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DorobekINSIDER: Roger Baker to leave VA ‘in the near future’

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Roger BakerRoger Baker, the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is leaving that post “in the near future.”

Baker doesn’t offer a final date, but some insiders suggest it could be as soon as March 1.

In the time of transition, Baker is the latest to announce that he is leaving his post. NASA CIO Linda Cureton announced she is leaving that post at the end of the month.

At VA, Baker oversees IT for the government’s second largest agency — a $3.3 billion budget and more than 7,000 IT workers.

The VA under Baker, who was confirmed by the Senate in May, 2009, has made remarkable progress and he has won just about every award — including Federal Computer Week’s 2013 Federal 100 award.  

The VA CIO is in a unique position given that post has power over government spending. In 2010, when Baker was recognized with the GCN civilian executive of the year, he stressed the importance of having the power of the purse and his ability to use that authority to bring about change. VA’s success should be a lesson to the rest of government, he said. Because VA has a consolidated IT appropriation, it allows Baker and his staff to force changes. “Money is power in the government,” he said. “Money is love.”

“The consolidated IT appropriation is absolutely essential to driving real change in the IT results of an agency,” he noted at the time, and he future said that all federal CIOs should have authority over their IT budgets, he added. “The results at VA, the second largest federal agency, speak for themselves,” Baker said. “Empower CIOs to make real change happen.”

Read Baker’s note to staff following the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

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DorobekINSIDER: GSA FAS Commissioner Kempf takes medical leave; Mary Davie named acting

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Steve Kempf,  the commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service,
is taking 60-day medical leave. In the interim, the post will be filled by Mary Davie,  GSA Federal Acquisition Service’s assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services.

Details are still developing. It is unclear if Kempf’s leave has anything to do with GSA’s ongoing issues. In a note to staff, Kempf confirmed that there have been questions about GSA Federal Acquisition Service’s 2010 Organizational Performance Awards event.

GSA FAS Commissioner Steve Kempf

“I truly do not want to be leaving you at this important time. However, this is necessary if I am going to continue serving our country to the best of our ability,” Kempf said in the note to GSA staff.

Kempf was appointed the FAS commissioner effective July 10, 2010. In the role, he sets strategic direction and oversees the delivery of more than $50 billion of best-value products, services and solutions to federal customers. He served as acting commissioner from April through June 2010, and was the deputy commissioner before that.

GSA has been reeling from revelations about the Public Building Service 2010 Western Region Conference and allegations of extravagant spending. The GSA inspector general report on that incident forced the resignation of former Administrator Martha Johnson and several top agency officials.

After the jump, read the full text of the note that Kempf sent to FAS staff…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

July 27, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.11.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Public Service Recognition Week: A look back at the highs and lows of the Secret Service

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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 has been
 Public Service Recognition Week and it comes on the heels of a lot of public service that probably that probably should not be recognized. Earlier this week, we unveiled the Partnership for Public Service Service to America Medal finalists — the
 SAMMIES… and we spoke to
 Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service about how YOU can help recognize good work… and a programming note: Starting on Thursday, we will be introducing you to the SAMMIES finalists.

There were a number of stories competing for the big issue this week.



  • One was the budget. The House late in the week approved a bill that would adjust sequestration. The New York Times reports that the house approved the legislation that would cut $310 billion from the deficit over the next decade — and it shifted the cuts away from defense spending and toward domestic programs. The Times notes the bill has no chance of passing the Senate and the White House issued a veto threat saying the bill fails the test of fairness and shared responsibility.
  • Meanwhile the 
House passed the first appropriations bill of the year — a measure that would spend $51 billion on the departments of Commerce, Justice, NASA and other related agencies. The Hill notes that the bill is the least controversial of the 12 annual appropriations bill and — are you sensing a theme here — it has no chance of making it through the Senate and the White House issued a veto threat. The White House has said President Obama will veto any and all of the 12 bills until the House renounces the top-line spending level in the overall budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The legislation cuts spending by about 3 percent compared to current levels, which Republicans said shows their ongoing commitment to trim spending. The GOP said spending by agencies covered by the bill has been cut by 20 percent over the last three budget cycles.
  • The
 House also voted for a plan that would increase the percentage of salary that federal employees must pay toward their retirement benefits. But — ready for it — the plan is unlikely to make it through the Senate.
  • The gay marriage discussion. This is mostly a policy issue and we’ll leave that for others, but it does indicate the ongoing battle between the White House and Capitol Hill. The
 Washington Post notes that on the same day President Obama became the first president to fully embrace same-sex marriage, House Republicans once again approved measures that limit Obama administration policy decisions and federal policies favorable to gays and lesbians… they voted to bar the Justice Department from using any federal funds to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. And the House Armed Services Committee voted to bar gay and lesbian service members from getting married or holding “marriage-like” ceremonies at military facilities.

