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Archive for November 2009

DorobekInsider: What are the stories that shaped the government’s world in the past decade? Federal News Radio is asking…

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Shockingly enough, we are nearing the end of the year — and we are also nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. I actually forgot all of this until I was reading a New York Times story Naming the ’00s, where people are struggling about what to call this decade that we’re about to finish up. But it got me to thinking: It is remarkable how many events happen day to day, month to month… year to year. Some of the events that seemed big and important at the time end up being unimportant in hindsight. Other events seemed unimportant but grow in stature over time.

For the month of December on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris is taking a look back at the past decade — and a look forward to the years ahead — and we are asking a somewhat simple question: What was the big issue/event/theme that defined the past 10 years… and what are some of the issues we should watch for the years ahead.

We will have all the conversations archived on Federal News Radio’s Stories of the Decade page, which you can find here.

We are reaching out to many of our regulars to get their insights — we kick of the Stories of the Decade series today with Federal News Radio’s senior correspondent Mike Causey. Read more and hear our conversation with Causey here — and who better to kick off the series then somebody who has followed these issues so closely. He tells us that one of the biggest events to happen in the past decade actually got its start in 1986 when Congress passed the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act creating the Thrift Savings Plan, but the TSP has seen big innovation in the past decade.

In the coming weeks, we will talk to people for their thoughts — certainly the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will be discussed, but… Web 2.0… the Internet… pay-for-performance…

As always, I’d like to get your insights — what issues should we cover? Or is there a person who would have good insights on the events or issues that impact government? I’d love to get your thoughts.

And we will be bringing you our conversations over the next few weeks, so… as we say, stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

November 30, 2009 at 2:22 PM

DorobekInsider: Most read stories Nov. 22-28 on the DorobekInsider, the DailyDebrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com

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A quiet Thanksgiving week, but… the most read stories from the week of Nov. 22-28, 2009…

…from the DorobekInsider.com

  1. DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: USDA undertakes extensive management reorg – downgrading the CIO, CFO … Despite this item getting the most traffic, the most updated news — at number four on this list and posted on DorobekInsider last week, is thatUSDA has been given permission for buy outs. Read the memo hereHear Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller with more here
  2. DorobekInsider: USDA gets push back on massive management reorg, GovExec reports; USDA remains silent
  3. DorobekInsider: NYT covers concern over Scientology’s buy of Governing
  4. DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  5. DorobekInsider: Gov 2.0 moves beyond ’social media’ — and why it’s more than a senantic question
  6. DorobekInsider: What you read for the week of Nov. 15-21 on DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com
  7. DorobekInsider: USDA officials offer more details on management reorganization
  8. DorobekInsider: BREAKING – Government Technology parent buys Governing magazine
  9. DorobekInsider: USDA gets early out approval from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  10. DorobekInsider: And it’s official — Gordon nominated to OFPP post, who has now been confirmed by the Senate [FCW]
  11. DorobekInsider: The books of IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference — books worth reading — including If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government by William Eggers and John O’Leary, who we spoke to on Federal News Radio on the release date of the book. Read more and hear our conversation with Eggers here… also Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, which is ‘officially’ released on Tuesday… and we will talk to him on the Daily Debrief on Tuesday.
  12. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum

from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  2. Participants borrow less from their TSP accounts
  3. How to avoid getting into trouble while shopping online at work
  4. Your Turn sneak peak – why you should plan on tuning in
  5. New best practices at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office save time, taxpayer dollars
  6. USDA’s Donald Sanders discusses employee reorganization
  7. Examining the role of China in U.S. cybersecurity policy
  8. Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  9. Learning more about USDA’s employee buyout
  10. Monday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  11. NRC negotiates new contract with NTEU
  12. New report: alternative energy methods key to securing troops on battlefield
  13. Tech trends present greatest threat to federal agencies
  14. Wednesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  15. How the USO is helping the troops – and what you can do to lend a hand
  16. TSP continues success; memo details participant behavior
  17. OPM rolls out new plan to deal with snow days
  18. Details about NSA cyberattack during Bush administration revealed
  19. Will House healthcare bill affect the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program?
  20. Study suggests agencies are struggling with transparency
  21. StimulusWatch.org launches version 2.0
  22. DARPA Network Challenge
  23. Sneak peak: Does the FPS have what it needs to get the job done?
  24. NOAA modernizes processes while going green
  25. Preview: Va. official reflects on BRAC changes during his term
  26. GovLoop launches ‘Awesome Gov Fund’
  27. Congressman calls for hearings about federal LTC insurance premium hikes
  28. WiRE tool helps managers, agencies with risk evaluation
  29. Lawmakers continue to discuss turning unused sick leave into TSP dollars
  30. Sneak peak: One of the toughest challenges for CHCOs
  31. How federal agencies can move into cloud computing
  32. New book details challenges of Web 2.0 usage across the globe
  33. New book highlights how to get things done in government
  34. New group of federal executives aims for more shared services
  35. How agencies can defend themselves against cyber attacks
  36. Former ODNI CIO Meyerrose talks about cybersecurity’s future
  37. WTOP’s Mark Segraves on patrol with the U.S. Coast Guard
  38. McAfee, Northrop Grumman partner to work on Host Based Security System
  39. Analysis: Immigration reform and border security
  40. Feds, agencies not taking advantage of teleworking opportunities
  41. Your Turn preview: A pay raise in your future?
  42. Analysis: GAO’s Dan Gordon nominated as OFPP Administrator
  43. Neustar details new cyberattack method
  44. Nominee to be TSA administrator testifies before Senate
  45. Analysis: 4th annual National Leadership Index released
  46. Sen. Brownback asks for Air Force to revise Tanker Request for Proposal
  47. H1N1 reaction: lessons learned
  48. Preview: OPM Director Berry tells Federal News Radio about goals

