UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

December 2003 - January 2004

Delphi Questions

Facility rentals; ground maintenance; Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

Delphi Question #507 (received24 September): I have a question about use of UCAR buildings by employees. I would like to know why employees have to pay to rent the Tree Plaza or other rooms available even if the cafeteria services are not used. UCAR has been trying to keep costs of employee benefits down by reducing or changing the benefits. Use of facilities by employees could be an addition to our benefits and seen as a positive benefit for all UCAR employees. A damage deposit or clean-up deposit to ensure that the facilities are taken care of could be implemented. The benefit of allowing employees to use the facilities would encourage employees to use the other services such as the cafeteria catering and rental of chairs, tables, etc.

Thank you for considering my idea.

Response (7 October): Good question. As a starting point, let us explain how UCAR facilities are funded. UCAR’s facilities are primarily funded through agreements with the U.S. government, and these agreements include operational facility costs. Since the U.S. government funds our various facilities, UCAR is required to recover the costs of the facilities from all users, including employees and outside groups.

Quite simply, UCAR is not allowed to let some use the facilities for free while federally sponsored programs have to pay. Many costs might not be readily apparent to employees but occur with virtually any onsite activity. Extraevents incur security, custodial, and maintenance costs. Most events also use electricity, water, heating, cooling, restrooms, tables, chairs, and other “incidentals.” There are also administrative and management costs associated with reserving, planning, and managing any event. Legal documents have to be signed and liability release forms obtained. All of these activities incur costs that must be recovered. Consequently, we have to charge everyone, including our employees, to use the space. So, while we have to charge employees our costs, remember that we all have access to the incredible facilities we get to work in every day!

—Melissa Miller, director
Budget and Finance
Steve Sadler, director
Safety and Site Services

Delphi Question #508 (received20 October): I have worked at the Foothills location for almost two years and can honestly say there has never been a day when I thought the grounds around the Foothills facility were well kept or their appearance attractive—at least not on the west side. I find this unfortunate for an organization as well respected as UCAR.

I enter FL2 each day from the west side. There is a sidewalk that fronts one of the parking areas. Both years I have been here, I don’t believe the initial sand/gravel mixture poured on the sidewalk as a result of each year’s first storm was swept off even once during the entire snowy season even though there were several weeks (even months) between storms. I twisted my ankle walking on the stuff one clear morning this past winter, so decided after that not to take the sidewalk even though it would probably be safer if I did so. Instead I walk on the asphalt, which I would rather not have to do since I can’t always hear cars coming up behind me.

The branches on the tree at the end of the same walkway closest to the west entrance of FL2 hang down so low you can’t walk under them without first pushing them out of your way. The grass seems perpetually weedy and uncared for except for an occasional mowing, and the rock areas have all kinds of debris in them on a daily basis. I find myself kicking decorative rocks and pine cones out of my way on a regular basis so I won’t step on them and risk tripping or another twisted ankle.

I realize we faced major water issues last summer, so can accept that perhaps the grass can’t be as green as might be nice, but drought conditions don’t have anything to do with whether or not sidewalks can be swept, rock areas cleaned out, trees trimmed, and debris swept from the parking lot on occasion.

Is there anything that can be done to improve the appearance of the grounds around the Foothills facility?

Response (27 October): Thank you for your observations. The maintenance staff is presently conducting our fall cleanup where these issues and more will be addressed at the FL campus.

It is the goal to sweep up sand from sidewalks and parking lots when extended periods of clear weather are anticipated. We apologize if the west side of FL has been missed in the past and will continue to work hard to meet the corporation’s expectations of campus appearance. If you have any future concerns regarding facility maintenance or safety issues, please contact us directly. You can reach maintenance at extension 1120 or maintreq@ucar.edu; and health, environment, and safety coordinator Milenda Powers at extension 8625 or mpowers@ucar.edu.

—Milenda Powers,
Physical Plant Services

Delphi Question #512 (received8 December): What are the criteria for selection of the final winners of the Outstanding Accomplishment Awards? For example, say four groups get into the nomination level, who and what determine the winner? Why would we give an award to a person who is no longer an employee of UCAR? It seems at the very least one of the criteria should be that the employee be here on the date the award is presented.

Response (9 December): Criteria for the Outstanding Accomplishment Awards can be found in the Employee Recognition Award Procedures, related to Policy #2-5-2. A jury of 21 UCAR staffers reviews the nominations. These jury members are chosen because of their knowledge, experience, and expertise, and as a whole they represent a broad institutional perspective. Jury members serve a term of three years and one-third are replaced each year. The jury compares the nominations against the criteria listed in the procedures and if appropriate, selects a winner. If none of the nominations meet the criteria, then no award is given in that award category.

Under “Criteria” and “Eligibility” respectively, the award procedures state: “Outstanding Accomplishment Awards recognize work completed during the past five-year period…. UCAR visitors and former staff are also eligible as long as the work being recognized was done at UCAR.”

—Susan Montgomery-Hodge,
executive assistant to the president
UCAR president’s office

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinators (Teresa Rivas, left, and Nancy Wade). They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential. They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2, and on the Delphi Web site, www.ucar.edu/delphi. Staff Notes Monthly publishes questions and answers of general interest to staff, and the Delphi Web site has a logof all questions submitted since 1995.

Also in this issue...

The 2003 Outstanding Accomplishments Awards

HIAPER work reaches critical stage

Geo Forum takes shape

Love and marriage, NCAR style

UCAR hires GLOBE director

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