Archive for June 2010
Those here in DC may have heard the horrible case of Vanessa Pham, a young woman who was murdered. Her body was found on Sunday.
The connection to the federal workforce: Pham’s mother is a postal worker — and family friends let me know that the family is having struggling financially to make ends meet. Friends have established a memorial fund to raise money for the funeral and burial costs.
Contributions may be sent to:
Navy Federal Credit Union
Vanessa Pham Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 3100
Merrifield, VA 22119-3100
More about Pham from the Washington Post:
Pham had just finished her freshman year at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where she was studying fashion design. She had received a “distinguished senior” award from Madison for her work in fine arts, and her family said she was a talented artist and designer.
Pham’s body was found about 3:30 p.m. Sunday inside her Scion hatchback. The hatchback had been driven into a ditch along Route 50 in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, near the intersection with Williams Drive just before Gallows Road. Police publicly identified her on Monday.
Vanessa Pham was on her way to realizing her dream of being a fashion designer. Then someone left her to die in her car in a ditch just a few yards from a busy Fairfax County highway.
Fairfax police on Monday identified Pham, a 19-year-old Northern Virginia native, as the woman whose body was found in a white Scion hatchback shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday. She had been stabbed multiple times, sources familiar with the investigation said.
The DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that Carey will join the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet, which is responsible for directing the Navy’s cyberspace operations. Carey has been one of the leaders for government cyber-security efforts and initiatives. And Carey mentioned the Fleet Cyber Command in a recent blog post.
No word on a timetable.
Also no word on Carey’s replacement as the Navy CIO, although I’d put money you’ll see a uniformed person in that post. (The almost unnoticed trend among DOD CIOs is that they are shifting from civilian posts to military posts. The notable exception, of course, is the nomination of Teri Takai to be the Defense Department CIO and Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information Integration. That being said, no word on where that nomination stands.)
More on the mission of the Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. Tenth Fleet:
The mission of Fleet Cyber Command is to direct Navy cyberspace operations globally to deter and defeat aggression and to ensure freedom of action to achieve military objectives in and through cyberspace; to organize and direct Navy cryptologic operations worldwide and support information operations and space planning and operations, as directed; to direct, operate, maintain, secure and defend the Navy’s portion of the Global Information Grid; to deliver integrated cyber, information operations cryptologic and space capabilities; and to deliver global Navy cyber network common cyber operational requirements.
U.S. TENTH Fleet Mission:
The mission of Tenth fleet is to serve as the Number Fleet for Fleet Cyber Command and exercise operational control of assigned Naval forces; to coordinate with other naval, coalition and Joint Task Forces to execute the full spectrum of cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and signal intelligence capabilities and missions across the cyber, electromagnetic and space domains.
The Fleet Cyber Command is led by Vice Admiral Bernard J. “Barry” McCullough III, and his deputy, Rear Admiral William E. Leigher.
An open letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag:
Dear Mr. Orszag,
I write this with a certain regret. I have tremendous amount of respect for you and the work you have done over the years. And I appreciate the Office of Management and Budget’s initiative to cut waste across government — and improve the use of IT. I have been covering government IT for nearly 20 years — and, as I wrote in Federal Computer Week years ago, I firmly believe that the government can use technology to accomplish its mission more effectively.
And I think the administration has taken a number of positive steps in its first 18 months.
And therefore, I was pleased with Monday’s OMB announcement about the initiative to cut waste by reforming government IT. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported on the policy memos — he has been out in front covering this issue.
There are three steps to the plan:
- Fix federal financial systems — a critical step
- Stepped up and detailed reviews of troubled IT systems
- A plan for improving the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. That plan will come within by October.
I even read the policies [PDF]:
- M-10-27, Information Technology Investment Baseline Management Policy (June 28, 2010)
- M-10-26, Immediate Review of Financial Systems IT Projects (June 28, 2010)
- M-10-25, Reforming the Federal Government’s Efforts to Manage Information Technology Projects (June 28, 2010)
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with your post on the subject. It included this line:
While a productivity boom has transformed private sector performance over the past two decades, the federal government has almost entirely missed this transformation and now lags far behind on efficiency and service quality. We are wasting billions of dollars a year, and more importantly are missing out on the huge productively improvements other sectors have benefited from.