and from FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. Virginia Governor calls BRAC an ‘amazing mixture’ of news
  2. Rank-and-file FPS officers speak out on federal facility security woes
  3. Intelligence Community plans workforce of the future
  4. GSA leases new space to begin modernization
  5. Salary Council suggests locality pay increase for 2011
  6. White House cuts federal pay raise
  7. GSA headquarters to become model green building
  8. GSA to update the acquisition career management system
  9. Another LTC “error” affects 70,000 federal workers
  10. Social Security disability claims progress threatened by state furloughs
  11. GSA, DHS ready RFPs for Security LOB
  12. Federal shared services effort gets push from new executive forum
  13. Intelligence Community plans future workforce for changing future
  14. CIO, CHCO councils developing cybersecurity workforce models
  15. OPM Director Berry offers peek at the future of the federal personnel agency
  16. Federal News Radio Reports
  17. Senate committee increases civilian pay raise to 2.9 percent for 2010
  18. NSPS another step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ cure a “done deal”
  19. How to work around FEHBP’s fewer choices and higher costs
  20. Some insurance companies leave Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan as Open Season approaches
  21. GSA gives agencies drop-dead date for Networx transition
  22. House panel uncovers surprise on fed building security
  23. TSA, OMB nominees approved in committee
  24. Feds strike a blow for teleworking
  25. OMB to hold senior officials more accountable for government waste
  26. House committee does not address civilian pay raise for 2010
  27. DARPA is a groundbreaking agency — again
  28. Senate: Con artists are using stimulus scams to fleece citizens
  29. Transition out of NSPS begins
  30. TSP Roth 401(k) option: A history
  31. DoD makes NSPS pay raise equal to GS employees
  32. NSPS over and FERS Flu cured, Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill
  33. DoD IT experts open up about cloud deployment
  34. OPM’s Berry deals out first set of civil service reform suggestions
  35. Army to lead consolidation of approved products lists
  36. Insourcing debate heats up over agencies stealing employees
  37. Former President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association dies
  38. DHS to host industry day for Security LOB
  39. OMB taking IT LOB to the cloud
  40. House panel revisits security problems with Federal Protective Service
  41. DoD’s Bob Lentz to retire
  42. Maryland: the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Cybersecurity?
  43. Is GSA reducing the number of e-travel providers?
  44. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  45. DoD makes it official: FCS is cancelled
  46. The end for NSPS?
  47. GSA seeks to green all that it touches
  48. Justice, NSC lead review of cyber laws
  49. House panel casts leery eye toward TSP mutual fund option
  50. In search of cybersecurity watchdogs

 

Written by cdorobek

November 29, 2009 at 10:36 PM

DorobekInsider: Happy (belated) Thanksgiving 2009

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Of course, many of us are celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States — one of several times of real reflection over the next few weeks. But despite all the travel headaches, for me Thanksgiving is a fairly special time because it isn’t about gifts. It’s about… well, thanks… and family… and friends.

I have pulled together some government Thanksgiving resources, but… a DorobekInsider privilege… some of my thanks for 2009…

* Federal News Radio listeners and DorobekInsider.com readers… It is one of those trite but true statements: We — and I — thanks you so much for your support. We work very hard to try and bring you news, information, insights and analysis that help people in the government market do their jobs better. And we try to make even some of the dryer issues — we often refer to them as “boring but important” issues — we try hard to present those in a more accessible way. Regardless, it is such a fascinating time to be doing this work. I started covering the business of government some 18 years ago when my now colleague TomTemin hired me as a reporter for Government Computer News — and this market has evolved so much since then. Back then, people would often say to me, ‘The government uses computers?’ Today, I don’t get that question these days. To the contrary, tech luminaries are interested in the government market. The best thing about my job is that I get to talk to exceedingly smart people each and every day. What a great gig.

* Team Federal News Radio 1500 AM… A few weeks ago, we spoke to Government Executive editor Tom Shoop on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris and he mentioned in passing when he started two decades ago, he never expected there would be a radio station focusing on government issues. I have to say that I agree. But what a wonderful creation. And what a unique creation. As I have said, my first love of journalism was through radio — in part because it is intimate. It is there when you wake up in the morning… and in the car… and in your headphones… and now, even on your computer. And while reading is absolutely essential to deep understanding of complex issues, hearing somebody talk about an issue — their own words, their intonations, there particular focus — that is something that Federal News Radio provides to this market.

