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Archive for November 2008

Apps for Democracy… and my recommendation for Obama’s CTO

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I have been remiss about pointing to Washington, D.C.’s simply remarkable Apps For Democracy program — but it also brings me to the person who would be my recommendation for the new chief technology officer in the Obama administration –DC’s CTO Vivek Kundra.

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of Virtual Alabama, the marvelous program developed by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security… and one part of this amazing program is the power of data — Virtual Alabama is able to take data that already exists and make it available to first responders. It gives them the right information at the right time in the right form — making data usable.

Why not do that for citizens?

Well, that is exactly what Kundra is doing — and he is doing it by making public data transparent and available. Kundra has had a program of making public data available. You can find the District’s data sets at Having done that, Kundra worked with iStrategy Labs to create the Apps For Democracy contest where the District offered up prize money for the best applications that was developed using that public data.

We spoke with Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Wednesday about the program. The results are remarkable.

For example, how would you like to develop a tour of historic Washington on a Google Map that taps into photos from Flickr photo feeds, Wikipedia entries, and government data? Click over to and check it out.

Or maybe you are more practical and you want to find out if there is street parking available someplace in downtown DC? Then check out Park It DC at The application lets you check a specific area in DC for parking information.

Or maybe you go out on a Saturday night and… well, you have too much fun. There is an application called StumbleSafely that lets you find the safest way to walk home that incorporates crime data — again, using public data.

It is a fantastic idea — and a great way to make public information widely available.

To that end, Kundra is one of the best and the brightest out there. He has been doing absolutely innovative things at DC’s CTO — as we reported when I was at Federal Computer Week, Kundra has been very innovative — perhaps one of the most innovative in the country — at actually implementing these Web 2.0 programs in effective ways. From FCW’s March story:

The District of Columbia’s 33-year-old chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, wants to bring government procurement into the world of wikis and YouTube videos.

The test case is fairly straightforward. The city needs a vendor to build a 100,000- square-foot evidence warehouse for the police department, so as always, it issued a request for bids. But then it gets more interesting.

The city also created a wiki to host the solicitation documents. Along with the request for bids, the wiki has an interactive question-and-answer section and a link to complete video coverage of apresolicitation conference for potential bidders. The video link takes bidders to social-networking Web site YouTube.

The city has never handled a major procurement in such a manner. But Mayor Adrian Fenty and the city’s CTO aren’t afraid to try new approaches to the most basic government processes.

“The value that these Web 2.0 technologies demonstrate surpasses the old command- and-control model of application development,” Kundra said. “It’s basically like a movie being played in front of the world.

Continue reading about the collaboration gurus here.

With all the names floated out there for the Obama CTO post, Government Technology is reporting — and I’ve heard it too — Kundra would somebody who could provide strategy — and could help make things happen. And Kundra would be additive to the government — allowing agency CIOs to do their jobs better.

Read more about Kundra on the CTO Vision blog.

Written by cdorobek

November 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM

Reminder: The Federal News Radio Book Club today

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speed-of-trustJust a reminder that the Federal News Radio Book Club will air today — Wednesday — at 2p ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and on

Just a reminder that we will be discussing The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey.

We are holding the book club on Federal News Radio’s mid-day program, In Depth with Francis Rose. Rose’s show gives us more time to hold that discussion — we have a full hour. And joining Rose for the discussion are… well, me… Covey himself, and Dave Wennergren, the Defense Department’s deputy CIO.

How can you participate? Well, listen in on the conversation this afternoon. We actually recorded the session yesterday in order to meet scheduling requirements and I can tell you there is some real insight there. If you haven’t read this book, I think you will want to by the end of the hour.

If you don’t want to read the whole book, Federal Computer Week has excerpts.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my review of the book — and of our discussion. And, of course, we welcome your thoughts… on this book… on trust… on what trust means to the government…

Meanwhile… join us on the radio…
2p ET on In Depth with Francis Rose on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and

Written by cdorobek

November 19, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Tim Young’s retirement festivities

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We have been tracking OMB’s Tim Young’s official announcement that he is stepping down… and that he is joining Deloitte Consulting. We had him on Monday’s Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.

