Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for January 2009

Happy birthday to… Anne Armstrong and Paul Brubaker

leave a comment »

Anne Armstrong

Anne Armstrong

Paul Brubaker

Paul Brubaker

A very happy birthday to two legends in the government market — Anne A. Armstrong, President of 1105 Government Information Group, and also to Paul R. Brubaker, who has had a storied government career most recently with the Transportation Department and he just recently joined Cisco Systems as the senior director for the company’s public sector Internet business solutions group. And, coincidentally, we spoke to him Friday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. (Audio posted on Monday if you want to hear the conversation.)

Armstrong, my former boss when I was the editor in chief at Federal Computer Week, doesn’t really like people to ackwledge her birthday — something that I specifically made not of when I mentioned it on Federal News Radio 1500 AM on Friday. (She’ll be really thrilled with that!)

Some of the big events on this date in history

* On this date in 1881, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company. Then, on this date in 1915, Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
* In 1937, The Guiding Light debuts on NBC radio from Chicago. In 1952 it moves to CBS television. Still airing, it’s the longest running US broadcast program.
* In 1858 – The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn becomes a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria‘s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia.
* In 1961 – In Washington, D.C. John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.
* Other people also born on this date… Alicia Keys (28), former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont., 74)… Virginia Wolfe was born on this date… as was Robert Burns, the Scottish national poet.

More events and events from history after the break…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 25, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Posted in birthdays, Circuit

Reminder — help returning warfighters at Operation Jump Start on Tuesday

with one comment

My good friend, Bob Brewin from Government Executive’s NextGov, wrote in his most recent column — and it reminds me to remind everybody — that this coming Tuesday is Operation Jump Start 2009. I mentioned the event back in December, but it is easy to forget. Now is your chance. This is an absolutely wonderful program that helps warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they “jump start” their post-military careers.

I have specific information after the break about how you can help. The event is Tuesday, Jan. 27  at the Army Navy Club in Arlington, VA. You can get all the information after the break… and you can register here… And although the early information says that registration is closed — my friend Ed Meagher tells me that you can go ahead and register — and bring your donations. After the break, I also have information on all the ways you can help.

And an offer — if you are somehow not able to make the event, get in touch with me — cdorobek at — and we’ll figure out a way to make it happen. If you are able to drop stuff at Federal News Radio 1500 AM in NW DC, I’ll make sure it gets there. It is a very worthy cause.

Get all the information… after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 24, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Posted in Circuit, community, DOD

Obama talks government spending transparency in the weekend “radio” address

with 3 comments

President Obama released his weekly “radio” address this morning — a name that still frustrates me given that it is really a video address. New names welcome. The address this morning is about the recovery plan, which is getting blogged down in the machinations of lawmaking.

But he once again talked about broadband, but also made comments about transparency for how the money is spent (italics added by me):

Finally, we will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century. That means repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans. It means protecting America by securing 90 major ports and creating a better communications network for local law enforcement and public safety officials in the event of an emergency. And it means expanding broadband access to millions of Americans, so business can compete on a level-playing field, wherever they’re located.

I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable for these results. We won’t just throw money at our problems – we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible. We’ll launch an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called

See the full transcript here… and listen to the “radio” address below — please, we simply have to come up with a better name for this thing. The presidential podcast, maybe?

I really love the idea of posting how the money is spent — how wonderfully transparent. I hope they make the data available in a way that people can crunch the numbers.

I’m really fascinated by the power of transparency. My guess it is going to be more difficult then they think — and I hope they’re talking to the team that created the Web site, which is an attempt to be the Google for government spending. It can be a powerful piece to rebuilding trust in government.

Written by cdorobek

January 24, 2009 at 11:56 AM

Why blog? And welcome to another government CIO blogger: GSA’s Casey Coleman

with one comment

GSA CIO Casey Coleman

GSA CIO Casey Coleman

A big DorobekInsider high-five to another government CIO blogger — GSA CIO Casey Coleman, who last month (somewhat quietly) launched her new public blog, Around the Corner, which can be found at She joins Navy CIO Rob Carey, the first CIO to have a public blog, and NASA Goddard CIO Linda Cureton. Both Cureton and Coleman are also on the microblogging site Twitter, and they are both on Facebook — Cureton and Coleman. (Former Transportation Department CIO Dan Mintz is also on Twitter and Facebook. and former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill was a contributer to EPA’s Greenversations blog. And Cureton was one of NetworkWorld’s 12 CIOs who Twitter.)

