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Archive for January 27th, 2009

More buzz around the new acting GSA administrator

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Paul Prouty

Paul Prouty

There has been a lot of buzz around the appointment of new GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty, who most recently had been the assistant regional administrator for GSA’s Public Building Service’s Rocky Mountain Region.

Here is the note that was circulated among GSA officials:

PAUL PROUTY NAMED ACTING GSA ADMINISTRATOR: President Obama has named Paul F. Prouty, Assistant Regional Administrator, Public Buildings Service (PBS), Rocky Mountain Region, to serve as the Acting Administrator for GSA.Prouty joined GSA in 1971 as a Real Estate Intern in Denver, CO and worked to become Director of the Real Estate Division in 1988. He subsequently served as the Director of the Colorado Service Center and as the Assistant Regional Administrator for PBS in the New England Region.Prouty received the GSA Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and 1998, and was named the Outstanding Federal Executive by the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board in 1997. Former Acting Administrator, James A. Williams, will return to his previous position as the Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

Federal News Radio 1500 AM has put in requests to chat with Mr. Prouty. He told me that GSA would “make it happen” as soon as he gets settled in.

Lurita Doan, the former GSA administration, was passing through Federal News Radio 1500 AM the day the DorobekInsider first broke the news of Prouty’s appointment — and Doan had very good things to say. She particularly mentioned that Prouty has been particularly focused on green initiatives — in particular Denver Federal Center Solar Park, which last year produced 1,726,000 kWh of energy in 2008, beyond GSA’s prediction of 1,600,000 kWh. (We’re working to get the team that lead the Denver Federal Center Solar Park on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.) No doubt the PBS background will be helpful as Team Obama looks to help buildings be more green.

That being said, most people don’t believe that Prouty is going to be the permanent GSA administrator — otherwise he would have just been nominated. The most often mentioned name these days is Martha Johnson, who was the GSA chief of staff under the wildly popular — and wildly successful — GSA Administrator David Baram, who served during the Clinton administration. Johnson was on the GSA transition “parachute” team and GSAers say hear that Johnson and Prouty are close — or at least know each other.

Prouty, however, only has PBS experience — no experience with acquisition. But DCers say he is well liked within PBS.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s resume, if she should be named as the GSA administrator nominee, from her resume on her LinkedIn profile:

Vice President at SRA International
Director at Touchstone Consulting Group
Vice President at Council for Excellence in Government
Vice President at Computer Sciences Corporation

Meanwhile, back in April 25, 2000, Baram and Johnson were on the Business of Government Hour sponsored by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. (Read it hereHere it here. MP3)

Surprising enough, Jim Williams, the FAS commissioner, seems to teathered with a Doan taint. The former GSA administrator, of course, made the bold move of naming Williams, a career public servant, to what could have been a political post. But some say that Williams is seen as being too supportive of Doan, particularly regarding the now infamous Sun Microsystems GSA schedule contract fiasco. That being said, it will be good to have Williams and his deputy, Tyree Varnado, at the helm of FAS, particularly if Prouty does not have much experience with acquisition and acquisition issues.

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 11:16 PM

Government media aren’t dodging the recession — 1105 Media decides not to publish this week’s GCN

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gcn_logo1If you’re looking for your Jan. 26 issue of 1105 Media’s Government Computer News today, don’t hold your breath — I what I believe is a first in the publication’s 26 year history that ofGCN, the magazine did not publish a scheduled issue. Why? The horrible, terrible, awful advertising market.

gcn_cover_01120911105ers have been told that advertisers are waiting until February — or later in the year — for advertising buys. (The government market has traditionally been defined by what publishers call the “hockey stick” — there is a spike in advertising in the months before the end of the government’s fiscal year on September 30 when advertisers are looking to get in front of readers right around the time they are making buying decisions. As most of us know, most government funds are ‘use it or lose So there was an opportunity to avoid losses, and that was just too much to pass up. They have been told that things seem on track for the rest of the year, but I’m guessing nobody is doubling down.

