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Archive for October 2009

DorobekInsider: USDA officials offer more details on management reorganization

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We told you about the major reorganization of the Agriculture Department’s management structure.

The plan — and you can read all the documents here — essentially creates an uber-USDA “Departmental Administration” that includes most of the management functions — procurement, IT, HR, finance and budget — all under one umbrella.

I haven’t been able to get somebody at USDA to talk about it officially yet — we’re still working on it. But USDA spokesman Justin DeJong provided me with this statement:

We take our responsibility to ensure we use hard-earned taxpayer dollars wisely, and these changes will help us to serve more people and in a more efficient and effective manner. By optimizing and streamlining the various operations, we plan to eliminate duplicate functions; improve quality of services and communications; and streamline processes and improve transparency to our customers. Ultimately, effective USDA management means effective results for taxpayers and the people USDA serves.

We began having discussions with employees and unions in the early months of the new administration. On June 18, all employees received a letter from Secretary Vilsack about the pending reorganization. This letter was followed by further discussions, meetings and additional outreach to employees and unions, in addition to the required notifications.

The CFO and CIO will continue to have the opportunity to report directly to the Secretary on core responsibilities as outlined in statute. There will be no Reduction in Force (RIF) associated with this reorganization. No employee will lose pay or grade.

I’m happy that USDA is talking about this in a more public, transparent way…. and I continue to hope that they will come on Federal News Radio 1500 AM to discuss the thinking behind the really massive change.

And before focusing on the specifics of the plan itself, I think the way that it is rolled out is important.

To be fair, DeLong and I had a discussion about the transparency of this initiative. And he correctly notes — both in our conversation and in the written statement — that Secretary Vilsack sent out a letter in June to employees and all of the documents about the reorganization are posted on the agency’s Intranet. But this specifically want not discussed in any kind of public way.

My point to him is that this is not just a USDA internal matter — it has broad ramifications about how USDA is run and, frankly, there are people who have ideas and thoughts outside of the agency. It seems to me, that is at the heart of the Obama transparency initiative — agencies should only keep information locked down if there is a reason for that information to be locked down. Frankly, I spoke to several people on Capitol Hill yesterday and they hadn’t heard of the reorganization. Using the Obama transparency and openness measures — transparency, participatory, and collaborative — it sure seems like business as usual.

I think USDA missed out on an opportunity to tap into the collective wisdom — and build support for the idea of a changed management structure. And management issues are ones that particularly touch the employee, so I certainly hope that USDA will not use this as a model for how they view openness and transparency. In the end, if transparency is only within your organization, it fails — and, in the end, it isn’t any different then what has been done in the past.

On the issue of the reorganization itself…

There are still a number of questions out there:

  • How does USDA envision this working?
  • Nobody disagrees that agencies need to spend money wisely. How does this reorganization spur that?
  • What spurred this kind of massive change?
  • What data demonstrates that a single organization works better then a diversified one? Or is the decision based on philosophy?
  • What will this mean for the agencies within USDA? Will they all be using this uber-management organization for procurement, HR, IT, budget and finance?
  • If the organization chart specifically shows that the CIO and CFO report to the UDSA manager, how does this comply with the CFO Act or the Clinger-Cohen Act — in letter or spirit?

Furthermore, Congress Daily spoke to Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan who said she would still have budget authority, which would seem to undercut this actual management organization from the very top.

And then there are questions about the early retirements, which I understand are more complex to address.

In the end, nobody disagrees with the need to spend money wisely… and most everybody agrees that the head of an agency gets to decide how to run their organization — and different management styles work for different people. But leadership and management necessitates that people know where they are going — and why.

My concern is that USDA seems to have missed an opportunity. We have all seen many previous management overhauls that were conducted just the way this one has been so far — largely behind closed doors with, frankly, token efforts to make information available. Most of them go on to fail because they didn’t convince people that it was the right direction. They didn’t see questions as opportunities to improve the plan.

I don’t think anybody disagrees with the plan on the face of it. But buzz I keep hearing is deep concern about the role of the CIO and CFO… and why the determination was made.

Again, as I have re-read this post, it sounds harsh. I don’t mean it to be — and we look forward to getting more information.

Meanwhile, here is Congress Daily had report:

Deputy secretary asserts control over Agriculture budget
By Jerry Hagstrom
CongressDaily
October 19, 2009

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is planning to continue running the USDA budget, despite an organizational revamp that has placed the budget office under Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie Reed….

“I will be running the budget process at USDA,” Merrigan told CongressDaily on Friday, adding that she had presented USDA’s fiscal 2011 budget to the Office of Management and Budget and will make the presentations of future budgets.

The deputy Agriculture secretary has traditionally been in charge of developing the budget and received reports from the budget officer. But since the reorganization, which went into effect Oct. 1, farm lobbyists have worried that if an official below the level of deputy secretary made the presentations, USDA would be at a disadvantage.

