Sunday, February 12, 2012

The First Week

I think I survived the first week. At least I didn't run screaming from the building, or end up hiding under my desk twitching...so I'll call that a good week. It was kinda touch and go there on the first day for a little bit, but then I ate dinner, and realized that the sky really *wasn't* falling down all around me.

My initial impression is that it's gonna be hard to write about the new job here. Lots of pre-decisional and internal messaging discussions that really have no business being broadcast outside the confines of the palace (that's the puzzle palace, aka Headquarters, for you non CG-types). Once a decision has been made by the big guy at the top (which may be, I don't know, the President, the Secretary, or the Commandant, depending on what we're talking about), disagreement is done respectfully in private (not on a silly little blog). And until a decision has been made by the big guy at the top, all the rest is just noise...but it's that noise that I'll be dealing with every day. But, having said that, I think I'll need this forum more than ever to think through and process how I deal with the challenges. The dicey part may be to explain the underlying situation without giving away all the juicy details that would get me in trouble. Hopefully it doesn't turn into an awkward exercise in diplomacy and double-speak.

So this here's my first attempt...

And it kinda just sounds like I'm whining. But I spent some effort refining a briefing sheet (one-page summary, basically, to prep senior leadership for Congressional testimony after the President's budget is released on Monday...not too important, really. Totally just kidding, there...apparently bad humor is how I deal with the political scariness that is my new job.). Routed it through the program. Finally got their concurrence on it (after sending an "updated" version in prep for a face-to-face meeting, but then realizing when I got to the meeting that I had sent an old draft...[head slap]...*great* first impression, Girl!), then ran it back up my chain where what seemed like minor changes were made, but to which the program took exception. It was as close as I came to banging my head against the wall all week.

It was a frustrating roundabout that was a good lesson in what this job is about. The folks I've spoken to about being a Reviewer all seem to agree that we have kind of a split-personality role: first, making sure the programs are in line with overall current policy (which right now, means budget cuts and more budget cuts...which the programs usually don't like) and second, being a staunch advocate for the program, arguing on their behalf to ensure they have the resources they need to meet program requirements. So, regardless of what my own personal feelings may be about a leadership decision, I can only communicate and stand by that down to the program level. The advocacy part comes in, I think (not so sure about this part yet) when putting together communications received by the senior leadership (briefing books, budget recommendations -- in the form of RPs (resource proposals), stuff like that).

Just for the record, I'm not sure if *any* of this is an accurate reflection of my new world of work. It's all still so new to me. I think my biggest accomplishment of the week was to find the easiest, most direct way to get from my car to my cubicle. It reminds me of my first week on BOUTWELL, where getting from my stateroom to the wardroom took me on a different route every time I attempted it. This, though, this isn't like trying to drink from your normal fire hose...it's more like trying to drink from Niagara Falls.

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