Peter Sperry

As a budget analyst, we look at two questions to determine if an item is “mission critical”. First, how directly does the item relate to the mission? Training or conferences to support professional development is different from training directly required in order to perform functions that support the mission. Second, what breaks if the item is not funded? Training which improves an employees skill level is different than training required to maintain certifications necessary to support the mission. Example, a budget analyst wants to attend a professional seminar to maintain contacts and discuss potential impacts of sequestration. Federal agencies might fund this in normal times but it is not “mission critical”. The event is only tangentially related to the mission and nothing serious breaks if the analyst does not attend. Alternatively, a scientist wants to attend a training class required to maintain the professional certification needed to qualify as an expert witness during legal proceedings on pollution control. This is “mission critical”. The training is directly related to the mission and the scientist loses thier ability to do their job if they do not attend.