Why does this matter? I actually think that blogs — and mostly likely Twitter as well — are transitive technologies. I would doubt that in 10 years, we’re talking about blogs. But they will lead and evolve into something else. But for now, they are tools that can improve communication, improve transparency, and improve real accountability — not the accountability-in-name-only that gets tossed around Washington. And, in government, this isn’t as easy as one would think. Former EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock was actually the first government official to post to a public blog. When I spoke to him on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris recently — and EPA insiders have confirmed — that there was a lot of push-back. There were questions about why one would do this… about the questions that might come from it… what if — shock — people sent comments. And you can hear similar stories from TSA officials regarding its Evolution of Security blog. But I think if you talk to any of the government bloggers — and I have — they have learned a whole bunch. Earlier this month at the AFCEA Bethesda breakfast about government 2.0, Carey said his blog allows him to open a conversation. While he said he doesn’t get nearly as many comments as he hoped — they have a clunky comment process because of government rules — he said that the blog lets him share thoughts and ideas. (I think Carey’s first step was important enough that I nominated him for a Fed 100 award.)

Cureton as an example

One of the best examples of how to effectively use a blog is the Cureton NASA Goddard CIO blog. In fact, wrote a very thoughtful blog post about blogging that spured me to invite her on to Federal News Radio 1500 AM. And Cureton clearly uses her blog as a way of thinking about issues in a very public — and very transparent — way. Again — my definition of Web 2.0: These are merely tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. They tap into the theory that information is power — and that shared information becomes exponentially more valuable when it is shared. So Cureton thinks about issues and problems — and decisions that might otherwise seem out of the blue are suddenly clear… there can be buy-in… and it makes our decisions very human. Transparency and accountability — and, I would argue, leadership — require courage. It takes intestinal fortitude to step out and make your ideas very public. People can disagree — and there is still the ‘got ya’ culture out there. So I give these leaders a lot of credit. Carey and Cureton are demonstrating that this tool can be an important part of leadership.

Back in May 2008 at FCW when I was the FCW Insider, I offered my tips to bloggers. I’m in the process of updating it — more lessons learned in the past year — but… you can read the post here.

I’ll point to one other post about the blogging process itself — and this is a post from Coleman on the FedScoop blog. In the post, she talks about the internal-to-GSA blog that she has been using for more than a year:

So almost a year and a half later, how well have we met those objectives? The GSA CIO Blog has proven to be a real success story. It is a source used across my organization for reliable information on what is happening at senior management levels and foster continuing education on emerging technologies and management and leadership issues. It has a robust readership, and interest continues to grow. I will also measure its effectiveness when we receive our employee engagement survey results soon, to see if OCIO employee satisfaction has risen due to the blog.

Read the full item here on the FedScoop blog.

I have been urging Coleman to make the internal GSA blog public for some time, but that would change the nature of that environment. Instead, she now has a public blog, Around the Corner: Innovation in the Business of Government: A One GSA, One Voice Blog.

In the meantime… Congratulations to Casey Coleman… and we’re going to have her on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris next week to talk about this big step.

After the break, read Coleman’s first post from her new public blog.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Posted in Government 2.0, GSA, Web 2.0

GSA gets a new acting acting administrator — Paul Prouty

with 2 comments

Paul Prouty

Paul Prouty

The Obama administration today named Paul Prouty, has been named the acting GSA administrator. Prouty has been the Assistant Regional Administrator for Public Buildings Service (PBS) in the Rocky Mountain Region. Jim Williams, who has been serving as the acting administrator since the departure of Lurita Doan last year, will return to his post as the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. That also means that Tyree Varnado, who has been serving as the acting commissioner of GSA’s FAS, will be the deputy FAS commissioner. Barney Brasseux will remain in the career post as deputy administrator. Insiders tell me that this was expected. It is unclear if this means that Prouty might be nominated as the GSA administrator. Most guess not.

