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Last week was a lot of fun and games, and I strongly suggest you check out last week’s blog here; it had dogs, cats, and (good?) humor. This week was different; this week was work. Yes, it was a four-day week (Happy belated birthday America), but that didn’t stop me from putting my head down and finishing as much as possible while I was on the taxpayer dime.  There were a lot of confused looks in my office this week; there were countless blank stares at computer monitors, hours of optimistic bread-crumb following, and a few moments of sheer eureka as I combed through hundreds of pages of data ranging from capital plan finance reports to department performance measures. However, one moment stood out above all the rest.

I’ve written a few times about the very first project I got when I came to Wake’s Budget and Management Services Department. Here we are two full months after that first week and still trying to find the story behind oddities in grants across the county. The past few weeks, I specifically worked with Human Services grants and, by extension, very closely with the analyst assigned to Human Services and the analyst assigned to Wake’s Grants Fund. On Tuesday, July 3, I accompanied those two on a site visit to Wake’s Human Services Department that all started with my work. The stories, documents, and figures that I found prompted an in-person meeting. I did something and my product was compelling such that a meeting of the minds was in order; I very subtly lost my mind at that thought.

When the analysts and I sat down to begin the meeting I immediately regretted joining them. We were in a four-person meeting and three of them were from Budget.  Having been on the other side of that before, I knew it would be intimidating, maybe overly so.  What right did I have to be there anyway?  I only found facts that I could hardly interpret.  I mean THREE people in a four-person meeting? Literally a third of Budget Management Services was seated in that room.  If a third of Human Services showed up, there would over 500 people here.  I couldn’t possibly contribute to the flow of this meeting… and so on did my mind wonder.

Those were my candid thoughts sitting in that conference room, but during the actual meeting, it was almost like I had spent the last month researching Human Services Grants (to be clear, I HAD spent the last month working on Human Services grants).  I contributed.  I really did. My detective work paid off in a big way.  I referenced what I found, the four of us reasoned and reconciled every single confusion that we in the Budget Office arrived with.

So then, the moment that I referenced in the opening paragraph.  It was during a debrief after we arrived back to our suite in the Wake County Justice Center.  The analysts and I convened with Assistant Director Heather Drennan to debrief, and during that conversation was a throw-away comment about an abnormal transfer of funds.  I thought to myself, I remember when I found that; it was the very first bread crumb.

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