You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
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Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

16 October, 2010

MASC Camera

In the MASC (our spacecraft operations center) a video camera was mounted high up the wall to show management what is going on. It shows the whole control room or can be panned and zoomed in on most places in the MASC. I got word from one of my people working in there that they were admonished for "undesirable" appearance on the camera. This was my response to my boss.
-----Original Message-----
From: Hail, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2010 10:26 PM
To: Fink, Randall R
Cc: Snyder, Jeff
Subject: MASC Camera
I had time to think about that camera on the way home and I have some thoughts.
When it was first described to me many months ago before the remodel, I was all for it. When it was installed the other day I was all for it. When it was operational I was impressed by how we looked on it. We look good. I got a few people questioning it but I brushed them off. I still think the camera is useful tool for the Schriever folks to see what is going on at our end, we can often see them in the background, they should be able to see us. It is good for VIPs to see the other ops center of excellence that is working to keep their expensive satellites healthy, safe, and in mission.
However. I very much object to the camera being used to "monitor" the performance of our people. The terms I've heard the camera described are "creepy", "insulting", and "disturbing." I personally find it insulting to have someone comment on our folks without including me in it. It brings to a higher level the perception of distrust higher management has of its lower leadership. (PMS, Merit, promotion planning, transfers, time recording, you name it, we aren't trusted.)
There are a whole lot of very smart and dedicated people in the MASC right now. They are all professionals. None of them signed on for weeks of 24/7 shift work as a career. They are not console jockeys. They are doing this out of dedication to the job and program, striving for success. They will do what it takes to succeed. Unless they start to perceive distrust from management. Inappropriate use of that camera, monitoring employee performance through it and sending down comments on what is seen through it will be very bad for morale and productivity. It is poor leadership.
These people, especially those on off shifts, are in a hard position. Their lives have been disrupted more than they planned on, their lives continue around them often interrupting sleep and down time. If someone on graves kicks back for a 10 minute snooze, I am all for it. Better for us in the long run if he needed it. Better for us to ensure he gets home safe after work. Stone age management thinking is that a nap is not done, ever. Modern thinking is that it in the long run, you get more alert people making less mistakes and smarter decisions. The same for some internet browsing, they are watching what is for the most part, a perfectly running satellite. This vehicle is doing extremely well in almost all respects. These people need to keep their interests up, to take breaks from the monotony of a healthy satellite. Better there in the MASC where they are in position and ready to go than off somewhere where the MVL will have to call them back. Checking out their kids on Facebook or paying some bills or catching some Jon Stewart should be ok.
If management doesn't like how that looks, then maybe management should only be looking when there is something going on. 24/7 monitoring of employees is not what that camera was about. In the past, if they wanted to keep a pulse on what is going on, they connect to the MVL camera. But have that also connect to one of the SAFB TA cameras. I suggest a three way between the SOC-42 PAYLOAD, MVL, and MDR cameras in a VTC meeting room if they want that.
I strongly suggest the MASC area camera get turned off unless there is something of consequence going on. People don't like the way it is being used. I don't like how it is being used.
Feel free to forward this on up the chain.
[Tom Hail from home]


  1. I have been away to New York and right now am in Nashville but I took my laptop. I’d like to know what kind of response you got from your memo. I found that my previous company, at least in Georgia, was not very sensitive to the employees’ concerns, at least in my department. I wonder if they are in your department.

  2. I am not sure if they listened to me or if there were other complaints, but the camera got turned off when there was only special activities in progress. I only sent it to my immediate boss and I don't know if he pushed it up to my director. I think we are pretty good about listening to employee's concerns, I am at least. I am a bottom level manager. I do run into brick walls sometimes over things like performance appraisals.