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Archive for February 2010

DorobekINSIDER: OPM: DC back at work, but… let’s be careful out there

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The federal government in Washington, DC will open under a normal schedule on Wednesday — the first time since Feb. 4. But OPM Director John Berry has let us know that supervisors also need to remember that it still isn’t really normal here in the Washington metro area.

From Berry: “As we ramp up back to normal operations, we aren’t losing sight of the fact that many out there will still have difficulties – and hopefully they and their supervisors can work them out satisfactorily.”

Here is the memo sent to chief human capital officers tonight:

Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:23 PM
Importance: High

To All Chief Human Capital Officers, Deputies and Staff:

Please be advised that OPM has determined that on Wednesday February 17, 2010

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area will be OPEN and operating on a normal schedule.

As we return to normal operations tomorrow, please convey to your managers and supervisors that there may be continuing situations where federal employees are facing difficulties in returning to work, or returning to work on time. We ask that they be mindful of these circumstances and attempt to utilize as much flexibility as is appropriate in handling these situations on a case by case basis, until the snow is no longer an impediment.

Thank you for your continued cooperation in these efforts.

Written by cdorobek

February 16, 2010 at 6:38 PM

DorobekINSIDER poll: What should the federal government’s operating status in DC be for Tuesday?

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Many people in the Washington metro area are dreading the thought of being on the roads Tuesday, particularly after the nightmare that was DC traffic on Friday. And on Friday, OPM Director John Berry defended the decision to open government at the end of the week.

It is snowing once again here in Washington — yes, again. And while forecasters are saying that this storm is really tiny compared to what the nation’s capital went through last week, the roads still aren’t back to normal yet.

As we have done over the past week (herehere…) — we are asking you what you would do if you were OPM Director John Berry:

Written by cdorobek

February 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Turnbull to be acting Energy CIO; Energy Deputy CIO Staton also retiring

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The DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that William (Bill) Turnbull, currently Energy’s Associate CIO for Advanced Technology and Systems Integration, will be the acting chief information officer at the Energy Department after Tom Pyke retires on Feb. 26.

The DorobekINSIDER told you last month that Pyke was going to retire after 45 years of public service.

In a note to Energy Department CIO staff, Pyke said that Energy Department deputy CIO Carl Staton will also be retiring.

Here is the note Pyke sent to staff:

William (Bill) Turnbull

To Everyone in OCIO —

I am forwarding to you (below) the Deputy Secretary’s announcement that Bill Turnbull will be Acting CIO after I retire. My last day in the office will be February 26. I will be assisting Bill during the next few weeks as he prepares to assume his new responsibilities.

As you know, Carl Staton long ago developed plans to retire in early April. Carl will continue as Deputy CIO until he retires. While he is still here, Carl will also be assisting Bill Turnbull with his new duties.

I know that all of you will enjoy working with Bill over the next several months, while the search goes on to select a permanent CIO.

Regards to all,


… and the memo from Energy Department chief operating officer Daniel B. Poneman:

February 11, 2010




As many of you know, after 46 years of distinguished Federal service, Tom Pyke will be retiring from DOE on February 26, 2010. As of March 1, 2010, Bill Turnbull will serve as the Department’s Acting Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Also beginning in early March, Dr. Rosio Alvarez, the Chief Information Officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will provide the Secretary and me with advice to help with the transition and with advancing IT reform across the DOE enterprise.

Please give Bill and Rosio your full support in the coming months as we transition to a permanent CIO.

And Turnbull’s bio:

As Associate CIO for Advanced Technology and Systems Integration, Bill Turnbull leads the Department of Energy in the exploration of new information capabilities in support of the Energy mission.

Before joining the Department of Energy, Bill served as Deputy CIO and Director of the High Performance Computing and Communications Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Among his duties were leading the integration of NOAA’s three high performance computing centers, moving the agency onto advanced networks, and exploring advanced information technologies including visualization and collaboration technologies. Bill also spearheaded NOAA’s drive for IT security.

Bill has represented NOAA or participated in subcommittees and working groups of the NSTC Committees on Technology, Science, and Environment and Natural Resources.

Throughout his career, Bill has worked to harness advanced technologies to improve mission performance. At NOAA, as a member of the NOAA Corps, he maintained and operated a Univac system aboard the NOAA Ship Discoverer, introduced the first RISC systems at the Climate Diagnostics Division, and designed and implemented the first sea—going network while commanding the NOAA Ship Surveyor.

