Archive for May 2009
The post is long overdue — but I think it is still important… and I wanted to get it on the record for our ACT/IAC Management of Change panel Monday regarding the changing role of the CIO…
I posted earlier about federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s comments at AFCEA’s Bethesda, Md. chapter earlier last month, which some people interpreted as suggesting people should bypass their IT shops to get things done. As I said then, I don’t think it is what Kundra was inferring, but… it is the way many people took what he said. [Find a link to the audio from the AFCEA Bethesda event here.]
A few weeks ago at the GSA sponsored 2009 Government Web Managers 2–Day Conference, Kundra further clarified his comments. You can hear him for yourself here … but… What he was saying, I believe, is that IT organizations — and CIOs — need to enable their organization to use technology toward their mission. And that too often CIOs have been CI-Nos — they have been the folks who tell you why something can’t get done, rather then the people you go to when you want to get something done. The challenge now is that people can go around the IT organization to get things done.
I sent Kundra a note letting him know how people were interpreting his comments — and he explained that isn’t what he was inferring.
Essentially, my interpretation of what Kundra is saying is telling IT organizations that if you want to remain relevant, you have to be an enabler. You cannot be the CI-No. And that means looking at all the options out there that can help the agency accomplish its mission — and that may include potentially free tools.
Meanwhile, Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Max Cacas was at the government Web managers conference. And he filed several stories.
* Web managers meet fed new media superstars [Federal News Radio, April 30, 2009]
* White House team uses Web 2.0 to reach out to public [Federal News Radio 1500 AM, May 1, 2009]
As most people know, President Obama spoke today about cyber-security and the White House posted the results of the 60-day top-to-bottom review of the government’s cyber-security initiatives. (I was on DC’s WTOP radio earlier today talking about this issue. You can hear that here.)
Some of the links:
* The White House cyber-security policy review: Titled Cyberspeace Policy Review: Assuring a trusted and resilient infomration and communications infrastructure [PDF]
We are late in addressing this critical national need and our response must be focused, aggressive, and well-resourced. We have garnered great momentum in the last few months, and the vision developed in our review is based on the important input we received from industry, academia, the civil liberties and privacy communities, others in the Executive Branch, State governments, Congress, and our international partners. We now have a strong and common view of what is needed to achieve change. Ensuring that cyberspace is sufficiently resilient and trustworthy to support U.S. goals of economic growth, civil liberties and privacy protections, national security, and the continued advancement of democratic institutions requires making cybersecurity a national priority.
* Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris will be all over this story this afternoon. More links to come, but you can find them all here.
Among the people we have heard from today:
– Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller spoke to a number of people today about the report including Karen Evans, among others. Hear Miller’s report here…
— Randy Sabett… he is a partner in the Washington office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal; served as a Commissioner on the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency. Hear our conversation with Sabett here…
— Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Read CDT’s assessment here… Hear our conversation with Nojeim here…
* Federal Drive: Fmr ODNI CIO Meyerrose analysis of cyberchanges [05.29.2009]
* NYT: Pentagon Plans New Arm to Wage Cyberspace Wars [5.29.2009]
The Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, administration officials said Thursday, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare.
* Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency… Read the commission’s fact sheet [PDF]
* Congressional Research Service report: Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative: Legal authorities and policy considerations [PDF, March 10, 2009, hat tip: TechPresident]
Of course the big question now — who will be the cyber “czar.” (Reuters has an interesting story about the Obama czars. My favorite quote from the story: Obama has “more czars than the Romanovs,” who ruled Russia for three centuries — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
We have been hearing for weeks now that Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration was close to naming a new CIO… and we have heard that it was a woman and we have heard that she came from DOD. We are now hearing a name: Emma Garrison-Alexander, a senior executive at the Defense Department, according to her LinkedIn profile. (I couldn’t find a DOD bio. If you have one, send it along.)
UPDATE to the UPDATE: We now have confirmed that Garrison Alexander is the TSA CIO. Her note to staff is below.
UPDATE: We are hearing that Garrison-Alexander actually started on Tuesday.
One other point: Garrison-Alexander has her doctorate in management, graduating in 2008 from the University of Maryland University College from the Graduate School of Management and Technology program. Her dissertation topic: “The Impact of Knowledge Management on Interagency Collaboration.” I would gladly add that to my reading list. (What can I say — I love this stuff.)
