Archive for the ‘GSA’ Category
07.24.2012: GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER: Feds sounding off on government innovation; and making a biz case for open data
- 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.
04.20.2012 DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: GSA watcher assess the impact of the conference scandal, and your weekend reading list
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.
It wasn’t a great week for public servants. There were congressional hearings into the General Services Administration Public Building Service 2010 Western Region conference — and plenty of lawmakers heaping aghast horror… then there were the stories of the Secret Service agents who were accused partying with prostitutes just before a Presidential visit to Latin America… and then there were the gruesome photos out of Afghanistan of soldiers posing — seemingly gleefully — with the body parts of Afghan rebels. Not a week highlighting the best and the brightest.
We can’t solve the problems here, but we’ll try see how the best and the brightest can rebuild in order to do their jobs better. Our issue of the week looks at GSA… that conferences… what happens now… and what it means for contractors…Larry Allen has been following GSA for decades. He is the President of Allen Federal Business Partners. He said told Chris Dorobek this is a difficult situation because it really knocks GSA on its heels — again…
- It is sometimes remarkable how quickly we forget painful situations — and I sometimes feel that way about the 2008 economic crash. Sometimes it feels like we are looking to move on — and time does move so quickly — that we haven’t taken a step back and looked at what caused the near cataclismic crash… what we learned… and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. This week, BusinessWeek magazine has a story about the Securities and Exchange Commission that essentially talks about how the SEC got its groove back. The story chronicles the recent series of enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it argues that there is a new era at the agency. They are working hard, even though they are outmanned and outgunned.
- The Pulitzer Prize awards were handed out this week, but Atlantic Media also handed out its Michael Kelly award for a writer who went above and beyond. The story they selected is from The New Yorker — it’s headlined the “The Invisible Army.” Reporter Sarah Stillman tells the story of ten Fijian beauticians who were recruited for lucrative jobs in a posh Dubai salon, only to end up in Iraq giving manicures and massages to U.S. soldiers. It tells of their mistreatment, and talk about the scandal of thousands of foreign workers on U.S. military bases reduced to something like indentured servitude. It is a remarkable story that I missed at the time and was pleased to read this week.
- Finally, how do you get agencies to be innovative, whether it be some gov 2.0 application — or some different kind of procurement process? Craig Thomler writes this week about convincing risk advisers management to yes to social media initiatives — but I think it applies to more than just social media. My take: focus on doing the job better… and keep pressing.
The producers of GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER are Emily Jarvis and Stephen Peteritas.
04.10.2012 DorobekINSIDER: The STOCK Act impact on senior executives; leadership lessons from presidents; and libraries 2.0
There are so many good, interesting stories about government doing good — and those stories are out there, but… we start again today with GSA. Yet another GSA official has been put on leave. The second in command of GSA’s Public Building Service has been placed on leave in the wake of the 2010 conference. The Washington Post reports that David Foley is the fourth senior official at the agency to get swept up as a result of the incident. Desa Sealy was appointed interim deputy commissioner. Linda Chero is acting commissioner, coming in from the Mid-Atlantic region. And lawmakers in both parties are calling for hearings.
The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson says today that all feds pay the price for the GSA scandal. “Workers throughout the government will pay a price, too, and it will continue long after the news releases stop,” Davidson says, and he quotes a note from the Washington Post story that broke the news. That federal employee said:
“Unfortunately for those of us in agencies where a. we don’t have money for conferences to begin with, and b. we aren’t even allowed funds to buy coffee when we have on site meetings, the result of the GSA excesses will be increased scrutiny of all travel and training requests. So all of us, honest thrifty agencies included, will have to jump through more hoops and spend more time justifying everything we do.”
And just to further Joe Davidson’s point: Bloomberg has a story about a Justice Department event, including one in Instanbul on drug enforcement, that cost almost twice as much.
We can only hope that cooler, more rational people will make the case that it is important for government employees get out of their office — to learn, to speak to people. But it is also a reminder that almost every action you take is going to be assessed, analyzed, and yes, critiqued, so these events are going to have to be tied to the mission in some way, shape or form.
One final GSA note before we move on: A blast from GSA’s past, and yes, we mean a blast, in every sense of that word: Former GSA Administrator Lurita Doan appeared on Fox and Friends to offer her thoughts on the GSA situation. And Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson credited Doan for running a tight ship.
