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Archive for August 2009

The DorobekInsider Reader: National Security Personnel System recommendations

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One of the big stories of the week — and possibly of the year — are the developments with the National Security Personnel System. NSPS, of course, is the Defense Department’s pay-for-performance system — it was the attempt by the Bush administration to develop an alternative to the government’s long-standing General Schedule pay system, which emphasizes longevity but does almost nothing to recognize performance.

There were a goal of the National Security Personnel System was to create a more flexible personnel system that aligns more clearly with the Defense Department’s goals.

Here is how the final report of the Defense Business Board’s task group on NSPS describes it:

In 2003, Congress enacted the NSPS.  The aim of the NSPS was to establish a more flexible, mission-based personnel management system that linked to DoD’s mission and organizational goals…

Today, as the DoD faces an almost unprecedented tempo of operations, there is an urgent need to align the Department’s resources to its priorities and to rebuild critical capabilities within the workforce.  Successful performance management systems have the potential to enhance organizational performance and drive effective results.  Flexible compensation and classification tools are required to support the recruitment and retention of high quality employees.

Most managers — and even most government workers — acknowledge that the government’s GS system just doesn’t work well. But many also acknowledge that NSPS didn’t do it well either.

The Bush administration had a big misstep with NSPS: They refused to include the government employee unions in the discussions about the program. That being said, the employee unions are, by in large, opposed to changing the pay for performance system.

To its credit, the Obama administration did not just do away with NSPS. Instead, the Obama administration asked the Defense Business Board to review the pay system. After several months — and several public hearings that felt like some of the health care town halls this summer — the Defense Business Board NSPS task group issued their final report last week. The group’s findings:

1. Initiate a reconstruction of the NSPS within DoD that begins with a challenge to the assumptions and design of NSPS.  The Task Group recommends a “reconstruction” of the NSPS.  A “fix” could not address the depth of the systemic problems discovered.  The Task Group does not recommend an abolishment of the NSPS because the performance management system that has been created is achieving alignment of employee goals with organizational goals.

The reconstruction should include a true engagement of the workforce in designing needed changes and implementation.  Finally, the reconstruction should include desired outcomes and data collection to measure results.

2. Reestablish a DoD commitment to partnership and collaborating with employees through their unions.

3. Establish DoD’s commitment to strategic management and investment in career civil servants.

4. Continue the existing moratorium on transitions of more work units into NSPS until DoD can present a corrective action plan to address identified issues, supported by data that the implemented corrective actions will address the identified issues.

I have pulled together a number of resources about NSPS because, it seems to me, this is a big issue and could be a real opportunity for government.

* The final report of the Defense Business Board’s task group on the National Security Personnel System [PDF - Scrib Flash version]

* Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System page

* The current GS pay systems… including a FAQ from OPM

* Coverage of the Defense Business Board’s final report…

Read more — and hear many of Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s interviews about NSPS — here

Rudy deLeon is the Senior Vice President of National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. He also served as the chairman of the Defense Business Board’s NSPS task group. Hear that conversation here.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller pulls together reaction to the board’s report

Federal News Radio’s Federal Drive talks to Robert Tobias, who was a member of the Defense Business Board task group.

The Daily Debrief talks to Dr. John Crum is the deputy director of the Merit Systems Protection Board about why pay-for-performance deserves this kind of focus.

Federal News Radio’s In Depth with Francis Rose talks to Darryl Perkinson, president of the Federal Managers Association.

Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas talks to Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

And read the full report here:

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

August 31, 2009 at 7:20 AM

DorobekInsider: Most read on for the last week of August 2009 on DorobekInsider… Daily Debrief… and Federal News Radio

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The most read items for the last week of August 2009…