This is not confirmed yet, but… it seems like the pieces are starting to fit together. We’ll let you know when we get confirmation.
UPDATE: This has been confirmed. Here is the note she sent to TSA staff:
It is my pleasure to join TSA as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.
I arrive at TSA after more than twenty years with the National Security Agency, starting as an electronic engineer; followed by both technical and managerial assignments in the Research and Development, Technology and Systems, Signals Intelligence, and Information Assurance organizations. These assignments included Senior Operations Officer where I operated on behalf of the Director of NSA in the command and control of time-sensitive signals intelligence and information assurance missions. Most recently, I served as the Deputy Counterterrorism for SIGINT Development Services.
I hold a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, Masters of Science in telecommunications management and Doctorate in management with a focus on technology and information systems.
Over the past few days I have been introduced to many of the employees that make TSA’s management and delivery of quality IT services so highly admired across the Department. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming weeks, to learn quickly about TSA’s existing IT successes and challenges, and to work with all of OIT to continue providing top-notch IT services to TSA employees at Headquarters and in the Field.
Next week, OIT will hold an All Hands meeting where I will have the opportunity to introduce myself to all of you in person. Sheila Klein will issue the invitation shortly via email. I look forward to working with all of you.
Dr. Emma Garrison-Alexander
Chief Information Officer
Office of Information Technology
Among the links mentioned on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris
* The Federal News Radio Book Club… our new book is Fired Up or Burned Out: How to reignite your team’s passion, creativity, and productivity. The “meeting” will take place Friday, June 12 at 2p ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose program. Read more about it here.
* The Open Government Dialogue on openness and transparency. Read the DorobekInsider reader on the Obama openness and transparency initiative here. Among the items we specifically mentioned:
– The top rated item comes from House Minority Leader John Boehner, Support a 72-Hour Mandatory Public Review Period on Major Spending Bills
* Writing a job description in 140-characters: John Monroe, my friend and former colleague over at Federal Computer Week, has a wonderful post soliciting submissions of tweeted job descriptions. As you know, Twitter only allows 140-character submissions. What if you had to write a job description in 140-characters or less. This is one of these posts where you want to read the comments. One of the suggestions: “I read, write, think, create, innovate, to make things no one wants yet, nor can understand…for pay.” Read the post — and the comments — here.
* From Brain Drain to Brain Gain: Fixing U.S. Government College Recruitment: The report by Harvard Kennedy School of Government graduate student Stephen Ader. UPDATE: Hear our conversation with Ader from the Daily Debrief here. The report is posted below. Earlier this month on the Daily Debrief, we spoke with Harvard Kennedy School Prof. Steve Kelman, who helped Ader with the report. Hear that conversation here… and read Kelman’s blog posts about Ader and his paper here… and here. (Kelman’s FCW.com blog, The Lecturn, can be found here.)
I’ll be on DC’s NewsChannel 8 in the 7:30p ET half-hour — their Federal News Tonight program — and I’ll be talking about (what else) transparency. They stream the show live… and I’ll post the video when they post it.
For those looking for more information, here are the liner notes:
* The DorobekInsider transparency, openness and data.gov reader: Just last week, I pulled together The DorobekInsider transparency, openness and data.gov reader, which has many of the links related to the Obama administration’s openness and transparency initiative.
* Open Government Dialogue: This is the site established where, through Thursday, the administration is seeking your ideas on transparency and openness. Today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to John John Kamensky is Senior Fellow and Associate Partner at the IBM Center for The Business of Government, spoke to us about the process so far. Hear that conversation here.
Thanks for Federal News Radio Internet Editor Dorothy Ramienski, pulled together some notes from that conversation.
* 12,000 visits so far on the Open Government Dialogue site as of this afternoon;
* 42,000 page views
* 600 total unique ideas/posts so far
* 6,000 votes for the different ideas
* participation from every state, as well as visits from over 90 different countries
Kamensky also notes that the most voted on item is one recommended from Republican Minority Leader John Boehner recommendation that there be a 72-hour mandatory waiting period to allow public comment on all spending bills.
