Day 1

Just a quick post on day 1 of retirement.  I read this article, How Baby Boomers can revamp the economy, in the Post this weekend.  Some interesting thoughts on how  the concept of retirement is evolving.  I don’t intend to not work.  Just have not figured out what I will do other than take photos of the 6 ladies who frequent the backyard.

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I took these right before a big snow storm over President’s Day weekend.  And then here, one doe feeds at the bird feeder.


The ice from yesterday’s storm is melting and I have some plans for today, nothing exciting.  Just doing what I want to do, no have-tos for now.

Re-Tired Message

The following message is what I sent out to all Farm Service Agency employees yesterday, on my last day in the office.  I wish I had written all of it, I did have help from our public affairs director.  He is so talented.  He reminded me that I don’t have to write in bureaucratese anymore!  I should write how I feel!  I hope I can re-train myself.

Woke up to a 2 hour delay due to another passing snow storm.  So my quiet cake and coffee reception was just that, exactly what I wanted.


FSA Friends

As I prepare to retire on February 28, already I feel a gamut of emotions, from the fulfillment of attaining another milestone, to the joy of anticipating new days ahead.  I also feel the subtle apprehension of reaching the next juncture of my life.  And by now, I’ve felt the tears of my final conversations, knowing that in a few short days soon, I’ll be completing the boxing up of records and mementos, taking that last look around my room, clicking off the light, locking my door, and hearing those echoes of my footsteps down the long, tiled hallways of the South Building for the very last time.

I have had a truly remarkable career with USDA over the last 34 years.  I started with the Office of Inspector General, where some of my first assignments were auditing the county offices of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service across the Midwest.  Those days provided my first experiences with this incredible nationwide network of dedicated local staff – inspirations that have guided me to this day.  Later, I transferred to ASCS’s Kansas City office, and then to Washington, D.C. where I’ve worked hard to use my experiences during my earliest days in the field to keep the confidence of our county staff throughout the performance of my duties.

Right from the start, I became dedicated to FSA’s important mission of supporting and enhancing American agriculture, assisting our farmers and ranchers to become the most productive and efficient producers as they could be.  As I helped to implement six different farm bills, each time from a different perspective, my appreciation grew further as I saw how my colleagues kept their commitments to American agriculture and rural communities, through teamwork and cooperation.  I have been so fortunate to have had mentors, teachers, and brilliant leaders who provided me not just with many incredible opportunities along the way, but with many insights and inspirations that helped to light the path.

That’s why I will miss coming here every day – – because I love working with all of you.  I have always found FSA employees to be the best:  you are creative, collaborative, and compassionate.    FSA truly is and will continue to be the “Can-Do” agency.   As my days draw to a close, I am so grateful that I can say how proud I am of my career with FSA.  And most of all, I am so proud of what we have accomplished together.

All the best,


21st Century office concepts

At my workplace, the powers that be (GSA and the Department) continue to push the Agency to reduce our physical footprint.  In the next couple of years, the Powers want us to reduce space by 25%.  With almost 2200 locations, it is daunting, especially since the Appropriators continue to include language prohibiting office closures.  And the Powers push the open office concept and telework as the ANSWERS.  Other agencies like GSA and the Forest Service adopted the OOC (open office concept), or hoteling and supposedly it works great!!  Until you start talking to the employees (Not managers) who have to live it.  Telework is a little different, employees continue to love it however managers have to manage employees’ conduct and output for it to work for the organization.  The Patent and Trademark Office’s lack of management over telework has guaranteed them an appearance in at least Congressional hearing.  WashPo article on PTO Telework investigation  PTO was an early adopter of telework and GSA was the first to push hoteling with even their Administrator, Dan Tangherlini, sitting in an open office every day.

So recently I have noticed more articles on OOC and whether or not it really works. This GovExec article on OOC appeared last week.  This Forbes opinion post on OOC is from December.  Does this reflect a trend to curtail OOC?  I can think of more reasons to re-examine OOC then to take the plunge.

When I first started working in 1981, most offices were open.  As a junior level professional, my desk sat in an open bull pen with rows of desks.  I had a phone and a 10 key – no computers or word processing equipment at that point.  I was not near a window as those desks were for more senior staff.  We were not supposed to make personal calls on the work phone.  Seems like we have come full circle in 30+ years, and I remember that wasn’t a great environment.  Absolutely no privacy, maybe more productivity because all you could do under all the scrutiny was work!

Since I became a manager in 1991, I have been involved in many office moves.  From desks to cubes, moving entire units from one location to another.  I don’t care for office moves at all.  Employees tend to hyper focus on their space.  You have the office decorator – who has every tchotchke (hundreds) lined up on their cube, the hoarder-who has every file or piece of paper they have touched in the last 20 years, the litigator-who gets out the tape measure to ensure the equity in space and desk placement, and the privacy freak-who wants their cube positioned so NO ONE CAN SEE THEM.  Pleasing all these types proves difficult at best.  And moving employees brings out the kvetching on a large scale.  Of course I don’t remember those employees who didn’t complain and moved easily.

Anyway, I will continue to follow these topics.  Will save my thoughts on telework for another post.


Open Offices-Cool Concept or Not?

I read this WaPost article on open office concept earlier this week.  Makes me wonder who really vetted this whole open office concept.  It sounds good but after spending nearly 10+ years in shared office space, I finally got a private office in the early 1990s and have loved it.  Though this concept sure does alleviate the issues with moving employees and adjudicating whose desk is closer to the window, or they have 4 more inches of floor space than me.  I have not heard good feedback from employees who go into the office every day without a true roosting spot.  Also, your IT department better be dynamite and able to deal with all the electronic files as I don’t think employees will be carting paper files from cube to cube or table to table…