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Archive for the ‘Government 2.0’ Category

07.24.2012: GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER: Feds sounding off on government innovation; and making a biz case for open data

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On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER for Tuesday 24 July 2012:

  • Government innovation — yes, I know people don’t believe those two words can go together. Insights about what YOU think about government innovation from a just released report. We’ll talk to Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service.
  • Is there a business case for open data… for open government. And how can you make open data work. The Commerce Department is hoping to answer those questions with a new competition. We talk to Brand Niemann — a former fed who has submitted for the Commerce Department’s contest — about open data.

Also… the 7-stories that impact government — another voice sounds off about the STOCK Act and another controversial GSA conference…

And in the DorobekINSIDER watercooler fodder… AC/DC and Iranian nuclear plants.

Written by cdorobek

July 24, 2012 at 6:52 PM

04.17.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Can Ping Pong helps you innovate?; Making budget transparency easy; the 411 on online training

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On Today’s DorobekINSIDER for Tuesday April 17, 2012:

  • The science behind innovation – and how showering, napping and ping pong fit into the process. Really…ping pong makes people more creative. You’ll learn how with a new book called Imagine: How Creativity Works. (We even talk about the bathrooms at Pixar.)
  • Are there new ways to look at how government formulates budget — including making them more transparent? We’ll break them down with Matthew Hall from Open Plans.
  • The GSA conference spending scandal has put training in jeopardy. So how do you train your people and still come in under budget. Advice from Steve Ressler the Founder of GovLoop.

The Space Shuttle – Discovery, mated to a specially modified Boeing 747, made her way to the Smithsonian’s 

Air and Space Museum this morning — landing at Washington’s Dulles International Airport and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. But before it landed the shuttle made a swing past the National Mall.

Here is some footage from our own GovLoop team!

The EIGHT stories that impact your life your government world…

  1. Former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has apologized for the lavish spending at the 2010 Western Regions Conference. Johnson told House lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill that she regrets rewarding conference organizer Jeffrey Neely with a bonus. The Wall Street Journal says Neely who was also at the hearing declined to make a statement citing his fifth amendment rights.
  2. The Defense Department says there might be more military personnel involved in misconduct before President Obama’s trip to Colombia. Five additional Defense Department employees were seen on a video carousing with the 11 secret service agents at the center of the probe. The Washington Post says 11 Secret Service agents have already been placed on leave amid allegations they entertained prostitutes, potentially one of the most serious lapses at the organization in years.
  3. The time it takes to retire is dwindling. The Office of Personnel Management has put in extra effort to fix its long-standing pension processing backlog. OPM says they owe their success to process improvements. Federal Times says OPM’s Director John Berry outlined the new strategy last January that called for a combination of increased staffing, streamlined processes, improved information technology and better cooperation with other agencies. So far this year the agency has reduced the backlog by more than 14%.
  4. The Justice Department has known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people nationwide.  But the Washington Post says prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled. The DOJ started reviewing cases in the 1990s after reports of sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab. But the officials only reviewed a small portion of the cases. The Justice Department claims they’ve met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.
  5. The GSA is boosting its mileage reimbursement rate. Now federal commuters who use their own cars to drive to work can expense an additional 4.5 cents per mile. GovExec says the new law takes effect today.
  6. Reported military sexual assaults are on the rise. Government Executive says the Defense Department saw a total of 3,192 reported incidents, a 1 percent increase over fiscal 2010. In the last year the DoD has implemented new policies designed to combat sexual assaults, including expanded legal assistance and expedited transfers for victims, as well as a longer retention of forensic evidence and investigative reports, according to the Defense report.
  7. Air Force Times, “Tech. sgts. take heat after receiving medals,” by Jeff Schogol: “Within the span of a week, two female airmen who were awarded the Bronze Star have been targeted by cyber bullies who claim they do not deserve their awards, generating a wider discussion of who should be eligible for the Bronze Star Medal and whether the Air Force issues too many of the medals.”
  8. DARPA is looking for more power-efficient computing systems. The Pentagon’s research arm says existing computer systems don’t process data quickly enough for military operations. Next Gov reports intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems today have senSors that collect far more information than can be processed in real time.

– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

03.26.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Cyberwar: hype or reality; the import of CISOs; and evolving virtual worlds

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Happy Monday… did you have a good weekend? Here in Washington, it was rainy and relatively cool… I say relatively because it was close to 80 on Friday.