Read the full story here.

Written by cdorobek

October 21, 2009 at 8:25 AM

DorobekInsider: Another GovDelivery/GovLoop hiring coup: Andrew Krzmarzick — and passes 20K members

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The federal government is losing another of its rising stars — but only the larger goal of public service.

Earlier, we told you that GovLoop — the burgeoning online government-focused collaboration platform that describes itself as the Facebook for feds — was purchased by Scott Burn’s GovDelivery. The announcement got a lot of coverage — including Federal News Radio 1500 AM got the first opportunity to talk to GovLoop founder Steve Ressler and GovDelivery founder, president and CEO Burns.

On Monday, GovDelivery‘s GovLoop will announce another hiring coup: Andrew Krzmarzick will join GovLoop, the FederalNewsRadio.com’s DorobekInsider has learned.

Krzmarzick

Krzmarzick

Krzmarzick will be charged with encouraging outreach, partnership, and engagement to help the community grow and bring even greater value to members.

In addition to that news, GovLoop officially passed the 20,000 member milestone in it’s continued rapid growth in just more than a year.

Krzmarzick is one of the leaders in the “Gov 2.0″ community. He will leave his post as senior project coordinator at the Graduate School — formerly known as the Graduate School USDA. Ressler and Krzmarzick are good friends — but he has also proven to be a powerful advocate for public service.

We had Krzmarzick on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief earlier this year talking about iampublicservice.org, which crowdsourced a book highlight the work done by feds. He and Ressler also appeared on Federal News Radio’s FedTalk program.

Here is the note Krzmarzick sent to friends:

Guess what? I’ve got a new gig!

Mr. GovLoop himself (aka Steve Ressler) has asked me to join his team as the GovLoop Community Manager (Read: “Wingman”)!

So what does that mean? It means I’ve resigned from the Graduate School and will dedicate myself full-time to making GovLoop THE place where people in and around government can connect and achieve new levels of awesomeness (that’s in my contract, by the way – to use this word at least once in every conversation) beginning October 19.

Seriously, I am going to be Steve’s lead in growing and engaging members, listening to and learning about your needs and honoring and highlighting the great work you do every day. As a former priest wanna-be, I see myself as a cross between a pastor and an evangelist for GovLoop, someone whose role is to serve the public servants. I want to make your life easier by linking you to the information and people who have the answers to your questions and solutions to your challenges.

I can’t wait to get started.

Krzmarzick can be found on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

Here is his bio from his blog

Andrew Krzmarzick, PMP, is a leading thinker, trainer, and trailblazer on the four generations, social media and telework. As a Senior Project Coordinator at the Graduate School, Andrew designs and delivers high-impact, hands-on training, including courses titled “Focusing the Power of Four Generations,” “Wikis and Webcasts and iPods, Oh My!” and “Telework: A Manager’s Perspective.”

Andrew has facilitated workshops and presented at numerous government agencies and conferences, including ASTD’s International Conference, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Annual Conference, the Advanced Learning Institute’s “Social Media for Government”, the Telework Exchange’s “Telework in a Box” series, and the Training Officers Consortium (TOC) Annual Institute. In order to share presentation content and disseminate best practices, he bookmarks articles and information at Delicious, posts his presentations at SlideShare and engages in thought leadership here at the GenerationShift blog. Andrew is also the co-creator of IAmPublicService.org, a website and ebook project dedicated to improving the perception of public service and attracting the next generation of government talent. He is a Community Leader at GovLoop.com and a member of the Executive Board of Young Government Leaders. His work and insight has been featured in the Washington Post, Public Manager and Government Executive magazines, the FEDManager E-Report, and on Federal News Radio.

In addition to training and speaking, Andrew has produced hundreds of winning proposals and other promotional content over the past ten years to earn over $100 million for non-profit organizations, Federal, state and local government, health departments, school districts and educational institutions. In 2008 alone, Andrew helped organizations across the United State to capture over $12 million in grant awards in support of their vital missions.

Andrew earned his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from Villanova University. He also has a MA in Theology from The Catholic University of America and a BA in Philosophy from Iowa State University.

Written by cdorobek

October 18, 2009 at 9:06 PM

DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: USDA undertakes extensive management reorg – downgrading the CIO, CFO, and seeking early retirements

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Agriculture Secretary Thomas Thomas J. Vilsack last week rolled out a major management reorganization of the agency that downgrades the roles of the USDA chief information officer and chief financial officer. As part of the plan, the agency has also requested the Office of Personnel Management grant USDA permission to proceed forward with early retirements.

The plan: Create a uber-USDA “Departmental Administration” — including operations such as procurement, IT, human resources and finance.