And I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I have been working at Federal News Radio for a little more than a year. Federal News Radio program director Lisa Wolfe took a real chance hiring a print guy who had little radio experience — and she has taught me so much. Furthermore, Wolfe and Federal News Radio sales czar John Meyer constantly have to deal with me as I send them notes saying, ‘I have an idea..’

Federal News Radio has also assembled a group of remarkable and talented journalists. (It’s interesting because our team regularly breaks news, yet one recent tally of federal news sources failed to include FederalNewsRadio.com among the more traditional outlets. Disappointing, but… we’re making progress.) We have a remarkable team, such as my co-anchor, Amy Morris, has really taught me so much. But above and beyond being amazing talented, Morris is really a joy to work with every day. Not only do we respect either others skills and talents, we really enjoy working together each and every day. I am alsohonred to work each and every day with Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey , who has been covering this market for more than four decades. He is a legend and I’m proud and honored to work along side him. Julia Ziegler, who has a number of jobs at Federal News Radio, is not heard on air but has a remarkable ear for radio and hastought me so much. We also have a great Daily Debrief team — Internet editor Dorthy Ramienski , who works every day to try and find innovative ways to present our information online… and also Daily Debrief producer Scott Carr… and the other people at Federal News Radio — Federal Drive anchors TomTemin and Jane Norris, Jason Miller, Max Cacas, Federal Drive producer Ruben Gomez… and the entire team.

* Those who are passionate about their jobs… One of the best things about what I get to do is deal with people who love their jobs. It is one of the great things about people who decide to focus on the government — and, in my experience, that is true in both the public and private sectors — they do what they do because they love what they do. They are passionate about the mission, whatever that may be. In general, government workers get an unfair rap — is government customer service really any worse then your credit card company? Really? In my experience, they areimpassioned about the mission facing them — and too often, they are the victims of bureaucracy, not the purveyors of it.

* The people who continue to amaze me with their quality and innovation… It is actually such a long list. Most of the people have been on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris because I love talking to smart, innovative people… Among the people: the remarkable CIOs like DOD’s Dave Wennergren, Navy’s Rob Carey, NASA’s Linda Cureton, and VA’s Roger Baker — and yes, there are others… Inspirational thinkers such as Deloitte’s William Eggers and Harvard Prof. Andrew McAfee and Mark Drapeau, who are inspirational thinkers… people like GSA’s Mary Davie, who is working to use collaborative tools such as The Better Buy Project, to enable people to come together to help them do their jobs better… and the absolutely remarkable government 2.0 community, which has taken the opportunity presented to the in the past year and they are just doing it. These are challenging times — but from those challenges, there are real opportunities.

* Finally, I want to thank my families. I don’t mean to be coy — and I will have news one way or another in a few weeks — but my families have simply gone above and beyond in the past year — in ways that I just couldn’t imagine.

Finally, some (belated) Thanksgiving resources…

Topping the list for those of you traveling… FlyOnTime.us, one of the applications spurred by federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s data.gov combined with the Sunlight Lab’s Apps for America 2 contest… this application tells you how likely flights will be on time — using government data sets. If you’re flying, it is worth checking out.

USA.gov’s Thanksgiving resources

The U.S. Ambassador to Japan blogs about the Thanksgiving Day holiday… and the State Department’s America.gov writes about Thanksgiving

Read about the history of Thanksgiving from the Library of Congress

and get more history from the National Archives:

On September 28, 1789, just before leaving for recess, the first Federal Congress passed a resolution asking that the President of the United States recommend to the nation a day of thanksgiving. A few days later, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” – the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution

More from the National Archives here… and more from the Library of Congress, which has Pres. George Washington’s proclamation.

And my favorite… from the Census: Thanksgiving by the numbers:

Where to Feast

3…
Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2008, with 456 residents, followed by Turkey Creek, La. (361) and Turkey, N.C. (272). There are also nine townships around the country named Turkey, three in Kansas.

5…
Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the red, acidic berry (e.g.,Cranbury , N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2008, with 27,194 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,795).

28…
Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 71,486 residents in 2008; Plymouth, Mass., had 55,705. There is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located inDade County, Mo., its population was 128 in 2008. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,231 in 2008.

Written by cdorobek

November 27, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Posted in Circuit, DorobekInsider

DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues

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The Agriculture Department is moving forward with its controversial mega-management reorganization and today, USDA officials announced that the agency has received approval from the Office of Personnel Management to move forward with early retirement offers and voluntary separation incentive payments to departmental management employees.

By way of background, USDA has been undertaking a massive reorganization that essentially create a uber-USDA “Departmental Administration” — including operations such as procurement, IT, human resources and finance. You can read the documents and the new organization chart here… and read the USDA statement on the management reorg here.

The full memo about the buy-outs and early-outs is posted below:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has received approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offer voluntary early retirement (VERA-Early Out) and voluntary separation incentive payments (VSIP-Buy Out) to Departmental Management (DM) employees with a Washington D.C. duty station who are (1) eligible for and elect an immediate annuity, either through optional or early retirement and (2) are in one of the covered occupational groups. Retirement eligibles occupying positions in one of the following job categories are eligible to consider the VERA/VSIP options.

