Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
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…
04.09.2012: DorobekINSIDER: The winner of the TAG Challenge; tracking illnesses on Twitter; and women in government technology
Good Monday… And what an unusual week last week. We spent most of our week at FOSE — the big government IT conference and trade show where we brought you insights from the federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel — and a retired Navy Admiral’s leadership lessons. [More here.] And we’ll have more for you this week including an interesting panel pulling from senior women in technology that was quite insightful… we’ll also hear from the Defense Department Principal Deputy chief information officer about DOD’s IT plans.
But, of course, the big story of the week — and it was the buzz of FOSE too — GSA and that now infamous Public Build Service Western Region Conference. The Washington Post kept the story alive on Sunday with an interview with the mind reader who was at that 2010 conference in Las Vegas.
On Friday for our issue of the week, we got to talk to Jim Williams, who served as the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service and as the acting administrator for a period of time to get his take on this situation… and what can be done. And it’s GovLoop, so we would love to get your thoughts: What should GSA do now?
And we have to note… yes, we are hearing a LOT of concern out there about the STOCK Act — the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. This is the bill — now law — designed to deal with lawmakers using inside from making money off of that information… essentially, it makes insider trading by lawmakers illegal. But it didn’t stop there. The bill also requires that members of the Senior Executive Service to post their financial disclosures online… and it broadens those financial disclosures. The Senior Executive Association has wrote a letter protesting the provision.
In their letter, the Senior Executive Association said that putting these disclosure forms on the Internet would appear to be “a gross violation of the spirit of the Privacy Act” and that supervisors could be subject to “unwarranted personal scrutiny by their subordinates, causing tension and problems in the workplace,” while foreign interests, including terrorists, could get access to information on federal employees serving abroad.
Beyond all that, it would just seem to make it even more difficult to find good people — I mean, who wants a job where you aren’t a public figure but you have to put all of your financial information out there? We’re working to get somebody who can help you figure out what to do, but… very troubling…
On today’s program…
- Using social media to track down bad guys… We told you about the TAG Challenge a few weeks ago. It was made possible by a State Department grant. The challenge was to use a network to track down five fictitious thieves. We’re going to talk to the leader of the team that won, Crowdscanner. [On GovLoop: Winner! The State Department's Tag Challenge crowns the Kings of Social Media Sleuthing]
- Can Twitter be used to track illnesses? The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response thinks so. They’ve just launched their Health in my Community Challenge. You’ll learn about that from the woman in charge. [On GovLoop: Can Twitter track diseases?]
- Women in technology — what are the biggest challenges and successes? You learn from the women who are making a difference in government.
More information and links posted soon.
He had one of those overhead projectors — yes, really. Apparently they found one in a White House closet.
Then used ASCII. Then PowerPoint. And then an iPad… to show the evolution of tech.
VanRoekel says the aim of his office is to cut down the amount of money agencies spend on technology operations and maintenance so that they can plow that money back into new initiatives.
Since 2009 the federal tech budget has flattened out to roughly $80 billion. So now agencies need to innovate without expanding their budgets. VanRoekel outlined how they can achieve that goal.
- Root out duplication and implement Share First
- Strengthen the role of the CIO
- Data center consolidation — goal is to go down by 40%
- Cloud — implement FedRamp across government this year
VanRoekel says agencies also need to focus on the mission — Focus on Service Delivery
- Maximize investments — growing profit is easier than growing costs
- Address the productivity gap
- Improve business and citizen interactions
- Cybersecurity needs to be incorporated into everything tech
Government cannot work in a silo. VanRoekel compared the data overload to the music industry.
- “Right now government couples data and presentations together. But they need to break it up and find relatedness across platforms. Think of government data like the music industry. You used to buy a whole album from the store. Now you go on iTunes and you can buy one song at a time, not the whole package.”
- “And with iTunes Genius and Pandora similar content is sent directly to you. Government needs to do that with data.”
– Emily Jarvis
03.28.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Frank’s career corner – the ‘who’ question; making diversity matter; are LinkedIn resumes honest?
Happy Wednesday… And a glamorous night ahead… Federal Computer Week’s annual Fed 100 Awards Gala… Looking forward to seeing some of you there and honoring the winners… and then tomorrow, I’m moderating a panel at the Acquisition Excellence 2012 conference… we’re talking about what doing more with less means for acquisition. And we’ll bring you highlights here on the DorobekINSIDER.
Before we get to the rest of the days news… a few items up front…
The lack of transportation bill: And we’ll go into more in the news, but… yes, there are only a few days for Congress to take action on the highway bill or it is highway Armageddon… well, that’s what The Washington Post calls it. The House again dodged efforts to move forward. Everybody keeps thinking that this will get resolved, right, because… well, really? Politico says that it is looking bleak. They say it looks eerily similar to previous struggles… we all remember the good times around the stalemate over government spending bills… or the showdown over increasing the borrowing cap… and, of course, the payroll tax holiday. We’ll see. There are only a few days left. Saturday is the big day.
Supreme Court health care arguments: And we have to mention the continuing arguments about healthcare before the U.S. Supreme Court. Today is the third and final day. And if you have some time, it is well worth your time to listen to the arguments. These days, it is difficult to find really smart discussions and debates about real issues, the arguments before the Supreme Court meet those criteria. They are smart. Yesterday, the question was about the mandates: Can the federal government require citizens to buy a good or service. Today, the discussion is about severability: if the Court rules the mandate is unconstitutional, how much of the law can survive?