The goal: A more efficient organization, according to a series of memos obtained by FederalNewsRadio.com’s DorobekInsider.

Combining the various operations like procurement, information technology, human resources and finance into a unified USDA management area will eliminate duplicate functions and organizational layering; improve quality of services and communications; and streamline processes and improve transparency to customers. Ultimately, effective USDA management means effective results for taxpayers and the people USDA serves.

Here is the memo that was sent out to USDA personnel:

FROM: Alma C. Hobbs
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration

DATE: October 1, 2009

SUBJECT: Creation of the New USDA Departmental Management

Every day, USDA programs touch people across the country. We have a responsibility to make sure that these programs meet the needs of the American Public and that they are managed in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Over the years, there have been many changes in Departmental Administration creating duplication of functions, fragmentation and organizational layering. This has created inefficiencies and reduced the effectiveness of the Administrative programs. We have an opportunity now to realign these programs, strengthen integration of activities and create an organization that will increase our capacity for accomplishing mission critical work.

We are pleased to announce the creation of the USDA Departmental Management organization. This new organization will replace the current Departmental Administration organization, effective today. The reorganization will improve the management of USDA and reflect Secretary Vilsack’s desire to transform USDA into a model organization. On July 29, the Secretary approved the organizational structure for the new Departmental Management. On September 8, 2009, the Secretary issued a Memorandum to effect the changes necessary to implement the reorganization beginning October 1, 2009. There will be staffing changes effective October 11, 2009, the date of the first pay period of the new fiscal year.

We need your assistance to make this effort successful. Improved integration of management support activities at the Departmental level will move us collectively towards achieving a model organization, positioned to meet the present and future needs of our programs. This transformation is a tremendous opportunity for us to decrease redundancy, increase efficiency, and improve employee morale, and for all of us to make better use of our resources.

We would also like to reiterate Secretary Vilsack’s point that no employee will lose their employment, grade, or commuting area as a direct result of this reorganization. We have also engaged Unions to ensure that bargaining unit employees are represented throughout this process. As we move to the new organization, all employees will be treated fairly and consistently.

Leadership will schedule meetings with employees soon to discuss the reorganization and any necessary realignments or reassignments. These meetings will also provide opportunities for employees to ask questions. Also, we are establishing a web site to go live on Friday, October 2 (www.hqnet.usda.gov/DM_reorg) that will provide a list of frequently asked questions and updates on our progress. A Fact Sheet, Frequently Asked Questions, Secretary Vilsack’s June 18 letter, and an approved Organizational Chart are included for your information.

We are also pursuing Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) authority from the Office of Personnel Management to present as many positive options as possible during this transformation. A fact sheet on this topic is also included for your review.

As we implement this new organization, we are going to need everyone’s support to make this reorganization a success. We encourage you to stay engaged to ensure a seamless transition that benefits not only our organization, but the American taxpayers as well.

It has been clear that USDA has been in management chaos for some time — but most people believe that was the result of specific personnel, not the structure. (The Bush administration has combined the CIO and CFO job one person — Charles Christopherson — and the agency is still struggling to recovery from the senior people who managed to escape.

I certainly hope that the Obama administration isn’t following a model where they come in and spring a reorganization on employees without asking for ideas? There are also questions about how USDA manages to dodge the CFO Act and the Clinger-Cohen Act, which require that agency CFOs and CIOs respectively report directly to the secretary?

Here is the new USDA organization chart:

View this document on Scribd

I should note, the items mentioned in the memo from the USDA Web site — I’m guessing that it is an Intranet site, so most of us can’t access those documents. Therefore, I have posted them below:

* USDA management reorganization fact sheet… or here

* USDA management reorganization frequently asked questionsor here

* Secretary Vilsack’s June 18 letter

Of course, I’d love to get thoughts from people who have been there and done it — is this the right move for USDA? Post your comments… and we’ll even open the DorobekInsider poll seeking your assessment of the USDA reorganization.

Written by cdorobek

October 17, 2009 at 6:30 PM

DorobekInsider: GovExec exec Matt Dunie exits… and media notes

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Matt Dunie, who joined Government Executive as general manager back in April… and was then promoted to be president of the group over the Fourth of July week, has left the organization after only six months, the DorobekInsider has learned.

Details are sparse at the moment… and the departure has raised all kinds of questions… for example, why did Dunnie leave? What does this mean for Government Executive Media, which includes Government Executive magazine, GovExec.com and NextGov.com, the up-start government IT Web site. Government Executive, of course, is owned by David Bradley, the chairman of Atlantic Media Company. Bradley, of course, is extremely influential and is widely respected.

As I say, we don’t know much officially. Unlike when Dunie joined Government Executive last April or was promoted over the summer, there was no press release announcing his departure — or, frankly, who was taking over. In fact, Dunie’s bio is still listed among Atlantic Media’s leadership team on their Web site.

