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Vol. LXII, No. 18
September 3, 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: Although we have this lovely NIH Visitor Center at the Metro entrance, some visitors still seem to be confused as to where to go. Many appear to get off the Metro or buses or come from the parking garage and somehow miss the Visitor Center building. I’ve had to direct many away from the employee gates back to the Visitor Center entrance. The big sign located on the first bus shelter doesn’t help—it tells them to go to the last bus shelter for NIH shuttle buses (it predates the Visitor Center). Maybe better signage would help direct visitors into the Visitor Center? Also, could the employees in the Visitor Center give better directions to Bldgs. 45 and 38/38A? They need to be told that visitors should take the elevator up to the upper level, go out that door and follow the sidewalk. Too many are waiting for a shuttle to take them there and the only one that goes directly there comes by every 20 minutes or they can take a 20-minute ride on the campus shuttle. I hate telling them to just walk up the grassy hill (since the sidewalk was taken out).

Response from the Office of Research Services/Office of Research Facilities: The location you reference near the Metro station is the NIH Gateway Center. The “NIH Visitor Center” is located in Bldg. 45. The guards at the NIH Gateway Center and the Gateway Inspection Station constantly advise and inform visitors on how to locate Bldgs. 45, 38, 38A as well as other on- and off-campus buildings. Inside the Gateway Center there are also signs indicating the direction to the facilities in question. Directions for walking (including using elevator or stairs) or riding an NIH shuttle bus are also provided by staff, when asked, to assist visitors in making the choice that best suits them to reach their destination.  

ORF is working to finalize a campus-wide signage study that, when implemented, will improve way-finding signage for employees and visitors. We appreciate your comments about the signage near the Gateway Center/Medical Center Metro Station and will consider them as part of the study.

Finally, as previously addressed in the NIH Record Feedback section in April 2009, the sidewalk that used to lead from the Gateway Center shuttle loop to the back of the Natcher Bldg. on the grassy hillside was always intended to be temporary only. The area in question is designated as open green space in the NIH master plan. The pathway existed only while the Gateway construction was under way and was removed, as required, once the project was complete. The project required the area to be restored to its original condition to prevent soil erosion. A direct, permanent and ADA-compliant pathway now exists from the Gateway Center/Metro area to the same general location behind the Natcher Bldg. that the temporary sidewalk previously served.

Feedback: Is there something that can be done about the graffiti (sometimes vulgar) that seems to populate some elevators in Bldg. 10? Apparently some employees/contractors of juvenile minds find it funny to write on the walls of certain elevators (thankfully I haven’t seen any in the new CRC elevators).

Response from ORS/ORF: The Office of Research Facilities has been routinely cleaning up graffiti in Bldg. 10, particularly in the freight elevators and lobbies. If you continue to notice any excessive or vulgar graffiti in any NIH facility and want to have it removed, report it to the ORF maintenance line at (301) 435-8000 or

The NIH Police will take the appropriate enforcement action against any person observed placing graffiti on NIH property. If you witness a person damaging government property, contact the NIH Police at (301) 496-2387 (after hours, 301-496-5685). If you prefer to report the crime anonymously, simple instructions can be found at  

The damage of government property by graffiti or other means is a crime punishable with fines and/or imprisonment under Title 18 of the United States Code, Chapter 65, Section 1361.

Feedback: Does NIH have a dress code? Can individual groups or offices develop their own?

Response from the Office of Human Resources: NIH as a whole does not have a uniform dress code; however, individual institutes as well as individual managers and supervisors within the institutes may develop their own performance and conduct standards that may include the topic of appropriate dress in the workplace. In providing their expectations, supervisors consider safety concerns, as well as the mission, tone, environment and individual positions within the organization. The objective for the manager is to be mindful of an individual’s sense of taste and style while communicating a standard of attire that promotes the goals of the organization rather than detracting or disrupting. For example, many supervisors provide professional staff an opportunity to dress in business casual attire on Fridays, but would be reasonable in prohibiting non-business attire such as faded or holey jeans, any type of shorts, beach and athletic wear that would not be generally accepted as office attire. Additionally, other organizations may need to institute dress standards to promote a healthy and safe workplace. For additional information, contact the Employee Relations Branch at (301) 402-9203.  

Feedback: When you drive into the entrance of MLP-9, there are some pedestrians crossing as the footpath and elevators are nearby. However, the entrance is blind for drivers and it can be dangerous for pedestrians. Can a pedestrian walkway be painted at the entrance, so that drivers will know to look out for pedestrians?

Response from the Office of Research Services: After reviewing the situation, the Office of Research Services has determined that additional signage to alert drivers of the pedestrian crossing, along with repainting the crosswalk on the first floor, would be helpful. The ORS will have these improvements added to the MLP-9 garage.

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