Member Spotlight – Scott Horvath, USGS

Scott Horvath, USGS Public Affairs Specialist Bureau Social Media Lead
Scott Horvath of the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) has been an active and respected member of many of our DigitalGov communities for several years. Here’s your chance to learn more about Scott, and the work he’s doing at the USGS.

What’s the best job you’ve ever had (and why)?

Without a doubt, I would say my current job at the USGS. I’ve been working for the USGS since 2004, and during my 10 years with them, I’ve always felt as if my opinions and ideas are welcomed, and I’m given the opportunity to explore and research without being micromanaged. It’s important for any manager to understand how their employees think, and what helps them work well, to allow those employees to grow and succeed in their careers. My managers do that very well and, as a result, I’ve been able to grow; sometimes even failing and learning. Having a work environment that allows for flexibility and encourages new ideas, including those that might seem ridiculous on the surface, is what makes my current job the best job I’ve ever had.

What do you love most about your current job?

My official position on the books is Public Affairs Specialist. My job title, however, is Bureau Social Media Lead. Despite what people think a social media lead does (no, it’s not just tweeting all day long), it can be quite challenging. I need to keep things working like a well-oiled machine, and I try to make that happen with the social media efforts we forge at USGS. We might do that differently than other organizations, but the goal is to make sure that things work consistently, and with high quality. Of course, machines are meant to break, be fixed, replaced with the latest model, and then the cycle repeats. No matter how well you think things are working, they can always be improved, and I enjoy taking on that challenge. To avoid becoming complacent. we have to keep looking for ways to improve.

What are you currently working on?

My work for the USGS is currently split between two areas: social media management, and our Bureau-wide Web Reengineering project. On the social media front, we’re evaluating some new tools for potential use by the Bureau. There are so many interesting things coming out all the time, it can be tough to balance “need” vs. “want,” and ensure we have a real business need before we acquire a new tool.

Our Web Reengineering project will revamp the entire USGS Web footprint. Our goal is to provide an excellent user experience by making USGS science and information available, usable, affordable, and accessible from one robust website. We’re leveraging the open-source Drupal content management framework.

Earlier this year, we launched a public beta of the initial design. We received great feedback from the public, which our team is incorporating. We’re also interviewing our Web developers, content owners, and business managers, to fully understand our internal business requirements. These interviews, along with the public feedback, will inform the information architecture on our new site, supporting our organization and improving the discoverability of science by the public. Like all such large efforts, we’ve hit a few bumps in the road—but I’m confident that we’ll end up with a new website that’s nothing but awesome!

How do you spend time away from work?

Well, I’m married and have two kids (a boy and a girl) so there’s always something happening to keep me busy and active after work…like learning lattice multiplication. Parents know how fun that is! 😉 However, I personally love photography and building things around the house. I love macrophotography, and I’ve been branching out into more landscapes lately. There’s just something about being behind the camera and the power and control you have over stopping a moment in time and being able to share that with the world. It sounds cliché, but it truly is a powerful thing. Around the house, I enjoy bringing ideas to life, working with my wife to make our home more “rustic.” Recently I just finished building a farmhouse table for our kitchen; it was based off a Pinterest IKEA hack and other table ideas. I’m always looking for something to do…I like to stay productive.

Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

I graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and received my undergraduate in Communications. At one point, I had strongly considered a degree in Communications and Psychology because I wanted to be a marriage counselor. However, I got sucked into learning how to use something called HTML, and once I figured out how to display an animated GIF of a running dog on a website…well, that’s all she wrote. However, my degree has served me very well in my career and has definitely proven worthy.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

Two things actually…I love doing karaoke, and I do a pretty good Donald Duck impression. Not that either one of those things contributes highly to my career or personal life, but you asked! I’m always up for some karaoke and tend to lean toward 80s and 90s rap music.

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