What people have been told is that Dunie was brought in to come up with a strategy for Government Executive — and that he did that and that he has a management team in place to carry out that strategy. Again, I don’t have anything to quote because there wasn’t even an internal e-mail sent around, I’m told.

That official cause seems to stretch credulity. With all due respect for Dunie’s skills — and I met with him several times and he seemed very smart — it seems difficult to believe that somebody with no prior experience in the government market was able to so alter Government Executive’s strategy in six months.

Dunie’s departure would seem to be good for Steve Vito, who was the leader at Government Executive. GovExec had left many people scratching their heads when Bradley hired Dunie as, essentially, Vito’s boss — and then Vito was shifted to a “strategic” role. Insiders say that Vito has told Bradley that he is not interested in going back in time. Vito currently works part-time for Government Executive.

So these changes could spur some changes within Government Executive — and, essentially, a new senior leadership team for the media organization.

They could, of course, put out a search to fill that post, but it is a very unique skill set. (Just ask the folks over at the 1105 Government Information Group, which went through an exhaustive search to find a group publisher before hiring Jennifer Weiss this summer.) There are only a handful of people who have a publishing background and have knowledge of this market, which is unique and takes a long time to know and learn.

And these are challenging times for publishers — even in this market. Government Executive seems unusually well positioned, thanks largely to decisions made by Vito who has made a conscience effort to reduce the organization’s dependence on print — and thereby have created new revenue streams from online, including creating NextGov, a whole Web site focusing on government technology. Yet publishers have to be very agile these days — and so it will be interesting to see who Bradley taps to lead Government Executive.

Eying Governing magazine

A few other publishing notes… First, apparently Atlantic Media/Government Executive have decided not to bid for Governing magazine. We told you about parts of the Governing story this earlier, but… Governing was owned by Congressional Quarterly. When The Economic Group’s Roll Call brought CQ, they did not buy Governing, a somewhat sleepy publication that covers the government state and local market. And so… Governing has been shopped around. Word is that Atlantic Media/Government Executive have decided that… well, the price wasn’t right. It is unclear who else might be bidding — Neal Vitale of 1105 Media is believe to be interested and, in fact, sent 1105 staff an e-mail recently saying that despite 20 percent salary cuts, the company could still buy properties — if the price is right. The question: Is the price right? Vitale is known for seeking good deals, but we hear there is a steep price tag on a publication that doesn’t make much money. That being said, 1105 has been interested in having a foothold in the government state and local market, which is overwhelmingly dominated by eRepublic‘s Government Technology. But if 1105 were to buy Governing, they could make a cogent argument that they are the most efficient way to reach the government market — at all levels.

Frankly, I haven’t heard about other bidders.

Editor’s note: Post updated to correct the spelling of Matt Dunie’s name.

Written by cdorobek

October 15, 2009 at 7:26 AM

Posted in press

DorobekInsider: GSA administrator nominee watch — developments on the Kansas City federal center

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Yes — more than 10 months into the Obama administration — and Martha Johnson, the nominee to be the administrator of the General Services Administration, is still awaiting Senate confirmation.

The issue: Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has put a hold on Johnson’s nomination because of a Kansas City federal property, as we told you back in August — and Federal News Radio 1500 AM spoke with the Kansas City Star reporter Kevin Collison.

Collison has an update:

GSA puts twist in downtown project’s plan

By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star

Downtown Kansas City can have a new federal office building and 1,200 employees, but under a different development plan than first envisioned.

A top General Services Administration official has given the Missouri congressional delegation the green light for the $175 million project — but only if the federal government owns it.

The plan that had been pitched locally since 2006 called for a building to be developed privately and leased to the GSA. The 430,000-square-foot project would be filled with federal workers moving from the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City…

Peck’s letter is the latest twist in a political battle that has stalled President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the GSA. Bond has placed a hold on the appointment of Martha Johnson to apply pressure on behalf of the Kansas City project…

Bond’s office greeted Peck’s latest offer with caution, and the senator will continue to hold up the Johnson appointment until more information can be obtained.

Read the full story here.

Read GSA’s letter to the Missiour congressional delegation here:

View this document on Scribd

As the Kansas City Star reports, it remains unclear if this will resolve the stand-off… and how quickly that be resolved.

Written by cdorobek

October 14, 2009 at 1:01 PM

DorobekInsider: Wolf warns to protect your PDAs — a good reminder. Read the CIO Council’s 2008 memo

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Last week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) about a letter he sent to President Obama essentially saying that the government was not taking proper precautions for their PDAs — BlackBerries and the like.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today called on the president to hold a confidential cabinet briefing on the topic of cybersecurity and to make the protection of federal data a top administrative and policy priority.

