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A Day in the Life of a Scientific Analyst

In the Room Where It Happens

 8:00 a.m. The same bus that used to take me to CNA headquarters lets me off at the Naval Support Facility in Arlington. That’s where I have a desk as the CNA Scientific Analyst supporting the Chief of Naval Personnel, the highest ranking human resources officer in the Navy.

 8:30 a.m. This being a Tuesday, I start with the meeting of Personnel Plans and Policy branch heads, led by the rear admiral who heads that division. In a round-the-table discussion, I hear their concerns about policies for sailors and officers, and provide an update on analyses I’m doing to answer previous questions.

 9:30 a.m. Back at my desk in the Commander’s Action Group, I often perform quick-turn analyses based on questions that have come up. For example, in mid-2020 I heard that officers needed real-time data on COVID-19 trends across the country. So I developed a web scraping tool to track the geography of COVID-19 prevalence near naval facilities in real time. It turned out so useful that we made a Marine Corps version.

 11:00 a.m. The COVID Synch call is a meeting over Microsoft Teams that was daily for much of the pandemic. I kept abreast of Navy concerns and made them aware of COVID-19 analyses performed by dozens of CNA researchers at headquarters and at commands around the world.

 12:00 p.m. The Division Directors Meeting in the Executive Boardroom is led by the Chief of Naval Personnel, a vice admiral. He briefs us on priorities of the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, but each of us gets a chance to speak. I keep the group updated about relevant CNA research, like new studies about the impact of maternity leave changes on retention or CNA’s Dynamic Decision Model for predicting how sailor numbers could change under different policy options.

 1:30 p.m. The Feeder Board meeting consists of one or more briefings on policy proposals being vetted and honed by division directors for future presentation to the Executive Decision Board. I regularly offer advice from CNA analysis to the briefers, but I also give my own presentations, for example on my study about the impact of the Meritorious Advancement Program for promoting sailors.

 3:00 p.m. Back at my desk, I’m often connecting CNA analysts and analysis with Navy officers and questions. Like when an officer on the policy staff stopped by my cubicle to ask about the impact of the Tuition Assistance program on sailor retention. By the end of the day, I had delivered two CNA studies to his desk and could explain the implications in person. It’s the kind of support I can provide onsite as a Scientific Analyst.

Note: For many months of the pandemic, the CNA Scientific Analyst and much of the staff of the Chief of Naval Personnel worked remotely, and meetings were held virtually. This “day in the life” is a montage of work completed in person and virtually.