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News, insights and analysis on government policy, management and technology.

DorobekINSIDER: Roger Baker to leave VA ‘in the near future’

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Roger BakerRoger Baker, the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is leaving that post “in the near future.”

Baker doesn’t offer a final date, but some insiders suggest it could be as soon as March 1.

In the time of transition, Baker is the latest to announce that he is leaving his post. NASA CIO Linda Cureton announced she is leaving that post at the end of the month.

At VA, Baker oversees IT for the government’s second largest agency — a $3.3 billion budget and more than 7,000 IT workers.

The VA under Baker, who was confirmed by the Senate in May, 2009, has made remarkable progress and he has won just about every award — including Federal Computer Week’s 2013 Federal 100 award.  

The VA CIO is in a unique position given that post has power over government spending. In 2010, when Baker was recognized with the GCN civilian executive of the year, he stressed the importance of having the power of the purse and his ability to use that authority to bring about change. VA’s success should be a lesson to the rest of government, he said. Because VA has a consolidated IT appropriation, it allows Baker and his staff to force changes. “Money is power in the government,” he said. “Money is love.”

“The consolidated IT appropriation is absolutely essential to driving real change in the IT results of an agency,” he noted at the time, and he future said that all federal CIOs should have authority over their IT budgets, he added. “The results at VA, the second largest federal agency, speak for themselves,” Baker said. “Empower CIOs to make real change happen.”

Read Baker’s note to staff following the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

DorobekINSIDER poll: What is the government word of the year?

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The team at the Oxford American Dictionaries have selected GIF as the 2012 word of the year.

In case you don’t know:

GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate

The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier. GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.

Read the full blog post on the subject, including the other words that were in competition.

I’m not sure that would be my word of the years, but…

What should be the government word of the year?

Written by cdorobek

November 13, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Posted in Circuit, community, poll

DorobekINSIDER: GSA FAS Commissioner Kempf takes medical leave; Mary Davie named acting

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Steve Kempf,  the commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service,
is taking 60-day medical leave. In the interim, the post will be filled by Mary Davie,  GSA Federal Acquisition Service’s assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services.

Details are still developing. It is unclear if Kempf’s leave has anything to do with GSA’s ongoing issues. In a note to staff, Kempf confirmed that there have been questions about GSA Federal Acquisition Service’s 2010 Organizational Performance Awards event.

GSA FAS Commissioner Steve Kempf

“I truly do not want to be leaving you at this important time. However, this is necessary if I am going to continue serving our country to the best of our ability,” Kempf said in the note to GSA staff.

Kempf was appointed the FAS commissioner effective July 10, 2010. In the role, he sets strategic direction and oversees the delivery of more than $50 billion of best-value products, services and solutions to federal customers. He served as acting commissioner from April through June 2010, and was the deputy commissioner before that.

GSA has been reeling from revelations about the Public Building Service 2010 Western Region Conference and allegations of extravagant spending. The GSA inspector general report on that incident forced the resignation of former Administrator Martha Johnson and several top agency officials.

After the jump, read the full text of the note that Kempf sent to FAS staff…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

July 27, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

07.24.2012: GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER: Feds sounding off on government innovation; and making a biz case for open data

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On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER for Tuesday 24 July 2012:

  • Government innovation — yes, I know people don’t believe those two words can go together. Insights about what YOU think about government innovation from a just released report. We’ll talk to Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service.
  • Is there a business case for open data… for open government. And how can you make open data work. The Commerce Department is hoping to answer those questions with a new competition. We talk to Brand Niemann — a former fed who has submitted for the Commerce Department’s contest — about open data.

Also… the 7-stories that impact government — another voice sounds off about the STOCK Act and another controversial GSA conference…

And in the DorobekINSIDER watercooler fodder… AC/DC and Iranian nuclear plants.

Written by cdorobek

July 24, 2012 at 6:52 PM

05.11.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Public Service Recognition Week: A look back at the highs and lows of the Secret Service

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Welcome to
 GovLoop Insights 

Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week has been
 Public Service Recognition Week and it comes on the heels of a lot of public service that probably that probably should not be recognized. Earlier this week, we unveiled the Partnership for Public Service Service to America Medal finalists — the
 SAMMIES… and we spoke to
 Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service about how YOU can help recognize good work… and a programming note: Starting on Thursday, we will be introducing you to the SAMMIES finalists.