Wolf, whose office computers were compromised in August 2006, continues to express concern that not enough is being done to protect critical data.

“The continued vulnerability of computer and telecommunications networks remains the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of U.S. national security in the 21st century,” Wolf wrote in a letter dated today to President Obama. “I hope you will lead our executive agencies by demonstrating to your cabinet the seriousness with which you consider this issue.”

Hear Wolf discuss this topic here.

In fact, this issue was addressed by the Federal CIO Council more than a year ago. Here is the memo:

View this document on Scribd

This afternoon on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief, we’ll talk to Karen Evens, who signed that memo, about the issue.

I certainly don’t think anybody is suggesting that this issue not get full attention — so we’ll take a look at it and why it is important.

Written by cdorobek

October 14, 2009 at 9:18 AM

Posted in Policy, security, Technology

DorobekInsider: The era of e-mail is over — or ending, the WJS says — and we are terrified

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The WSJ Monday featured a special technology section… and the lead story was about the end of e-mail.

Why Email No Longer Rules… [WSJ, Oct. 12, 2009]
And what that means for the way we communicate
Services like Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave create a constant stream of interaction among users—for better or worse.

By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO

Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.

In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine.

We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.

Why wait for a response to an email when you get a quicker answer over instant messaging? Thanks to Facebook, some questions can be answered without asking them. You don’t need to ask a friend whether she has left work, if she has updated her public “status” on the site telling the world so. Email, stuck in the era of attachments, seems boring compared to services like Google Wave, currently in test phase, which allows users to share photos by dragging and dropping them from a desktop into a Wave, and to enter comments in near real time.

Little wonder that while email continues to grow, other types of communication services are growing far faster. In August 2009, 276.9 million people used email across the U.S., several European countries, Australia and Brazil, according to Nielsen Co., up 21% from 229.2 million in August 2008. But the number of users on social-networking and other community sites jumped 31% to 301.5 million people.

Read the full story here… and read the WSJ editor’s note about the piece here.

The story is good — and has started a wonderful conversation with more than 168 comments when I last checked — and most of them fairly angry and recalcitrant.

The WSJ story doesn’t fully capture why these other tools are expanding in popularity, particularly for businesses — it’s the collaboration aspect. Many of these tools tap into the ideas that all of us know more then each of us individually… and information is more powerful when it is shared.

I wrote about this in June in my Signal magazine column:

The First Step Toward Collaboration Is to Stop E-Mailing
E-mail works well for person-to-person communication but today there are better options.

And much of criticism of these new collaborative platforms is part of the reason why I think it is so important that we move away from the term “social media.”

There are corollaries here with the introduction of e-mail… and maybe even the introduction of the telephone. In my Signal column, I recalled when the General Services Administration, under then-administrator David J. Barram, was one of the first agencies to provide each and every person in the organization have e-mail — in fact, they made it a big deal and launched the initiative on Flag Day 1996. I remember covering this issue and I remember people asking, ‘Why would everybody need an e-mail account? Why would everybody need access to this InterWeb thing?’

GSA, thankfully, still has the press release online under the headline, “GSA Employees Join Super Information Highway through Intranet.”

That release, dated June 14, 1996, quotes Barram defining what the Internet even is. Really! How delicious is that?

The “Internet is known as the global communications network and it is being called by many experts the most promising avenue for business in existence today. Through the use of Internet, companies and government agencies worldwide are finding exciting new ways to serve their customers and communicate with each other.”

E-mail revolutionized the way we communicate… and e-mail definitely has a “social” aspect to it, but… it isn’t “social media.” It is a tool that enables organizations to do their job better and more effectively.

Unfortunately, since then, we try to use e-mail as a collaboration tool. (We send out these e-mails with 75 people cc’ed… and with some attachment. That attachment gets changed by individual people — and then we have to bring all those pieces together. Or even worse — when you are number 72 on the cc list and you may have been copied more as informational.

Today, there are better tools out there that enable real collaboration.

What is interesting are how people react to this changing landscape — mostly negatively.

Here is one comment on the WSJ piece by Jorge Diaz:

The 20 somethings (and younger) use Facebook as a tell all, as an “analog” generation guy, I find it unseemly, I don’t care about the kids’ dates, how much they drank, who they met, and so on, this is small-minded, tabloid stuff.

As an employer, facebook “history” reflects peoples character, I will not hire someone who lives an outrageous lifestyle away from work.

I have always found this assessment baffling — and, frankly, just uneducated. In fact, Facebook — or any of these tools — are not just about dating or how much they drink. And, in fact, it isn’t just kids. So this just sounds like somebody who refuses to try something new or different.

And I’ve never understood using collaboration and transparency as a bludgeon. The fact is that people do date and they do drink — and a lot of our lives are taken up by “small-minded, tabloid stuff.” So people are doing these things. This is really going to be the determining factor in hiring? Really?