for the DorobekInsider

  1. DorobekInsider: The buzz of federal government IT: Two scorching IG report on VA IT… sex, lies – but no video tape
  2. DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out
  3. DorobekInsider: The VA IG reports — what are the next steps? We ask government IT veterans
  4. DorobekInsider: Leadership or management — that is the question?
  5. DorobekInsider: Power IT Down Day – help Mother Earth (and Wounded Warriors) by turning off your computers
  6. DorobekInsider: The GSA Johnson hold update — Bond and Johnson have met
  7. DorobekInsider: What are the most annoying buzz words?
  8. DorobekInsider: Obama’s summer reading list – and autumn’s worthy reads
  9. DorobekInsider: The most read items for the third week of August 2009
  10. DorobekInsider: What’s behind the cyber-czar Hathaway resignation? And why is this post so difficult to fill
  11. DorobekInsider: GSA names Dave McClure to lead the Office of Citizen Services
  12. DorobekInsider: Robertson to be named to head GSA’s OGP and CAO
  13. DorobekInsider: The FCC joins the blogsphere — and Twitter
  14. DorobekInsider: Clearing the desk – and stories mentioned on the Daily Debrief
  15. DorobekInsider: CGI’s official announcement about Molly O’Neill
  16. DorobekInsider: The new TSA CIO — Emma Garrison-Alexander
  17. DorobekInsider: CGI Federal scores a coup hiring former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill
  18. DorobekInsider: GSA’s Dorris, Army’s Sorenson, HP’s Hempfield earn AFCEA Bethesda
  19. DorobekInsider: 1105 Media cuts pay 20 percent — temporarily
  20. DorobekInsider: It’s my birthday, but… you get the gifts
  21. Ed DeSeve to join the Obama administration
  22. DorobekInsider: GSA names Danielle Germain as chief of staff
  23. Congratulations on the wedding of Bob Suda and Joanne Connelly
  24. DorobekInsider: The Roll Call-CQ marriage announcement
  25. DorobekInsider: New DOT CFO nominee… and a possible DOT CIO nominee
  26. DorobekInsider: GSA names a OGP-CAO leader — and then merges the organizations
  27. DorobekInsider: Women In Technology – Government Leaders at the Helm: A New Era — the li
  28. DorobekInsider: 1105 GovInfo names government IT vet Weiss as group publisher
  29. DHS director of the National Cybersecurity Center resigns

The most read on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. E-messaging, other benefits to come with new TSP Web site
  2. OPM wants to change sick leave rules
  3. Space Station treadmill bears name of comedian Colbert
  4. Analysis: Where does NSPS go now?
  5. Report: NSPS should be reconstructed
  6. BRAC update from two local congressmen
  7. How Web 2.0 is changing responses to emergencies
  8. Will Maryland be the new home of cybersecurity?
  9. The latest TSP news
  10. Update: NSPS recommendations
  11. Cybersecurity concerns from Congress
  12. TSP Talk: Tobacco Bill signed into law
  13. Reaction to NSPS from all sides
  14. IG reports cite abuses, nepotism at VA
  15. The IT Sector Baseline Risk Assessment & you
  16. NSPS update: Unions speak before Board final recommendations
  17. USPTO gets new director
  18. GSA Administrator still not nominated
  19. Remember Sen. Ted Kennedy
  20. Why you might want to be wary of cloud computing
  21. GAO: Missile defense systems in Europe could exceed cost estimates
  22. DHS technology gets more of a human touch
  23. GSA helping to preserve lighthouses
  24. What next, if not Networx? Word from GSA’s conference
  25. Multi-tasking isn’t just a bad idea it can actually hurt you
  26. Cybersecurity challenges
  27. Power IT Down at your agency . . . and help the troops
  28. Update: TSP’s Roth option
  29. Navy CIO: Cyber czar needed soon
  30. No COLA for federal retirees?
  31. NIH and Wikimedia Foundation team up – Part 2
  32. College advisors get inside tips on federal jobs
  33. DoD’s health IT strategy
  34. TSP preps for new Web site debut
  35. DoD and Web 2.0: A blogger’s take
  36. Ask the CIO preview: Treasury Dept.
  37. Companies urge employees to power down
  38. BIG Conference happening in Baltimore this week
  39. CIA faces harsh criticism
  40. Federal Contracting workforce is growing
  41. The possibilities of cloud computing in the federal government
  42. Fortess Technologies helps the warfighter go wireless
  43. Defense Business Board releases NSPS recommendations
  44. Navy CIO outlines IT service needs
  45. TSP Talk: Where is the market going?
  46. GSA issues RFQ for cloud computing services
  47. An argument for broadband across the U.S.
  48. Proposed Budget Would Limit Raises in 2010
  49. GSA’s Casey Coleman moves into the cloud