Our Issue of the Week:
 It’s public service recognition week. The time when managers and the public are supposed to take a step back and really highlight the amazing work government workers do on a daily basis. But this year has been rough for many feds — especially those in the Secret Service — who are facing a public service nightmare with the prostitution scandals in Colombia and El Salvador. So for our issue of the week we wanted to harken back to a time when the Secret Service was held in really high esteem. A new book Rawhide Down draws on exclusive new interviews and never-before-seen documents, photos, and videos about the near assassination of President Ronald Reagan. The book’s author Del Quentin Wilber told me what he thinks of the current scandals hitting the Secret Service.

Weekend Reads:




  • What impact will cloud computing have on CIOs?
 Keith Engelbert
is CIO of 

Student Transportation Inc., an operator of school buses, writes in
 Fortune about a recent report about, “The Changing Role of the CFO,” and it found that 17 percent of corporate financial decision-makers believe the position of the chief information officer will disappear from the business landscape in the next five years. Why? The cloud. Technology has dramatically changed the way organizations invest in and consume technology — and CIOs who do not value the cloud in today’s current IT environment are putting an expiration date on their usefulness in the enterprise. CIOs need to fundamentally shift their strategic thinking as it relates to technology because cloud services all but guarantee uptime and data’s availability. CIOs can now use cloud services to focus on how data is accessed, shared and used within the organization which is the next evolution of the title.
  • Why Do Our Best and Brightest End Up in Silicon Valley and Not D.C.?
The Atlantic says that the country’s most thoughtful used to look to politics to make a difference on issues like healthcare reform. But now they come to Google Ventures. And David Ewing Duncan sat down with Bill Maris, who leads Google Ventures. Maris says that government is really successful when it’s willing to make big bold objectives like: We’re going to get to the moon. And they’re willing to invest in those things to get there. He says there never was a bold statement like — we’re going to invent the Internet. Instead it was government investing in these technologies and things will develop from them… and that flows out to universities, which flows out to companies. Maris says that this system has given us a lot, and he says he hope will continue to give us in the future. But without leaders with big ideas we get stuck.
  • How do you create a culture that embraces innovation?
 Scott Anthony of Innosight says it requires a highly engaged leadership and the right motivating factors — guess what? It isn’t only money… and, in fact, he mentions a
 DorobekINSIDER Book Club book — Daniel Pink’s
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  • Why does it seem that CEOs don’t get innovation?
 Stephan Lindegard writes that top executives are risk adverse, and too often they aren’t taught how to be innovative. We have his post of five reasons why CEOs don’t get innovation…
  • Finally, are you addicted to Facebook? Well, have you tried to cut down your Facebook time, but you haven’t… or can’t… Or is Facebook impacting your ability to do your job? 
Mashable writes this is becoming a problem, apparently. Meanwhile in
 Fast Company, Martin Lindstrom writes about how he managed to put down his iPhone… and even not jump to Google to answer every trivial question that arises.

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.10.2012 DorobekINSIDER How to succeed as a political appointee, Harnessing the power of big data, Ranking local gov’t social media sites

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On today’s program for Thursday May 10th, 2012



  • How to
succeed in government leadership — and yes, that includes political leadership. We’ll talk to Paul Lawrence, one of the authors of the new book, Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government.
  • Big data — it’s the latest buzz word floating around government. But how do you harness its powers. We’ve got your how to guide.

