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Group Assignment Services Exchange Scheme (GASES)

At some point in the recent past, Friend Computer became aware of certain Citizens who were demonstrating exceptional talent and competence across a wide range of specialty fields. These miraculously omnipresent and extremely capable Citizens were seemingly able to appear just about anywhere in Alpha Complex, at any time, to handle any sort of normally-shunned task, such as filling out arduous amounts of paperwork, taking on responsibility for unpredictable R&D equipment, accepting blame for accidents that had killed large numbers of other Citizens, volunteering to show up for Vulture Target Practice so that bunk-mates wouldn't have to draw digistraws as usual, and the like.

Many members of this ULTRAVIOLET commission might speculate that some (or even all) of these ultra-handy Citizens (such as the deservedly-"legendary" Frame-R-UPP-4) are simply pseudonymous non-Citizens given artificial "life" in our records (probably by hAX!X0Rs or Computer Phreaks), which everyone with a vested interest in self-preservation knows to use in place of their own name. However, Friend Computer has decided otherwise. And so, approximately eighteen monthcycles ago, it proposed (read: implemented without ULTRAVIOLET review) a protocol by which (potentially) all Citizens of Alpha Complex could demonstrate such Complex-wide cross-specialty competence. GASES was a system under which Citizens earned Free Assignment Rotation Turns (FARTs) by demonstrating competence in skills related to Service Firms outside their own. There was a system for earning Exchange Points (quickly known as "eeps"), based on one's current Sector of residence, current Service Firm, current Mandatory Bonus Duty (if any), and (of course) Security Clearance.

Under the initial system, for example, a Citizen in PLC who demonstrated mastery of weapons technology when needed (such as using a laser pistol to terminate Commie_Mutant_Traitors) would earn Armed Forces "eeps". A Citizen in Internal Security who did the same thing would also earn Armed Forces eeps, but not as many, because the skill set between AF and IntSec overlaps to a greater degree. Likewise, an Armed Forces Vulture who came up with a brilliant product-placement slogan would earn more HPD&MC eeps than a PLC clerk (since the latter has far more exposure on a daily basis to marketing-related-program-activities).

Once a Citizen earned enough eeps for a particular other Service Firm job opening (as posted on any of several legitimate employment requisition boards, as well as the now-dissolved KriegsList), they could exchange them for a FART, and could move out of their current Service Firm job and into the other one. This typically involved a change in Sector of residence-- up until that time, something that was common enough at higher Security Clearances but still fairly rare for Citizens of GREEN Clearance or lower. All in all, it seemed like a fine idea-- it allowed Citizens who, for example, were merely competent form-filers but highly talented small-arms marksmen to find their proper place in Alpha operations. It encouraged well-rounded skillsets and cross-functional awareness. It also had several serious flaws which, I believe, ultimately contributed-- in some cases directly-- to the Toothpaste_Disaster:

  1. In addition to earning eeps for other Service Firms, Citizens earned eeps in their own Service Firms, albeit at a highly reduced rate. Nonetheless, when all you do is file forms all day for PLC, even at 100 forms per eep, you rack up the PLC eeps pretty handily.

  2. Not wanting these eeps to be "wasted", Friend Computer implemented a database for exchanging one's own Service Firm eeps for other Service Firms, without having to demonstrate capability in those other areas. The idea behind this was, apparently, that Citizens who wanted to move to another firm but had no skills there should be able to do so eventually if they worked hard enough; once at the new firm, the Computer was sure they would "figure out what they needed to know". This led to many Citizens ending up in assignments for which they were not only completely unqualified, but unable to ever become competent in.

  3. Citizens retained eeps for other Service Firms even after taking a FART into a new Service Firm. Thus, a Citizen who had enough eeps for both an Armed Forces FART and a CPU FART could go to Armed Forces, and then-- at any time-- switch to CPU. This resulted in many Citizens only briefly occupying mission-critical roles and then, the moment they were about to take the blame for a serious failure on their part, rotating out somewhere else, leaving their just-arriving FART replacement to wonder why they were being held responsible for something they didn't even do.