Quite simply, we can’t significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government without fixing IT.
The emphasis is mine, not yours. But, to be honest, I found the wording unfair… and disappointing.
A few points:
It is utterly untrue to say that the federal government has “almost entirely missed this transformation.” I have been covering government technology for nearly 20 years. During that time, there have been remarkable strides. Today, IT touches just about every facet of every part of every business in government — and has utterly transformed certain parts of government. In fact, I would argue you would be hard pressed to find a part of government that hasn’t been transformed by IT.
Is there more to be done? Absolutely, and I give you and your team credit for your IT initiative… but it leads to the second point…
Please oh please retire the tired, tedious comparison between the public and private sectors. I would argue that it simply isn’t true because it isn’t a fair comparison. The challenges facing government agencies are, in many ways, larger in scope — and they are more complex — than those faced by most private sector organizations. And there are scores of cases that make this point. The one I often use are Homeland Security’s efforts to secure ports from potential terrorism. That mission can be accomplished: We can enlist resources to stop anything from coming into or out of the country. That would bring trade to a screeching halt — and having the same result on the U.S. economy… clearly not an option. And opening for any and all trade is also not an option. So the federal government has the unenviable task of finding the mix of those black-and-white options — essentially, they have to determine what is the right shade of gray.
That task is even more complex because those decisions are subject to constant hindsight review — sometimes years later. And then layer a complex management structure… within agencies… within the executive branch itself… and within Congress.
And none of this even touches on a almost utterly broken budget process where agencies are assigned money months into the fiscal year — and then told that they must spend it before the end of that fiscal year.
But even beyond that, the public-private comparison is specious because it is overly broad. What are you talking about when you highlight the private sector? Is the model General Motors? AIG?
We all have worked for private sector organizations where we have been amazed by what we deem as inefficiencies — or organizations that have terrible service quality. I now no longer use my United Visa card — put out by Chase Bank — because just about every third charge is rejected. Even worse — try to find a Chase official in their credit card division to contact.
And what are you talking about when you lambaste the public sector? There aren’t any examples of government agencies that use technology effectively?
Last year in AFCEA’s Signal magazine, I pleaded for a stop to this public-private comparison. What is most insidious about this private sector envy like the one in your post is that it feeds the false notion that government cannot do anything right, and that public employees — and public service — are somehow inept. It infers that somehow the problems agencies face are intractable… that government cannot — and does not — change… and that somehow government performance and government innovation are oxymorons.
To be blunt, it is unfair.
And even beyond that, it does something that I know you abhor: It adds no value. It adds nothing to the discussion.
You raise important issues — ones faced by both the public and private sectors — at what point to you cut off a troubled system by making the determination that continuing would be throwing good money after bad. It is a tough decision to make.
But some of the troubled programs mentioned — the Department of Veterans Affair’s financial management system and FBI’s Sentential program — are complex.
In the end, the issues you are facing are not new. I’d point to Raines Rules, published in 1996 by then OMB Director Franklin Raines to get a handle on IT systems.That OMB memo, issued under the title, “Funding Information Systems Investments,” was quickly renamed Raines’ Rules. And it became a seminal document for guiding IT management. The rules issued guidance for complying with the Information Technology Management Reform Act, which eventually became part of the Clinger-Cohen Act. It essentially set the criteria for evaluating major information system investments — and they read as if they could have been issued today.
There are issues — and I think even feds will give you credit for working to fix problems.
Again, I’m not taking away from this initiative — and the work that you and your OMB management team are doing is very important. But the slams against government are unwarranted — and unnecessary. That rhetoric simply is… not helpful, to be kind.
Christopher J. Dorobek
What stories made news for the week of June 20-26?