  • How
 does your city rank when it comes to social media? And what can you learn from those that are doing it well. We’ll talk to the person behind that assessment.

Chris Dorobek got to moderate a panel this morning focusing on the relationship between mobility and leadership this morning. The panel was with the
 Voyagers — the government-industry partnership program run by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.


Chris says it was an interesting discussion in part because we were reminded that not everybody wants to be mobile… and sometimes they feel that the mobile train is leaving the station and they are being left behind.


John Holland, part of this year’s Voyager’s class, posted here on
 GovLoop:
 How will the advancement in technology affect leadership styles in the future .



Chris says he’s always thought that mobile was much more than just telework. The Patent and Trademark Office, which has been a real leader in this space, 
recently published its 2011 telework annual report and they find that more than 6,500 employees are teleworking at least one day a week… about half of those are working from home between four and five days per week… that’s an increase of 922 people.


The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 10th of Ma…

  1. The Pentagon is changing its definition of an insider threats in hopes of rooting out threats earlier and easier.
Secrecy News reports, the new definition calls an insider a someone who engages in unauthorized disclosures of information or other activities deemed harmful to national security. The new Instruction comes in the wake of WikiLeaks and complies with a congressional mandate in the 2012 defense authorization act.

  2. The Postal Service has a new strategy that could keep small office open for business.  The plan would keep the existing Post Office in place, but with modified retail window hours. The plan would also keep access to retail lobbies  and to PO Boxes unchanged.
Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe says the new strategy would be implemented over a two-year multi-phased approach. Once implementation is completed, the Postal Service estimates they could save half a billion dollars annually.

  3. The White House could be in hot water after a special counsel report found the Federal Aviation Administration was slow to respond to problems that could put airline passengers at risk. The
Washington Post says Air traffic controllers in New York sleeping, playing video games and going home early we among seven main safety concerns Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner cited in her letter. Lerner says the Transportation Department needs more oversight of air safety. The Washington Posts says the criticism comes during the safest period in U.S. aviation history.

  4. The large number of inspector general vacancies could be filling up. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa has scheduled a hearing to fill the 10 vacancies. The
Washington Posts says in the wake of an inspector general report that exposed wasteful spending in the
 General Services Administration, lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration about similar positions being vacant in several other agencies.

  5. A new bill is calling for the end of duplicate spending.
Federal News Radio says Congressman James Lankford has introduced a new bill that would require the Congressional Research Service to provide a “duplication score” for every piece of legislation. The score is similar to the cost scores that the Congressional Budget Office already gives each bill.

  6. The missile defense agency is looking for new ways to weed out fake electronic parts in the supply chain. And they want your help.
 NextGov reports, the incidence of counterfeit parts appearing in military supply chains has risen in recent years. It happens when authorized dealers or original makers run out of parts to replace the military’s aging equipment and turn to unaccredited middlemen for supplies. The Pentagon is looking for solicitations through the end of May.

  7. And over on
 GovLoop, we asking are the best employees overworked? GovLoop’s Steve Ressler says sometimes the best and most creative/ innovative people often get overburdened with too much to do (day jobs plus all the special projects). Do you agree? Sound off on GovLoop right now. You can join the conversation on our homepage.


Written by jarvisdorobek

May 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.04.2012 DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: Why HR Matters and your weekend reading list

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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.

Happy Star Wars Day — yes, Star Wars Day… it’s May 4th, so May the 4th Be With You

There has been much going on this week.