One has to remember Doan was fired by the Bush administration not for a contract that she tried to give to her friend that was never awarded, as Fox News suggested. Nor was she fired for allegations that she used her position in the administration to help Republican candidates. She was fired for her mismanagement of the agency. There are many things that can be said about Lurita Doan — and many of the things that were said were unfair. But she did not help GSA — and she did not run a tight ship.
And we all remember this…
GSA aside, we have a good program for you today…
- The STOCK Act… We mentioned this yesterday. This is the law signed by President Obama last week. http://1.usa.gov/HZVlEA Did you know it has some real implications for federal senior executives? I’ve received a bunch of calls and notes about this. We’ll get insights from Bill Bransford, a partner at Bransford and Roth and the attorney for the Senior Executives Assocation.
- Leadership lessons from presidents. We’ll talk to the author of a new book that looks at five presidential leadership qualities with its author Michael Eric Siegel.
- And libraries. They have always played a unique role in communities, but that role is changing — and quickly. We’ll talk to somebody who has looked at how libraries are doing more with less… and are remaining relevant… and surviving.
All that ahead…
But after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 10 of April, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
Despite everything else, the big story of the week is The Conference — GSA Public Building Service’s now infamous 2010 Western Regions Conference, as highlighted by the GSA Inspector General report.
This week, Martha Johnson, the GSA Administrator, decided to fall on the sword, despite the fact that by every account, she had nothing to do with the planning of this conference. Johnson was finally confirmed by the Senate in February, 2010 — a mere eight months before the Western Regions Conference took place in October 2010. It is sometimes remarkable to me that people who claim government is incompetent somehow now somehow contend that Johnson crafted this conference — or that it somehow blights her view of government ethics. Those of us who know Johnson — now and through the years — know that, regardless of how they feel about her decisions within the agency, she would never do anything to blight GSA’s reputation. Many of us would argue she hasn’t. (Kudos to Gartner analyst Andrea Di Maio, for his truly fair and balanced assessment: Why it’s chief’s resignation should make GSA proud.)
Personally, I continue to believe the situation is terrible. Without taking anything away from the new acting administrator, I believe it was a bad decision to get rid of Johnson… and it will hinder good government. Mistakes were made. Nobody questions that. Personally, I would argue that any event that involves clowns is a bad idea. But if we want good government — if we really want good government and value our empoyees — it is time to stop the scapegoating and drive-by judgements.
That being said, the DorobekINSIDER has obtained Johnson’s final words to the agency… and acting administrator Dan Tangherlini first words.
First, Johnson’s parting remarks to the agency:
On April 2, 2012, I submitted my resignation as the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration to President Obama and he has accepted it.
I take this action with great sorrow. GSA holds a special place in my heart. It has been a singular honor to lead you as Administrator and I am enormously proud of everything this innovative and agile agency has been able to do.
I leave a GSA deeply committed to its mission of helping government organizations deliver on their missions to the nation. I have been privileged to be able to translate the President’s agenda into effective strategies that range from more energy efficient buildings and vehicle fleets to innovative use of cloud technologies, and much more. I am proud of our progress and believe it has been a catalyst for important change to affect government operations.
The Agency, however, has made a significant mis-step. Reports of an internal conference in which taxpayer dollars were squandered led me to launch internal reviews, take disciplinary personnel action, and institute tough new controls to ensure this incident is not repeated. In addition, I feel I must step aside as Administrator so that the Agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team.
Collectively, the people of GSA now must review, repair, and rebuild. I am absolutely confident that this work of renewal can be done by the hard working people of GSA and that our creative abilities will continue to find true value for our government and nation.
With the deepest regard,
After the break, read Tangherlini’s first words to GSA…
Today, I am joining your team to serve as your Acting Administrator. I recognize that this is not easy, but I am confident that you will not allow circumstances to slow your momentum or progress in the many important areas of the federal government where GSA plays a vital role.
As the Assistant Secretary for Management and CFO of the Treasury Department and GSA customer for the last three years, I am impressed by the progress of this agency, as both a service provider and a business partner. Over the course of the last several years, GSA has made tremendous strides to promote efficiency and cost savings throughout the federal government. This is a mission we remain committed to through programs such as the Green Proving Grounds, our efforts to increase sustainable buildings in our government portfolio, and effectively executing the President’s Executive Order around fleet efficiency. We cannot allow mistakes or misjudgments of a small number of individuals to slow our progress or take our focus from our goals. GSA’s business is to solve customers’ problems; we are acting quickly to address them.