Here are the most read stories across Federal News Radio 1500 AM … on the DorobekInsider.com … for Mike Causey’s Federal Report… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris… and for FederalNewsRadio.com…
…from the DorobekInsider.com…
Why there’s been a backlash against feds lately
Comments needed for TSP beneficiary designation
Mobile devices can leave you open to cyber attacks
Why continuous monitoring is gaining popularity
In budget crisis, states take aim at pension costs
DorobekINSIDER: Treasury’s Gross to be deputy CIO at Interior
Census reports it has reached almost all households
How government will eliminate user names & passwords
Web inventor discusses importance of open data
Senate unanimously confirms TSA head
Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
Education Department crowdsources for innovation
How to get your TSP questions answered
Federal pay raises safe … for now
Dorobek Must Reads – June 21
Dorobek Must Reads – June 23
DorobekINSIDER: Green government – and telework
Agencies to crack down on waste, fraud, abuse
Hacking the hackers could solve cybersecurity woes
Flemming Award honors unique work of feds
Is blaming the MMS really fair?
Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
What you need to know about cyber bills on the Hill
Google Apps could help agencies move to the cloud
Financial management system updates coming
Geographic information systems increase participation
DorobekINSIDER: Week in review: June 13-19 — telework, pay freeze, and salaries
Dorobek Must Reads – June 24
DorobekINSIDER: Connecting Toy Story and government and innovation
Why security needs to catch up to Web 2.0 technology
Analysis: OMB’s Orszag first high-profile member to leave
Dorobek Must Reads – June 22
Causey: How agency budget cuts will affect you
Analysis and updates on the Gulf oil spill
Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
Looking for a cool new job? GSA is hiring!
Section: Blog Entries
National townhall brings citizens together to solve debt crisis
Resources: Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments
Cybersecurity bill unanimously voted out of Senate committee
How to create the best federal cybersecurity workforce
FBI finds 14 leak suspects during past 5 years
How accurate are annual hurricane season predictions?
The TSP as a model for other 401(k)s?
How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
DorobekINSIDER: Take your puppy to work day
Dorobek Must Reads – June 18
Enterprises need to be proactive in cyber war
… for Mike Causey’s Federal Report …
Cyberthreat of Joe Biden leads to arrest
Federal retirees should consider the Roth IRA
Monday Morning Federal Newscast – June 21st
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 25th
Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 23rd
Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 24th
Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 22nd
Private concerns about Booz Allen going public
War zone corruption allegations rise
MSPB to survey feds about personnel practices
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 18th
The ten biggest errors federal employees make, pt. 3
Cybersymposium features security rock stars
Wesley Clark: cyberattacks must be stopped
Security software often misses new malware
Social Security has more than a math problem
GPO celebrates its sesquicentennial
VA innovates innovation ideas
Analysis: HHS health IT program is the right start
Smartgrid cyber spending to hit $21 billion by 2015
Wartime commission plans for a first hand view
Data center survey contains concerns, optimism
Congress eyes cyberattacks options
… and from FederalNewsRadio.com …
Postal unions offer alternative to five-day schedule
Federal pay freeze proposal defeated
OPM wants to settle the fed salary debate
White House tells agencies to use data analysis to reduce improper payments
White House to give identity management a push
Cybersecurity bill clears Senate hurdle
Telework success depends on clear expectations
DISA launches BRAC relocation FAQ page
Bill would put DHS in charge of all civilian networks
Agencies get ready for FISMA changes
OMB Watch says Orszag ‘made budget cool’
OMB’s Werfel plugs financial modernization
DoD sees change in cyber culture
HHS creates process to certify health IT systems
New executive order further restricts lobbyists
PSC voices concerns over Hill Defense bills
Industry group encourages DoD to use GSA
Federal CTO issues mandate for innovation
Interior’s Salazar pledges bureau overhaul
Exclusive: OMB to propose major changes to financial management systems
NASA launches software assurance program
Cybersecurity bill gets first Senate hearing
Senate’s newest cyber bill on fast track to passage
Education Department launches open government tool
GSA plans to take e-mail, collaboration to the cloud
White House ready to reveal identity management plans
Critical tests to decide future of DHS’s virtual fence
Military attacks mental health stigmas
DHS women convene inaugural diversity forum
Task force seeks comments on small business contracting
OMB preparing performance management dashboard
Arlington starts to return calls after cemetery scandal
Support snowballs early for Senate cyber bill
Federal News Radio Reports
OMB shifts to real time cybersecurity monitoring
OMB pressing agencies to get IT projects on track
SBA CIO Naylor resigns
OMB’s Werfel lays out new plan to follow agency money
VA tries to speed claims processing for vets
DoD shows off health IT progress
GSA, DHS approve first governmentwide cyber provider
White House works to change online transactions
Navy CIO Carey leaving
Executive Order seals OPM hiring reforms
GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
No federal pay freeze for now
NIH faces economic strains in 2011
Postal Service prepares to move to five day delivery
Feds lead Smart Grid development effort
The Office of Management and Budget has just issued a new policy for dealing with Internet “cookies” — these are text files that a Web site can put on your computer to track how you traverse the site.