Photo: Flickr member CrazyGeorge http://bit.ly/GRadZ2

On this date 20 years ago — 1982 — there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The design was controversial at the time — the names on slate layed into the ground between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument… but the site has become one of the most popular memorials in Washington. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was officially unveiled in November 1982.

Remember earlier this month, we introduced you to Jennifer Pahlka of Code for America. She is a remarkable person working to make government better. Code for America is a non-profit that provides fellowships for technology experts to work in city government. Well, CNN spoke to her over the weekend. And she told CNN that reforming city halls in America requires the talents of a new generation of technology and design experts. Remember she told us about Adopt-a-Hydrant — it’s one of the apps that a Code for America fellows wrote last year for Boston. And it allows Bostonians sign up to dig out a fire hydrant when they’re covered with snow. Good work.

A busy week ahead… Wednesday is Federal Computer Week’s annual Fed 100 Awards gala… some really remarkable winners this year. Read the full list of winners. It’s a great opportunity to remember some of the hard work that has gone on.

And then on Thursday, I’ll be at the Acquisition Excellence conference sponsored by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council. I’m moderating a morning panel that focuses on Acquisition Strategies in the age of austerity and how agencies can balance their needs with the reduced budgets. It should be a fascinating discussion.

But here today… we have a good program…

  • Cyberwar — hype or reality? We’ll have an assessment of a professor of war studies.
  • And then a very different perspective… as everybody looks to do more with less, some state and local governments are cutting their Chief Information Security Officers. We’ll look at that issue… and ramifications.
  • It sounds like something out of Star Trek — remember the halodeck… but the future of Virtual Worlds is serious business. The 5th annual Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds Conference is coming up in May. We’ll take a look at how these virtual worlds have changed and evolved over the past five years.

All that ahead…

But after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Monday the 26 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

March 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM

03.09.2012: DorobekINSIDER Issue of the week: Hyperconnectivity and what it means to all of us

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Hey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week also closes out the first week that we have done daily shows — yes, GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER comes to you every day now. While your feeding yourself at lunch each day, you can also feed your mind… or you can take us with you whoever you go. And We got to do some fun stuff this week. We spoke to officials at the Santa Cruz Police Department about how they are using all the data that they already have — big data — to actually do their job better. Really amazing stuff. And we got to learn about an international search effort that will go later this month that will test how the power of networks can help you do your job better… and it’s all made possible as a result of a State Department grant. Pretty amazing. And we got to talk to Linda Cureton about leadership… and about the nature of leadership.

But our issue of the week this week is a different take on all that information coming at us… and the impact it has, particularly on the Mellinials — those young people who don’t remember phones with cords — but they also have a ripple effect on all of us. Pew has a new report out this week and we’ll talk to one of the researchers.

Also ahead on the program… We’ll also have your weekend reading list — the weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box. And we actually have a video for you that may just remind you why you do what you do each day.

All of that just ahead… after the break…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

March 12, 2012 at 11:31 AM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week: Finding needles in haystacks — and the changing government market

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GovLoop InsightsHey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — and welcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek.

Each week, our goal is to where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week, we’ve talked about the challenges of dealing with big data. We’re going to tell you about a company that is going just that — for the intelligence agencies… for the Recovery Board… it’s a story of the Silicon Valley coming to Washington successfully, and it may also be an indication of the direction of government contracting. We’ll talk about the company Palantir.

And as we head into the weekend, we’ll have your weekend reading list… weekends are a time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work be innovative… to think outside of the box. We’ll have information about the DorobekINSIDER Book Club — it’s coming up on Tuesday Wednesday at the Adobe Government Assembly… and we’ll have details.

But… after the break… we start off as we do every week with a look at the week that was for government… for the first week of February 2012…

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 4, 2012 at 10:34 AM

DorobekINSIDER: The 100 most read items for 2010

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Happy New Year! What a great time to look back – and look forward… and to think about fresh starts.

The coming months are going to be interesting, no doubt.

All week, I’ll bring the most read items across Federal News Radio’s programs – Mike Causey tomorrow; the Federal Drive on Wednesday; FederalNewsRadio.com on Thursday; and In Depth on Friday.