We are making immediate actions to ensure that our customers maintain their faith in our services and their basic value proposition. Some immediate steps that we are undertaking include:
· Reviewing all planned and proposed conferences and meetings that involve travel or substantial expenditures of public funds.
· Canceling a number of conferences that only or primarily involve internal staff.
· Launching an evaluation of our GSA conference and travel policies and business justification.
· Enhancing our focus on oversight by improving our management of risk.
As the provider of services and solutions to the federal government and its agencies, we have a special responsibility to ensure that we conduct our business at the highest level of efficiency, delivering the best value to the American people and in a way that is beyond reproach or question. We need to redouble our efforts to those core values and ensure they are reflected in every action we take. We will continue to demonstrate our value proposition to our customer agencies through our own improved internal efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Every step of the way I will work with you, the talented, committed members of the GSA team to leverage the challenges we face today as an opportunity to build an even stronger GSA. I look forward to meeting you, talking to you, and hearing your ideas for improving our agency. We’ll be exploring ways to more formally engage you in the discussion, but until then, if you have an idea, suggestion, or concern, please do not hesitate to contact me at Dan.Tangherlini@gsa.gov.
The success of federal agencies is determined by their workforce. I am confident that the excellent women and men of GSA can continue to deliver service excellence and integrity.
Good luck, Mr. Tangherlini… and I deeply hope the workers at GSA, most of whom have started to show true innovation over the past three years, demonstrate the courage that comes with true public service.
03.20.2012 DorobekINSIDER: The changing government market; dealing with tech junk; opening up government legal documents
Up front today… two interesting items that sure show how times are changing.
One… would would guess we would ever say Bon Jovi, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Urban Development together in one phrase? Well, welcome 2012. VA and HUD have unveiled a new federal app challenge designed to help homeless veterans quickly find shelter and other kinds of assistance. TechPresident reports that the mobile app will, essentially, act as a travel portal for homeless veterans. And Bon Jovi said that the idea for the project came to him after a volunteer at the JBJ Soul Kitchen in New Jersey asked for help finding a bed for the night.
The other story that shows how times have changes — or are changing and will change… Imagine if the CIA could spy using your washing machine… or dryer. Wired says that those intelligent household devices may be able to be tapped. And CIA Director David Petraeus has said that the Internet of PCs is leading to the Internet of things — devices of all types. And that could be tapped. And it is a legally gray area.
Ah, times have changed…
On today’s program…
- The changing face of federal IT and its acquisition process.
- What happens to hardware in your office when it’s no longer fit for service? Hit the dumpster? You’ll learn what GSA wants you to do.
- The challenges of making legal documents available online. We’ll talk to a professor who has studied the issue.
All that ahead…
But after the break, we start off, as we do each day, with the stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 20th of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
Align the Acquisition Process with the Technology Cycle
13. Design and develop a cadre of specialized IT acquisition professionals
14. Identify IT acquisition best practices and adopt government-wide
15. Issue contracting guidance and templates to support modular development
16. Reduce barriers to entry for small innovative technology companies
- Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA Headquarters
- Simon Szykman, Chief Information Officer, Department of Commerce
- David Wennergren, Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense
- Roger Baker, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Department of Veteran Affairs
Read the rest of this entry »
Just before the end of the year, a significant reorganization coming to GSA’s acquisition leadership.
Ed O’Hare, Assistant Commissioner for the Integrated Technology Services (ITS) portfolio, who took the post in March 2009, will retire effective January 15, 2011, according to a memo by Steve Kempf , the commission of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service sent to employees today. Mary Davie, presently the Assistant Commissioner of FAS’ Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS), will serve as the ITS portfolio’s next leader effective January 16, 2011. ITS oversees some of the government’s biggest and most important contracts including the GSA schedule contracts, GSA’s governmentwide telecommunications contracts such as Networx , and GSA’s governmentwide acquisition vehicles , including the just announced Alliant.
Kempf stressed that the Federal Acquisition Services has a deep bench of executives with extensive experience. Therefore, as part of those changes:
* As I mentioned, Mary Davie, presently the Assistant Commissioner of FAS’ Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS), will serve as the ITS portfolio’s next leader effective January 16, 2011.