* DorobekInsider column in Signal magazine on transparency: Find a link to the Signal magazine column on transparency here… or read the column here.
* Whitehouse.gov/open: This is the Obama administration’s main transparency and openness site
* Data.gov: This is federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s baby, and it is similar to one he created when he was the DC CTO. The site will be a place where public, machine readable data is posted.
* Apps for Democracy 2: Similar to DC’s Apps for America that Kundra led while the DC CTO, the Sunlight Foundation is sponsoring Apps for America 2, which is offering real prize money — up to $25,000 — for the best application developed using Data.gov data. Find all the information about the Apps for Democracy 2 contest here.
I am happy to announce the next selection for the Federal News Radio Book Club selection — the book is Fired Up or Burned Out: How to reignite your team’s passion, creativity, and productivity by Michael Lee Stallard.
Just to details out of the way, our book club “meeting” will take place Friday, June 12 at 2p ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose. On that day, the author of the book, Michael Lee Stallard, will join us, as will Martha A. Dorris, the acting Associate Administrator Citizen Services and Communications for the General Services Administration. Dorris actually recommended this book to me — and Stallard has spoken to teams at GSA, so he has some idea of the challenges facing federal agencies.
Just a reminder about how the Federal News Radio Book Club works — it is something akin to the Oprah book club except we talk about books that help feds do their jobs better. So unlike other book clubs, our “meetings” take place on the radio — Federal News Radio 1500 AM. And we’d love to hear your thoughts about these issues. Comments will soon be available here. I have also set up a Facebook event page for the book club.
Previous Federal News Radio Book Club “meetings”:
* The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
* What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
* Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
Significant milestones for the Obama transparency initiative. And a lot of good stuff out there to read about it. The DorobekInsider “reader” series try to pull the best of those links together in one place. (Earlier, we had the DorobekInsider CTO reader.)
From the Obama administration
The White House has an over all fact sheet on the transparency and open government initiative. But some of the big sites…
The site: whitehouse.gov/open/
This is the Obama open government Web site — the place from which you can find everything else.
The site: www.data.gov
One of the big initiatives by Obama CIO Vivek Kundra, and was done fairly quickly. When Kundra was the chief technology officer for Washington, DC, he created DC’s Data Catalogue, where machine readable data was posted online. From there, DC sponsored the now famous Apps for Democracy, where the District offered up a prize for the best applications developed using those data sets. The Sunlight Foundation is now conducting Apps for America 2, where there is a big prize for the best applications developed using data.gov data. More on that in a moment. Federal News Radio 1500AM’s Jason Miller spoke to Kundra about this. You can hear Miller on the Daily Debrief here… and his full interview with Kundra here. And here is what Data.gov says aboug Data.gov:
Welcome to Data.gov
The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federaldatasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, Data.gov will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
How to use Data.gov
Data.gov includes a searchable data catalog that includes access to data in two ways: through the “raw” data catalog and using tools. Please note that by accessing datasets or tools offered on Data.gov, you agree to the Data Policy, which you should read before accessing any dataset or tool. If there are additional datasets that you would like to see included on this site, please suggest more datasets here. For more information on how to use Data.gov, view our tutorial.
* Suggest an idea
The Obama open government dialogue, where through May 28, the administration is seeking your ideas on transparency and openness. Like Recovery.gov’s National Dialogue earlier this year, the open government dialogue is being run with the National Academy of Public Administration.
* Obama transparency and openness blog
Yes, there is a blog… andthe lead item describes the initiative and the announcements, and it includes a video from Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, about this initiative. You can also read OMB Director Peter Orzag’s blog post about all of this here.
* Innovation gallery
The WhiteHouse.gov/open site includes a “gallery” of innovative ideas.
The Innovations Gallery celebrates the innovators and innovations who are championing the President’s vision of more effective and open government. In the Innovations Gallery, the public can browse examples of new ways in which agencies across the Executive branch are using transparency, participation, and collaboration to achieve their mission.
* The Jan. 21, 2009 Obama transparency memo
The President’s January 21, 2009, memorandum entitled, Transparency and Open Government, that directed the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, to develop a set of recommendations that will inform an Open Government Directive.