- Heard the audio…also here [HT: PBS NewsHour]
- Read the transcript [PDF]
- SCOTUSblog: The ‘plain English’ summary of the arguments
- WashingtonPost.com WonkBlog: The 3 ways the Court could rule against Obamacare’s mandate
Keyboard pants: And… You may know somebody with fancy pants. Well, what about keyboard pants. That’s right — they are jeans with a built-in keyboard… and they are designed for… maybe… public works crews, police, emergency responders and the military… they have a wireless rubber keyboard that is sewn into the midsection. The idea comes from the Netherlands… They have a set of speakers, a wireless mouse and a keyboard… all integrated into the jeans… and they bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, Is that a keyboard in your pocket?
On today’s program…
- Are you happy in your career? Yes — happy and career can go together. Frank DiGiammarino will walk us through the first step of the career framework.
- Diversity in the federal workforce — does it matter? or is it just another mandate? We’ll talk to Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service.
- And that traditional resume… and the one people put on, say, LinkedIn. Which is more accurate? We’ll talk to the person who has actually done research to determine the answer.
All that ahead…
But after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Wednesday the 29 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
03.27.2012 DorobekINSIDER: A Yelp for government healthcare; Budget transparency; using virtual worlds at work
And we have to start out with the historic debate at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday over the health care bill — the first of three days of talks. The Washington Post notes that Monday was just the warm-up — arguments about whether the Supreme Court should take up the health-care case at all. Today, the focus is on mandates: Essentially, can the federal government require that all people buy health care. And Slate says that the arguments Monday showed the Supreme Court at its best. Slate says that arguments Monday showed that court doing what it does best: Taking complex old statutes and asking practical qauestions. Dahlia Lithwick says that while protesters outside were hollering about religion and freedom, the justices were boring those inside almost senseless with statutory construction. And, she says, “sometimes, check that, most of the time, boring is what the justices do best.”
- The SCOTUS blog has been covering the health care arguments coverage
- Read the transcript of day one [PDF from the SCOTUS]
- Hear audio from day one of the proceedings from SCOTUS blog… and on SoundCloud
And we go from talking about how benefits of being boring… Well, here is a reason to go online… You’ve probably heard of the Twitter feed… well, it is S my Dad Says… Yes, use your imagination. It is the Twitter feed that was a short-lived TV show. Well, now there is S that bureaucrats say… hat tip to GovLoop member Mike Kujawski… We have the link online… and my guess is this will go viral and be much discussed around government water coolers… and yes, it is safe for work.
On today’s program…
- They’re debating health care at the Supreme Court. What if there was something like a Yelp of Government Healthcare… something that could help veterans navigate the confusing world of healthcare with dashboards.. and sharing information. We’ll talk about that…
- Making budgets transparent. It has been the goal of the federal Web site, USAspending.gov. But state and local governments have been doing this for some time… and there are some new rankings out… grades, really… for how they are doing. We’ll talk to the people behind the budget transparency grades…
- And yesterday we told you about the virtual worlds conference. And I heard some of you roll your eyes and say that this is just game playing. Today, we’ll talk about how these tools can actually be used — and, yes, how they can save you money.
- And later in the program… What do Conan O’Brien, Cory Booker, Sesame Street’s Grover, Suze Orman, Ted Leo, Neil Patrick Harris and NASA have in common? We will tell you about an award that NASA has won…
All that ahead…
But as we do each day, after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 27 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
03.26.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Cyberwar: hype or reality; the import of CISOs; and evolving virtual worlds
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.
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…
03.22.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Disruptive innovation with Deloitte’s Bill Eggers; creating Ethics.gov and Virginia Decoded
We start off with a topic we come to so often… your money…
The House Budget Committee passed the Republican version of the fiscal 2013 budget yesterday — but just barely. Ezra Klein in the Washington Post’s WonkBlog notes that the House Budget Committee has 38 members — 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is the man who has in many ways defined the conservative approach to the federal budget… and yet the Ryan budget passed by only one vote.
Some of that leads the Wall Street Journal to suggest we may be headed to… yes, you know it — a government shutdown… even in the weeks before the election. The Journal says the budget act passed last year has been coming apart in pieces and the disagreements between the White House and congressional Republicans over spending levels has heightened the chance of a government shutdown just weeks before the November election. The budget agreement signed into law last August was supposed to help avoid such a showdown, but today, it seems possible. And the Journal says the flashpoint came this week Congressman Ryan called for more than $1 trillion in discretionary spending for the year beginning Oct. 1. That represents $19 billion less than the level agreed to with the White House last year and put into law.
We’ll watch it carefully, of course… we always try to stay away from shutdown hype, but even the talk impacts how government operates, so we’ll keep an eye on it.
On today’s program…
- Disruptive innovation. What is it… and what does it mean for you? We’ll talk to one of the smartest people I know… one of the real thinkers… Deloitte’s Bill Eggers, author of If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government…
- You’ll meet the Johnny Appleseed of open source — and the man who created Ethics.gov. He also created the site Virginia Decoded, which has been described as the “prettiest state code” you’ve seen. We’ll tell you about that.
All that ahead…
But after the break, as we do each day, we start with the stories that impact your life for Thursday the 22 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…