DorobekInsider

Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for January 4th, 2010

DorobekInsider: Welcome 2010 – what you may have missed while we were away

leave a comment »

We’re all back to it today after a few weeks focusing on thing… well, other then work, right? Well, hard core work just hasn’t been the top priority. But we’re all back to it today — well, other then lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but…

While the past few weeks were quiet, there was news, so… here are the stories you may have missed while you had other priorities:

* The underwear bomber

Yes, on Christmas Eve, we learned a new word that I’m guessing will be part of our lexicon for some time: the underwear bomber. (I was flying over the holidays and didn’t notice any real difference, but… I was flying domestically. There were some nervous people in the security line who half jokingly said, ‘If we had to take our shoes off after the shoe bomber, what happens NOW?’

There has been a whole lot of criticism of the Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community — much of it very unfair. For example, I generally have great respect for CBS News’ Bob Schieffer, but I thought this was unfair:

The Truth on Government Spin
Bob Schieffer Says Press Conferences and Statements Aimed at Deflecting Criticism Do Nothing to Inspire Trust

NYT columnist David Brooks had my favorite column on this subject:

The God That Fails [NYT, 12.31.2009]

… History is not knowable or controllable. People should be grateful for whatever assistance that government can provide and had better do what they can to be responsible for their own fates…

That mature attitude seems to have largely vanished. Now we seem to expect perfection from government and then throw temper tantrums when it is not achieved. We seem to be in the position of young adolescents — who believe mommy and daddy can take care of everything, and then grow angry and cynical when it becomes clear they can’t.

After Sept. 11, we Americans indulged our faith in the god of technocracy. We expanded the country’s information-gathering capacities so that the National Security Agency alone now gathers four times more data each day than is contained in the Library of Congress…

All this money and technology seems to have reduced the risk of future attack. But, of course, the system is bound to fail sometimes. Reality is unpredictable, and no amount of computer technology is going to change that. Bureaucracies are always blind because they convert the rich flow of personalities and events into crude notations that can be filed and collated. Human institutions are always going to miss crucial clues because the information in the universe is infinite and events do not conform to algorithmic regularity.

Resilient societies have a level-headed understanding of the risks inherent in this kind of warfare.

Read the full column here.

There clearly are issues, but the crazed, almost insane calls for “accountability” turns everything into a witch hunt. The fact is this is complex — and there are no easy answers. And it is a typical problem for government — it is what makes government so different then the private sector. In fact, we could present every bomber from flying — just shut down air flight. That isn’t happening, of course. And we’re not going to let everybody on planes. So it isn’t a choice between black or white. The question is what shade of gray is correct — and that can change minute by minute.

I’m still heartened that, in the end, it was the passengers and crew of the flight that shut him down. Remarkable work.

President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, interviewed on CNN’s State of the Union with John King on Sunday, noted that there were pieces of intelligence, but there was no smoking gun.

For our part on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief, we are going to try to find ways to actually help people connect dots — and it is, frankly, why I am so fascinated by these government 2.0 initiatives.

Today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we talk to David Stephenson, the president of Stephenson Strategies and a consultant who specializes in data. Recently, Stephenson and Eric Bonabeau wrote a paper for Homeland Security Affairs, the peer-reviewed online journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, titled Expecting the Unexpected: The Need for a Networked Terrorism and Disaster Response Strategy. (Read the full paper in HTML here… or download the PDF here. Hear our conversation with Stephenson here.)

Bob Gourley, the former chief technology officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency and currently the CTO and founder of Crucial Point, also had an interesting post titled Are you thinking through system improvements after the Xmas Terror Attack?

* Long live… Twitter?

So says NYT media columnist David Carr in a story headlined Why Twitter Will Endure:

Like many newbies on Twitter, I vastly overestimated the importance of broadcasting on Twitter and after a while, I realized that I was not Moses and neither Twitter nor its users were wondering what I thought. Nearly a year in, I’ve come to understand that the real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice.

* GovLoop: The The Myth of the Turnaround Employee

GovLoop posted its top blog posts of the year. One I found fascinating was by Mario headlined The The Myth of the Turnaround Employee

Myth #1: Your top performers don’t need attention – they are already doing a great job.

Myth #2: Direct attention and mentoring is what under-performers need most.

Myth #3: Its my job to train and bring ALL on my team up to speed; even the bad ones.

Bonus Myth: The turnaround employee is really that good.

All untrue, he argues. Read the full post here.

* CIO of the year… Kundra

InformationWeek’s J. Nicholas Hoover writes: “The federal CIO is driving change within the government’s lumbering IT operations. A lengthy to-do list will test his ideas and power of persuasion.”

* My iPhone says I’m drunk

One of my favorite stories — and apps…

When Even Your Phone Tells You You’re Drunk, It’s Time to Call a Taxi [WSJ, 12.31.2009]
New Year’s Eve Will Test Technology’s Capacity to Stop the Young From Drinking and Driving

…State officials are trying new — and, they hope, hip — ways to reach out to the Twitter-iPhone-Facebook generation. Some safe-driving advocates fear the new strategies, often lighthearted in tone, will undermine the stern message that has been the gold-standard for years: Don’t ever drink and drive.