NOTE: I have updated this post. I had originally said that Varnado was going to be deputy administrator. Clearly that is not the case. So… Prouty as acting administrator… Brasseux continues in the career post as deputy administator… Williams back as FAS commissioner… and Varnado as FAS deputy commissioner.

Read Prouty’s bio after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 22, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Government Insights’ crystal ball: More TARP issues, and Gov 2.0 gets redefined

leave a comment »

gilogoPredictions are always difficult — we often have a difficult enough time knowing what’s going on right now that trying to predict what’s going to happen in the future ends up being a humbling experience. (These days, when looking back on the economic crash, in hindsight, everybody is saying, ‘We told you…’ Um — right!) So I’m generally pretty happy to just live in the present where I actually have some control over what I do. That being said, it is fascinating to take a strategic look at the future — where should we be spending our time, energy, efforts and resources.

IDC’s Government Insights are generally very… well, insightful. They just came out with their most recent newsletter and it has their top 10 predictions for 2009.

1. Government will stumble in its new role of managing financial institutions and related “bail-out” programs, which require new skills, training, and technology.
2. Infrastructure programs will move to hosted “pay as you go” models to more cost-competitively deliver government programs.
3. Shared services will hit the tipping point in 2009 due to budget constraints and delivery demands.
4. Cyber attacks will increase and interfere with government financial systems.
5. The U.S. President’s high tech communication style will accelerate an anytime, anywhere communications boom.
6. State budget shortages will force renegotiation of outsourcing contracts.
7. The government talent pool “leak” will slow, but the right talent won’t be in place to meet new demands.
8. Gov 2.0 will be redefined and will not be optional in 2009.
9. Fraud detection will be the insurance policy for increased investment in health and financial programs.
10. Federal spending will flow, but not grow as in recent years. Programs that support economic recovery, citizen health and welfare – with a priority on veterans, and energy management will be the winners.

Read more of Government Insights predictions in their newsletter here.

And I actually wouldn’t have a problem if gov 2.0 gets “redefined.” I think the folks at the National Academy of Public Administration’s Collaboration Project were actually very insightful with their name — in the end, these tools are about collaboration, sharing information, the power of information — shared information, and the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. In the end, it is democracy. (Editor’s note: I actually brainstormed with NAPA about the name of the Collaboration Project, so… )

After the break, more from Government Insights on government 2.0…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 22, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Technology and the Obama administration – insights from the transition team

with one comment

Back when there the site was around, there were posting videos of some of the transition conversations. They recently posted one with conversations from the transition teams TIGR team — that, of course, is Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform team. They talk about how technology can bring about transparency and reform.

Some insights as they evolve from the Obama campaign… to the Obama transition team… to now the Obama administration.

Written by cdorobek

January 21, 2009 at 9:11 AM

Welcome to 44 — President Barack Obama… and a new White House blog!

with 12 comments

obama-web-photoA big welcome to President Barack Obama.

Some of my thoughts later, but… the official stuff first…

I thought the speech was remarkable — Obama seems to have a sense about time and place… and finds the right words that match both. But there were some words that should really speak to anybody who works in or near government:

There are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

But there was another transition at 12 noon today — from the Bush site to the new Obama Web site. [Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Max Cacas story is here… the NYT story here.] Included on the new Web site is… a blog. What actually thrills me is that people don’t seem all that surprised by this without understanding how powerful that is — or can be. Perhaps it also shows how natural information sharing can be. (One person posted on Twitter: “#1 point in tomorrow’s talk to a group of federal CIOs: the White house is blogging. Think they have security issues? What’s your excuse?” Amen! In fact, there is even some criticism that some of the Web 2.0 aspects that were part of the transition’s Web site are not on the new White House Web site, causing one tech to Twitter: “It seems that many of the Web 2.0 elements of did not make it to Technologist enthusiasm yesterday fizzles today.”)