  4. Because certain Service Firms are (let's face it) more sexy and interesting than others, the demand for eeps (and subsequent FARTs) was not even across all groups. The Computer attempted to adjust demand by altering supply-- that is, by changing the rate of eeps being earned, and by changing the rate-of-exchange between Service Firms.

This quickly led to a black market economy (again, run mostly on KriegsList, as well as on certain fileshared subnodes of C-Bay) where the price of eeps was freely traded-- mostly for other eeps, but also directly exchanged in some cases for FARTs, and eventually (of course) for credits. Prices rose and plummeted on a daily basis, futures were bought and sold, and options were distributed as incentive to stay in (or leave) current assignments. Consortiums arose to corner the market on one or another area of highly-desired assignment. Barter systems arose and valuable Computer property began to move around, untracked, almost as much as the Citizens themselves were. Ultimately, huge quantities of eeps could be "spent" to bribe Security Clearance promotions from higher-ups (who, of course, would then immediately use the eeps they were given to rotate out, dodging any blame for the inappropriate promotion).

This was the state of things at the time of the Toothpaste_Disaster. Many thousands of formerly-low-level Citizens had jumped one or more Clearances through crafty manipulation of the marketplace. Virtually nobody resided in their Sector of origin anymore. Large areas of necessary expertise were unstaffed, their "value" debased to the point of worthlessness. One such skill area was, of course, Reactor_Operational_Function_Lackey_(ROFL)-- a dangerous, unglamorous job that had become occupied almost entirely by Citizens who were so disenchanted by their previous jobs-- but so incapable of doing anything "valuable"-- that the only FART they could afford was a rotation into the bottom rung of Power (or Tech, whichever one it is that services reactors). Because of this, there were, at best, minimally-capable skeleton crews staffing the reactors that caused the Four_Reactor_Foam_Flood. Had the original "reactor lackeys"-- no doubt assigned to work those reactors their whole lives, until the day they used a FART to go somewhere else-- been on duty at the time of the Toothpasty_Supplement_#5 Transbot crash, they would have known what to do and how to handle their multiple-core coolant loop, perhaps avoiding the widespread Emergency Shutdown that resulted in the flood and the attendant LOP to so many Sectors.

And this is not an isolated incident. In reviewing the cascade of failures-- small and large-- that led up to the Toothpaste_Disaster, the many (surprising, at the time) inadequate responses to containing and mitigating the Disaster as it was occurring, and the still-incomplete effort towards repairing all damage and restoring all services in the affected Sectors, I have found that a full 78% of Citizens involved in virtually every incident were in that position as the result of a recent FART, including (but not necessarily limited to):

There are undoubtedly others; there was a great deal of Loss of Records involving GASES information during the disaster, as you all know. Rather than attempt to reconstruct the records for continuation of the program, or attempt to restore everyone to their pre-GASES assignments and Sectors of residence, Friend Computer decided to cancel GASES and freeze residential and job assignments. The freeze was recently lifted but I don't believe the Computer intends to re-implement GASES any time soon.

Of course, none of us saw it coming the first time.

-- Knok-U-OUT-5

Refs: KriegsList, Reactor_Operational_Function_Lackey_(ROFL)

X-Refs: Action_Squad_Alpha, Alpha_Complex_Rifle_Association_(ACRA), Chapstick_Factory, COL_gate_incident, Commie_Mutant_Traitors, CyberHack_Programming_Helmet, Defective_Batch_ACA675T09-XXXX, Demolition_Order_#32A/74-43491, Easter_Bunny_Device, Flossbot_Mk_II, Four_Reactor_Foam_Flood, Frame-R-UPP-4, Project_Infinite_Hole, Special_Brain_Freshening_Unit_K, Syntelligent_Systems, Toothpaste_Disaster, Toothpasty_Supplement_#5, Vulture_Squadron_Bravo_9, WMD_(Warriors_of_Masked_Dentistry)


Really now. It's not that hard to remember. Tech Services service reactors, Power Services operate reactors. As usual, the task requiring actual skill is done by Tech. (And a side note: Reactor_Operational_Function_Lackey_(ROFL) is a Power job. Our closest equivalent is a Junior Operations (Learning/Education) Repair Operations Group (Reactors), the on-the-job training program for reactor repair.)