And the most read item on Federal News Radio 1500 AM…

  1. OPM proposes changes to sick leave rules
  2. OPM preparing for pandemic by adjust sick leave policy
  3. NSPS remains on life support
  4. OPM preparing for pandemic by adjusting sick leave policy
  5. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  6. NSPS final report released
  7. Travel card programs need better internal controls
  8. Feds Feed Families exceeds food donation goal
  9. DHS clarifies rules around laptop searches at the border
  10. Predator drones help CBP along all borders
  11. Expect changes to TSP Web site early next year
  12. GSA reissues RFI for software-as-a-service
  13. Agencies trying to find balance between Web 2.0, cybersecurity
  14. GSA helping to preserve American lighthouses
  15. Agencies fall short of most small business goals
  16. Langevin ‘concerned and disappointed’: still no cybersecurity czar
  17. FederalReporting.gov stimulates stimulus reporting
  18. AFGE re-elects Gage as national president
  19. Federal News Radio Reports
  20. Federal labor unions say NSPS is toxic

Written by cdorobek

August 30, 2009 at 9:22 PM

DorobekInsider: What are the most annoying buzz words?

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DorobekInsider: What are the most annoying buzz words?

We all remember synergy — pulling desperate organizations together so that the sum was more then then added parts… and we all remember how well that worked.

What is the synergy of 2009? Accountemps conducted a survey of executives… and among the items on their list…

Executives were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?” Their responses included:

  • Leverage: As in, “We intend to leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits.”
  • Reach out: As in, “Remember to reach out to customers impacted by the change.”
  • It is what it is: As in, “The server is down today, and clients are irate. It is what it is.”
  • Viral: As in, “Our video has gone viral.”
  • Game changer: As in, “Transitioning from products to solutions was a game changer for our company.”
  • Disconnect: As in, “There is a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what the product provides.”
  • Value-add: As in, “We have to evaluate the value-add of this activity before we spend more on it.”
  • Circle back: As in, “I’m heading out of the office now, but I will circle back with you later.”
  • Socialize: As in, “We need to socialize this concept with our key stakeholders.”
  • Interface: As in, “My job requires me to interface with all levels of the organization.”
  • Cutting edge: As in, “Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage.”

Accountemps conducted a similar survey in 2004. The following “Hall-of-Fame” buzzwords were cited in both surveys:

  • At the end of the day
  • Synergy
  • Solution
  • Think outside the box
  • On the same page
  • Customer-centric

Some phrases cited in the most recent survey suggest executives are suffering from recession fatigue, including:

  • Recession
  • Depression
  • Economy
  • Do more with less
  • Restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Gloom and doom
  • Pay freeze
  • Bailout
  • Overworked

So what are the government buzzwords out there these days — and I’d be the first to acknowledge that one of them is “government 2.0″ — or, to be honest, virtual anything 2.0.

But I’d love to hear your over-hyped buzz words.

Written by cdorobek

August 28, 2009 at 8:36 AM

DorobekInsider: Power IT Down Day – help Mother Earth (and Wounded Warriors) by turning off your computer tonight

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Today is Power IT Down Day — the second annual event that hopes to get all of us to turn our PCs and laptops off overnight when all they do is soak up power for no reason.

Earlier on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Nigel Ballard, director of federal marketing at Intel Americas and one of the companies sponsoring the event. You can hear that conversation here.

We should also note that the companies — Citrix, HP, Microsoft, Intel and the Professional Services Council — are taking the money that people would save tonight and donating it to the Wounded Warrior Project, which works to “raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women… help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and… provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.”

Here is the release that the groups put out:

Today, Aug. 27, is Power IT Down Day, an initiative through which Citrix, HP, Microsoft, Intel and the Professional Services Council encourage government and industry to show their commitment to responsible energy usage.

You can learn more about it, and sign up to participate, by visiting this site: www.hp.com/go/poweritdown.

Simply put, we’re asking that government and industry shut down their computers, printers and peripherals at the end of the work day today. As of this morning, more than 4,400 people have pledged to join Power IT Down Day. To illustrate how important this issue is, keep in mind:

* Last year, over 2,800 individuals signed up for the inaugural Power IT Down Day.
* The 4,400 people who pledged to Power IT Down this year represent over 57,000 kilowatt hours saved. This equates to more than $5,700 dollars saved in just one night.
* Imagine if just these 4,400 individuals powered IT down for a whole year. That’s a savings of more than $2M.
* Now imagine if one percent of the country’s 1.8 million civilian government employees powered it down for one year.

Saving government and environmental resources is not just in the imagination any more. It’s real and it’s concrete and it can be done.

And, to represent how the money saved from powering IT down could be put to good use, the Power IT Down Day partners will donate more than $20,000 to Wounded Warrior Project, a group that represents those brave Americans who sacrificed so much.