Bill has been honored with the Department of Commerce Silver Medal and Bronze Medal, the NOAA Administrator’s Award, the NOAA/EEO Spectrum Award, and the NSF Antarctic Service Medal along with other IT-related recognition.

Mr. Turnbull received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Illinois, Master of Public Affairs from the University of Washington and is a graduate of the National Defense University, IRM College Advanced Management Program. He is a member of IEEE and the ACM. He is married to Susan and together they enjoy scuba diving and family.

Written by cdorobek

February 15, 2010 at 2:38 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Most read items from Feb. 7-13: Snow and the OPM director

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It was a record traffic week — and not just on the streets of Washington, DC on Friday, although there was that too. It was a record Web traffic week. The DorobekINSIDER — and — saw record Web traffic last week. That was in part due to the snow — you wanted to find out if feds were going to be working. But the traffic numbers were also thanks to OPM Director John Berry. Agree or disagree with Berry’s decisions last week — and throughout the week, people seem to have done both — Berry was out front explaining how and why he made the decision.

But we — I — also want to thank you — our listeners and Web viewers. I know it sounds quaint or silly, but Team Federal News Radio works very hard to provide you with information that helps you do your job better. That seems so easy — but often things are easier said than done.

And so… the most read stories from the week of February 7-13, 2010… on the, on the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, for Mike Causey, and for…

…from the

  1. DorobekINSIDER poll: Did OPM make the right decision to open DC offices on Friday?
  2. DorobekINSIDER: CA CIO Teri Takai to be named DOD CIO
  3. DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for FRIDAY?
  4. DorobekINSIDER: Back to work for feds in DC, OPM defends closure decisions
  5. DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for Thursday?
  6. DorobekINSIDER: Johnson sworn in as GSA administrator — telework style
  7. DorobekINSIDER: DC snowpocalypse delays swearing in ceremony for GSA’s Johnson
  8. DorobekINSIDER: Most read 1.31 through 2.6: GSA’s Johnson, snow, pay raise, cyber-war
  9. DorobekINSIDER: Welcome to the new GSA administrator, Martha N. Johnson
  10. DorobekINSIDER: GSA’s Martha Johnson to be sworn in Tuesday, Feb. 9
  11. DorobekINSIDER: Why Brown’s ‘feds make double the private sector’ comparison is no
  12. DorobekINSIDER: Johnson sworn in as GSA administrator — by phone
  13. DorobekINSIDER: GSA will have to wait until at least Thursday for any Johnson action
  14. DorobekInsider: Most read for the month of January 2010 – Germain, TSP, pay freeze and Causey
  15. DorobekInsider: Sen. elect Brown: Feds making 2X the private sector
  16. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum
  17. DorobekInsider: Johnson’s GSA nomination moves one step closer with cloture
  18. DorobekInsider: White House names Leeds as GSA’s new acting administrator
  19. DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: NASA scores Gardner as the new Goddard CIO
  20. DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers
  21. DorobekINSIDER: Could Tuesday be GSA nominee Johnson’s V-Day?
  22. DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  23. DorobekInsider: USDA gets early out approval from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  24. DorobekInsider: What you read for the first week of November 2009 on DorobekInsider, the Daily Debri
  25. DorobekInsider: New GSA deputy administrator is finally official — Susan Brita to start Feb. 2
  26. DorobekInsider recommended event: Operation Jump Start VI – helping transitioning soldiers