- GS-0000 Miscellaneous Occupational Group;
– GS-0200 Human Resources Management Group;
– GS-0300 Administrative, Clerical, and Office Services Group;
– GS-0600 Medical, Hospital, Dental, and Public Health Group;
– GS-1000 Information and Arts Group;
– GS-1300 Physical Sciences Group;
– GS-1600 Equipment, Facilities, and Services Group;
– GS-1700 Education Group;
– GS-1900 Quality Assurance, Inspection, and Grading Group;
– GS-2000 Supply Group; and
– GS-2200 Information Technology Group

Employees selecting the VSIP option are eligible for a lump sum payment of $25,000 (gross) or an amount equal to the employee’s computed severance pay, whichever is less. Since the VSIP is limited to retirement eligibles, the vast majority of the VSIP payments would be at the maximum level of $25,000 gross.

The open period for election of optional retirement with a VSIP or early (VERA) retirement either with or without a VSIP is December 1, 2009, through December 14, 2009. All retirements must be effective no later than January 3, 2010.

OPM has authorized a maximum of 100 VSIP slots. Therefore the first 100 VSIP elections received from DM employees encompassed by the VERA/VSIP authorizations during the open period will be eligible for the VSIP.

The decision to choose any of these options is completely voluntary. In order to provide additional background information on the VERA and VSIP authorizations, the following overview sessions have been scheduled:

- Monday, November 30, at 10 a.m. in Room 107A, Whitten Building; and
– Thursday, December 3, at 10 a.m. in Room 107A Whitten Building…

Please note that an employee who accepts the VSIP offer may not accept reemployment with the Federal Government, either by appointment or a personal services contract for a period of five (5) years, unless the employee repays the entire gross amount of the VSIP to USDA.

All employees who accept an offer of an optional retirement with a VSIP or early retirement with or without a VSIP must complete the enclosed decision form. We have reserved Room 107A from 8:00 a.m. through noon, on Tuesday, December 1, to accept decision forms. After 12:00 p.m. on December 1, 2009, you must return the decision form by fax to the attention of Shelley Pree, Departmental HR Operations Branch, at fax number (301) 504-4883, or you can deliver the form to Ms. Pree directly at the George Washington Carver Center, Room 3-1270. Before faxing the decision form, please e-mail Ms. Pree at Shelley.Pree@ars.usda.gov to alert her of your faxed request. The faxed form will automatically be date-stamped upon receipt. The first 100 decision applications received from DM employees who meet the criteria summarized above will be eligible for a VSIP.

Employees can contact Lisa Carroll at (202) 720-4292 to arrange for retirement counseling. Employees are responsible for completing all necessary paperwork, including Form SF-2801 “Application for Immediate Retirement” (CSRS) or SF-3107 “Application for Immediate Retirement” (FERS) and providing these forms to the Human Resources Division.

Also, enclosed are Questions and Answers to assist you in making this important decision. Please contact Shelley Pree at (301) 504-4428 if you have any further questions.

More here:

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

November 25, 2009 at 11:56 AM

DorobekInsider: NYT covers concern over Scientology’s buy of Governing

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The NYT this morning as a story about the announcement last week that e.Republic Media, the parent company of Government Technology, was going to buy Governing magazine — and the NYT focuses on the fact that e.Republic’s “top management are Scientologists.”

It’s interesting because the general perception out there is that e.Republic is owned by the Church of Scientology, but the NYT only makes reference to the top management being Scientologists.

In my note on Friday, I did not mention the Scientology connection. I probably should have but, in my reading of Government Technology over the years, I have never noticed any influence, to be honest. But theNYT links to a 2001 article in the Sacramento News and Review, an independent weekly, about e.Republic that said, among other things, that e.Republic’s staff were required to read a book on management called “Speaking From Experience,” written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

Some highlights of the NYT story, headlined Concern at Governing Magazine Over Its Sale to Scientologists:

“There is concern,” [said Peter Harkness, who founded Governing in 1987 and who came out of retirement in August to serve as publisher during the sale process]. “Unquestionably, there is concern.”

Mr. Harkness said that a recent allegation of religious bias at The Washington Times, which is owned by the Unification Church, has exacerbated anxiety amongGoverning’s staff. The opinion editor of The Washington Times recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was coerced to attend an event hosted by the Unification Church, according to The Associated Press. The founder of The Washington Times is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, also the founder of the church.

Other details:

Of [Governing]’s 27 employees, 12 were kept on, nine were let go immediately and six others were asked to stay on in transitional roles.

Mr. Corty, the St. Petersburg executive who led the sale, said he was in a no-win situation: if he didn’t sell to e.Republic, which offered the highest bid out of six contenders, he would have been accused of discrimination.

“I felt I would have been criticized either way,” he said.

As I said earlier, I have always been impressed by Government Technology. It is one of my favorite reads. It is one of the most handsome publications out there, but it is also interesting to read and I almost always learn something, which is one of my criteria for publications. And I, personally, have never seen any Scientology link. Of course, I’m not exactly sure how that would present itself.

And a transparency note: Federal News Radio 1500 AM is owned by Bonneville Communications, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormons. That being said, the church has never influenced anything that we have done. To the contrary, they have shown great farsightedness in trying something very novel — the creation and ongoing expansion of Federal News Radio, which is the first radio station that I know of to move from an online platform to a major market radio frequency.