  • There was more skirmishing about budgets on Capitol Hill, although it seems very unlikely that agency budgets will get passed on time. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank notes that by the time the Republican-led House returns next week, members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and that was the busy part of the year. They are planning out of session for 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks, and even when they are in town the typical workweek is three days.
  • The federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel, has released the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy. Speaking at InformationWeek’s Government IT Leadership Forum, VanRoekel said that agency CIOs should look first to IT spending within their agencies for commodities such as e-mail and storage — and after that, they should look to consolidate HR and financial management with other agencies, NextGov reports.
  • With all the bad press public servants have seen in recent weeks, it’s good to see people making a difference… and saving the government money. The nation’s highest civil service awards — the Presidential Ranks of Distinguished Executive and Distinguished Professional — were announced last week at the Senior Executive Association’s 27th annual awards banquet. The Senior Executive Association notes that  the 2011 award winners’ nominations show that they saved the federal government more than $36 billion. 

But our issue of the weekHR… Yes, human relations… chief people officer… chief human capital officer… they’re all terrible names for a job that SHOULD be so important, but too often at agencies — and many organizations, it is a role that is mostly regulatory, not strategic.

Liz Ryan is a strategist on the people relationships — her company, Ask Liz Ryan, focuses on the new-millennium workplace — yes, the new world workplace. She is also a former Fortune 500 HR executive.

She says that HR — human capital — is still not fully understood or appreciated.



Your Weekend Reads

  • It’s graduation season — and I love commencement speeches. It really is an opportunity to step back and ponder what makes a successful life… offer advice. Of course, the best of the best was Steve Jobs commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005. If you haven’t seen it or heard it, it’s 15-minutes long and well worth a few hours. Watch it a few times.

  • That being said, there were two pieces looking at commencement speeches that I saw this week. Charles Wheelan, author of the book 10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said writes in The Wall Street Journal about what they don’t tell you at graduation. Things like… yes, some of your worst days lie ahead. Wheelan says that graduation is a happy day. But he says that his job is to tell you that if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of grinding self-doubt and failure. Be prepared to work through them. He also says the goal should be to not make the world worse…
  • The other piece by Steve DeVaughn about the commencement speech that he says he’s never been invited to give, and he offers advice like: Reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than you are today.
  • Facebook this week announced that you can now post if you are an organ donor. SmartMoney says this move experts say could prompt social-media companies to take on roles once reserved for government agencies. And they post others — having people posting when they vote to encourage voting… or when they pay their taxes.
  • With the approaching end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, changes are coming to the military services — a transition. The Christian Science Monitor writes that the military is working on plans to retain the best and the brightest so they can be better prepared for whatever lies ahead. 
  • Meanwhile, the Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno writes in Foreign Affairs about the U.S. Army in a time of transition.
  • How would you fix washington? The Washington Post asked the chamber’s referees, Alan Frumin, the Senate parliamentarian, who is retiring after 35 years. One of his recommendations: Speed up the confirmation process by putting key positions on a fast track.

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

05.02.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Why Feds and their Leaders don’t connect, What doing more with less means for CIOs and Matchmaking with the SBA and Government

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On today’s program for Wednesday May 2nd 2012

  • How would you rate leadership in your organization? A new assessment from the Partnership for Public Service shows — not great. We’ll find out why and what can be done.
  • Doing more with less — that is the mantra these days. What does it mean for federal CIOs? An early look at the findings from TechAmerica’s 22nd annual Federal CIO survey.
  • The government is trying to reach out and work with more small business contractors — how is that going? What should agency leaders be looking for?

There has been much discussion about government conference — and what impact the GSA 2010 Western Regions Conference will have on conferences over all. Jered Serbu of Federal News Radio notes that the Defense Department has called off its annual procurement conference scheduled for later this month. On the DOD Web site announcing the change, officials say that the event will be rescheduled for later this year. And, using good passive voice, they say, “More time was needed to ensure that the training courses to be provided at the conference were aligned with the Department’s Better Buying Power Initiatives.”
With all the bad press public servants have seen in recent weeks, it’s good to see people making a difference… and saving the government money. The nation’s highest civil service awards — the Presidential Ranks of Distinguished Executive and Distinguished Professional — were announced last week at the Senior Executive Association’s 27th annual awards banquet. The Senior Executive Association notes that the 2011 award winners’ nominations show that they saved the federal government more than $36 billion.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Wednesday the 18th of April, 2012