You can sign up for Power IT Down Day here.

Other press converge of Power IT Down Day from…

the Wounded Warrior Project

Also from:

Federal Computer Week
Signal magazine
GovernmentTechnology
FedScoop
NetworkWorld
Government Computer News

Written by cdorobek

August 27, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Posted in Green, Policy, Technology

DorobekInsider: Obama’s summer reading list – and autumn’s worthy reads

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As you may know, I love books… and I love reading… so I love seeing what other people are reading.

Along those lines, I’m always fascinated what other people are reading.

I read all sorts of things — I have often joked that I’m one of the few people who read magazines ranging from The New Yorker and The Economist to US Magazine. And my range of books is equally broad — and I’m often reading at least two books at a time. Currently, for example, I’m reading the Twilight vampire books as well as a book recommended by DOD deputy CIO Dave Winnergren and Navy CIO Robert Carey… Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, James O’Toole, and Patricia Ward Biederman. (If I can get Bennis on the air, this might just be a Federal News Radio Book Club book.)

And yes — of course there is a social networking site for books — you can find me on Goodreads.com here… and on Shelfari here…

Anyway… Slate.com John Dickerson has a wonderful story about what’s on President Obama’s reading list. The White House issued the president’s vacation reading… and here it is…

  • The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington, D.C.;
  • Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York’s Lower East Side;
  • Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;
  • John Adams by David McCullough;
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.

Dickerson goes on to analyze what this list tells us about the President.

The Obama selection is not overtly controversial. In 2006, Bush’s list included The Great Influenza, about the 1918 flu. If Obama were reading that today while his White House was issuing a new report about the H1N1 virus, he’d start a national panic. But his list is also clearly not poll-tested. Women played a key role in Obama’s victory in 2008. They’re swing voters. And yet all of Obama’s authors are white men. The subject of the longest book, John Adams, is a dead white male. Obama couldn’t get away with that in an election year, and, given his aides’ penchant for cleaning up little things like this, we’ll soon see the president with a copy of Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women.

Read Dickerson’s full story here.

I can’t imagine having to poll test my reading list, but…

Two books coming out this fall that I’m very much looking forward to:

Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. I actually was given an early read of this one and McAfee, a associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the man credited with creating the term “enterprise 2.0.” As I mentioned previously, one of the examples discussed in the book is Intellipedia.

The other book that I’m really looking forward to is Deloitte’s William D. Eggers’ If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government. Read more about the book here.

Both books come out in November.

Written by cdorobek

August 26, 2009 at 9:31 PM

DorobekInsider: The GSA Johnson hold update — Bond and Johnson have met

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I mentioned over the weekend that the Kansas City Star had confirmed that Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has the hold on Martha Johnson’s nomination to be the administrator of the General Services Administration.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller has learned that Bond and Johnson have actually met to try and resolve the issues.

Congressional staffers tell Federal News Radio that the two met in early August before the Senate went on recess.

“While the Senator sat down with the nominee for a face-to-face meeting, he is waiting on additional information on projects important to Kansas City,” senate staffers said.

Bond’s staff, however, would not detail what those projects are. The Kansas City Star’s Kevin Collinson’s story says it is mostly seeking to pressure the government to build a downtown federal office building.

The proposal to consolidate more than 1,200 area federal workers in either a new or existing building downtown was thought to have been cleared by Washington agencies last fall when the GSA and Office of Management and Budget finally forwarded the plan to Congress.

Most of the federal workers are now at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City, which is gradually being vacated by its government tenants.

But in June, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Commission asked Anthony Costa, GSA acting commissioner for public buildings, for more financial analysis. Bond suspected the move had been requested by GSA bureaucrats as part of an effort to scuttle the Kansas City plan.

We will continue to watch it.

Written by cdorobek

August 25, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Posted in Congress, GSA, Management

DorobekInsider: Leadership or management — that is the question?

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Does the government need leadership? Or better management? And where should the focus be?

I write a monthly column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine. My column in the August issue is headlined:

Trite But True: It All Comes Down to Leadership
Good leadership is transformational and is different from management

In the column, I note that I did a Amazon.com search for books about leadership, and it probably will not surprise anyone that my search came up with 348,433 hits. So on one level, we understand it—leadership is important. And I went on to tell the story about EPA’s Jeremy Ames, who did the first government open contest — in this case, for people who created a public service announcement around radon gas. (See the videos from here.) And I noted in the column that the great thing about the videos is that then EPA CIO Molly O’Neill and then EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock didn’t know it was going on. My conclusion was that was a demonstration of transformation at EPA — the fact that people felt safe enough to try something out that could change the way the organization does business — it seems very powerful to me.