Cookies enable Web site personalization — for example, the allow a Web site to remember you and, maybe, the items you put in your online shopping cart. But they have always been watched by some privacy advocates because of the potential implications — for example, they could track a visitor’s travels to other sites. [Read how cookies work here... and how to delete them here.]
The federal government has been all but banned from using persistent Internet cookies because of those privacy concerns. OMB has just issued new policy guidance would enable agencies to use this tool. And Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas reported on the new policies on the Dorobek Insider on Friday. You can find his report here.
This is an issue I’ve followed for a long time (here is the FCW editorial I wrote on the subject back in 2006) — and, to be honest, I’m suspicious of the new policy. That being said, I have just started reading them.
The new OMB policy seeks to re-balance the privacy considerations given that the ban was instituted more than a decade ago. The idea: Times have changed and people are more accepting of these tools.
As I say, I’m reading the policies now, but… It is important to be very clear — agencies were absolutely not banned from using cookies. They had been banned from using PERSISTENT cookies — cookies that can track you long term. I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments that came in — and unfortunately OMB has not kept those comments online. And I still have to read the policies, but… I have year to hear a convincing argument why agencies must have persistent cookies. Some argue that the private sector does it, but that argument is specious — the government is not the private sector. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the private sector does. (Should government follow the Facebook privacy model?)
I’m reading the new policies with an open mind, but… I’m very suspicious.
The 2010 cookie/federal Web privacy policies:
* OMB policy M-10-22: Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies [PDF] [Scribd]
* OMB policy M-10-23: Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications [PDF] [Scribd]
How these came about…
Giving OMB credit, they tried to evolve these policies in a relatively public way. As I seem to say a lot these days, I think they could have developed it in a public way. That being said, it would be nice if the comments were still available.
Here were some of the discussion:
By federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Michael Fitzpatrick, associate administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Policy
In June 2000, the OMB Director issued a memorandum (M-00-13, later updated by M-03-22) that prohibited Federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, due to privacy concerns, unless the agency head approved of these technologies because of a compelling need. That was more than nine years ago. In the ensuing time, cookies have become a staple of most commercial websites with widespread public acceptance of their use. For example, every time you use a “shopping cart” at an online store, or have a website remember customized settings and preferences, cookies are being used.
* WhiteHouse.gov blog post: Enhancing Online Citizen Participation Through Policy [June 16, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick
Last week, Vivek Kundra and Katie Stanton talked about the efforts underway to introduce more Web 2.0 technologies to the federal government sites and to open more back-and-forth communication between the American people and the government. Some of this naturally requires the adoption of new approaches and innovative technologies. But another big part of this is updating existing practices and how these tools can be used to break down barriers to communication and information.
We continue to ask for your feedback, but the best feedback is informed feedback. So what follows is background on current policies and some examples of what we’ve heard from you during the Brainstorming phase of our outreach.
Here is the specific section on cookies:
* WhiteHouse.gov blog: Cookies Anyone (the http kind)? [July 24, 2009]
By Bev Godwin, who was on assignment to the White House at the time. She is currently GSA’s Director of USA.gov and the Office of Citizen Service’s Web Best Practices Office
Nine years ago – a lifetime in Internet time – the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a policy commonly referred to as “the cookies policy. “This policy prohibited federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, unless the agency head provided a waiver. This may sound like arcane, boring policy – but it is really important in the online world.