Furthermore, people simply don’t talk about drinking or dating in their work environment out of context. (We are generalizing, of course, but… in general, it has been the case.) In fact, what one finds is that in work situations — enterprise 2.0 — people don’t talk about dating. They talk about work. It isn’t anonymous. It is work — so ones name is tied to what one is saying. People get that — and they take it seriously.

But there is also a real apples-to-oranges comparison that goes on with these tools. So Mr. Diaz, you are saying that none of your e-mail is about personal matters? There is no e-mail that involves “small-minded, tabloid stuff”?

I’d recommend you try some of these collaborative tools before you throw stones at them.

The other comment that struck me is this one by Jerry Cole:

Not for business. While at work, I don’t have time to watch or respond to people’s questionable quality chatter on all of these various services. Email lets me work in a disconnected fashion and respond “in bursts” when I am ready.

If you have time at the office to read about constant updates such as where a person is going to dinner, or who’s dating who then watch out, you might find yourself downsized.

Again, it seems like an apples-to-oranges comparison — there is a reason why people are connected to their CrackBerry. And I see people all the time who put their lives aside when their PDA buzzes with a new e-mail.

If you don’t like the information that people are sharing, then you are probably following the wrong people.

Over all, people’s fears seem disconnected from reality — people complain about e-mail, the amount they get, the number of unnecessary e-mails, their inability to keep up with it — and yet terrified of looking at new ways of doing business.

E-mail isn’t going away. What we’re talking about is using the right tool for the right purpose — and today, we have greater access to a wider variety of tools. I guess I remain baffled about why one would simply reject those tools outright.

Again, in my Signal magazine column, I challenged people to look at new ways of putting out information.  For managers, rather then sending out an e-mail blast, why not blog it? — put it out there for everybody to see and read and reference — and even discuss.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2009 at 11:19 AM

DorobekInsider: Celebrating a Happy (Fiscal) New Year with GovLoop

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GovLoop and GovDelivery, fresh off their new partnership, had a party — to celebrate that collaboration, but it was also a Happy Fiscal 2010 New Year Party at Current in Washington, DC.

Some of the buzz items at the event:

* The future of Intellipedia: We’ve been telling you about the decision by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to shut down one part of the Intellipedia suite of collaboration tools. It’s important to remember that the crowd that comes to a GovLoop party is more of a gov 2.0 crowd. That being said, it is also a younger group — and they are collaborators. And they are passionate about the mission of government. They are, by and large, the kind of people the government wants to hire — and keep. Despite reassurances by ODNI officials that they will replace the uGov e-mail system with something else, there is a lot of suspicion. In the end, e-mail is a 1990s technology and is not really a collaborative technology. But there is great concern about what this will mean for the rest of the Intellipedia suite of collaborative tools. But people believe that this has a significant impact on what other agencies will do.

* Collaborating around Buying — specifically, betterbuyproject.com: A group of folks — GSA and the National Academy of Public Administration — are working on improving the acquisition process… even the crowdsourcing of an acquisition. It is a great idea and a marvelous attempt at trying something new and different. The official announcement of the program will come later this month at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference… and we hope to have GSA’s Mary Davie on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris with a preview in the coming days.

Meanwhile, some photos of the event…

GovLoop’s Ressler with Deloitte’s Rachel Azaroff… Azaroff was one of FCW’s interns when I was editor in chief. One of my goals with interns was to give them something they could have as a “clip” when they went out into the “real” world — and Azaroff was there when FCW launched the Rising Star awards program. So… for the Rising Star issue, I asked a young person to write a story about the challenges facing young feds. The headline, Hire me, already: New recruits say government work is a good gig — and as rewarding as ever — but getting a foot in the door can be a drag, and the story is probably just as apt today as it was back in 2006 when the story was written. I also asked her to write a “comment” piece based on what she had learned:

Azaroff: Forget MySpace. It’s time for FedSpace [Federal Computer Week, Oct, 9, 2006]
Twenty-somethings could make e-government and other cross-agency initiatives happen

You’ll notice that Ressler was going incognito…

And, of course, the DorobekInsider was there too (photo courtesy of Kathleen Smith of ClearedJobs.net. See more of her photos from the event here.)

Happy Fiscal 2010

Happy Fiscal 2010

In fact TechBisnow was able to grab a photo that I did not — GovLoop’s Ressler and GovDelivery’s Burns.

And, by the way, yes — Federal News Radio 1500 AM was a sponsor.