Young, whose last day is Friday, had his retirement party yesterday — and it was an big showing. Much of that is because of Young, who has a wonderful sense of humor and a passion for the work he has done for the past nearly six years. Young has spearheaded the Bush administration’s e-government initiatives.

Young was hired nearly six years ago when he was 29-years-old. It was a big job for a relatively young guy. And Young was clearly very touched during his presentation yesterday on a whole host of levels.

It was a touching presentation — and he announced that he and his wife are expecting their second child.

Young has really loved his work at OMB — and he has made changes.

But it was interesting because the people at Young’s retirement lunch Tuesday were also touched by how the world has changed in the past six years. We all are awaiting what kinds of changes will come to Washington with a new administration — and many of us believe that there will be fewer then most people really believe. But it is almost impossible to imagine how the world has changed — particularly the technology world — has changed in the past six years. (Just to take us back — it was six years ago that Jim Flyzik retired from government, the Treasury acting CIO Mayi Canales announced her retirement, and consumer groups were pushing to drop telecom company WorldCom from GSA’s list of approved federal contractors.) It was before Web 2.0 was uttered. In fact, it was before YouTube was even around. (YouTube appeared in February 2005.) So there was a lot of reflection about the world of change.

On Tuesday, Young was presented with a flag that flew over the Capitol Building on the anniversary of the passage of the E-Government Act.

I have other presentations from Tuesday’s retirement festivities.

Congratulations to Tim Young. His last day as a government employee is Friday. In January, he will join Deloitte Consulting. (He joked that Tom Davis is following on his coat tails.)

Written by cdorobek

November 19, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Microsoft federal names a CTO — a chief transition officer

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NOTE: Item updated on Dec. 8, 2008. The addition is also in italics.

Microsoft federal’s Teresa Carlson has created a new job — a CTO. No, not a chief technology officer, but a chief transition officer within Microsoft federal. The person heading up that post is Carolyn K. Brubaker, who has been with Microsoft federal for several years.

Carlson told me that the job will look at the priorities of the new administration and then map them Microsoft federal’s products and services. The goal is to ensure that the software giant remains focused on the needs of its customer.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Microsoft federal is the first in a trend of organizations that focus on what transition means to them — and their customers. I have heard a lot of companies churning about what the much discussed “change you can believe in” will mean.

Update: We had Brubaker on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. You can hear that interview here.

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 6:59 PM

Posted in Industry, Transition

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Obit: Christina Nelson, formerly of the Digital Government Institute

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Our condolences to the family of Christina Nelson, who passed away late last week. Many remember Nelson because led the Digital Government Institute, which she founded in 1998 and sponsored — well, sponsors — a number of conferences focused on the government market. In 2006, she sold the Digital Government Institute to MikeSmoyer , who had led 1105 Government Information Group’s events team for several years. It had been quietly known that Nelson was battling cancer. She moved toAsheville, where she died last week.

Here is the obit from the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Anna Christina Nelson

Asheville – Anna Christina Nelson, an Asheville resident, died on Monday, November 10, 2008, at the Solace Hospice Center after a return of cancer which she had proudly beaten twice before in her life. She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 25 years, Mat, in 1999. A native of Washington, D.C., she founded, managed and sold a successful educational conference business in that city, the Digital Government Institute. She moved toAsheville in 2006, and worked as a consultant and advocate for sustainability issues about which she was most passionate. There will be a celebration of her life at 5 p.m. Monday, November 17, in the fifth floor penthouse of the Grove Arcade, 1 Page Avenue, inAsheville . Memorial contributions are suggested for animal rescue, about which she was also most concerned; to hospice work, and to Trinity Episcopal Church,Asheville.

Published: 2008-11-14

Hat tip to Anne Armstrong of the 1105 Government Information Group for giving me a heads up.

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Posted in Circuit, community

Obama CTO frenzy: More names in the mix

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So there almost seems to be a frenzy around who might be named the Obama CTO.

The Industry Standard has its selections of 10 contenders (and one real long shot) for Obama’s CTO.

Frankly their list seems like mostly long-shots. Their list includes Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and’s Jeff Bezos — my good friend — kidding.

