My internship officially started this week, and I could not have been more excited. After officially receiving my badge, however, I realized I had another “badge.” I realized I still had a large stack of my Capital Scholar contact cards, and that’s what reminded me to keep in the habit of networking. I have taken networking to heart especially these last couple days as I have had the pleasure to meet many people in HHS and the OIG at HHS. One thing I have been doing so far is keeping track of the names of people I meet, and then looking them up in the internal communication system at HHS to find out what their email addresses are. This internal communication system is common in most workplaces, and I have also learned that there is a pattern in the creation of email addresses, in that most emails are first name then last name followed by the specific department name. This has been invaluable as I was able to communicate directly with HR concerning getting the travel benefits and coordinating with many teams to ultimately get another metro card for work travel. Another technique I will be using to deepen relationships is asking more technical questions concerning day to day activity, as this will allow me to convey that I have done my homework and am competent enough to have a discussion on the work that OIG does. I will keep using these tactics for future use, and will also actively try to meet with people just passing through the hallways and events. In fact, on my first day I was able to go to the OIG HHS awards ceremony where I was able to see the head Inspector General of HHS The Honorable Dan Levinson. The IG at HHS is one of the few executive branch nominated candidates, and it was an honor being able to meet with him and various other high level employees.
The mission of the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human services is to protect the integrity of the more than $1 trillion that fund hundreds of HHS programs and promote the health and welfare of beneficiaries of said programs. This is also the federal governments largest OIG, even bigger than the OIG at the Department of Defense. One statistic that puts HHS into perspective is that all HHS programs combined represent 24 cents of every 1 federal dollar spent, so there is a need for bookkeeping and regulation to prevent waste of taxpayer dollars. I specifically am working with the Office of Management and Policy on the budget formulation team. The role of this team is to prepare future budgets for the OIG at HHS. This is done through heavy consultation with OIG HHS initiatives and in depth content knowledge to convey the need of funding to the people that have the power of the purse: Congress. The OIG at HHS also must convey its importance and program outcomes to the executive branch, which creates the budget that will be submitted to congress via the Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB). So far over the last couple days, I have been trained on the budget process and all the terminology and political lingo that go into understanding the technical details of creating a budget, especially one of this size (OIG at HHS gets around $350 million in funding every year, and recovers around $5.5 billion through its fraud and abuse programs).
I have learned a lot since last week other than just things on the job as I mentioned before. I can say I am now truly acclimatized to the metro and have no quips about it, and have learned more of the importance of planning ahead and around any issues that could come by, and by not being afraid to have things go your way in public. By this I mean don’t be ashamed if anyone honks or even insults you: DC has a relatively fast paced culture, and trivial things such as these events need little attention to the impact you can make on the job here in DC.