As I said, you can read the full column here.

Alan Balutis [PDF bio], the director and distinguished fellow for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, sent me a note soon after that column was published in which he asked if he could take exception to my column. I told him I was thrilled that the column spurred a discussion — and, in fact, we will start that discussion — Allan gets to disagree with me publicly Tuesday at 10a ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight… and in the October issue of Signal magazine.

UPDATE: Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight program with Balutis is now posted online. You can hear the conversation here.

His arguement: There is way too much focus on leadership — and not nearly enough focus on management. To that end, Balutis did an Amazon.com search about management and found 105,818 hits – less than a third of those on leadership.

As government programs and agencies today have become more complex, the ability to make them work has diminished. As we review the government landscape today, it is littered with failures: FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the Food and Drug Administration’s inability to stop dangerous foods from reaching dining tables, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s not keeping lead-painted toys out of stores, the collapse of financial markets, outrageous Ponzi schemes, and on and on. Are these failures of leadership? There might be an element of that. But, more likely, they are failures of management; they are failures to execute.

We’ll continue this conversation tomorrow morning, and while I don’t think Balutis’s point necessarily distracts from the need for good leadership, it doesn’t mean that management isn’t absoluteely essential — and perhaps way too overlooked.

Written by cdorobek

August 24, 2009 at 1:34 PM

DorobekInsider: The VA IG reports — what are the next steps? We ask government IT veterans

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Late last week, we told you about two scathing reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general’s office. And they are still the buzz around town.

You can download PDF of the two reports for yourself here:

* Administrative Investigation Misuse of Position, Abuse of Authority, and Prohibited Personnel Practices Office of Information & Technology [August 2009, PDF]

* Administrative Investigation Nepotism, Abuse of Authority, Misuse of Position, Improper Hiring, and Improperly Administered Awards, OI&T [August 2009, PDF]

Friday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Gautham Nagesh is a reporter for Government Executive and Nextgov, who has been reporting on this story. Hear our conversation here.

The questions now: What will be the ripple effects? (There are almost always unintended consequences that result from these kinds of events.)

As I mentioned last week, the current VA CIO Roger Baker was not involved in any way. In fact, he didn’t come on board until months after these events had happened. But they will likely have a significant impact on his agenda for the VA IT shop.

One of the big concerns that people are talking about are the sheer number of names in these reports. I haven’t sat down to count them, but… there are more then a dozen names redacted from these reports. Does that mean that these actions, if true, were pervasive through VA?

Baker has made a real effort to transform Earlier this year, of course, Baker put a hold on 45 IT projects because they were behind schedule or over budget — they were troubled. It is unclear if it was going to work yet. There have been other attempts to transform VA’s IT shop — and they have often been characterized by two steps forward, followed by one step back.

One government IT veteran I was talking to over the weekend said Baker could actually turn this into his advantage — this could further his case that change is necessary.

And Baker is perhaps uniquely qualified to deal with these issues having served as the former Commerce Department CIO.

And Nextgov’s Nagesh posts a response from VA:

A VA spokesman issued the following statement about the reports: “VA is aware of the findings detailed in the OIG reports. VA expects our employees to set the highest levels of personal and professional conduct; therefore, we are extremely concerned by the descriptions of alleged improper conduct by VA staff. The department is aggressively pursuing a thorough review of the situation and will continue to work with the appropriate authorities. VA does not condone misconduct by its employees and will take the appropriate corrective action for those who violate VA policy.

I have asked some of the best government IT minds for their advice to VA — and to Baker. The only caveat was that I would not identify them so they could speak their minds freely.

Here are some of what they said…

* Verify that the facts in the report are accurate. If so, then start making reassignments and bring in a new team.

* It is a tough call – but fair and even-handed treatment is necessary. Generally the IG recommendations are reasonable – but some of this behavior costs the taxpayers plenty and did nothing to benefit the Veteran. It seems Mr. Baker concurred with the IG recommendations and we will have to wait and see what the final decisions are. It is noteworthy that the “pat” answer includes the phrase “General Counsel”. The IG never made a statement about referral to Justice – but in my experience that is usually not written down or part of the printed file. Some of these issues I would imagine are referral-able.