There were a number of stories competing for the big issue this week.



  • One was the budget. The House late in the week approved a bill that would adjust sequestration. The New York Times reports that the house approved the legislation that would cut $310 billion from the deficit over the next decade — and it shifted the cuts away from defense spending and toward domestic programs. The Times notes the bill has no chance of passing the Senate and the White House issued a veto threat saying the bill fails the test of fairness and shared responsibility.
  • Meanwhile the 
House passed the first appropriations bill of the year — a measure that would spend $51 billion on the departments of Commerce, Justice, NASA and other related agencies. The Hill notes that the bill is the least controversial of the 12 annual appropriations bill and — are you sensing a theme here — it has no chance of making it through the Senate and the White House issued a veto threat. The White House has said President Obama will veto any and all of the 12 bills until the House renounces the top-line spending level in the overall budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The legislation cuts spending by about 3 percent compared to current levels, which Republicans said shows their ongoing commitment to trim spending. The GOP said spending by agencies covered by the bill has been cut by 20 percent over the last three budget cycles.
  • The
 House also voted for a plan that would increase the percentage of salary that federal employees must pay toward their retirement benefits. But — ready for it — the plan is unlikely to make it through the Senate.
  • The gay marriage discussion. This is mostly a policy issue and we’ll leave that for others, but it does indicate the ongoing battle between the White House and Capitol Hill. The
 Washington Post notes that on the same day President Obama became the first president to fully embrace same-sex marriage, House Republicans once again approved measures that limit Obama administration policy decisions and federal policies favorable to gays and lesbians… they voted to bar the Justice Department from using any federal funds to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. And the House Armed Services Committee voted to bar gay and lesbian service members from getting married or holding “marriage-like” ceremonies at military facilities.

Our Issue of the Week:
 It’s public service recognition week. The time when managers and the public are supposed to take a step back and really highlight the amazing work government workers do on a daily basis. But this year has been rough for many feds — especially those in the Secret Service — who are facing a public service nightmare with the prostitution scandals in Colombia and El Salvador. So for our issue of the week we wanted to harken back to a time when the Secret Service was held in really high esteem. A new book Rawhide Down draws on exclusive new interviews and never-before-seen documents, photos, and videos about the near assassination of President Ronald Reagan. The book’s author Del Quentin Wilber told me what he thinks of the current scandals hitting the Secret Service.

Weekend Reads:




  • What impact will cloud computing have on CIOs?
 Keith Engelbert
is CIO of 

Student Transportation Inc., an operator of school buses, writes in
 Fortune about a recent report about, “The Changing Role of the CFO,” and it found that 17 percent of corporate financial decision-makers believe the position of the chief information officer will disappear from the business landscape in the next five years. Why? The cloud. Technology has dramatically changed the way organizations invest in and consume technology — and CIOs who do not value the cloud in today’s current IT environment are putting an expiration date on their usefulness in the enterprise. CIOs need to fundamentally shift their strategic thinking as it relates to technology because cloud services all but guarantee uptime and data’s availability. CIOs can now use cloud services to focus on how data is accessed, shared and used within the organization which is the next evolution of the title.
  • Why Do Our Best and Brightest End Up in Silicon Valley and Not D.C.?
The Atlantic says that the country’s most thoughtful used to look to politics to make a difference on issues like healthcare reform. But now they come to Google Ventures. And David Ewing Duncan sat down with Bill Maris, who leads Google Ventures. Maris says that government is really successful when it’s willing to make big bold objectives like: We’re going to get to the moon. And they’re willing to invest in those things to get there. He says there never was a bold statement like — we’re going to invent the Internet. Instead it was government investing in these technologies and things will develop from them… and that flows out to universities, which flows out to companies. Maris says that this system has given us a lot, and he says he hope will continue to give us in the future. But without leaders with big ideas we get stuck.
  • How do you create a culture that embraces innovation?
 Scott Anthony of Innosight says it requires a highly engaged leadership and the right motivating factors — guess what? It isn’t only money… and, in fact, he mentions a
 DorobekINSIDER Book Club book – Daniel Pink’s
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  • Why does it seem that CEOs don’t get innovation?
 Stephan Lindegard writes that top executives are risk adverse, and too often they aren’t taught how to be innovative. We have his post of five reasons why CEOs don’t get innovation…
  • Finally, are you addicted to Facebook? Well, have you tried to cut down your Facebook time, but you haven’t… or can’t… Or is Facebook impacting your ability to do your job? 
Mashable writes this is becoming a problem, apparently. Meanwhile in
 Fast Company, Martin Lindstrom writes about how he managed to put down his iPhone… and even not jump to Google to answer every trivial question that arises.

