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Vol. LXI, No. 14
July 10, 2009

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Have aquestion 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: With such need for child care for NIH personnel and the extreme length of the NIH child care wait list, I would think that the new child care center would be a prime candidate for ARRA funding. But I have heard rumors that it is not considered an important enough project to warrant ARRA funding. If providing child care for NIH personnel is not important, then how can NIH claim to be “family friendly” and support the needs of its many working parents?

Answer from the Office of Research Services: NIH leadership fully supports child care and has formally included the construction funds in the FY 2010 budget request. The use of Recovery Act funds was not determined to be feasible because the proposed Northwest Child Care Center was not considered “shovel ready.” In parallel with the FY 2010 appropriations process, NIH is continuing with concept study of the facility so that if the funds are, indeed, appropriated in 2010, we will be ready to award a construction contract soon thereafter.

Feedback: What is the deal with the moving boulders? One day they are one place and then another day they are moved, leaving a huge indentation where they were. What’s up?

Answer from ORS: There are several areas on campus where boulders have been moved. The reasons vary depending on the situation. For example, in the vicinity of Bldgs. 50, 12 and 13, boulder positioning was adjusted to improve pedestrian safety and the aesthetics near the loading dock. Boulders were added or adjusted near NIH Gateway Dr. and the East Child Care Center to improve safety. In other areas, boulder positions were adjusted to facilitate future construction, sidewalk replacement and a stormwater retention pond on the southeast lawn.

Feedback: I was recently told by a lab safety person that plants are not allowed in the laboratory. Is this a new rule? What is the reason for it? I do not see how plants could be a safety hazard. Plants are well known for cleaning the air and adding a bit of life, especially to an otherwise dull lab. I can understand most of the lab safety regulations, but this one confounds me.

Answer from ORS: Plants and animals that are not associated with the work being conducted in the laboratory are prohibited because they are potential sources of experiment contamination and pest infestation.

Feedback: Could you find out why the parking in MLP-10 has gotten so crowded? The lot has been filling up so much earlier since February, and the situation has not let up even since summer started, when things are usually lighter.

Answer from ORS: The Division of Amenities and Transportation Services has reviewed numerous sources of traffic data to determine trends, but there is nothing that stands out as a single identifiable reason for any increase in traffic volume on the campus, including at MLP-10. Research has shown that other forms of transportation to the campus are increasing such as Transhare, bicycling, vanpools/carpools and shuttles. However, traffic counts to the campus remain consistent with previous years’ numbers.

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