  1. Lawmakers are asking for more time to pass a final bill to restructure the postal service. And they’re asking to delay the first round of post office closures to make it happen. The Postal Service has put more than 3,000 post offices on the chopping block, but it has agreed not to close any of them until May 15. Backers of a bill that just passed the Senate say they need more time than that to convince the House to go along with their plan. Congress.org says senators don’t want the Postal Service to try to get some closures “in under the wire” while the House deliberates.
  2. Three marines are accused of injuring a Brazilian stripper after a night out. The Daily Beast says the three Marines and a civilian staffer were assigned to the U.S. embassy. In an embassy van, the men drove to a nightclub called Apple, known for music, cocktails, and sex-for-hire. According to those familiar with the venue, it was not the first time U.S. government personnel had visited the club. The incident is the third sex scandal in a string of incidents involving the secret service in Colombia and El Salvador.
  3. Protests on the NetCents II contracts have the Air Force rethinking its awards decision. The Air Force has asked the Government Accountability Office to dismiss a group of bid protests over its Network-Centric Solutions-2 contract. Washington Technology says the Government Accountability Office has received protests from nine companies who failed to win spots on the $6.9 billion Network-Centric Solutions-2 contract. The program supports the Global Information Grid architecture, the Defense Information Infrastructure, the Air Force, and the Defense Communications Systems’ info-structure for computer networks and telecommunications network mission areas.
  4. The Interior Department has selected Google Apps for Government for their cloud email and collaboration services. The move is part of a major efficiency initiative that will leverage modern technology to save up to $500 million in taxpayer dollars by 2020. We talked about that IT transformative initiative with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Technology, Information and Business Services — Andrew Jackson. You can find the hour long conversation on our website dorobekinsider dot com.
  5. It was a mixed month for the federal retirement plan funds. For April, only three of the 10 Thrift Savings Plan funds showed gains, while the others showed negative returns for the month. F Fund, which is made of of U.S. bonds, had the strongest showing in April, up more than 1 percent. The G Fund, which never has a bad day, was up 0.15 percent; and the L Income Fund, the most conservative of the lifecycle funds, was almost unchanged, up 0.01 percent. All of the other funds were in negative numbers, with the I Fund, made up of international stocks, showing the biggest decrease of 1.87 percent. For the year to date, however, all the funds are showing significant returns — many in double digits.
  6. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency has deployed a new tool to help the United Statesbecome a more “weather-ready nation.” Federal News Radio says Rapid Refresh tests of the new tool has delivered more accurate predictions of fast-developing weather emergencies, like heavy rains that pummeled the Midwest last summer. It updates every hour with an forecast for the next 18 hours. NOAA says that’s important for pilots, as well as weather forecasters.
  7. And over on Govloop, we’re talking about 3-D. And graphics aren’t the only thing that come in three dimensions. When you think of Open Gov, what comes to mind? Transparency and accountability? Greater access to data? As if turns out, Open Gov isn’t that easy to define, and everyone seems to have their own opinion on which dimension is most important. We want to know what you think. So head over to GovLoop to check it out.

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– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

May 2, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

04.24.2012 DorobekINSIDER: How spies and cloud computing fit together, the future of Gov 2.0 and are you suffering from social media overload?

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On today’s program for Tuesday April 25, 2012: 

A lot of news coming out early this morning: 

