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Archive for January 2009

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,,, and; Atlantic Media’s Government Executive with its two Web sites — and the tech focused; 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.

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Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

The most read DorobekInsider posts for the third week of January 2009

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The third week of the new year — and inauguration week… The DorobekInsider reached new records in terms of single day number of visitors… and total number of visitors for the week. As always, thank you very much. That was spurred by the fact that we first reported that GSA had a new acting administrator. Others confirmed the news but, unfortunately, didn’t give credit.

So, the most read DorobekInsider items for the third week of January 2009:

  1. Welcome to 44 — President Barack Obama… and a new White House blog
  2. GSA gets a new acting acting administrator — Paul Prouty
  3. Technology and the Obama administration — insights from the transition team
  4. Some must-reads from Killefer, Obama’s performance person — in her own words
  5. Why blog? And welcome to another government CIO blogger: GSA’s Casey Coleman
  6. Another coup for Cisco: Paul Brubaker? [I should note that, in fact, Cisco’s Brubaker hire was confirmed… and we had him on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday. If the audio isn’t posted yet, it will be soon.]
  7. Narrowing the Obama CTO list — one big names comes off the list
  8. FEMA administrator in a Twitter first? @FEMAinfocus to answer questions
  9. Your 01.09.08 Federal CTO reader: No official word yet, so… let’s speculate
  10. Government Insights’ crystal ball: More TARP issues, and government 2.0 gets ‘redefined’
  11. Obama CTO this week? Maybe… or maybe not… and a Kundra WP profile
  12. Still don’t get Twitter? A radio explainer
  13. Godspeed John Gioia Nov. 11, 1932-Dec. 26, 2008
  14. VA CIO Bob Howard reportedly has a new gig
  15. HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
  16. Team Obama’s — abuzz about how it was created
  17. Helping returning warfighters: Operation Jump Start [Reminder that Operation Jump Start is Tuesday night — you can still register … and there are all sorts of ways to help ]
  18. VA CIO Howard lands at FCI
  19. Obama talks government spending transparency in the weekend ‘radio’ address
  20. Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy
  21. FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people in the annual awards program
  22. Most read items for the second week of January
  23. German named acting NASA CIO, Pettus returns to Marshall
  24. 1105 sells Government Health IT
  25. Fed 100 nomination: Navy CIO Robert Carey
  26. Happy birthday to… Anne Armstrong and Paul Brubaker
  27. Federal CIO Council posts its ‘Transition Guide’
  28. Government 2.0 challenges — and some some solutions
  29. Who might be the government CIO… er, CTO

And we have good stuff ahead this week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris… We’ll be talking about a remarkable, inovative program from the National Holocost Museum that puts genocide on a map so you can really comprehend the nature of the calamity… We’re going to be talking to NAPA’s Collaboration Project team about policies that can help you move from government 2.0 talk to government 2.0 action… We’re going to talk to the remarkable Stanford University Prof. Laurence Lessig about “open” government and “Change Congress.” We’ll work to keep you informed and educated, we hope a bit enlightened… and maybe even enertained… 3-7p ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and

Written by cdorobek

January 26, 2009 at 6:10 AM

Posted in DorobekInsider

Happy birthday to… Anne Armstrong and Paul Brubaker

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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…

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Written by cdorobek

January 25, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Posted in birthdays, Circuit

Reminder — help returning warfighters at Operation Jump Start on Tuesday

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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.

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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

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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

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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.
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Written by cdorobek

January 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Posted in Government 2.0, GSA, Web 2.0