Outside the administration
* Apps for America 2
I mentioned this earlier, but… it will be fascinating to watch. On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Sunlight Foundation executive director and founder Ellen Miller about transparency, data.gov, and Apps for America 2. You can hear that conversation here.
From the Sunlight Foundation press release on the Data.gov Mash-up Challenge:
In collaboration and with financial support from Craig Newmark, founder of Craiglist and Sunlight board director; Google; O’Reilly Media and TechWeb, Sunlight is offering over $25,000 in prizes, and will award the winners at a ceremony at the Gov 2.0 Summit hosted by O’Reilly Media and TechWeb on September 8, 2009. The grand prize is $10,000. Additionally, Sunlight is offering one second place award of $5,000, one third place award of $2,500 and 10 honorable mentions at $500 each. Sunlight will also award a bonus prize of $2,500 for the best visualization of the data on Data.gov. (This visualization prize may be given in addition to the prizes mentioned above.) The first, second and third prize winners (and the visualization prize winner if not one of the first, second or third place winners) will also receive airfare and hotel placement for a trip to Washington, DC.
Entries must be applications that use any of the data sources or content on Data.gov. They can be, but are not limited to, client applications, Web based applications, applications that use the Adobe AIR platform, iPhone apps and Java applications. Sunlight also encourages contestants to use one of its open source libraries of government information or APIs, or those of its partners, including the new MAPLight.org Congress API, the OpenSecrets API or the FollowtheMoney.org API.
What others are saying
A lot written about all of this in recent days.
I mentioned earlier that I wrote my May column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine about transparency. You can find a link to that column — and more about it — here. I also posted the Federal Register notice on this yesterday as well.
On Federal News Radio 1500 AM
I mentioned that Jason Miller spoke to Kundra about Data.gov. Find that here… And Frank Reeder, former director of the Office of Administration and president of the Reeder Group, was on the Federal Drive this morning talking about these issues. Hear that conversation here.
TechPresident.com‘s Micah Sifry and Nancy Scola: White House Opens Doors on Major Open Government Initiative. Great insights… (They also have a excellent post — and I noticed it too — that the White House has not updated the speeches section of WhiteHouse.gov in three months. Scola also noticed that on “suggest an idea” site, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), under the handle “republicanleaderjohnboehner,” has suggested an idea.)
Finally — and in some ways, I’m saving the best for last — as Data.gov was release, there was some really insightful analysis on Twitter — so it was analysis in 140 characters or less. One of the best was Mike Mathieu of Seattle, Wash., a civic software entrepreneur, founder of Front Seat, Walk Score, ObamaCTO. He noted that some of the data had already been posted online elsewhere, and that the catalog for data.gov is not available in a machine readable format yet. He also recommended that data.gov needs an open community discussion forum for each source.
All of that being said, this was done very quickly — kudos — and it is just a start. (If the government doesn’t end up building a discussion forum, I bet you Mathieu — or somebody — will build it. Ah — government as a platform.) This is just a start, but… there is a lot here for us to all sift through over the Memorial Day weekend.
One other related but unrealted blog post worth reading comes from Bev Godwin, who is with GSA on loan to the White House new media team. She has written a blog post about many of the ways government is using new media.
Very quickly, federal CIO Vivek Kundra has managed to get Data.gov up — it launched today.
I have just started looking at it, but… here is what they say about it themselves…
Welcome to Data.govThe purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, Data.gov will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.How to use Data.govData.gov includes a searchable data catalog that includes access to data in two ways: through the “raw” data catalog and using tools. Please note that by accessing datasets or tools offered on Data.gov, you agree to the Data Policy, which you should read before accessing any dataset or tool. If there are additional datasets that you would like to see included on this site, please suggest more datasets here. For more information on how to use Data.gov, view our tutorial.
Everybody knows it has been an extraordinarily difficult time for media, and it has been particularly hard for print media. Just last week, when I was out in Tucson, AZ, the state’s oldest paper, the Citizen, closed its doors. Our industry — my industry for these years — is just struggling across the board.
That has been true for the publications that cover the government market as well. (My former colleagues over at 1105 Government Information Group, the publisher of Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News,et al, and the FOSE trade show, et al, regularly ping me for over-covering their challenges and not sharing the wealth. More on that later.)