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.10.2012 DorobekINSIDER How to succeed as a political appointee, Harnessing the power of big data, Ranking local gov’t social media sites

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On today’s program for Thursday May 10th, 2012



  • How to
succeed in government leadership – and yes, that includes political leadership. We’ll talk to Paul Lawrence, one of the authors of the new book, Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government.
  • Big data – it’s the latest buzz word floating around government. But how do you harness its powers. We’ve got your how to guide.

  • How
 does your city rank when it comes to social media? And what can you learn from those that are doing it well. We’ll talk to the person behind that assessment.

Chris Dorobek got to moderate a panel this morning focusing on the relationship between mobility and leadership this morning. The panel was with the
 Voyagers – the government-industry partnership program run by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.


Chris says it was an interesting discussion in part because we were reminded that not everybody wants to be mobile… and sometimes they feel that the mobile train is leaving the station and they are being left behind.


John Holland, part of this year’s Voyager’s class, posted here on
 GovLoop:
 How will the advancement in technology affect leadership styles in the future .



Chris says he’s always thought that mobile was much more than just telework. The Patent and Trademark Office, which has been a real leader in this space, 
recently published its 2011 telework annual report and they find that more than 6,500 employees are teleworking at least one day a week… about half of those are working from home between four and five days per week… that’s an increase of 922 people.


The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 10th of Ma…

  1. The Pentagon is changing its definition of an insider threats in hopes of rooting out threats earlier and easier.
Secrecy News reports, the new definition calls an insider a someone who engages in unauthorized disclosures of information or other activities deemed harmful to national security. The new Instruction comes in the wake of WikiLeaks and complies with a congressional mandate in the 2012 defense authorization act.

  2. The Postal Service has a new strategy that could keep small office open for business.  The plan would keep the existing Post Office in place, but with modified retail window hours. The plan would also keep access to retail lobbies  and to PO Boxes unchanged.
Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe says the new strategy would be implemented over a two-year multi-phased approach. Once implementation is completed, the Postal Service estimates they could save half a billion dollars annually.

  3. The White House could be in hot water after a special counsel report found the Federal Aviation Administration was slow to respond to problems that could put airline passengers at risk. The
Washington Post says Air traffic controllers in New York sleeping, playing video games and going home early we among seven main safety concerns Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner cited in her letter. Lerner says the Transportation Department needs more oversight of air safety. The Washington Posts says the criticism comes during the safest period in U.S. aviation history.

  4. The large number of inspector general vacancies could be filling up. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa has scheduled a hearing to fill the 10 vacancies. The
Washington Posts says in the wake of an inspector general report that exposed wasteful spending in the
 General Services Administration, lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration about similar positions being vacant in several other agencies.

  5. A new bill is calling for the end of duplicate spending.
Federal News Radio says Congressman James Lankford has introduced a new bill that would require the Congressional Research Service to provide a “duplication score” for every piece of legislation. The score is similar to the cost scores that the Congressional Budget Office already gives each bill.

  6. The missile defense agency is looking for new ways to weed out fake electronic parts in the supply chain. And they want your help.
 NextGov reports, the incidence of counterfeit parts appearing in military supply chains has risen in recent years. It happens when authorized dealers or original makers run out of parts to replace the military’s aging equipment and turn to unaccredited middlemen for supplies. The Pentagon is looking for solicitations through the end of May.