  • The General Services Administration’s inspector general who has been investigating that lavish Public Building Service 2010 Western Region Conference has told federal prosecutors an outside event planner violated ethics laws while helping to organize a conference in Las Vegas hotel, government sources tell the Washington Post. Investigators also want to know whether Michael W. Jahn, managing partner of Location Solvers, violated bribery laws by giving gifts to several GSA employees in excess of the government’s $20 limit, according to government sources, e-mails and transcripts of interviews conducted by the inspector general’s office.
  • We continue to ask you what YOU would do in the GSA situation — you’re the boss. How would you handle it? If there are significant changes to be made — a wholesale restructuring of GSA — how would you reorganize?
  • The Senate is set to vote on dozens of plans to overhaul the Postal Service. Again, The Washington Post says the U.S. Postal Service is asking Congress to allow changes to the mail delivery schedule and other reforms to better control costs, but a set of proposals expected to come to a vote today could place even more restrictions on when, where and how Americans receive their mail. The Senate plans to vote on dozens of amendments designed to overhaul the Postal Service, by providing nearly $11 billion to fund the buyouts of hundreds of thousands of employees and, eventually, ending six-day-a-week mail delivery. And the Post notes that this debate does not divide along partisan lines. Instead it is a NIMBY argument. Central to the Postal Service’s cost-cutting measures are plans to close hundreds of processing facilities and more than 2,000 post offices, an issue that pits lawmakers from smaller, rural states against colleagues from larger, more urban areas, where the proposed closings would have less of an impact.
  • Last week we talked about budget transparency — both why one would do it… and how to do it… and we spoke to Matthew Hall of Open Plans get get his assessment. Atlantic Cities has just written a piece talking about budgets by — and for — the people. They say that in an effort to cut wasteful spending and generate political support, cash-strapped municipal officials are turning to a process called participatory budgeting, which allows residents to devise and vote on small-scale infrastructure projects. Pioneered in Brazil, it’s since been taken up by some 1,200 cities in just over two decades.
The SEVEN Gov’t Stories you NEED to know:

  1. The Pentagon is setting up a new spy service of its own. The Wall Street Journal says the Defense Department will use existing funds and personnel to increase to create the new department.  DoD has wanted to increase their role in the collection of sensitive intelligence about threats. The new spy service is part of a Pentagon-wide reorganization effort.
  2. Hacktivists pose the biggest threat to IT security. A new InformationWeek Federal IT survey says the top threat shouldn’t come as a big surprise since hacktivists have topped the list for the past two years. The survey found that despite governmentwide adoption of new FISMA policies cyber attacks were still up by 5 percent from last year.
  3. The GSA conference scandal has hit the agency hard…and now the investigation is widening to include potential contractor fraud. The Washington Post says GSA’s inspector general told federal prosecutors an outside event planner violated ethics laws. Michael Jahn, managing partner of Location Solvers, is accused of violating bribery laws by giving gifts to several GSA employees in excess of the government’s $20 limit.
  4. Two former students of the elite military and naval academies say in a new lawsuit that they were raped by fellow classmates and then either resigned or were forced to leave because administrators didn’t take their allegations seriously. The Wall Street Journal says the women claim they were raped by upperclassmen while under the influence of alcohol and later ostracized when they reported the allegations. The Defense Department has declined to comment.
  5. The Veterans Affairs Department is struggling to keep up with the number of veterans seeking mental health care. The agency’s inspector general said half of its mental health patients have to wait about 50 days for a full evaluation.Federal News Radio says the agency’s tracking system is flawed. Doctors and clinicians said they don’t have the manpower to handle all the cases. The VA last week began hiring 1,900 more mental health care workers.
  6. The Senate is back in session debating how to keep the Postal Service afloat. Now senators are considering a couple of amendments that would mean major changes to employees pay and benefits. Government Executive says the new bill would require retirement-eligible employees to retire, increase the amount workers contribute to their health benefits and life insurance,  limit executive pay and curtail the amount agencies can spend on government conferences.
  7. And on GovLoop, we’re talking about the future of Gov 2.0. It’s part of our newwebinar with HP where we look at where Gov 2.0 started, where it is now, and where it’s going. It’s going to be a really fascinating discussion and you can still register right now on our homepage for the Thursday webinar! The conversation kicks off at 2pm.

– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

04.23.2012 DorobekINSIDER: How GSA’s getting data anywhere, at anytime, the TSP’s Roth Option and Untangling Big Data

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ImageOn the program today for April 23rd, 2012:

  • We’re going to talk about what GSA is actually getting it right. Last week, I moderated a discussion about mobile technologies and how it is changing work. Ahead, we’ll hear from GSA CIO Casey Coleman.
  • A new TSP option. We’ll talk to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board about the new Roth option.
  • We’ll talk about how to untangle the open data debate.