Written by cdorobek

November 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Posted in press

DorobekInsider: What you read for the week of Nov. 15-21 on DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com

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Here are the items you read for the November 15-21, 2009…

And the full lists…
The most read stories from the week of Nov. 15-21, 2009…
from the DorobekInsider.com

The most read stories from the week of Nov. 15-21, 2009…
from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

The most read stories from the week of Nov. 15-21, 2009…
and from FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. Another LTC “error” affects 70,000 federal workers
  2. OPM Director Berry offers peek at the future of the federal personnel agency
  3. Salary Council suggests locality pay increase for 2011
  4. GSA headquarters to become model green building
  5. House panel uncovers surprise on fed building security
  6. OMB to hold senior officials more accountable for government waste
  7. White House cuts federal pay raise
  8. Social Security disability claims progress threatened by state furloughs
  9. Is GSA reducing the number of e-travel providers?
  10. Career OPM officials will review all political conversions
  11. House panel revisits security problems with Federal Protective Service
  12. GSA gives agencies drop-dead date for Networx transition
  13. Few agencies meet OMB’s goal to protect critical infrastructure
  14. Former President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association dies
  15. Justice, NSC lead review of cyber laws
  16. House panel to revisit Federal Protective Service
  17. Feds strike a blow for teleworking
  18. TSA, OMB nominees approved in committee
  19. Federal News Radio Reports
  20. OPM’s Berry deals out first set of civil service reform suggestions
  21. Agency progress to secure its critical infrastructure stalled
  22. Army to lead consolidation of approved products lists
  23. Senate committee increases civilian pay raise to 2.9 percent for 2010
  24. Some insurance companies leave Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan as Open Season approaches
  25. TSA, OMB nominees approved by Senate
  26. Transition out of NSPS begins
  27. New exec council spearheads jobs for vets program
  28. Insourcing debate heats up over agencies stealing employees
  29. How to work around FEHBP’s fewer choices and higher costs
  30. Senate: Con artists are using stimulus scams to fleece citizens
  31. OPM, Hewitt Associates settle dispute over ‘RetireEZ’ contract
  32. FBI’s case management project remains on shaky ground
  33. NSPS another step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ cure a “done deal”
  34. Agency cybersecurity reporting to get makeover
  35. DoD makes NSPS pay raise equal to GS employees
  36. DHS to host EAGLE II industry day
  37. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  38. No COLA in 2010 not all bad news
  39. OPM sets new policy to make ‘burrowing’ harder
  40. New command at tip of DoD cyber spear, Lt. Gen. Alexander says
  41. House panel casts leery eye toward TSP mutual fund option
  42. NSPS over and FERS Flu cured, Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill
  43. House committee does not address civilian pay raise for 2010
  44. DoD makes it official: FCS is cancelled
  45. TSP Roth 401(k) option: A history
  46. TSA nominee faces Senate scrutiny
  47. Hill panel casts wary eye over costly Archives ERA project
  48. FAA gives 245 small firms preferred contracting status
  49. Federal Protective Service enhances security of government buildings
  50. Should the Marines set up a cyber command?

 

Written by cdorobek

November 22, 2009 at 12:24 PM

DorobekInsider: BREAKING – Government Technology parent buys Governing magazine

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The parent of Government Technology, e.Republic Media, has bought Governing magazine.

The quick history: Governing, owned by the Times Publishing Company, was part of CQ. And Congressional Quarterly was purchased by The Economist Group’s Roll Call earlier this year — but Governing magazine was not part of that deal. So Governing was re-put up for sale.

There were a number of potential bidders — Government Executive’s owner, Atlantic Media was eying it but withdrew early… Federal Computer Week publisher 1105 Media was also said to be in the bidding. The idea behind that bid is that it would give 1105 a foothold in the state and local market making the suite of publications a very efficient way to reach the government market.

The e.Republic buy is also interesting. While Government Technology is, as the name implies, more tech focused, Governing is more executive focused and could be a powerful combination for the state and local government market. It could provide e.Republic with a basis for broadening into the federal market.

From the release from Paul Harney, Chief Operating Officer for e.Republic, a California-based media company:

“Combined, the two organizations create the largest media firm providing news, research and analysis of the $2.9 trillion state and local government market.”

That being said, insiders say that a large percentage of the people at Governing are being let go today.

All of that being said, I have to say that I find Government Technology to be one of my favorite publications out there. It is well written, well edited and well crafted — and there is almost always something in the publication that makes me think. So I will be fascinated to see how Governing evolves.

UPDATE: B-to-B has posted a story:

In addition to Governing, which has a circulation of 85,000 and reaches top state and local government officials, the deal includes the Governing Web site and the Public Official of the Year event.

Here is the release:

e.Republic Acquires Governing Magazine
Governing joins Government TechnologyTo Create Powerful Combination

e.Republic today announced it has agreed to acquire Governing from the Times Publishing Company “We are very pleased to welcome Governing to e.Republic,” said PaulHarney , Chief Operating Officer for the California-based media company. “Our flagship Government Technology magazine has published alongside Governing for over 20 years, and we have a high regard forGoverning’s long history of editorial excellence,” Harney said.