Most of these seem like long shots to me. First off, most of them would have to give us some of the best jobs in the world — and some of the highest paying jobs in the world. And most of them are used to being able to do what they want — they create the bureaucracy. Are they really going to have to work within the confines of government — even an Obamaized government? Finally, are those people going to be willing to fill out the Obama team’s job application form, which is seven pages long and has more than 60 questions? (The NYT has a copy of the application here. PDF)

The Industry Standard’s actual long-shot is Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, who just announced that he is stepping down from his post.

The list has some more likely names — Julius Genachowski makes their list. As the DorobekInsider told you, he part of the Obama transition leadership and is one of Obama’s former colleagues from the Harvard Law Review. Genachowski seems one of the more likely. The other candidates in their list is Sonal Shah.

Shah is one of the few rumored contenders to have actually worked in government. She currently heads global development initiatives at Google, but prior to that worked at Goldman Sachs, the Center for American Progress, and the U.S. Treasury Department. She’s also advising Obama’s transition team on the CTO search.

They also have Donald Gips

Gips is the vice president of corporate strategy and development for Level 3 Communications, and served Al Gore. Although Gips didn’t help the former vice president invent the Internet, he was Gore’s chief domestic policy advisor and has a deep understanding of technology and communication policies. He too is advisingObama’s transition team.

The Silicon Alley Insider also has a list of CTO candidates.

And’s list, which has been the buzz around town, includes some government IT luminaries:

  • Cisco’s Alan Balutis, who served as the Commerce Department’s chief information officer
  • Bob Gourley, the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now chief technology officer at advisory firm CrucialPoint.
  • Dawn Meyerriecks, a consultant in Washington, D.C., formerly CTO of the Defense Information Systems Agency.
  • Harry Raduege Jr., who was director of DISA and now chairs the Deloitte Center for Network Innovation.

More than the person — we’ll get that when we get it — I’m interested in what role the CTO will play. To that end, this afternoon on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He recently post an item on his blog headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 7:36 AM

FCW excerpt of ‘The SPEED of Trust’ — in preparation for Wednesday’s Federal News Radio Book Club

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speed-of-trustThe Federal News Radio Book Club is coming up this week — listen on Federal News Radio 1500 AM. But, as I mentioned earlier, we are working with Federal Computer Week on this project. In the Nov. 17 issue of FCW, there is an excerpt of the Federal News Radio Book Club book, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey. In face, they have several excerpts:

You can also read FCW editor in chief John Monroe on why he selection this particular section of the book here:

As the title indicates, this book is about trust — as it works with individuals, relationships, organizations, markets (in the case of businesses) and society as a whole. For FCW’s purposes, I selected an excerpt that focuses on how leaders can improve the level of trust in their organization.

Covey describes trust as one of the “hidden variables” in the formula for organizational success. An organization that fosters a high level of trust reaps “trust dividends” that have eventually improves the organization’s performance.

Read Monroe’s full post here.

20081117-fcw-coverIn addition to the book excerpt, FCW has an interview with Dave Wennergren, the Defense Department’s deputy CIO, about books. As I have mentioned, Wennergren is one of the brightest people I know, a keen leader, and an avid reader… and he helped us select the first Federal News Radio Book Club book. As I mentioned, I got to talk to Wennergren on Federal News Radio about why he was fascinated by The SPEED of Trust. (You can hear that interview here.) FCW’s Mary Mosquera spoke to Wennergren about… why books?

Wennergren: While CIOs can often feel like they’re alone on a windy corner, there are actually lots of other people working on similar issues. Understanding best practices, successful management approaches and new ideas can inspire you, help set a coherent course, avoid unnecessary pitfalls and deliver better results. Even just talking about what you’ve read and learned helps build relationships, heightens trust, and aligns behaviors and expectations in an organization. You’re better able to do your job, and your team is confident, inspired and ready to move forward.

Read FCW’s full interview here.

And reminder… the Federal News Radio Book Club is Wednesday, Nov. 19 on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose program.

I posted additional resources over the weekend:

I have had several people who e-mailed me to ask if they need to be some place specific to participate in the book club. The answer is yes — just be near your radio or steaming on your computer on Thursday, Nov. 19 for In Depth with Francis Rose, heard on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and between 1-3p ET. On Nov. 19, we will have Covey on the program… also joining us will be Dave Winnergren, the Defense Department’s deputy CIO and one of the best readers — and best managers. More on that in just a moment… I will also be there as will, of course, Francis Rose.

