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Recipient of the 2009 Excellence In Leadership Award

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Phyllis Smith

In recognition of your outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support the USGS leadership goals throughout the bureau.

The award will be presented at U.S. Geological Survey's Honor Awards Ceremony on September 18, 2008, in Reston, Virginia.


Phyllis Smith

Phyllis Smith consistently demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities in her role as the Fiscal Services Chief in Western Region, and this is reflected in her work and amongst her staff. As Branch Chief, Phyllis leads a team of 20 employees who provide support to more than 25 cost centers and 2,500 FTE in Western Region. Due to Phyllis' excellent leadership, members of the WR Branch of Fiscal Services (BFS) unit work very well together, and function extremely well on special projects or in times of short deadlines or crisis. The team members are self-directed and work products of high quality in terms of timeliness, accuracy, and professional presentation. Under Phyllis' leadership, the Western Region is widely known for being technically knowledgeable, easy to work with, always ready for a challenge, and always first to volunteer to try something new or "cutting edge". Phyllis is definitely not afraid of change or taking on something new. During 2008, the Western Regional Services Chief retired and Phyllis stepped up to the plate in an Acting OWRS Chief role for several months, and was a valued addition to the Western Leadership Team. She also encouraged several of her staff to take on detail opportunities to gain experience outside of BFS. Phyllis excels at looking forward and focusing on coming challenges, instead of being reactionary. Thanks to her example, her team mirrors those same qualities.

Phyllis always focuses on providing the best in customer service. She has developed a strong partnership with the Regional Management Officers (RMOs) and the administrative community within the Region by working with them to understand issues about financial operations. She develops and implements solutions that best meets the needs of the customer as well as the organization. The WR BFS group consistently rates 95% or higher by WR science center customers on customer satisfaction surveys.

Phyllis demonstrates remarkable technical competence and problem solving skills in herself and her team. She also develops training courses to educate Western Region administrative employees and Administrative Officers on new or difficult financial processes or policies. Phyllis and her staff provide workshops and presentations at Regional and National Administrative Officer meetings, and her course outlines are used as a templates across the bureau. Phyllis gathers feedback from RMOs and the administrative community to do a gap analysis on technical competencies to determine training needs to address deficiencies.

Phyllis is very efficient and effective in resource management. She is in a constant mode of improving, streamlining, and automating processes for various financial reports, and created email drop boxes for submitting reports or requesting assistance so customers receive immediate assistance and do not have to depend on one individual person for support. Phyllis posts key reports for science centers on the Regional Services internal website for easy access and download capability, so centers can provide status updates right on the report without re-creating another document and submit to WR BFS review. This process holds the BFS staff accountable for reviewing actions for each center and providing regular feedback to the science center administrative staff to help them complete or correct the actions. Phyllis requires the BFS staff to provide additional training and assistance for centers that may have difficulty understanding the material in order to complete the required action.

Phyllis fosters an environment that encourages communication between science center administrative staff and BFS members by having her staff participate on on-site administrative reviews with Regional Management Officers. This allows her staff to get to know each center's administrative team, work environment, and science staff. Her staff also participates by providing quarterly financial reviews with the RMOs and science center administrative members to talk about key financial benchmarks that need to be met by each quarter of the year in order for the science center to have a successful Closeout. Phyllis' staff provides feedback, training, and assistance during these reviews.

Phyllis is deserving of the 2009 USGS Excellence in Leadership Award because of her outstanding qualities and contributions to her team, the Western Region, and the USGS.

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