But today, the 100 most read items on the DorobekINSIDER:

POLL: What do you think of the proposed pay freeze?
Federal pay up over 400 percent since 1969
Managing the fear of cutbacks among federal workers
IRS releases TSP contribution limits for 2011
Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
DorobekINSIDER poll: Did OPM make the right decision to open DC offices on Friday?
TSP end-of-year deadlines approaching
Analysis: What the pay freeze means to feds
Thrift Savings Plan update
Boeing may be losing edge in Air Force tanker award
Why TSP calculators don’t always work
How safe are your federal benefits?
Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
More TSP participants taking out money early
Federal intern program violates hiring rules
OPM targets poor-performing feds
Toss out that time card, get more productive employees
Why your office fridge could be hazardous to your health
Should feds work on Columbus Day?
POLL: How will the new Congress affect your job?
Why there’s been a backlash against feds lately
Analysis: What will happen to your pay?
Obama: Federal jobs may stay vacant
POLL: How big is the ‘bad government worker’ problem?
DorobekINSIDER: CA CIO Teri Takai to be named DOD CIO
TSP contribution limits for 2011 explained
How to manage older workers
TSP funds climb in July
Super bar codes gaining popularity in U.S.
Do agencies keep poor performers on the job?
Long-term tips for your Thrift Savings Plan
Your wireless router could leave you vulnerable
Are teleworkers happier?
DorobekINSIDER: An open letter to OMB: Stop the public sector bashing
How to make that performance review work for you
Budget top issue at TSP meeting
Author explores age of entitlement in “The Narcissism Epidemic”
POLL: Deficit commission recs hit feds
Rep. Connolly: Pay freeze unfair to feds
Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
FBI shuts down Sentinel computer program
TSP funds show gains in October
New TSP website launches
Berry lauds agencies for vet hiring
How to tune out noise in your office
Analysis: Causey and Miller on the pay freeze
Cool Jobs: USPS preserves stamps in cave
New Air Force motto gets mixed reviews
Investors make slight shifts to higher-risk TSP funds
Al Qaeda magazine calls for attacks on D.C. government workers
Elective deferrals for your TSP explained
TSP readies for debut of L-2050
How to make telework really work
Why continuous monitoring is gaining popularity
DorobekINSIDER: OMB’s government performance self-assessment
DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for FRIDAY?
The TSP as a model for other 401(k)s?
For TSP investments, most play it safe
DorobekINSIDER: Back to work for feds in DC, OPM defends closure decisions
TSP updates website, automatic enrollment options
Grassley: DoD IG’s lax oversight results in fraud
Was the Smithsonian haunted?
Vampire killers under federal contract?
The DorobekINSIDER iPad review: Will you see them in government?
Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
2010 and Beyond: Causey on the ups and downs of the year
Board objects to proposed TSP fund
Causey on health plan options in Open Season
DorobekINSIDER: DOD issues its much anticipated Web 2.0 policy
Analysis: What does public anger mean for feds?
Rule would change contractors’ hiring practices
Fantasy TSP – Are you in?
How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
Coast Guard Academy named top college
Dorobek Must Reads – June 2
Telework requires ‘culture change’
Poll results: Should feds work on Columbus Day?
Automatic enrollment in TSP starts next week
Fed satisfaction survey reveals vast amount of info
‘Government Doesn’t Suck’ rally puts human face on government
Causey: How agency budget cuts will affect you
Can a Facebook post get you fired?
Public-private pay gap is widening
Federal pay raises safe … for now
TSP numbers: Look past the short term trend
DorobekINSIDER: GSA reorganizes, Interior shuffles – and the CIO (apparently) moves
Survey: Performance reviews get poor ratings
Election watch 2010 – and what it means for porn
Hiring reforms could mean big changes for veterans
Will feds get a half-day off on Dec. 23?
Google sues U.S. government
Last-minute open season tips
How to get your TSP questions answered
Comments needed for TSP beneficiary designation
Can Facebook get you fired?
DorobekINSIDER: Helping out a Postal employee in a time of need
Inside the secret new Internet browser

DorobekINSIDER: The Federal News Radio Book Club selection: The New Social Learning

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It’s back — the Federal News Radio Book Club. In fact, we haven’t had a “meeting” since April when we discussed Daniel Pink’s book Drive.

For newcomers… Think of the Federal News Radio Book Club as a wonky version of the Oprah book club. Unlike most book clubs, we don’t meet in a physical location. We’ll hold the book club “meeting” right on the air on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s DorobekINSIDER and/or online at DorobekINSIDER.com. And during the hour, we will be joined by the authors of the book… and by a few other people who can spur the discussion… and we’ll take questions and comments about the book.

There are several ways you can participate. There is a Federal News Radio Book Club section on GovLoop, where I’d love to get your thoughts… and a Facebook page… you can Tweet about the book…

All of that being said, let me give you the details…

When: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 3p ET
Where: On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s DorobekINSIDER… and online at DorobekINSIDER.com.