If nothing else those that are SES’ers should be thrown from the corp – to not do so is to sully the ranks of all SES’ers. That corp of gov execs should be beyond reproach. Speed will be of no importance here – this will linger until the press goes on to other things!

* They have to deal with the personnel aspects and demonstrate they have taken steps to correct the conditions that got them to this end. [Some of these situations were] well known in the halls of VA and no one took action…

In general VA is a Peyton Place of this sort of thing — people with new found power want to use it….

The temptation will be to bring in new leadership to clean up the mess. I have doubts that will work. Remember [former CIO Robert] Howard was brought in to clean up other messes. The culture there tends to try to take dramatic short term actions to fix long term cultural problems. While there looks like change is happening, the organization yawns and watches. At the first misstep of the new leadership, the calls to the IG, Hill, and the Press start. For
some reason new leaders fall for the routine…

Roger Baker must take action with the full support of his CHCO, his General Counsel and his leadership. It should also be said that he must not fall victim to the same trap. Power must be used judiciously but action needs to be taken nonetheless. He now must watch every action to avoid the next rounds of calls to the IG. This means every use of government property, every appearance of impropriety, every contract action, every trip to warm climates, and every appearance of favoritism must be managed and avoided. Roger is dealing with the fallout as well.

* VA is so screwed up, it’s hard to say whether the subjects of the IG reports are guilty as charged, or are just scapegoats for the misdeeds of others (or both!).

When things like this happen, VA’s typical response is to deny everything, hunker down, and wait for the storm to blow over.   That has worked so well over the years that the organization seems to have a culture of institutionalized incompetence.   It takes strong leadership to do anything over there, and even then, you can only do so much.

Written by cdorobek

August 24, 2009 at 7:36 AM

DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out

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One of the key Obama administration posts still vacant is the role of GSA administrator. Of course, Martha Johnson was nominated in April, and she made it through the Senate committee in June, but her nomination has been… on hold… literally.

There have been several stories flying around — one was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had actually pulled her name off the nomination list because, as the story goes, GSA had told agencies that the government could not travel to Las Vegas in Reid’s home state. In fact, the WSJ had this report on July 22:

Government Meeting? Stay Away From Fun City

What do Reno, Orlando and Las Vegas have in common? To some pockets of the federal government, they just seem like too much fun.

Instead, employees at some big agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are being encouraged to host meetings in more buttoned-down places such as St. Louis, Milwaukee or Denver….

Earlier this month, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the chamber’s majority leader, expressed concern to the White House about a prohibition on government travel to resort destinations. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wrote back saying that government travel “is not focused on specific destinations,” but on cost and efficiency.

The General Services Administration, which sets the amount government employees can spend per day at each destination, has no ban on locations.

But some agencies appear to be instituting their own guidelines that dictate where events should be held.

According to an Agriculture Department employee familiar with the guidelines, the agency issued internal travel guidelines in the spring that encourage employees to hold meetings in cities that display three key attributes: a travel hub; low in cost; and “a non-resort location.” The employee said cities on the list with those three attributes included Chicago; Denver; Portland, Ore.; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee; Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colo.

Resort locations aren’t banned, “but you have to provide robust justification” to supervisors for approval to hold an event there, the employee said.

Read the full story here.

Apparently there never was a ban on travel to the hurting Las Vegas — although there is a lot of mis-information out there about travel.

But it appears that the hold on Johnson’s nomination is by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), as reported Friday by the Kansas City Star:

Bond blocks GSA nominee in action tied to downtown KC federal building

By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star

Posted on Fri, Aug. 21, 2009

Sen. Kit Bond is blocking approval of the president’s choice to lead the General Services Administration, adding pressure on Washington to approve a proposed downtown federal office building.

Bond, who has been a leader in the effort to build the estimated $175 million project since it was first proposed in 2006, has placed a hold on the appointment of Martha Johnson.

Johnson, a former GSA chief of staff, was recommended for the post by President Barack Obama in April and was endorsed by the Senate Government Affairs Committee in June.

The GSA acts as the federal government’s landlord and also buys goods and services for federal agencies.

Bond could not be reached for comment Friday, but an aide confirmed his decision to block Johnson’s appointment.

Read the full story here.

Of course, it still is a bit remarkable that senators can put holds on nominations without having to be up front about it.