We start off this week in a similar place where we left last week. There is very little good news out there for public servants.

  • Over the weekend, Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT) called for broader hearings into both the GSA and Secret Service situations. There was even word that one of the Secret Service agents connected with the alleged Secret Service prostitution scandal was staying at the Colombian hotel where President Barack Obama lodged a few days later. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the 12th Secret Service employee implicated in the events was staying at the Hilton in Cartagena, not the Hotel Caribe, the hotel that has garnered most of the public attention. The agent is now on leave.
  • But the story that is going to have broader implications is the now infamous GSA conference. The Washington Post this morning has a story headlined,GSA under the microscope. And Jonathan O’Connell says that Congress may restructure GSA’s Public Building Service as a result of the conference scandal. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA.), said they may consider trying to do away with GSA altogether. District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) hasn’t gone that far, but she said the GSA’s dual missions of signing real estate deals and managing contracts are largely unrelated and might require separating.

Chris Dorobek has posted on GovLoop asking for your insights… Again, some of this is over the top and actually reminds me of the whole Get It Right mess — Get It Right is the 2004 program that was created to fix some contracting problems. And years later, there is now a consensus that Get It Right got it wrong.

GSA has been around for more than 50 years. It was created as a result of the Hoover Commission. We’d love to hear your thoughts:

  1. Does GSA need to be fundamentally changed? If so, why? If not, why not?
  2. How should the Obama administration and Congress handle the GSA situation?
  3. If you did decide to fundamentally change the was general services were administered across government, how should that be done?

The SEVEN stories that you need to know:

  1. We’re going to talk about the Thrift Savings Plan’s Roth option later, but… It turns out that TSP’s Roth option might not make its May 7th start date. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service has said it will not be ready for the start-up next month. The Washington Post says the delay is partly due to the time will take payroll offices to be able to separate the traditional and roth investment options and make the necessary TSP’s traditional tax treatment. And we’ll talk about that later on here on the DorobekINSIDER.
  2. Lawmakers are broadening the investigation into the Secret Service activities in Colombia involving prostitutes. Federal News Radio says the Senate Homeland Security Committee wants to determine whether the incident was an exception, or part of a pattern of misconduct. The House Homeland Security Committee sent Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan a list of 50 questions. Members wanted a comprehensive, minute-by-minute timeline of the event.
  3. A group of non-profits are looking into federal whistleblowing protection in the wake of the GSA conference spending scandal. The Washington Post says the group Cause of Action has asked the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a governmentwide audit to make sure agencies were complying with federal ethics and whistleblower laws. The GSA inspector general who investigated the agency’s lavish Las Vegas conference spending said the regional administrator at the heart of the scandal did not tolerate dissent from employees. IG Brian Miller said Jeff Neely intimidated those who raised questions about the spending.
  4. The House is set to debate on as many as four cybersecurity bills this week.The National Journal reports, the bills would encourage businesses and government to share threat information; increase cyber research, development, and education; and update federal network security practices. Today kicks off federal cybersecurity week.
  5. Another pay cut could be on the way…but this time the cut would only affect Congressman. Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder has introduced a bill to cut the pay rates of lawmakers by 5 percent. Government Executive says the bill would also prevent Congressman from getting cost of living adjustments.
  6. House Republicans are moving back towards the debt deal’s spending levels.The Hill Newspaper says Republican leaders who are “Boxed in by their Senate colleagues on one side and House conservatives on the other are inching closer to the spending levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act.
  7. And on GovLoop, Bob Gourley is talking about this new product TwitChimp. The idea is harness the power of Twitter to niche markets. We will actually be talking to Gourley later this week. But you should head over to our homepage now to check it out. And we’ll be talking to Gourley about TwitChimp later this week here on the DorobekINSIDER.

– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

04.20.2012 DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: GSA watcher assess the impact of the conference scandal, and your weekend reading list

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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.

ImageWe 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…


WEEKEND READS:

  • 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.

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Posted in Events, GSA, Uncategorized

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