Your comments on the book are always welcome.

@obama may be gone, but @change_gov is born

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20081116-obama-change-tweetI told you last week about the buzz stirred as a result of Obama’s feed — apparently his campaign feed — on the microblogging site Twitter. [I had part one of a primer on Twitter last week.]

Well, it appears that there is a new transition feed — using the Twitter lingo, it is @change_gov.

It is essentially an auto-Feed of news and blogs from the office of the President-elect Barack Obama’s Web site.

The @change_gov feed isn’t well known yet — there are only 28 people “following” @change_gov so far. By contrast, @BarackObama has 132,016 followers.

Written by cdorobek

November 17, 2008 at 6:51 AM

DorobekInsider’s most read items for the past 7-days

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The most read items on The DorobekInsider for the past 7-days:

  1. OMB’s Tim Young announces his departure, but to where? [Editor’s note: Young will be on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Monday.]
  2. News on OMB’s Tim Young… today?
  3. OMB’s Tim Young is going to… Yes, we now we know
  4. @barackobama: Where are you? Obama’s Twitter feed goes silent [Editor’s note: The Obama transition team is now Tweeting at change_gov.]
  5. Obama’s yet-to-be-named CTO’s suggestion box [I should note we had the creator of the Web site on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday. I have a link from here.]
  6. A correction… and a even bigger congratulations to Microsoft’s Teresa Carlson
  7. Another big score for Deloitte — Tom Davis
  8. Happy Veteran’s Day 2008
  9. Tech guru Genachowski named to Obama transition team
  10. The DorobekInsider Obama reader — Part I
  11. We talk to the new head at Unisys federal
  12. The Federal News Radio Book Club: The SPEED of Trust [The Federal News Radio Book Club comes up on Wednesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and You can get more information about how to particpate here… and there is an excerpt of the book in Federal Computer Week on Monday.]
  13. Navy out with one of the first Web 2.0 policy memo [Remember you can hear Navy CIO Robert Carey talk about the Web 2.0 memo here.]
  14. EPA’s national dialogue — a good start to government transparency
  15. Interior’s Howell to move to OMB
  16. The run of the geeks — their term, not mine
  17. Who might be the government’s CIO… er, CTO
  18. The DorobekInsider guide: Experimenting with Twitter, Part I
  19. Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy
  20. More on the Federal News Radio Book club — with FCW

I do hope that you will join us on Wednesday for the first meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club discussing The SPEED of Trust… Wednesday on Federal News Radio’s In Depth with Francis Rose between 1-3p ET… Federal News Radio 1500 AM and… and we’ll have it posted online Wednesday afternoon.

Written by cdorobek

November 16, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Posted in DorobekInsider

Hearing from the creator of… and more on the Obama CTO

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I mentioned earlier the innovative Web site where you can make suggestions for the new, yet-to-be-named (or even defined) Obama chief technology officer, which the WP Friday called “most talked-about tech job in government is one that never before existed.”

Friday on the Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Matt Lerner, the CTO of Front Seat out in Seattle, who created Its important to note that is independent of the Obama transition team. Lerner and I had a wonderful pre-radio conversation about why he created the site. I understand that I focus on this stuff intensely — and there are many in this community, but a young guy in Seattle? It’s great that this stuff is touching people out there.

You can hear our conversation with Lerner here.

On Friday, we also spoke to Eric Lundquist, the editor in chief of eWeek, who argues that the CTO should actually be a CIO. You can hear that conversation here.

Finally, on Tuesday Monday on The Big Show, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an assoiate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He just did a post headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

The precise job description is not yet clear, but how could it be? Technology’s role in American society is boundaryless and constantly increasing, so delineating the CTO’s role is going to be hard. Is it confined to information and communications technology, or should also include other blossoming flields like energy and life sciences? And is the mission to make policy, to allocate resources via something like a venture capital fund, to take control of large portions of the federal government’s IT spending and personnel, and/or to to be an advocate for enlightened use of technology in both the private and public sectors?

Written by cdorobek

November 16, 2008 at 11:56 AM