Last week, 1105 Media cut salaries 20 percent for all employees making $45,000 or more for the summer — June, July and August. 1105 CEO Neal Vitale made the announcement last week in a memo that was not sent out across the organization but was instead read to staff by 1105 Government Information Group President Anne Armstrong. Vitale then followed up with a conference call — well, a one-way conference call.
Here are the specifics as I know them:
* A 20 percent pay cut for all employees making more than $45,000 across 1105 Media — not just the 1105 Government Information Group
* Vitale stressed that 1105 is not in risk of folding or having cash flow problems, according to people at the meeting including 1105 Government Information Group Editorial Director DavidRapp, who I spoke to last night. What Vitale told the staff is that, under the agreement with 1105’s lenders, the company must make a certain return on investment — a certain percentage. They are simply not at that percentage. To use my words, not his — 1105 is making money. It’s just not making enough money to meet the “covenants” with the lenders. (Somehow they always refer to these things as covenants, as if Moses chiseled them into stone or something like that.) Vitale specifically pointed to 1105’s Redmond group and The Data Warehousing Institute (known as TDWI), which have been particularly hard hit by a sharp decrease in most conferences. (Companies have cut business travel unless absolutely necessary, and it has left the conference market reeling.)
* In addition to the temporary pay cut, employees will also not be allowed to accrue vacation time during that period.
* Employees were, however, given 10 days off to use before the end of the year.
Needless to say, morale among the people I spoke to over the last few days is just horrible. And, of course employees vent at Vitale and Armstrong. Almost all of the people I heard from were angry that Vitale’s conference call was one way — there was no ability to ask questions. My sense is that they didn’t e-mail the message to everybody because — guess what — I or somebody like me would probably get my hands on it and post it. (IMHO, so what, but…) Furthermore, in those conference call settings, people often don’t ask questions… and what really can management say anyway. There are no promises. There are no guarantees.
To be fair, 1105 is not alone in this. This touches every part of the country; it touches every part of the media. Even the DC market has not been immune. The Washington Post is struggling.WJLA-TV here in DC recently laid off some high profile people and cut pay by 3.9 percent. In the business-to-business trade press, IDG — publisher of venerable publications such as CIO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, CSO, IT World and Industry Standard — recently cut 8 percent of its staff and instituted a 10 percent pay cut, including Computerworld/InfoWorld editorial director Don Tennant, who is almost a legend in the IT publication world. (Folio.com)
So, good friends at 1105, I hope that provides some context.
This is a media-wide issue. Entrepreneur and software engineer Marc Andreessen was on PBS’s Charlie Rose program in February and his take was that the media — and specifically newspapers — are simply between business models. The old model — this amazing industrial age process of putting out a publication and distributing it far and wide… and make no mistake, it is a remarkable model. That model simply has to change. We don’t know what that new model will be yet. We’re trying. But there are some harsh realities — more people are getting their information online, yet most of the money for publications comes from print. In many ways, news has become a commodity. The Christian Science Monitor recently posted a column by Robert G.Picard headlined Why journalists deserve low pay: The demise of the news business can be halted, but only if journalists commit to creating real value for consumers and become more involved in setting the course of their companies.
We journalists have to ask some tough questions — are we adding value to people’s lives? As regular readers know, I’m fascinated by Web 2.0 and I think there is a wonderful opportunity to make more information available to more people, but so-called citizen journalism does have its limits. Citizen journalism will never be able to do a piece such as the remarkable work in Fortune detailing the Bernie Maddoff case … citizen journalism won’t be able to spend the months coming up with reports like the WP’s simply remarkable series detailing the issues for vets at Walter Reed. And then there are wars — like Iraq, like Afganistan. It takes unique skills. It takes time. And yes, it takes money.
There are so many things that citizen journalism can do — and is doing. It isn’t just repurposing. But too often we journalists have put all sorts of value in areas that people just don’t care about. My classic case is journalistic objectivity. When it comes right down to it, people not only don’t value our so called objectivity — they just don’t believe us. What they want from us is to be fair. And yet our profession puts all sorts of value — I would argue some are downright arrogant about it — in something that our users not only don’t value, but quite frankly, they don’t believe.
So… there are still many choices and decisions ahead.
More on this to come, I’m sure.