guides both the sponsoring NIST program officers and applicants through the often thorny process of applying for funding.  Hunton’s phenomenal customer focus saves time, relieves customers’ burdens, and results in continual improvement in the funding-application process.

Efficiently and effectively accomplishing an agency mission will never be without challenges.  But by recognizing model employees, agencies like NIST can make it easier for us to see what true operational excellence looks like and inspire others to rise to the same level of achievement.

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Last updated: 2016-07-29 15:00

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