-- Cee-U-LTR

Strictly speaking, the job is defined as "monitoring" the reactors. Any actual adjustment of the systems, for any reason, is strictly forbidden to anyone outside of Tech Services, as agreed upon in the Vers-I Treaty ending the Power-Tech Pogroms of 201. Nice attempt to pass the buck.

-- Servs-U

Okay... so ROFLs are a Power job, which means they only monitor reactor operations... but an Emergency Shutdown is pretty clear, even new ROFLs who recently FARTed in should know how to raise an alarm... and you say there are Tech people, such as these JOLEROGRs, who actually adjust reactor operation. This naturally leads to two questions:

  1. If ROFLs are forbidden to adjust the systems under any circumstances-- even a full Emergency Shutdown-- why wasn't a JOLEROGR team immediately on top of the situation? Were Tech's JOLEROGR rosters as rife with recently-FARTed roll-ins as Power's ROFLs?
  2. In fact, why weren't there Tech teams already on-site at the affected reactors? Emergency situations seem to occur quite rapidly in nuclear engineering; why not have the team who is trained and authorized to deal with "adjusting" the malfunctioning system right there so that they don't have to come from someplace else when the emergency occurs?

  3. In fact, why have separate ROFL and JOLEROGR training assignments at all? Why separate the people who "monitor" from the people who "adjust"? In short, why have separate Power and Tech organizations? (I presume it has something to do with these "pogroms" that you mention; if they occurred in 201, as you say, I was a second-clone BLUE back then, designing thousands of new forms for my clinically-insane INDIGO manager, and I had no time to pay attention to the petty territorial disputes of gearheads and wirejockeys.)

-- Knok-U

Okay, so it led to three questions.

Also, I assure you that my use of the words "gearhead" and "wirejockey" positively drip with love and respect.

-- Knok-U

1. Probably.
2. Also pursuant to the Vers-I Treaty. I agree that it is foolish, but then I wasn't part of the process that produced the treaty.
3. Again, yes, this is due to the Vers-I Treaty. The then-heads of Power and Tech, Tell-U-RIC-13 and Vac-U-MMM-14, squabbled for a full year over the exact division of responsibilities. I don't agree with the division as it stands, but until such time as a new all-out conflict breaks out or one side or the other succeeds in convincing the computer to fold their rival into their service group, we're forced to abide by it. I'm not surprised you weren't paying attention, but then we gearheads and wirejockeys were too busy ensuring the continued operation of the very Complex that allows you to exist to concern ourselves with the petty tribulations of a paper-pushing bureaucrat, so I guess it evens out.

And yes, I assure you my use of the words "paper-pushing bureaucrat" drips with something, which we'll assume is love and respect.

-- Servs-U

Alright. To quote directly from the treaty: "Operation is hereby defined as monitoring, power distribution, and the identification of service-requiring-eventualities in a timely manner."

As reactors, especially those long past the R&D stage and well-tuned by experienced Tech Services technicians, are only rarely in need of anything beyond the regularly scheduled maintenance (barely 1 rapid-response incident per five reactor-years). If Power actually monitors the systems as they're supposed to, and notifies Tech when there's a problem, everything runs smoothly. And while I don't know about other sectors, I certainly would never have dispatched a JOLEROGR to an emergency. After the three-week JOLEROGR course, a clone is certified in Emergency Reactor Repair, and can then be sent to alerts called in by Power.

When they bother at all, of course.

-- Cee-U

Yo, dogs, just so it's cool between us-- 'cause I'm all about the peace, you know?-- "Five" may have been confused by the difference between Power and Tech, but I'm not. Honestly, I think he was just looking for his next big reverse upsizing bonus check, but that ain't my bag.

My bag is pro-active retaliation.

-- Knok-U-OUT-6

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2013-06-13 13:58