Written by cdorobek

October 11, 2009 at 10:18 PM

DorobekInsider: What you read for the first full week of October 2009

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What you read for the first full week of October 2009 on the DorobekInsider.com… the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris… and FederalNewsRadio.com

First… DorobekInsider.com

  1. DorobekInsider: ODNI response to its decision to shut down Intellipedia’s uGov Web based e-mai
  2. DorobekInsider: Changes within the VA IT shop
  3. DorobekInsider: One part of the intel collaboration suite gets nixed, sparking protests — and
  4. DorobekInsider: Former USDA CIO Chistopherson lands at SAP, former Food and Drug acting CIO Chapman
  5. DorobekInsider: And it’s official — Gordon nominated to OFPP post
  6. DorobekInsider: GovLoop graduates finding a great new home with GovDelivery — what will it mea
  7. DorobekInsider: The hottest ticket in town — Roger Baker speaking at Input
  8. DorobekInsider: Tracking the Gordon OFPP announcement — how soon is soon?
  9. DorobekInsider: What you read for the last week of September 2009 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debri
  10. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum
  11. DorobekInsider: Judging DC’s funniest celebrity… and the winner is…
  12. DorobekInsider: Obama expected to nominate GAO’s Gordon to OFPP post — soon
  13. DorobekInsider: The era of social media is over – long live collaboration tools
  14. DorobekInsider: The buzz of federal government IT: Two scorching IG report on VA IT… sex, lie
  15. DorobekInsider: CGI Federal scores a coup hiring former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill

What you read from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. Postal Service announces final list of closures
  2. Wednesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  3. Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  4. Analysis: GAO’s Dan Gordon nominated as OFPP Administrator
  5. The Daily Debrief Reports: MilitarySaves.org partners with Thrift Savings Plan to help troops save f
  6. Federal Register now available in XML
  7. Wikipedia co-founder talks about dealing with Web 2.0 pitfalls
  8. Daily Debrief Reports: No required minimum distributions for your TSP in 2010?
  9. DoD will hire thousands of new workers
  10. Hughes partners with agencies to increase teleworking feds
  11. New standards for Section 508 compliance are coming
  12. Your Turn preview: LTC insurance update
  13. GAO asks To Insource, or Outsource?
  14. Deloitte’s Tom Davis gives analysis on OFPP Administrator nominee
  15. GSA prepares for 2009 IDEAS Conference
  16. GAO asks to insource or outsource?
  17. Defense Information Systems Agency rolls out its Rapid Access Computing Environment
  18. Smithsonian offers buyouts to over 6,000 as part of new strategic plan
  19. Microsoft Federal focuses on options in the cloud
  20. Nortel Government Solutions, Avaya sign agreement
  21. New OMB memo talks about management priorities
  22. DISA plans to present best practice list at 2009 Service Management Conference & Expo
  23. The Daily Debrief Reports: MilitarySaves.org and your Thrift Savings Plan
  24. NIST issues guidelines on new mobile biometric devices
  25. Gov. Kaine gives his reaction to BRAC extension
  26. The Daily Debrief Reports: MilitarySaves.org and the Thrift Savings Plan
  27. A sneak peak at DoD’s Web 2.0 policy with Bob Brewin
  28. Analysis on OFPP Administrator nomination from Rob Burton
  29. International Spy Museum celebrates National Cybersecurity Month
  30. Competition causing conundrums in the federal marketplace; FAIR Institute to release new report
  31. FEHBP participants should plan to pay more in 2010
  32. What happened at the Excellence in Government Conference today
  33. VA hits play button on several projects
  34. Monday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  35. Navy CIO Carey discusses recently issued Web 2.0 guidance
  36. Partnership for Public Service gets word out about ‘social capitalism”
  37. Two top feds say it might be time for a change in telework policy
  38. GSA to award contract to address acquisition system issues
  39. GAO report cites problems with insourcing at some agencies
  40. SalesForce.com assists agencies in moving to the cloud
  41. Section: Daily Debrief Blogs
  42. FAIR Institute releases report on insourcing
  43. Former FCC Chairman Powell on the role of government and getting information in the digital age
  44. Ask the CIO preview: Office of Justice Programs has more grant money
  45. CMAP: A new leadership program designed for you
  46. Thursday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  47. ICANN, Dept. of Commerce sign historic agreement
  48. TSA employees closer to collective bargaining
  49. Still looking for a job in Federal IT…PPS wants to help

