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Mike Snyder, Intermountain Regional Director for the National Park Service, Opts for Retirement


Mike Snyder, the Intermountain regional director for the National Park Service, has decided to retire rather than take a reassignment. NPS photo.

Mike Snyder, the Intermountain regional director for the National Park Service who became a controversial figure over his "core ops" approach to budgeting, has decided to retire rather than take a reassignment.

Mr. Snyder announced his plans in a blog posted on the Park Service's intranet.

Mike Snyder's Blog: So long IMR family: I will leave you with a smile

On Monday of this week I traveled to Phoenix for a meeting on the Glen Canyon Dam and how its management affects the Grand Canyon. When I checked into my hotel, there was a fax waiting for me at the front desk. The fax was from the Director, telling me that I was being reassigned, effective in 15 days, to a compliance job in the Denver Service Center.

As you all know, being in the Senior Executive Service means that you can be reassigned at any time. It is something that all of us in that position understand. After the job here as Regional Director, though, I don’t think any other job can measure up in terms of the people you get to work with, the issues that engage you, and the places you get to go. So, I have decided to retire. My retirement date is March 2.

Laura Joss will be the acting Regional Director effective February 17. I know that all of you will work closely with her, support her, and keep carrying on the good work you are doing on behalf of the parks and the NPS mission.

A while back I wrote a blog in which I began with the line “So much of being successful depends on our initial approach and attitude” and ended it with “…every change in life requires a change in thinking.” I will apply that simple logic to the change that I am about to make. This is a new beginning and I am looking forward to all that lies ahead.

I want all of you to know how proud I am of the work you have accomplished for the National Park Service, and how much I enjoyed working with you. We have been through a lot together, and I have always been impressed by the professionalism, dedication and creativity of the people in this region.

As I look back on a long career with the NPS, I feel blessed to have been part of carrying out our mission and to have been able to work with so many talented people. I leave here with a smile, happy to have had such challenging and fulfilling work. Please take care of yourselves, and think first of the safety of your colleagues and friends. I hope our paths will cross again.


I don't know whether or not Mr. Snyder "deserved" to be reassigned; it is the Director's prerogative. However, I don't think that sending a fax to a hotel is an appropriate way for a manager to notify an employee of a reassignment.

P.S. This is assuming (I know what they say) that Mr. Snyder is completely forthright in his blog.

Well, I barely know Mr. Snyder, but it certainly lacks class, and seems pretty maudlin besides, to even include that paragraph about the FAX.

Your public statements when you leave public service are expected to have more grace. You should not use such statements to get even. Future employers will notice such things.

Folks, we're getting a few comments that go over the line, and that's why they're not showing up. Let's try to keep a measure of civility or two.

Note: Involuntary reassignments are not limited to SES. GS employees may also be involuntarily reassigned so long as the new position is at the same grade level and the employee is qualified to do the work. The affected employee has one of two choices; resign or accept the new assignment.

Live by the sword - die by the sword, aka "directed reassignment"
Lo how many of us in IMR have received those orders, "directed reassignment" despite our lowly GS non SES status and with far more hardship endured than Snyder now faces. SES retirement seems a pretty sweet deal.

Music may best describe how we all are feeling with the news, classless as it was in its' delivery.
"Joy to the World" (from Three Dog Night). "Rejoice and Be Glad" "Oh Happy Day"
"Celebrate, Celebrate, Dance to the Music"... "Raise your voices, Lift your Hearts"
and the list goes on..... across the miles the joy is zinging all around cybersapce.
" So go tell it on the mountain" and "Dance the night away" !

I suppose an appropriate question, as Mr. Snyder's career comes to a halt, is - does anyone have a full list of the careers that came to an early halt as a result of Mr. Snyder's alledged management efforts? And will an effort be made to right the wrongs?

I don't know any of the players in this myself, other than through Traveler, however there has certainly been enough smoke from many sources to recognise that there must have been a fire, and the faxed reassignment appears to be a fairly blunt punctuation point to that.

IM Regional Director, Mike Snyder is the epitome of the contemporary NPS manager: no credible field training or experience, weak leadership skills, managed with the power of position (command influence), rather than the strength of his ideas, ethics and honorable vision. Everything was political, rarely was he motivated by mission, science, tradition, history and agency legacy...

Mr. Snyder, as well as his predecessor, Ms. Karen Wade was responsible for a massive change in the IMR & NPS leadership culture, spirit and operational effectiveness. They ruined the careers of numbers career employees, while pursuing an ideological and marginally competent management agenda. I saw the unique NPS lifestyle greatly erode under their tenures.

I watched dozens of career Superintendents forced into retirement during their time at the helm. I watched how these seasoned leaders would be replaced with individuals who were marginal in experience and high in supervisory conformity. These leadership personnel changes were responsible for the greatest leadership destabilzation witnessed in my long career. These practices were evidence of extremely poor leadership ability, I am very critical of Mr. Snyder's agenda and leadership transitions.

Ironically, Mr. Snyder is getting a taste of his own medicine. The NPS Director is using the same poor NPS supervisory leadership transition techniques on Mr. Snyder, that Mr. Snyder used on many of his superintendents. This case is illuminating, and I must say, not reassuring in regards to Director Jarvis. Mr. Snyder was not a good RD, but to end a career by FAX is another example of what is wrong with NPS leadership. It is weak, unethical and fosters a work environment of distrust.

NPS employees have tolerated these heavy-handed personnel actions for a long time, and it has to stop. Otherwise, if tolerated, you are looking at your own future. How many times have we seen the NPS run over employees and managers they didn't like, managers who took a stand for resource values, or mission driven whistle blowers. It is amazing what NPS management is able to get away with.

Look at how NPS management routinely sweeps poor conduct issues under the rug for those favored in the "Superintendents Club," like the recent case in Gettysburg. It is appalling how far the NPS has fallen in such a short time and Mr. Snyder is a poster child for this era of poor NPS leadership, management and supervision.

The NPS has to get serious about recapturing the proud traditions of this great agency. We all see it slipping away, and it will be lost if we don't take some bold moves to improve the culture and practice of NPS leadership.

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