* Bill Sisk, presently the FAS Southeast Sunbelt Region Commissioner, has agreed to act as the GSS Assistant Commissioner effective January 2, 2011.
* Michael Gelber, presently the FAS Northwest Arctic Region Commissioner, will become the new FAS Pacific Rim Commissioner effective January 16, 2011.
The following people will act in these positions during the upcoming transition period:
* Tim Fleming, presently AAS’ Deputy Assistant Commissioner, will be the Acting Assistant Commissioner for AAS.
* Kelley Holcombe, FAS Deputy Regional Commissioner, will serve as the Acting FAS Southeast Sunbelt Region Commissioner.
* James Hamilton, the Northwest Arctic Region’s Director for Customer Accounts and Research, will serve as the Acting FAS Commissioner in Region 10.
GSA’s chief spokesperson, Sahar Wali, is going to be leaving the agency. She will be joining the White House Council of Environmental Quality as their communications director next month, the DorobekINSIDER has confirmed.
Wali has roots on Capitol Hill and she worked on the Obama campaign. She joined GSA soon after the election and has been part of GSA’s top management team. Speaking personally, she has been a fierce defender of GSA.
GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, in a note to staff today, said, “Sahar has done a very important job in building and publicizing our GSA brand, in accelerating and improving our methods and practices for communicating internally and externally, and in helping us support the White House on key initiatives such as Sustainability, Open Government, and much more. She has also been a tremendous coach to those of us who have been giving speeches and interviews and working with the press. GSA can stand tall and taller every day because more people hear and understand the story of GSA and how we are fulfilling our mission. We will greatly miss her skill, tenacity, and sense of excellence.”
Read the full note from Martha Johnson below:
It is with very mixed feelings that I have accepted Sahar Wali’s resignation as our Associate Administrator for Communications and Marketing. She has been offered the great opportunity to join the White House Council of Environmental Quality as their Director of Communications, beginning in mid-November.
On the one hand, Sahar is not going far. Our relationship with CEQ is a special one. They are great supporters and partners with us on our Zero Environmental Footprint goals and aspirations. Sahar will be simply helping us from a new vantage point and perspective. She knows our work well.
On the other hand, Sahar has done a very important job in building and publicizing our GSA brand, in accelerating and improving our methods and practices for communicating internally and externally, and in helping us support the White House on key initiatives such as Sustainability, Open Government, and much more. She has also been a tremendous coach to those of us who have been giving speeches and interviews and working with the press. GSA can stand tall and taller every day because more people hear and understand the story of GSA and how we are fulfilling our mission. We will greatly miss her skill, tenacity, and sense of excellence.
As this transition takes place, we will be working closely with the White House to appoint a new person to head GSA’s strategic communications efforts. We will also be continuing the work she led in re-organizing the Office of Communications and Marketing.
Please join me in wishing Sahar the best in her next challenge and in asking her to come by and visit us often. Like daily?
On the heels of a number of management changed made official yesterday, Steve Kempf, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, has named Houston Taylor as the assistant commissioner for the Office of Acquisition Management.
Taylor has been serving in that post in an acting capacity. Previously he Previously Mr. Taylor served as the Director of the Program Analysis Division, were he championed and managed the FAS Environmental Program.
As the assistant commissioner of FAS Acquisition Management, he oversees the direction in planning, organizing and managing major functional areas including Acquisition Career Field Management, Policy Implementation, Socio-Economic Programs, Program Analysis, Supplier Management, and the Federal Supply Schedules Program.
The memo from Kempf:
I am pleased to announce that Houston Taylor, who has been the Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Acquisition Management, has agreed to permanently fill this role. In this role Houston will continue to direct FAS acquisition policy initiatives such as socioeconomic and environmental programs and support GSA’s goals through improved acquisition policy management throughout FAS. His career experience in acquisition, serving both civilian and defense department organizations, will serve him well as he leads the FAS Acquisition Management team.
Please join me in congratulating Houston as he permanently takes over this leadership role. His energy, commitment to service and collaborative approach to building business solutions that work for FAS and its customers will help him continue to make an impact for FAS.