“Combined, the two organizations create the largest media firm providing news, research and analysis of the $2.9 trillion state and local government market.”

“The Times Publishing Company takes great pride in Governing, which we nurtured from its inception 22 years ago into the powerful brand it is today,” said Andrew Corty, corporate vice president. “As part of this combination, Governing has a bright future educating and informing its senior-level readership across the nation.”

Governing will remain in its current offices on Connecticut Avenue in downtown Washington, D.C., under the leadership of its publisher Fred Kuhn, though some operations will be combined with similar functions at e.Republic. “Our intention is to retain the current array of products including the award-winning magazine, the Governing.com web site and well-known events, including the Public Official of the Year awards banquet,”Harney said.
Each company has long and deep experience in chronicling how the public’s business gets done in states and localities. Stemming from its long affiliation with Congressional Quarterly, Governing’s focus is on providing factual, unbiased coverage on public policy, management and what federal actions mean for cities, counties and states.

Headquartered in Sacramento, California, e.Republic has focused on the role technology plays in government transformation. An innovative media firm with award winning magazines and web sites, e.Republic is also home to the Center for Digital Government, a highly regarded research organization providing real-time intelligence and analysis on technology deployment and trends in state and local government.

“Governing plays an important role in informing and connecting America’s state and local leaders,” said Dennis McKenna, President and CEO of e.Republic. “Given the unprecedented challenges facing the country – growing unemployment, economic recession, failing infrastructure,healthcare reform, and energy insecurity – and on the eve of an important election year in states and localities, there has never been a more vital time for Governing.”

Governing was represented by The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc., a New York Citybased investment bank that specializes in the media, information, marketing services and related technology industries.

Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Written by cdorobek

November 20, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Posted in press, Technology

DorobekInsider: Gov 2.0 moves beyond ‘social media’ — and why it’s more than semantics

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Social networking — it is a term that has increasingly grown to make me cringe. And it is more then just semantics.

Regular DorobekInsider readers and listeners to Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris know it has been something of a campaign. In fact, I originally wrote about it back in September under the headline The era of social media is over – long live collaboration tools — and it is the subject of my column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine that will hit the streets on Dec. 1.

Last night, Web 2.0 guru Debbie Weil hosted a marvelous event titled Social Networking: the Two Dirtiest Words in Gov 2.0 (a Sweets and Tweets event) — the event was held at Baked & Wired in DC’s Georgetown, so we were surrounded by amazing cupcakes… and spirited yet very healthy debate. (David Harrity was kind enough to credit me with spurring the discussion, which is very kind. I actually credit Weil and Drapeau and the people in the room who were all interested in collaborating around this topic — in having a healthy debate.)

The main speaker was Mark Drapeau, who has an impressive bio — and an impressive following on Twitter. Drapeau is no stranger to listeners of Federal News Radio 1500 AM. He is one of a handful of government 2.0 thought leaders. And, as Drapeau acknowledged, he disagrees with me. (Drapeau and I disagree on things regularly — my guess is he does with many people — but he is also fascinated by a spirited debate on an issue and takes very little personally.  Additionally, he is unusually intelligent, which makes the debate even more refreshing.)

And I should say that Drapeau — and most of the people in the room — are interested in helping the government do its job better, and many of people there believe these tools offer real potential. The question at hand: Does the term “social media” and “social networking” help or hinder the cause of helping the government do its job better and more effectively.

Drapeau argued — and argues — that social networking is… well, social — and it is the socialness — the connections that people can make using these tools — and is empowering. In the end, these tools are much more then collaboration, he argues. It used to be about who you know, he says. Today, it’s about who knows you — and that, increasingly, the people who are the most connected are the most influential. And he argues that while social networking is… well, social, there is a lot of good and important work being done.

Further, he argued that these tools have connected him with many people he never would have met otherwise. But I would argue that comes from the sharing of information. That information sharing spurred collaboration. In work instances, the social aspects come later.

Both Drapeau and I agree that too often, people start with a tool or tactic. Instead, they need to have a goal in mind — what are you trying to accomplish, he said.

In many respects, Drapeau and I agree — but I continue to believe that the term “social networking” and “social media” are, in fact, detrimental. My co-anchor, Amy Morris, argues that my argument is largely about semantics. And, perhaps as a writer, I’m biased to believing that words are powerful and that they matter.

To me, the term social media is simply inaccurate. In the end, I don’t think that these tools are “media,” but beyond that, they aren’t really about being social.Socialness is the side benefit. Socialness is tantamount to the increased energy you get when you exercise — in the end, it isn’t the main purpose of exercise, but it sure is nice.

In the end, most organizations — and particularly agencies — aren’t interested in the social aspects of these tools. To the contrary, the social aspects hinder many organizations from using these tools, the same way it did with giving people e-mail addresses and putting the Internet oneverybody’s computer.

The fact is there isn’t a single agency that has the mission of being social. Even the Office of Personnel Management, the government’s HR organization, isn’t responsible forsocialness. For OPM — and for most organizations — these tools are a means to enable them to accomplish the mission more effectively and more efficiently.