I have no doubt there was some debate how how this would look ‘in the market.’

This recession has been tough on many markets — the financial markets have been ransacked, of course… the housing market… the list goes on. But I would argue that few have been as hard hit as journalism — to the point that some have suggested that it might be time for a journalism bailout bill. I’m not sure how exactly one measures the difference between a recession and a depression, but… in my many years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like it. And it has struck just about every organization — the Tribune Company, purchased by SamZell , has filed for bankruptcy protection… the Wall Street Journal was sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp… even the vaunted New York Times and Washington Post have been struggling. All of journalism is under intense competitive pressures right now — and I mean intense. Print journalism, where I have spent most of my career, has been struggling with how to monetize the Web — print ads carry pay for most of the infrastructure, but they they don’t have the cache that they once did, yet Web ads don’t nearly cover the expensive costs of a news gathering organization. So print publications put more online, where more eyes are, but nobody has yet to figure out a workable business plan.

I share BusinessWeek’s Steve Baker’s hope that journalism will come through this stronger. “All kinds of opportunities are going to come out of this. The money’s a mystery, a course. That’s part of what makes the movie scary,” he writes.

In previous recessions, government publications have been somewhat protected — I say somewhat. During the dot-bomb period in 2000-2001, there were tough times and some belt tightening — even some layoffs, but — as awful as it is to say, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks brought a lot of money into the government market. And just about anybody who was somebody started a homeland security publication of some kind. But the market has been tough for awhile, but I’ve never seen anything like what we’re seeing right now.

Back in October, we reported that two government related publications shuttered.The big IT publisher, CMP, has all but eliminated Government VAR, essentially merging it in to VAR Business giving it token attention on a government business section on their Web site. But many of those have not been the big government publications. The big books are 1105 Media’s Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News and Washington Technology — and, of course, the respective Web sites, FCW.com, GCN.com, and WashingtonTechnology.com; Atlantic Media’s Government Executive with its two Web sites — GovExec.com and the tech focused NextGov.com; and there are the suite of Army Times Publishing publications including Defense News and Federal Times, among others. And then there is AFCEA’s publication, Signal magazine. (By way of disclosure, I used to work for 1105 Media as the editor of Federal Computer Week. I currently write a column for Signal magazine.) And, of course, in the state and local market, there are a handful of publications, the big one being eRepublic Inc.’s Government Technology. (Disclosure: I have a column that will be published in the coming issue of Government Technology’s sister publication, Public CIO.) There are others, but… those certainly are the big guys.

In my scan of the most recent issues of 1105 GovInfo’s publications, the ad rundown:

Washington Technology’s January issue: 2 ads in a 36p folio
Government Computer News’s January 12 issue: 3 ads
Federal Computer Week’s January 12 issue: 2 ads in a 36p folio

I don’t have the print issue of Government Executive. If somebody has one and can count the number of ads and let me know… The big difference is that Government Executives is essentially a monthly. They pushed up to 24 issues for one year, and have backed off of that since then. This year, it is essentially a monthly with a few “special” issues.

The government market is not alone, by far. Other publications — and tech publication — are also hurting. The February issue of Wired magazine has 114 pages, the smallest I’ve seen.

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Posted in press

Snow delay for Operation Jump Start… New date: Feb. 11

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I know many people were looking forward to Operation Jump Start, which was scheduled for tonight, has been snow delayed because of the snow here in Washington, D.C. It just isn’t possible to get injured soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Operation Jump Start, of course, is the marvelous event where you can donate all sorts of stuff to help warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they “jump start” their post-military careers.

I’m told all the details remain the same — only the date is changing. You can find those details in my previous posts here… and here… And I will re-post the “official” note when I get it.

Meanwhile, you can still donate to the program by going here.

UPDATE: Read the official delay announcement after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Posted in Uncategorized