The New Social Learning

The New Social Learning

And the book: The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media by Tony Bingham and Marcia  Conner. Bingham [Twitter] is the is President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Conner Bingham [Twitter] is a partner at Altimeter Group, which creates strategies for collaborative culture, social business, and workplace learning with enterprise leaders and technology providers who serve them.

Why this book?

Regular readers and listeners probably know that I am fascinated by what I call collaborative tools. (I am not a fan of the term “social media” — and I think it is more then just a question of semantics.) I continue to believe that these tools are fundamentally altering the way we have done business along a whole array of areas — government being one of them for a number of reasons.

This book fascinated me because… the authors spoke to government… and it focuses on doing business better. But in the end, it is about change — and change management. We all talk about how difficult it is to change government. (I actually think government gets a bad rap — it is difficult to change large organizations, and federal agencies are large organizations.)

One of my favorite pull quotes from the book so far:

Training often gives solutions to problems already solved. Collaboration addresses challenges no one has overcome before.

Love that.

I have to say up front that I have not finished the book yet — my Kindle tells me I’m 39 percent of the way through. (There are no page numbers in an e-book — because you can change the font size.)

That being said, I get the gist — and there is enough there already to make it worth some time.

This book is specifically not about marketing using social networking… or building your brand. It is about training — and learning, where there is so much evolution going on.

Here is how the authors describe the focus of the book:

Many employers see it as simply a workplace distraction. But social media has the potential to revolutionize workplace learning. People have always learned best from one another, and social media enables this to happen, unrestricted by physical location and in extraordinarily creative ways.

Again, I will share my thoughts about the book as I’m reading it. I hope you will too… here… on GovLoop… on Facebook… or Tweet using #DIbookclub. We’ll use all of the comments as part of our discussion on Nov. 12.

I have also pulled reviews and further reading together here.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Previous Federal News Radio Book Club “meetings”:
* The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
* What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
* Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott. Read more and find a link to the book club session here.
* Fired Up or Burned Out: How to reignite your team’s passion, creativity, and productivity by Michael Lee Stallard. Read more and hear the book club meeting here.
* Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation by James P. Andrew, Harold L. Sirkin, and John Butman. Read more and hear the book club “meeting” with Andrew and Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra find a link to the book club session here.
* Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. Read more and hear the book club “meeting” here.

DorobekINSIDER: OMB’s government performance self-assessment

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The Obama administration’s chief performance officer self-assessment of how the federal government is doing so far: “I believe we are off to a good start, and that we are developing the momentum required for meaningful, sustained improvements in how the government works for the American people.”

In a memo to the Senior Executive Service from Jeff Zients, OMB’s Federal Chief Performance Officer and Deputy Director for Management, titled, “The Accountable Government Initiative – an Update on Our Performance Management Agenda,” Zients lays out the administration’s management plan — and how the administration is doing so far.

Here is the memo:

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

September 14, 2010 at 9:29 AM

DorobekINSIDER: GSA hires ConnellyWork’s Kelly Olson

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Kelly Olson, a vice president at ConnellyWorks, the Fairfax, VA based PR, marketing and events company, is joining the General Services Administration, the DorobekINSIDER has learned.

Olson joined ConnellyWorks 14 months ago after her tenure at the Industry Advisory Council and the American Council for Technology.

Kelly Olson

At GSA, she will serve as the director for strategic initiatives and program outreach for GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. The official announcement will come on Wednesday.

Olson will report to Martha Dorris, the Deputy Associate Administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Olson is widely respected as somebody who gets gov 2.0.

Her job description is below:

Kelly Olson, Director, Strategic Initiatives & Program Outreach, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), General Services Administration (GSA)

Position Reports to: Martha Dorris, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), General Services Administration (GSA)

The OCSIT serves citizens and fosters public engagement through the use of innovative technologies to connect citizens to government information and services. As part of this effort, OCSIT runs the award-winning USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, the official websites of the federal government. The office is rapidly becoming a leader in the use of new media and Web 2.0 technologies to bring government to citizens and citizens to government. Through its use of the Internet (i.e., websites and new media), call centers, publications, and other programs, OCSIT facilitates more than 200 million citizen touchpoints a year.  OCSIT is also facilitating government-wide capabilities to support the President’s Open Government Directive, such as idea management and challenge solutions.  OCSIT is responsible for many of the eGovernment initiatives, including Data.gov, Challenge.gov, citizen engagement platform, FedSpace, Mobile Apps, Federal Cloud Computing Initiative.

