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05.09.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Challenges facing gov procurement – and OFPP; recognizing public service; and making open data

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On today’s program for Wednesday May 9th, 2012

  • The nominee to be the government’s new procurement chief is on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing. Joe Jordan isn’t well known — and doesn’t have extensive procurement experience. What should be on his agenda? Insights from the former deputy at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy — Rob Burton.
  • It’s Public Service Recognition Week – and Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service has some simple ideas to make your employees feel appreciated.
  • What’s missing in your open data policy — John Wonderlich from the Sunlight Foundation fills in the gaps.
The Postal Service has just announced that it is stepping back from its plan to close up to 3,700 mostly rural post offices, citing a customer outcry. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Postal Service will, instead, seek to cut costs by shortening window hours and offering early retirement to 21,000 rural postmasters.Budget in the news this week: It’s an election year so we know that lawmakers just aren’t spending that much time on Capitol Hill this year. The Washington Post has noted that  members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and they are planning being away for 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks. So there is not much time to work through the budgets, although that has not been a big priority for years.

One possible solution to getting those bills passed? Bundling them all together. Roll Call reports that House Republican leaders are considering bundling appropriations bills. They have also looked at the legislative calendar and the challenges of getting the spending bills passed. So they are considering bundling must-pass spending bills as a way of speeding up the the lengthy process of debating them on the floor. Roll Call notes that if they do that, they risk angering conservatives, who note that leadership has long promised an open process so they can offer hundreds of amendments aimed at cutting spending that they can tout on the campaign trail. Roll calls says, “All of this underscores the quandary Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers faces in trying to pass his dozen bills before the House adjourns this presidential election year: Short workweeks and pushback from Members of both parties will make it a difficult task to complete.”

The House has rejected several proposals to cut spending. The Hill reports that the votes seemed to pit younger Republicans against more senior members — with people who have been around for awhile arguing against further spending cuts. The seven ammendements would have cut $1.4 billion — an additional $1.4 billion from the fiscal 2013 spending bill for the departments of Commerce and Justice. Members approved one of them — a proposal to cut funding for a climate Web site at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration saving $542,000, but the rest of the amendments were rejected. The most aggressive proposal, The Hill says, came from Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) that would have cut 3 percent of all salaries and overhead at the organizations covered by the Commerce and Justice spending bill. That was rejected 137-270.

It seems the GSA conference scandal has another victim – GSA’s 2012 Government Web and New Media Conference. The gov 2.0 conference was scheduled for May 16-17, but it has been postponed. No details on when. While GSA doesn’t say WHY the event was postponed, it isn’t hard to guess.

Don’t miss today’s edition of the SEVEN government stories you need to know.

A Few Closing Items

  • One congressman is frustrated waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to file reports with congress, and so he is working to hit the agency in its pocketbook. Politico says that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) is generally mild-mannered, but he is witholding hundreds of millions of dollars from headquarters accounts until DHS files reports with Congress — even threatening access to the Coast Guard Gulfstream that carries top officials about.
  • What is a cyber threat? The Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog highlights a report by the Sandia National Laboratory that says cyber-security remains a nebulous domain that tends to resist easy measurement — and in some cases, appears to defy any measurement. In order to establish a common vocabulary for discussing cyber threats, and thereby to enable an appropriate response, the Sandia authors propose a variety of attributes that can be used to characterize cyber threats in a standardized and consistent way.
  • The Financial Times reports today that a cyberattack against natural gas pipelines has been under way for months — a sophisticated cyberattack intended to gain access to US natural gas pipelines has been under way for several months, the Department of Homeland Security has warned, raising fresh concerns about the possibility that vital infrastructure could be vulnerable to computer hackers.

– Emily Jarvis

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Written by jarvisdorobek

May 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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