But the term “social media” is, in fact, dangerous because it gives people the opportunity to discount these very powerful tools with a broad brush. (Giving credit where credit is due: This idea largely comes from Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, the guy credited with “inventing” the term “enterprise 2.0″ — and he mentions this in his upcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges, due to be released Dec. 1. I should also note that we will talk to McAfee on Dec. 1 on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.)

Dave Wennergren [PDF], the deputy CIO at the Defense Department, has a great line: “If you think Facebook is just for dating, you haven’t checked it out.” And he is exactly right. Yes — there is dating going on — and a whole lot of social stuff too — but the reason people are using these tools in droves is they let them do something that has been frustratingly out of reach: to share information. These tools — collaboration tools is my current preferred term, but I’m willing to take suggestions — these tools let people tap into the wisdom of the crowd… of their crowd. And people are learning that information is power — but that the real power of information comes when it is shared. That sharing helps everybody.

In the end, the power of these tools comes from their inherent ability to enable information sharing and collaboration, not from the social aspects. And I would point to the Better Buy Project, created by GSA, ACT/IAC and the National Academy of Public Administration. This site lets anybody, but particularly procurement officals, to share ideas and issues, propose solutions, and vote on other people’s ideas. And in the end, the site was created by sharing information in GovLoop’s Acquisition 2.0 group — by collaborating. Yes, there is a social aspect to all of that, but the question in the end — and the criteria that organization’s are going to judge the value — is whether these tools are helping people accomplish the organization’s mission. And that is something that bothDrapeau and I are in total agreement.

By the way, GSA’s Mary Davie tweeted that the Federal Acquisition Service is using the term “collaborative technologies.”

The phrase my be passe these days, but I still believe that content is still king — the ideas and thoughts matter. And while it is important who knows you, what is most important is the value of the information that you share — and how that information enables people to do their jobs better and faster.

(If I mischaracterized Drapeau’s thoughts and arguments, I know he — and others — will correct me and add their thoughts. You can also follow the #sweetevent Tweet stream here.)

A few other interesting comments from the event:

* Frederick Wellman, a former Army public affairs officer — his blog is titled Armed and Curious… Wellman argued that in many organizations, as government 2.0 has rolled out, the organizations are flattening. There is a greater ability for ideas to grow from the front lines. The traditional, hierarchical organizational structure is just changing. I think it is one of the scary parts of government 2.0, particularly for leaders — the loss of control, or, more accurately, the loss of perceived control. I recommendedWellman read the book What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, which was the subject of the March meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club. Jarvis highlights a number of principles in his book. Among them, as detailed in a BusinessWeek excerpt:

  • give up control;
  • get out of the way;
  • make mistakes well.

* Dux Raymond Sy, a managing partner with Innovative-e said that in too many cases, agencies are enamored by the tools — they are lured by the technology — and often see these tools as silver bullets that will solve the organization’s challenges. In fact, he argued, they are tools and they can help an organization accomplish its mission, but they aren’t magic.

* Kathleen Smith, the Chief Marketing Officer of ClearedJobs.Net, argued that the next evolution — dare we say Gov 3.0 — will be when people — citizens — get fully engaged using these tools. My sense is we’re already starting to see some of that, but… if true, change could really be coming.

See photos from the event… including one of me

Finally, thanks to FederalNewsRadio.com Internet Editor Dorothy Ramienski (@emrldcitychick) for joining me at the event tonight. While she is newlywed, I kept teasing her that it was our date night. She got to be a part of what I think was a interesting, educational, informative and fun discussion.

DorobekInsider: USDA gets push back on massive management reorg, GovExec reports; USDA remains silent

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We have been telling you about a number of management reorganizations going on at a number of federal agencies — the Department of Health and Human Services… the Department of Veterans Affairs has named W. Todd Grams to be VA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management… and just yesterday, Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas was on the Daily Debrief with an update from OPM Director John Berry on that organization’s management shuffle, which I assume is tied to a yet-to-be-named OPM CIO, who will apparently get more authority at the Office of Personnel Management. (I’m not hearing a name yet. You?)

But the one that has created the most consternation is the massive reorganization at the Agriculture Department that essentially create a uber-USDA “Departmental Administration” — including operations such as procurement, IT, human resources and finance. You can read the documents and the new organization chart here… and read the USDA statement on the management reorg here.

I’ve been pushing USDA to talk about it — to no avail. But I have been getting all sorts of e-mail about it — and it was the subject of much discussion at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference recently — even for the short time I was there. The big concern: Unlike the other reorganizations that are going on, the USDA plan seems to be a significant downgrade for both the CIO and the CFO — without any real explanation. And there had already been concern when the Obama administration decided to downgrade the USDA CIO from a political to a career post — again, without explanation.

And Government Executive’s Robert Brodsky has a good get — apparently the USDA CFO, Evan Segal, has “left his position, at least temporarily,” GovExec reports. Segal had been nominated in July.

From the GovExec story:

…Shortly after the [reorg] announcement, Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie Reed, who will run the new office, told Government Executive the plan has the support of the workforce and “the vast majority of employees feels that this was the right thing to do.”