But state officials say they have to meet their target audience on its own turf…

In Colorado, the state Department of Transportation hosts an interactive Web site that shows partygoers where to park their cars safely overnight and points them to bars that hand out vouchers for free taxi rides.

But officials were looking for something more dynamic. When their marketing team, Webb PR, suggested an iPhone buzz-o-meter, they bit, spending $8,000 to develop the program.

In the month since its debut, the free app — which is designed to look like a slot machine — has been downloaded nearly 40,000 times from Apple’s online store, with a noticeable spike in traffic on Christmas Day.

The calculator comes with a disclaimer that it isn’t definitive: Impairment can vary greatly depending on how much drinkers have eaten, whether they are on medication and how much sleep they have had.

Still, based on the user’s input of weight, gender, hours drinking and a tally of beer, wine and liquor consumed, the calculator spits out a blood-alcohol content number that looks very precise — for example, 0.058%. It’s accompanied by a color-coded message: “No hangover expected,” printed in sober gray; “You’re buzzed!” in yellow; or, in cautionary red: “Don’t even think about it!…Designate a sober driver.”

In major Colorado cities, an added feature uses GPS technology to let the user call a cab with a tap of the phone.

Read the full story here.

Written by cdorobek

January 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM

DorobekInsider: What you read in December 2009 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, Causey, and FederalNewsRadio.com

leave a comment »

After spending the week looking at what you read across FederalNewsRadio.com’s Web sites in the past year…
Previous ‘most read in 2009:
* The DorobekInsider edition
* Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris
* Mike Causey edition
* FederalNewsRadio.com edition
* The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Jane Norris
* In Depth with Francis Rose edition

… today, what you read in December 2009 — the last month of the year… and for the monthly review, I’ve added what you read on Mike Causey’s Federal Report…

But first up…

The most read stories from December 2009…

from the DorobekInsider.com

  1. DorobekInsider: BREAKING NEWS — Sens. Collins, McCaskill, Bennett introduce acquisition workfo
  2. DorobekInsider: White House names Leeds as GSA’s new acting administrator
  3. DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  4. DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: USDA undertakes extensive management reorg – downgrading the CIO, CF
  5. DorobekInsider: More GSA FAS shifts — King to retire, Ghiloni shifts, and FAS SES regional com
  6. DorobekInsider: The buzz of the Input holiday party 2009
  7. DorobekInsider: Rumoring around the halls of GSA — playing GSA musical chairs
  8. DorobekInsider: What you read in 2009: Mike Causey edition
  9. DorobekInsider on DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking about the war on “social networking
  10. DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers
  11. DorobekInsider: GSA’s Tyree Varnado to retire
  12. DorobekInsider: What you read 11.28 through 12.05 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalN
  13. DorobekInsider: The liner notes: Why blog — or Web 2.0 — anyway?
  14. DorobekInsider: The Better Buy Project — the liner notes
  15. DorobekInsider: USDA gets early out approval from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  16. The DorobekInsider reader: Howard Schmidt as cybersecurity coordinator
  17. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum
  18. DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out
  19. DorobekInsider: Stories of the Decade: Looking at the changing government marketplace
  20. DorobekInsider: USDA gets push back on massive management reorg, GovExec reports; USDA remains silen
  21. DorobekInsider: NYT covers concern over Scientology’s buy of Governing
  22. DorobekInsider: USDA officials offer more details on management reorganization
  23. DorobekInsider: Government 2.0 from down under — the final report of the Government 2.0 Task Force
  24. DorobekInsider: Changes within the VA IT shop
  25. DorobekInsider: Godspeed Nick DeCarlo

