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Vol. LXII, No. 10
May 14, 2010

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: I have a concern about how fast some drivers fly through MLP-10 in the morning. Obviously, we all want to get to work on time, but some drivers speed through the garage so fast, it’s frightening. Is there a posted speed for the garage? I can’t remember ever seeing one, or even signs urging drivers to go slow. I’d like to know if there are any plans to ensure the garage is safe for all who use it.

Response from the Office of Research Services: The speed limits in all garages are being reviewed by the Division of Police and the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services. Once finalized, a uniform speed limit for each facility will be incorporated.

Currently, speed limit signs are posted at all entrances to multi-level parking garages including MLP-10 and some garages also have signs posted inside. Additional speed limit signs are ordered and will be installed inside MLP-10. Flyers will be distributed to motorists and electronic “Your Speed is __” radar signs will be placed at key locations in the garage.

Drivers are also reminded that they also have an obligation to exercise “due care” while driving in any parking garage under Maryland state law (Maryland Transportation Law Section 21-504).

Feedback: Why is illegal parking not enforced more in the P3 parking area of Bldg. 10? Every day the same cars park directly under signs and in areas that say No Parking Anytime. Tickets get issued maybe once a month. As with taking bicycles into buildings (which is a direct safety violation) and smoking on campus (signs posted everywhere), violators always seem to get a free ride to do as they please.

Response from ORS: The NIH Police patrol all areas of campus and on occasion cite vehicles that are illegally parked. The police will increase their monitoring of the area and will take appropriate enforcement action (ticketing and/or towing) in the Bldg. 10 P3 parking garage to further discourage those who park illegally.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibits bringing bicycles into buildings. The NIH Police will enforce the code when witnessing or informed of a violation.

As for the smoking policy on the NIH campus, the police only have authority to enforce smoking prohibitions in areas that are covered by the CFR such as inside buildings and garages attached to buildings. In addition, until all collective bargaining agreements are re-negotiated, there will continue to be certain NIH staff who are allowed to smoke on the main campus as long as they abide by NIH’s previous smoking policy.

Feedback: Every day, workers at the NIH main campus must scan their ID badges to gain access to their jobs. What kind of information is collected by the scanners? What happens to the data once it is processed? Is it collected and stored? If so, for how long and for what purpose(s)? In this age of rampant identity theft, who has access to such information?

Response from the Office of Research Services: The badge readers are not scanners. They read information from the badge and check it against a secure database to allow or deny entry to campus, buildings or individual rooms. The only information collected is the badge ID number associated with the name displayed on the badge, the time of entry and the entry location.

This information is stored in a secure database and then archived and retained for a minimum of 3 years. Only a limited number of individuals involved in personnel security with the appropriate background clearances have access to the secure data. The information is released only in the event of a police investigation or an approved Freedom of Information Act inquiry.

Feedback: Why do we continue to run the escalators in Bldg. 31 that are right next to elevators? Given the cost of electricity and maintenance, and the environmental harm caused when we generate electricity, we should turn the escalators off.

Response from ORF: The Office of Research Facilities made a concerted effort to renovate the inoperable escalator in Bldg. 31 after repeated requests by employees to repair it and restore it to full operation. No doubt, the escalator consumes energy. ORF staff looked at installing motion detectors but determined the starting and stopping would only cause more stress to the motor over time and increase the likelihood of another breakdown. Instead, taking into consideration the occupants of the building who use the escalator now and those who repeatedly requested it be restored, ORF has decided it will run the escalator during peak hours only. Facility staff will shut down electrical operation from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and entirely on weekends.

As with any proposal to change the current operations of a building, ORF will ensure that building occupants are notified well in advance by email and signage and welcome any feedback on this decision.

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