Houston Taylor is the Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Acquisition Management, with full authority and shared responsibility for direction in planning, organizing and managing major functional areas including Acquisition Career Field Management, Policy Implementation, Socio-Economic Programs, Program Analysis, Supplier Management, and the Federal Supply Schedules Program. Previously Mr. Taylor served as the Director of the Program Analysis Division, were he championed and managed the FAS Environmental Program, working in direct support of the General Services Administration’s commitment to providing “green” options for Federal customers while leading the way in environmentally friendly acquisition practices. Mr. Taylor started his career with GSA as the Director of the Center for Services Acquisition, where he was responsible for managing the Financial and Business Solutions Schedule, a program that exceeded one billion dollars in sales under his leadership.
He brings more than 25 years of procurement and contract management experience to the agency. Mr. Taylor retired from active duty with the U.S. Air Force in 2000. His assignments included tours in Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Air Force Inspection Agency, and Operation Provide Comfort, where he worked as a contingency contracting officer in Southern Turkey and Northern Iraq. In his final assignment he worked at the Pentagon for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Air Force as the contracting career field manager. Additional highlights of his extensive government career include service as a contracting professional within the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service.
Mr. Taylor holds a Graduate Certificate from the University of Virginia in Procurement and Contracts Management, along with an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland. He is also a Level III-Certified Contracting Officer and a Certified Federal Contracts Manager.
Mr. Taylor is a native of Canton, Ohio.
A number of leadership changes at the General Services Administration.
GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has announced that Gail Lovelace, who has served as the chief people officer for the General Services Administration, will be taking a newly created job as GSA’s chief leadership officer.
“I have been deliberately attending to succession planning, strategic alignment, and performance management of the agency leadership since my confirmation,” Johnson said in a memo to staff. “Gail has helped shape those activities and will continue to build on them. This move will also signal beyond the walls of GSA that we are intent upon holding our place as a pace-setter for the government in matters of fostering and strengthening public sector leadership.”
Lovelace is widely respected in government, particularly in the HR community, and has been recognized for her work on the Bush-Obama transition.
Replacing Lovelace as GSA’s chief people officer will be Tony Costa, who has spent most of his 25 year career at GSA with the Public Building Service.
In addition, Bill Piatt is moving from the Office of Technology Strategy to the GSA Administrator’s office. He will assume the work that Tony has been championing, namely GSA’s use of the social media and open government tools that our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies is promulgating across government
The memo from Johnson sent out today:
From: Administrator Martha Johnson
Subject: Exciting Leadership Movement
It is my pleasure to announce a couple of exciting leadership moves here at
To begin, Gail Lovelace will be moving to my office to assume the role of Chief Leadership Officer on December 1. For the past 13 years Gail has served as the Chief People Officer. She and I have worked very closely together for years, and I am personally thrilled to have her join me in building and strengthening our leadership cadre. I have been deliberately attending to succession planning, strategic alignment, and performance management of the agency leadership since my confirmation. Gail has helped shape those activities and will continue to build on them. This move will also signal beyond the walls of GSA that we are intent upon holding our place as a pace-setter for the government in matters of fostering and strengthening public sector leadership.
In conjunction with Gail’s move, I have asked Tony Costa to step in as the Chief People Officer. Tony brings customer knowledge, strategic business perspective, operational experience, and, perhaps most importantly, change management chops. While most of his 25 year career at GSA has been with the Public Building Service – both Regional and at Central Office – Tony is
willing to step into a new challenge in the “C-Suite.” It is not an easy thing to follow a leader such as Gail Lovelace who has in many ways defined Human Resources for GSA, but I have confidence that Tony will do a great job at the helm of the CPO’s office. I am equally confident that such moves are good for our leaders and good for the organization as a whole. They break down our silos and send the signal that we want people to try new things and build out their knowledge of the full enterprise.
Finally, Bill Piatt will move from the Office of Technology Strategy to my office and will assume the work that Tony has been championing, namely GSA’s use of the social media and open government tools that our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies is promulgating across government. Bill recently returned to GSA and brings great experience in IT leadership and progressive IT tools. I know that he will hit the ground running, and I am excited about the energy that he will bring to these important enterprise-wide efforts.
GSA is going through a lot of change. These leaders have deep experience in GSA and share a passion for our mission and collective success. As they change roles, they are modeling change as leaders. Please join me in thanking them for their service and supporting them in these new challenges.