skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXIII, No. 11
May 27, 2011

previous story

next story


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: Who updates and/or manages all the NIH/HHS forms? Is there any way to suggest changes or turn in an updated form? I have learned how to work with Adobe Acrobat Professional and I really like the form features and I’ve noticed some of the forms I’ve found that are NIH-only are a bit outdated.

Response from the Office of Management Assessment:The OMA Division of Management Support is happy to work with you on any updates or revisions to our forms. Feel free to contact Pam Cery, NIH organization officer, or Leslie Cooke to answer your questions and upload any approved changes you are requesting. Phone (301) 496-2462 or fax (301) 402-0169.

Feedback: In Bldg. 10, the lights are on all the time, in all the corridors. Also in the open garage buildings. Why are these not on power saver or motion detectors, especially in the mostly empty old Bldg. 10? There are no switches anywhere to turn them off at night/weekends at least. There is a huge amount of energy and money being wasted. No wonder NIH has a multimillion dollar electric bill every quarter.

Response from Office of Research Facilities:Regarding the parking garage lighting, the Office of Research Facilities has recently retrofit all of our parking garage lighting with energy efficient lighting technologies so they are now using photocells, timers and computer control systems to minimize the amount of time the lights are on. The lights should essentially be on emergency lighting until 5:30 a.m. when staff begin to arrive and return to an off-hours state at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Lighting during normal working hours is controlled by photocells in many areas. Some of the lighting that appears excessive late at night is in fact stairwell lighting. Due to safety and security concerns as well as Life Safety Code requirements, some degree of illumination is required at all times such as lighting for exit stairways.

Regarding Bldg. 10 corridor lighting, there are several issues. First, direction had been given long ago for all lighting in unoccupied areas to be turned off or reduced to emergency lighting only. If there is a specific area that is unoccupied and is still fully lit, contact the ORF Maintenance Request Line at (301) 435-8000 or and the matter can be addressed.

Along these lines, if there are areas that are minimally or lightly occupied, as mentioned, there are minimum lighting levels that must be maintained for emergency egress as required by the Life Safety Code.

Regarding the control with motion detectors, ideally that would be an excellent application. Unfortunately, as you mention, there are no switches and that is a complicating factor. Due to the age and design of the building, the lights in those areas are controlled only by a circuit breaker in an electrical room. Motion sensors are normally installed in place of switches, but that option is not available. Sensors could still be installed, but the cost to rewire a building is prohibitive in most situations.

Feedback: I’m concerned about spending in the government. For example, when a government official travels, he/she is supposed to take a “government contract” flight. Well, what if you find a non-contract flight that is hundreds of dollars cheaper? Wouldn’t we want to take the lower-cost flight? Are we not trying to save money?

Response from ORS: The General Services Administration mandates that government travelers must use contract air service with participating airlines whenever possible. The airlines have entered into a contractual agreement with the government to provide “reduced fare, coach class” tickets between designated cities.

However, there are exceptions, including for cost. Under HHS policy, if the non-contract carrier offers a lower fare available to the general public and the use will result in at least a 40 percent cost savings from the lowest contract carrier fee, a non-contract carrier fare can be used. This determination should be based on a cost comparison to include the combined cost of transportation, lodging, meals and related expenses.

back to top of page