from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. 2009: The best year for federal employees yet?
  2. How your Thrift Savings Plan has changed over the past decade
  3. TSP funds see slow but steady gains in 2009
  4. Wednesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  5. TSP’s Trabucco: Thrift Savings Plan posts strong results in November
  6. Postal Service’s National Reassessment Process
  7. Monday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  8. Stories of the Decade: TSP sees many positive changes
  9. Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  10. TSP Snapshot Snippet: Economic recovery, improved TSP?
  11. Coming up on Your Turn: A personal Open Season?
  12. Open Season is ending, prepare to get the details on Your Turn
  13. Nortel Government Solutions is now Avaya Government Solutions
  14. ‘Citizen 2.0’ influence coming to your agency by 2012
  15. GSA’s Tyree Varnado reflects on 39 years of government service
  16. Stories of the Decade: 10 years of missed opportunities for the CIO
  17. Agencies sued for policy documents on 2.0 information collection
  18. Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  19. Plan to listen to Your Turn on Wednesday for Open Season advice
  20. Stories of the Decade: How 9/11 changed the public’s perception of federal employees
  21. Tom Davis: ‘Mindset has changed markedly’ on procurement
  22. DoD begins gathering data per Open Government Initiative
  23. Sen. Reid’s amendment would shield FEHB from public option
  24. Does having a security clearance mean you have to give up those Web 2.0 tools?
  25. Labor Department launches Web challenge seeking best practices
  26. DHS, Michigan launch unique cybersecurity partnership
  27. DDOT’s Twitter use keeps department ahead of blizzard cleanup
  28. The new Office of Government Information Services
  29. Senior Correspondent Mike Causey mulls over 2009
  30. Public ranks government healthcare Web sites high in new report
  31. Analysis: Cybersecurity Coordinator faces many challenges, opportunities
  32. DHS, Michigan launch cybersecurity partnership EINSTEIN-ONE
  33. Great American Hackathon a success for ‘positive hacking’
  34. FEMA director says agency tackles more than just hurricanes
  35. The future of transparency and how to successfully develop trust
  36. Using Web 2.0 tools the correct way to accomplish your agency mission
  37. Unisys predicts increased focus on biometrics, data protection in 2010
  38. Will House healthcare bill affect the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program?
  39. Stories of the Decade: For Microsoft, FDCC made a big difference
  40. FireEye partners with In-Q-Tel to secure Intelligence Community
  41. Stories of the Decade: Karen Evans looks back — and forward
  42. NTEU president talks about Labor-Management forums; pay raise
  43. Participants borrow less from their TSP accounts
  44. GAO: Parts of USPS Intelligent Mail program running behind schedule
  45. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator describes goals
  46. How Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 have changed the business of government
  47. How 9/11 changed the public’s perception of federal employees
  48. Decade of disasters, war changed government contracting
  49. Stories of the Decade: Mobile technology changing the business of government

from Mike Causey’s Federal Report

  1. Bonus Christmas Holiday
  2. Your 2010 Pay Raise: Go Figure
  3. 2 Per Cent Raise, but Which 2 Percent?
  4. Great Year For Feds…So Far
  5. FEHBP Premiums: Only Half The Story
  6. Flat Line Pay Raise
  7. Losing a Lifetime Benefit
  8. Taxing Your Health Premiums
  9. Health Plans: The Usual Suspects, except…
  10. Marriage, Divorce, Birth, Death
  11. FSA Tax Break in Trouble?
  12. Half-A-Loaf-Holiday
  13. The High Price of Doing Nothing
  14. Bonus Holiday: Part Deux
  15. Take This Job and Shovel It

and from FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. Federal government closed Monday due to snow from the big DC snowstorm from a few weeks ago
  2. Congress tells agencies to check creditworthiness of employees
  3. Agencies open under unscheduled leave policy on Tuesday
  4. Open Season resource: All you need to know before Monday
  5. House passes omnibus spending bill with pay raise, agency funding
  6. Almost three quarters of all feds have HSPD-12 cards
  7. White House cuts federal pay raise
  8. OPM says safety is paramount in government closure decisions
  9. TSP Snapshot: Up, up and away in November
  10. Agencies to justify not using cloud computing to OMB
  11. Recovery.gov and Ed DeSeve v. Stephen Colbert
  12. Idea to reuse medication at VA hospitals wins SAVE Award
  13. Army to test new personnel system at Aberdeen lab
  14. White House issues order for new way of classifying documents
  15. President faces New Year’s Eve deadline on classified documents
  16. Open government initiative puts agencies on the clock
  17. With Schmidt in place, who’s his deputy?
  18. OMB, NIST release draft of new FISMA metrics
  19. EXCLUSIVE: OMB guidance sets technology tone for 2010, beyond
  20. Agencies struggling in applying 508 standards to Web 2.0 tools
  21. Admin. Babbitt: Human error, not technology, behind November FAA outage
  22. At the VA, a new CIO reports progress on IT management
  23. DHS slows pace to add more oversight
  24. DHS continues effort to right-size management structure
  25. Sen. Voinovich puts hold on key DHS nominee
  26. Salary Council suggests locality pay increase for 2011
  27. White House puts SAVE Awards cost-cutting ideas to vote
  28. 2010 Census to get a cold start in late January
  29. VA to implement SAVE award winner’s idea over the next year.
  30. Sens. Akaka, Voinovich call for new security clearance oversight council
  31. NASA issues first RFP under I3P program
  32. Who is in charge at the new Walter Reed?
  33. For telework and COOP, GSA leads the way
  34. USDA’s major reorg driven by focus on performance, results
  35. New policies on the way to better secure House lawmakers’ computers
  36. GSA inks deal with four vendors for geospatial services
  37. NRC inks new contract, includes improved worker benefits
  38. GSA, DHS issue RFI for next set of cyber tools
  39. New DoD CIO still unknown, but role will not change
  40. National Archives closed on Saturday
  41. Executive Order creates labor-management forums
  42. Smithsonian’s new Zoo director highlights a tough week
  43. Snow Day for Federal Agencies
  44. Thumbs up on cybersecurity coordinator, OGIS, open government efforts
  45. Federal labor unions push back against senator’s TSA ‘hold’
  46. NSPS another step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ cure a “done deal”
  47. GSA CFO celebrates another ‘clean audit opinion’
  48. VA issues draft RFP for new IT hardware, software contract
  49. Architect notes small, big steps to a greener U.S. Capitol

Written by cdorobek

January 4, 2010 at 8:38 AM