But some employees oppose the effort. In November, Evan Segal, who became chief financial officer in July, objected to the management structure during a meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to sources whose offices are affected by the reorganization. Those sources spoke on condition they not be identified…

Segal has left his position, at least temporarily. “Mr. Segal has requested a leave of absence and he may choose to leave USDA to pursue other opportunities, but we have granted him time away to decide what he wants to do,” a USDA spokesperson told Government Executive. Segal did not respond to requests for comment, and an automated reply to his USDA e-mail account said he is “out of the office and will not have regular access to this account.”

Employees in the offices of Operations, Civil Rights and Human Capital Management — now renamed the Office of Human Resource Management — also have spoken out against the changes.

“Things are absolutely chaotic,” said one veteran USDA staffer whose office is affected by the restructuring. “I lived through previous reorganizations, and they are usually clear-cut. But there is no plan in place here. It seems to change day by day.” Another employee, who has been with the agency for several decades, said people are “unbelievably rattled, upset and disoriented.”

Read the full GovExec story here.

USDA has done an awful job of handling this entire process — and it is failing because of that. Their press organization, frankly, ought to be embarrassed.

They argue that they have been transparent — and, to be fair, USDA has created a portal with information about the management reorganization. But it is not available publicly — and despite numerous attempts to offer up a platform for officials to talk about what they are doing and why, they simply refuse. And the hole just keeps getting deeper.

Inherently, this seems to violate the upcoming, soon-to-be-released Obama administration openness and transparency initiative, which suggests that information should be released publicly unless there is a legitimate reason. What possible reason is there to not discuss these moves in a open and public way?

The USDA CIO and CFO organizations have been widely seen as in disarray for years now — and they are widely seen as the place nobody wants to work. And none of this is helping.

I continue to hope that USDA officials will try a different strategy and talk about what they are trying to do openly… tap into the remarkable wisdom of USDA — and of this community.

Federal News Radio continues to offer an open platform for USDA officials to talk about their strategy. As we always do, we will bend intopretzel shapes to be fair — but at this point, there are real questions out there that need to be answered.

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2009 at 9:00 AM

DorobekInsider: The books of IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference — books worth reading

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This is a much belated post — you can thank the flu.

A few weeks ago, I got to moderate a panel at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference 2009 on innovation. And we had a great group:

Turning Ideas into Value: The panel will discuss the process for generating ideas and how to select the best ones to maximize the benefits of innovation. Who do you look to for innovation? What are examples of creating the environment for innovative thinking? How to share ideas in nurturing an ecosystem that encourages innovation and creativity?

Panelists:

  • Moderator: Chris Dorobek, Co-Anchor, Federal News Radio
  • Sanjeev Bhagowalia, Chief Information Officer, Department of Interior
  • Tom Freebairn, Acting Director, USA.gov Technologies, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration
  • Mike Nelson, Visiting Professor, Internet Studies, Georgetown University
  • Mike Seablom, Head, Software Integration and Visualization Office, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

And one of the great things about conferences is people share good books — and there were a ton o’ books mentioned in this session. I promised that I would share the list. (I planned to do it earlier, but… the flu got in the way.)

If you heard books mentioned that I haven’t listed here, either send it along or post it here as a comment.

Of course, I mentioned a few books.

* Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, which is slated to be released on Dec. 1 but seems like it is available now. Transparency notes: McAfee asked me to write a “blurb” for the book, so I got an early read. My blurb didn’t make the actual jacket of the book, but… he posted it. Regardless, it is a fascinating read — and it highlights the remarkable work done by the intelligence community’s Intellipedia suite of collaboration tools. Second transparency note: McAfee will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Dec. 1 — the official book launch day.

* If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government by William Eggers and John O’Leary — Again, I got a pre-read of this book and it is just delightful. And one of the issues Eggers and O’Leary deal with is innovation. And a programming note: Eggers and O’Leary will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Thursday, Nov. 19… LIVE

* The Pixar Touch by David A. Price — I hear what you are saying — what does a movie studio have to do with government? Well, there is a real connection. First off, the technology that creates those amazing movies is made possible by a grant from ARPA — now DARPA. And the Defense Department is still one of the largest users in the world of this technology. (Pixar, remember, started as a software company, not as a movie studio.) I used Pixar as an example of an organization that was literally built on innovation — innovation is built in. And Price does a wonderful job detailing that. Pixar has also been remarkably successful — all of their movies have more than exceeded the magic $100 million gross that marks a hit movie in Hollywood. That is pretty remarkable in and of itself.

* Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation by James P. Andrew… This book was actually highlighted by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra — and we featured it on the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear our book club conversation with Chopra, Andrew, Federal News Radio’s Francis Rose and myself here.

* What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis… This book was also part of the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear the meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club here. The book, in the end, isn’t about Google. Rather, it is about innovation and being innovative. A lot of the book focuses on journalism, but…

Books mentioned by others:

* Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy by Judy Estrin mentioned by Nelson. We spoke to Estrin on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris soon after her book was released. Read more and hear our conversation here.

* Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology by Paul Glen, David H. Maister, and the legendary Warren G. Bennis, mentioned by Nelson

Did you hear any good book titles? I’d love to hear them.

Meanwhile, there is a great social networking site for bookies — people who love to read, not people who make bets. It’s called GoodReads.com. You can book friend me here.

Written by cdorobek

November 17, 2009 at 2:31 PM

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