  7. And over on
 GovLoop, we asking are the best employees overworked? GovLoop’s Steve Ressler says sometimes the best and most creative/ innovative people often get overburdened with too much to do (day jobs plus all the special projects). Do you agree? Sound off on GovLoop right now. You can join the conversation on our homepage.


Written by jarvisdorobek

May 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.09.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Challenges facing gov procurement – and OFPP; recognizing public service; and making open data

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On today’s program for Wednesday May 9th, 2012

  • The nominee to be the government’s new procurement chief is on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing. Joe Jordan isn’t well known — and doesn’t have extensive procurement experience. What should be on his agenda? Insights from the former deputy at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy — Rob Burton.
  • It’s Public Service Recognition Week – and Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service has some simple ideas to make your employees feel appreciated.
  • What’s missing in your open data policy — John Wonderlich from the Sunlight Foundation fills in the gaps.
The Postal Service has just announced that it is stepping back from its plan to close up to 3,700 mostly rural post offices, citing a customer outcry. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Postal Service will, instead, seek to cut costs by shortening window hours and offering early retirement to 21,000 rural postmasters.Budget in the news this week: It’s an election year so we know that lawmakers just aren’t spending that much time on Capitol Hill this year. The Washington Post has noted that  members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and they are planning being away for 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks. So there is not much time to work through the budgets, although that has not been a big priority for years.

One possible solution to getting those bills passed? Bundling them all together. Roll Call reports that House Republican leaders are considering bundling appropriations bills. They have also looked at the legislative calendar and the challenges of getting the spending bills passed. So they are considering bundling must-pass spending bills as a way of speeding up the the lengthy process of debating them on the floor. Roll Call notes that if they do that, they risk angering conservatives, who note that leadership has long promised an open process so they can offer hundreds of amendments aimed at cutting spending that they can tout on the campaign trail. Roll calls says, “All of this underscores the quandary Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers faces in trying to pass his dozen bills before the House adjourns this presidential election year: Short workweeks and pushback from Members of both parties will make it a difficult task to complete.”

The House has rejected several proposals to cut spending. The Hill reports that the votes seemed to pit younger Republicans against more senior members — with people who have been around for awhile arguing against further spending cuts. The seven ammendements would have cut $1.4 billion — an additional $1.4 billion from the fiscal 2013 spending bill for the departments of Commerce and Justice. Members approved one of them — a proposal to cut funding for a climate Web site at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration saving $542,000, but the rest of the amendments were rejected. The most aggressive proposal, The Hill says, came from Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) that would have cut 3 percent of all salaries and overhead at the organizations covered by the Commerce and Justice spending bill. That was rejected 137-270.

It seems the GSA conference scandal has another victim – GSA’s 2012 Government Web and New Media Conference. The gov 2.0 conference was scheduled for May 16-17, but it has been postponed. No details on when. While GSA doesn’t say WHY the event was postponed, it isn’t hard to guess.

Don’t miss today’s edition of the SEVEN government stories you need to know.

A Few Closing Items

  • One congressman is frustrated waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to file reports with congress, and so he is working to hit the agency in its pocketbook. Politico says that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) is generally mild-mannered, but he is witholding hundreds of millions of dollars from headquarters accounts until DHS files reports with Congress — even threatening access to the Coast Guard Gulfstream that carries top officials about.
  • What is a cyber threat? The Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog highlights a report by the Sandia National Laboratory that says cyber-security remains a nebulous domain that tends to resist easy measurement — and in some cases, appears to defy any measurement. In order to establish a common vocabulary for discussing cyber threats, and thereby to enable an appropriate response, the Sandia authors propose a variety of attributes that can be used to characterize cyber threats in a standardized and consistent way.
  • The Financial Times reports today that a cyberattack against natural gas pipelines has been under way for months — a sophisticated cyberattack intended to gain access to US natural gas pipelines has been under way for several months, the Department of Homeland Security has warned, raising fresh concerns about the possibility that vital infrastructure could be vulnerable to computer hackers.

– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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