Focus Area:  Within OCSIT, the Office of Citizen Services’ (OCS) primary goal is to ensure that the public has a unified experience when accessing information from the government from the web. OCS’ products and services enable other Federal agencies to provide information to the public through the sharing of best practices, a government-wide contract for contact center solutions, and education in the Web and contact center arena. OCS is currently leading the federal government in creating tools and processes for engaging the public through online dialogs to inform the government on improving business processes and services. They work closely with other government agencies—federal, state, local, and international—to collect and consolidate information and make it available to the public and share experiences that lead to better solutions.  OCS leverages several interagency groups to share best practices and develop strategies for improving the way we provide services to the American public.  These include CIOs from five nations (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) as well as Federal Web Managers Council and the Contact Center Leaders.  OCS works closely with the White House and the Office of Management and Budget to improve the service the government provides to the public.

Key Responsibilities:  Kelly will directly support Martha Dorris, the Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT). She will be responsible for developing and managing outreach and communications to federal agencies who need the OCSIT’s products and services.  She will work collaboratively with the GSA’s Office of Citizen Services, New Media & Citizen Engagement and Innovative Technology teams to ensure the office’s mission is communicated effectively, both internally and externally.

Kelly will also work closely with GSA’s Director of Global Government Innovation Networks to support an international community of e-government officials that foster the exchange of information, share best practices and promote collaboration across all levels of government.

Written by cdorobek

August 31, 2010 at 4:21 PM

DorobekINSIDER Reader: Federal Internet cookie policies

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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?)

Let’s be very clear — this is not the most critical privacy issue facing government. That being said, it doesn’t help. People are already distrustful of government. I have yet to be convinced of the enormous public good that comes from using this tracking tool that one cannot accomplish otherwise. Again, agencies can use cookies — just not persistent cookies. How does it make people feel about their government if they feel like they are being tracked? (The stopwatch is running until the first story comes out of people using cookies to actually track people using government Web sites.)

I’m reading the new policies with an open mind, but… I’m very suspicious.

Regardless, I thought it was an opportunity to pull together the DorobekINSIDER Reader on the OMB cookie policy with background information, given that this has been going on for a long time…

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]

* The OMB “fact sheet” on the two policies

View this document on 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:

White House blog post from July 24, 2009: Federal Websites: Cookie Policy
By federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Michael Fitzpatrick, associate administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Policy

During the Open Government Initiative outreach, Federal employees and the public have asked us questions about the federal government’s policy on cookies. As part of our effort to create a more open and innovative government, we’re working on a new cookie policy that we’ll want your input on. But before we get into that, let’s provide some context.

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.

Read the full post — and the comments — here.

* The Federal Register item that went along with that comment period.

* 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:

FEDERAL COOKIE POLICY: This has been a challenging issue to navigate. Put in place in 2000 to protect the privacy of Americans, the federal cookie policy limited the use of persistent cookies by federal agencies. A cookie, as many readers here know, is a small piece of software that tracks or authenticates web viewing activities by the user. In the nine years since this was put in place, website cookies have become more mainstream as users want sites to recognize their preferences or keep track of the items in their online shopping carts. We’ve heard a lot of feedback on this area. One person put it all together. “Persistent cookies are very useful as an indirect feedback mechanism for measuring effectiveness of government web sites . . . Cookies allow a greater level of accuracy in measuring unique visitors . . . Being able to look at returning visitors allows us to see what

Recognizing the fundamental change in technology in the past nine years, and the feedback that we’ve received so far, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reexamining the cookie policy as part of this Open Government Initiative. There is a tough balance to find between citizen privacy and the benefits of persistent cookies, and we would welcome your thoughts on how best to strike it.

Read the rest of the post here.

* 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

Over the past two weeks, during the public comment period on OMB’s cookie policy, we have received significant feedback and suggested revisions to the current policy. These comments reflect individual opinions on all sides of the issue.

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.

This privacy issue has recently received some attention in the media. We want to make it clear that the current policy on Federal agencies’ use of cookies has not changed. Moreover, the policy won’t change until we’ve read the public comments that have been submitted to ensure that we’re considering all sides of the issue and are addressing privacy concerns appropriately.

Continue reading the full post here.

Going back a decade… some of the discussion that led to the persistent cookie ban.

* Letter from then Commerce Department CIO Roger Baker, now the CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to John Spotila on Federal agency use of Web cookies (July 28, 2000)

[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)

Written by cdorobek

June 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

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