Why blog? The White House’s new director of new media — love that they have a director of new media — posted the blog’s first post. He has several reasons, but… one of them: Transparency.

Transparency — President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.

Read the full post after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 20, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Most read items for the second week in January

leave a comment »

The second week of the new year — and the last full week of the Bush administration — and yet another record number of readers for the (I had a record number of visitors for the week and a record one-day tally… And I got a very kind note from one agency CIO who said, “Your blog is the “must read” around town.” Thanks!

The most read items items for the second week of January:

  1. Narrowing the Obama CTO list — one big name comes off
  2. Still don’t get Twitter? A radio explainer on Friday [The Federal WebContent site also has a valuable how-tos about ‘microblogging’ that has some lessons and tips. Read that here… Also see FEMA’s lessons at #4 below… and you can follow me on Twitter at ]
  3. Some must-reads from Killefer, Obama’s performance person — in her own words
  4. FEMA administrator in a Twitter first? @femainfocus to answer questions [We had John Shea of FEMA on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris last week talking about how it went. FEMA has also put together — and, to their credit, posted — some of the organization’s lessons learned. You can read it here.]
  5. German named acting NASA CIO, Pettus returns to Marshall
  6. VA CIO Howard lands at FCI [Note: Monday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s abreviated Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris — the Washington Capitals have an unusual 2p game, so we’re on late — but on that abreviated show, we expect to be talking to Howard about his new job… and his tenure at VA.]
  7. Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy
  8. Your 01.09.08 Federal CTO reader: No official word yet so… let’s specuate
  9. Read FEMA’s Tweeter adventure for yourself
  10. VA CIO Bob Howard reportedly has a new gig
  11. Federal CIO Council posts its ‘Transition Guide’
  12. EPA’s remarkable Marcus Peacock “On Change’ [We spoke to EPA’s Peacock Friday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. You can hear that conversation here.]
  13. Following along at this morning’s AFCEA Bethesda’s government 2.0 session
  14. Obama CTO this week? Maybe… or maybe not… and a Kundra WP profile
  15. Godspeed John Gioia Nov. 11, 1932-Dec.26, 2008
  16. Events CJD is following (or speaking at): government 2.0 — times two — and government procurement
  17. Government 2.0 challenges — and some some solutions
  18. DorobekInsider: Why feds may not be able to use YouTube
  19. Navy out with one of the first Web 2.0 policy memos
  20. Your 01.16.08 Federal CTO reader: Word next week?
  21. HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
  22. FCW gets a new editor: David Rapp… and 1105 GovInfo’s marketing person is official
  23. 1105 sells Government Health IT
  24. Helping returning warfighters: Operation Jump Start
  25. Hearing that Interior has named a new CIO
  26. FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people — FCW opens its annual Fed 100 award nominations
  27. Interior’s Howell to move to OMB
  28. Fed 100 nomination: Navy CIO Robert Careey
  29. DorobekInsider poll: The Bush administration: The insider’s assessment

Written by cdorobek

January 19, 2009 at 6:31 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Another coup for Cisco: Paul Brubaker?

with 4 comments

Paul Brubaker

Paul Brubaker

After scoring several hiring coups, we’re hearing that Cisco system has another one — Paul Brubaker.

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

Brubaker is — well, at least until Tuesday at noon — the administrator of the Transportation Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) — the DARPA of the transportation world. Prior to that, Brubaker has worked as the Defense Department deputy CIO and, of course, on Capitol Hill, he was the Republican staff director of what was then called the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, which was led by then-Senator William S. Cohen (R-Maine).Brubaker was the principal staff architect of the Clinger Cohen Act, one of the seminal government IT pieces of legislation.

We expect to get confirmation soon after inauguration.

In my conversations with Brubaker during his tenure at RITA, I know that he has really been impassioned by this job. He really loved the work that the organization did — and does — and really loved the mission of transportation innovation such as hydrogen fueled cars, conducting a cross-country hydrogen fuel tour over the summer. (One blog proposed Brubaker as the hydorogen fuel czar.)

After the break, read Brubaker’s full bio…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 18, 2009 at 5:44 PM