Unfortunately in this post, Godwin points to a site where people could post comments — http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/07/24/cookiepolicy. Unfortunately that page doesn’t seem to exist. It would be great to see the comments now.content is important to our citizens. We can use that data to improve the content and navigation of our sites.”
* WhiteHouse.gov blog post: On Cookies [August 11, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick
Our main goal in revisiting the ban on using persistent cookies on Federal websites is to bring the federal government into the 21st century. Consistent with this Administration’s commitment to making government more open and participatory, we want federal agencies to be able to provide the same user- friendly, dynamic, and citizen-centric websites that people have grown accustomed to using when they shop or get news online or communicate through social media networks, while also protecting people’s privacy.
It is clear that protecting the privacy of citizens who visit government websites must be one of the top considerations in any new policy. This is why we’ve taken such a cautious approach going forward and why we felt it so important to get feedback and hear from people on this. While we wanted to get people’s ideas for improving our policy, we also needed to hear any concerns so that we could understand better where potential pitfalls might lie.
Going back a decade… some of the discussion that led to the persistent cookie ban.
[The CIO Council] strongly support the requirement that the use of any technology, including persistent cookies, to track the activities of users on web sites be approved personally by the head of the executive department (for the 14 executive departments) or agency.
As we make progress towards electronic government, personalization of web sites, typically done through persistent cookies, may become necessary in order to serve our customer’s requirements. At that time, it would be appropriate for OMB to review the “no delegation” policy in light of the then-current “state-of-the-art” in privacy protections. For example, OMB may decide to relax this policy when customers are given a choice of selecting either a personalized (i.e., with persistent cookie) or non-personalized (no persistent cookie) web experience.
* Letter from Spotila to Baker, clarification of OMB Cookies Policy (September 5, 2000)
We are concerned about persistent cookies even if they do not themselves contain personally identifiable information. Such cookies can often be linked to a person after the fact, even where that was not the original intent of the web site operator. For instance, a person using the computer later may give his or her name or e-mail address to the agency. It may then be technically easy for the agency to learn the complete history of the browsing previously done by users of that computer, raising privacy concerns even when the agency did not originally know the names of the users.
* M-00-13, Privacy Policies and Data Collection on Federal Web Sites (June 22, 2000)
* M-99-18, Privacy Policies on Federal Web Sites (June 2, 1999)
What does that have to do with government?
But did you know that the technology that spurred the creation of Pixar was funded in the 1960s by… anybody? … the Advanced Project Research Agency, the precursor to today’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Yes, one of the biggest users of the Pixar-like animation technologies is the Defense Department — for simulations and other purposes.
That is one of the delicious facts that are packed in a wonderful book — The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company by David Price. The book is about the creation of Pixar. (Many more wonderful tidbits here, such as… did you know that Steve Jobs made big bucks from Pixar, not from Apple?)
The story is also one of remarkable innovation and learning to take risk. Wired magazine last month had a wonderful story headlined Animating a Blockbuster: How Pixar Built Toy Story 3.
Pixar has been owned by George Lucas… and then by Steve Jobs… back when it was a software company. Yes, Pixar was originally seen as a software company… and evolved into a movie studio — and one of the most successful movie studios out there. Pixar was sold to Walt Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion, the studio has seven consecutive blockbusters.
The book also talks about the process of innovating — and taking risks.
The book is a fun read — and interesting even if you didn’t grow up in California. And as you watch the box office of Toy Story, the government can relish in the role it played in innovation.
Lawrence Gross, the Treasury Department’s associate CIO for e-government, is moving to the Interior Department.
Gross will leave Treasury at the end of this week. Starting June 28, Gross will be the Interior Department’s deputy chief information officer.
Prior to his tenure at Treasury, Gross served at the Energy and Justice Department. He also served as the Chief, Information Technology and Telecommunications at United States Navy Reserve.
Last month, Interior named Bernard Mazer to be its new chief information technology officer. Mazer, who has been CIO at Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), will start his new post June 7. That came after Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia left to become the deputy associate administrator for innovative technologies at GSA.