We’ll continue to track the story. One can assume that this will get resolved soon — one way or another.

Written by cdorobek

August 23, 2009 at 9:42 PM

DorobekInsider: The most read items for the third week of August 2009

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The most read items on DorobekInsider and Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

First off… for the DorobekInsider:

  1. DorobekInsider: The buzz of federal government IT: Two scorching IG report on VA IT… sex, lie
  2. DorobekInsider: GSA names Dave McClure to lead the Office of Citizen Services
  3. DorobekInsider: The FCC joins the blogsphere — and Twitter
  4. DorobekInsider: Most read items for second week of August 2009
  5. DorobekInsider: CGI’s official announcement about Molly O’Neill
  6. DorobekInsider: Clearing the desk – and stories mentioned on the Daily Debrief
  7. DorobekInsider: What’s behind the cyber-czar Hathaway resignation? And why is this post so dif
  8. DorobekInsider: It’s my birthday, but… you get the gifts
  9. DorobekInsider: A summer Friday extra – my favorite birthday gift
  10. DorobekInsider: Robertson to be named to head GSA’s OGP and CAO
  11. DorobekInsider: GSA names a OGP-CAO leader — and then merges the organizations
  12. DorobekInsider: 24-hour deal – get Federal News Radio Book Club book Fired Up or Burned Out
  13. DHS director of the National Cybersecurity Center resigns
  14. Ed DeSeve to join the Obama administration
  15. DorobekInsider: CGI Federal scores a coup hiring former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill
  16. DorobekInsider: 1105 Media cuts pay 20 percent — temporarily
  17. DorobekInsider: Management of Change panel: The changing role of the CIO – the liner notes
  18. DorobekInsider: More GSA changes — Leeds as senior counselor and Peck returning at PBS
  19. DorobekInsider: The real story behind the Recovery.gov contract: The need for govt contracting trans
  20. DorobekInsider: 1105 GovInfo names government IT vet Weiss as group publisher

… and the most read items for the week from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. The latest TSP news
  2. The Daily Debrief
  3. Update: NSPS recommendations
  4. USPTO gets new director
  5. NASA responds to criticisms of various programs
  6. DoD and Web 2.0: A blogger’s take
  7. NSPS update: Unions speak before Board final recommendations
  8. Will Maryland be the new home of cybersecurity?
  9. Registry starts at federalreporting.gov
  10. Management at the GSA: Looking from the outside
  11. Why you might want to be wary of cloud computing
  12. Cybersecurity challenges
  13. GAO: Missile defense systems in Europe could exceed cost estimates
  14. What next, if not Networx? Word from GSA’s conference
  15. New federal guidelines on fighting the flu
  16. President asks Congress to increase troop levels
  17. Cybersecurity concerns from Congress
  18. Navy CIO: Cyber czar needed soon
  19. New NIH director speaks about goals
  20. The possibilities of cloud computing in the federal government
  21. Making procurement easier and more transparent
  22. Fortess Technologies helps the warfighter go wireless
  23. Power IT Down at your agency . . . and help the troops
  24. BRAC update from two local congressmen
  25. DoD seeks guidance from public about Web 2.0 technologies
  26. The 2009 Roosevelt Scholars Act
  27. Mike Causey reports from annual FDR conference
  28. Meet the Innovators: Jay Nath
  29. TSP Talk: Tobacco Bill signed into law
  30. An argument for broadband across the U.S.
  31. TSP Talk: Where is the market going?
  32. TSP changes and automatic enrollment updates
  33. GSA helping to preserve lighthouses
  34. Friday Afternoon Newsstand
  35. The health care debate and militias
  36. SEA speaks about recent report
  37. LandWarNet Conference continues
  38. Friday Fun Day!
  39. GAO examines process concerning EEO complaints
  40. FAI releases 2008 Workforce Competency Survey results
  41. Erroneous reporting: Marines did not ban social networking
  42. OPM issues new hiring policies for military spouses
  43. Federal Dispute Resolution conference wraps up
  44. IG reports cite abuses, nepotism at VA
  45. GSA’s Casey Coleman moves into the cloud
  46. TSA’s Secure Flight changes ready for take off
  47. Congresswoman: DHS’s NPPD deserves recognition
  48. DoD’s health IT strategy
  49. U.S. Army, NIMH team up to stop military suicides
  50. Meet the Innovators: Does Gov 2.0 matter?

Written by cdorobek

August 23, 2009 at 5:58 PM

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