And what you read on FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. NSPS one step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ might be cured
  2. NSPS another step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ cure a “done deal”
  3. USPS’ Potter urges ‘public dialogue’ on future of Postal Service
  4. Feds’ FEHBP no longer in danger; Congress, staffers still affected under Grassley plan
  5. International Spy Museum offers grim, sobering warning on cybersecurity
  6. Program launched to help recruit 11,000 new federal IT workers
  7. OPM gives employees opportunity to change long term care program
  8. GAO finds civilian agencies slow to insource jobs
  9. White House makes push for agencies, contractors to hire people with disabilities
  10. Postal Service one step closer to shutting hundreds of branches
  11. GSA to reveal plans, update on new DHS headquarters project
  12. Veterans Affairs restarts some of its suspended projects
  13. EPA awards 7 vendors spot on $955 million contract
  14. OMB details approach to program evaluations
  15. Federal Register XML format will increase usability, accessibility and save money
  16. Merit Systems Protection Board document to help federal managers deal with poor performers
  17. Chopra, Kundra speak out on technology and government
  18. Senate Census panel asks tough questions about 2010 count
  19. White House cuts federal pay raise
  20. CIO Council taskforce to change security metrics
  21. Should the Marines set up a cyber command?
  22. GPO and Dept. of Energy take going green to the next level
  23. DHS gets green light to hire 1,000 ‘cyberspecialists’
  24. OPM wants to know agencies’ plans to hire presidential fellows
  25. Federal News Radio Reports
  26. FBI takes to planes in global fight against cybercrime
  27. FTC unveils stricter guidelines for bloggers
  28. Chopra, Kundra speak out on technology and governmnt
  29. OPM no longer to project federal retirements
  30. OFPP asks for consolidated report on procurement data
  31. DoD makes NSPS pay raise equal to GS employees
  32. Universities lead technological innovation but is the government following?
  33. NSPS remains on life support
  34. DHS extends states’ deadline to request more time to meet REAL ID
  35. OMB’s new performance framework to combine the best of the past
  36. Exclusive Preview of Top 20 Federal Contract Opportunities
  37. USPS has latest list of possible closures
  38. Feds to pay more for health care under FEHBP
  39. Causey: Federal Health Employee Benefit Plan amendment not likely to pass
  40. Feds submit more than 10,000 ideas to OMB in effort to SAVE money
  41. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  42. Senate committee increases civilian pay raise to 2.9 percent for 2010
  43. Military talks about interagency collaboration in war zones
  44. The end for NSPS?
  45. Troubled federal procurement data systems to get facelift
  46. DHS concludes public phase of quadrennial review
  47. USGS mobilizes Web 2.0 to better understand natural disasters
  48. TSA picks CSC to run its technology infrastructure
  49. DHS marks new milestone with St. E’s campus groundbreaking
  50. Short time deadline looms for federal Long Term Care

Written by cdorobek

October 11, 2009 at 5:38 PM

DorobekInsider: ODNI response to its decision to shut down Intellipedia’s uGov Web based e-mail system

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We reported earlier about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s decision to shut down the Web based e-mail system that was one of the intel community’s Intellipedia collaboration suite of tools.

I am still working to get somebody on Federal News Radio 1500 AM — I think it would be very good for ODNI to explain their decision.

That being said, ODNI officials have provided a written statement from ODNI spokeswoman Wendy Morigi:

In order to improve security and enhance collaboration, the decision was made to phase out the “ugov.gov” unclassified web-based email system currently in use by a limited number of personnel. This transition will be executed in an orderly manner that sustains functionality and minimizes the impact on individual users. Access to Intel-link, Intellipedia, and similar services will not be affected. The ODNI remains committed to investing in and providing high-quality enterprise services for the Intelligence Community.

Other background:

Will a replacement service be put in place?
We are looking closely at a number of options and the Intelligence Community CIO, in conjunction with CIOs from the across the Community, will ensure that an appropriate migration plan is in place.

Who will provide this new service?
There are a number of options and when appropriate we will make the announcement to the workforce.

Will emails and data stored on uGov accounts be lost?
The migration plan will include a process for moving emails and data to the replacement system.

Unfortunately those responses don’t really address the questions that people are asking. First off, I’m not sure what they mean that uGov was used by a “limited number” of people. The phrasing seems to discount the capability. But there are many questions out there:

* What are the security concerns?
* Was there some incident that led to this action?
* Why not find fixes rather then shutting it down?
* Sharing information has inherent insecurities. How do you balance those?
* How do you prioritize information sharing?
* What assessment took place with existing, so-called “secure” e-mail systems?
* What does this mean for the rest of the Intellipedia suite of tools?
* We hear that ODNI is also considering shutting down “Bridge,” which allows analysts with security clearances to collaborate with people outside the government who have relevant expertise but no clearances. Is that true?

I’m sure there are others — I hope you will share your questions. I know there are others I have not included.

Part of the issue is that there is something of a battle going on — and there are many fronts.

Intellipedia is way out in front of the rest of government — in fact, in many ways, Intelipedia is way out in front of so much of the world. They are actually doing it. They are on the front lines of these issues. And there are legitimate issues here — on both sides. My concern right now is those aren’t being discussed. And that breads distrust.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. ODNI officials have a lot of eyes on them right now.

Written by cdorobek

October 8, 2009 at 5:45 AM

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