… from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. OPM: No decision yet on government’s operating status for Tuesday
  2. Analysis: Snow, closings set historic record for federal government
  3. OPM: Federal government closed Tuesday
  4. Analysis: Will the federal government open on Friday?
  5. OPM Director Berry doesn’t regret decision to open
  6. OPM makes call on snow closings
  7. Make way for emergency feds, personnel
  8. Will the D.C. region become a federal disaster area?
  9. Former OPM director weighs in on difficulty of snow closing call
  10. OPM still to make decision on snow closing Tuesday
  11. What’s happening with former NSPS feds?
  12. OPM wants to change sick leave rules
  13. Causey: To open or not, that is the question
  14. Analysis: Johnson becomes GSA administrator
  15. Earnings down for many TSP accounts in January
  16. QHSR review complete
  17. How are you spending your “snow holiday?”
  18. DHS issues new RFP on national cyber attacks
  19. Section: Daily Debrief Blogs
  20. Getting more feds to telework might be harder than it sounds
  21. Government contractors and the living wage
  22. Congress closes for most of the week
  23. Snow tests COOP plans, teleworking
  24. Bonasaro hints Senior Executive Service might be in trouble
  25. Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  26. Now a good time to review where your money is in the TSP
  27. Monday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  28. OPM hopes to lure more military vets into civilian agenices
  29. Senate to consider cybersecurity bill passed by House; Chinese crackdown on hackers engenders skepti
  30. Census ad campaign causes controversy
  31. Smart Grid gets cybersecurity focus
  32. TSP participants can now move money from other accounts
  33. Feds, agencies not taking advantage of teleworking opportunities
  34. Teleworking is not just about working at home
  35. Contractors wonder about Rep. Murtha replacement
  36. All TSP funds see gains in 2009
  37. Wednesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  38. Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  39. Friday Fun Day!
  40. How OPM will make its decision to close government if there’s snow
  41. On pay raises and what feds really earn
  42. OMB kicks of Tech-Stat program to watch troubled IT programs
  43. Thursday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  44. Congress will debate TSP contributions this session
  45. Virtual USA enters second phase of regional operating pilot
  46. Security and privacy in the cloud; NIST gets cybersecurity funds
  47. National media monitors local storm
  48. How Martha Johnson will do as GSA administrator
  49. DOT looks at why plane was on tarmac for 7 hours

…for Mike Causey’s Federal Report

  1. NSPS Staffers: Separation Anxiety
  2. No-Cal COLAs Gag Reflex
  3. Beltway Blizzard Tactics
  4. Survivors of the Storm Speak
  5. Respiraling NSPS Converts
  6. Snow Day: May Day!
  7. Retirees $250 Tax Credit
  8. GS 15 Pay: The Frozen Chosen
  9. The Roth Option & Your Estate
  10. Diet Pay Raise/No-Cal COLAs
  11. 2011 Pay Raise: Coulda Been Worse
  12. Winter Closings: Very Early Warning
  13. Life After NSPS: A GS 14, Step 15?
  14. Big Career Changes Coming at You
  15. Long Term Care Premiums: Ripoff or Reality?

… and from

  1. Berry: ‘We’ll make the call this evening’
  2. Federal government operating status for Wednesday up in air
  3. Will federal government open on Friday?
  4. Federal government closed on Thursday
  5. Federal government open on Friday, Feb. 12
  6. Federal government closed on Wednesday
  7. Federal government closed Monday
  8. No word yet about federal government status on Thursday
  9. OPM’s Berry gets Hill thumbs up on fed closing call
  10. Teleworking becomes top of mind for federal government
  11. OPM’s decision to open gov’t. questioned after horrific commute
  12. Snow collapses Smithsonian storage warehouse
  13. OPM Director Berry opens up about making the closing call
  14. OPM Director Berry says open/close status to be made after 6 p.m.
  15. Waiting for word from the federal government
  16. TSP Snapshot: Look past the thorns of January
  17. Air Force sets new date for tanker RFP
  18. USPTO battles Snowmageddon with telework
  19. DHS to increase the number, diversity of senior leaders
  20. OMB to dash(board) to better management
  21. Federal government closed Dec. 21st due to snow
  22. OPM says safety is paramount in government closure decisions
  23. Fed contracting community waits to see who fills Murtha’s shoes
  24. VA sets rules for set-aside program
  25. Federal News Radio Reports
  26. CRS finds federal CTO role remains undefined
  27. FTC hires AT&T to secure Internet gateway
  28. DHS CIO taking on IT governance
  29. Mikulski asks OPM about retirement system troubles
  30. Mobile apps, TechStat lead OMB’s IT evolution
  31. OPM Dir. Berry opens up about making the closing call
  32. Is there a central travel office in DHS’ future?
  33. Two working groups to improve federal spending data
  34. Fed insurance carriers meeting health IT standards
  35. Senate: Con artists are using stimulus scams to fleece citizens
  36. QHSR: Crowdsourced and complete
  37. Government needs to define cyber war
  38. Martha Johnson confirmed as GSA Administrator
  39. OMB finally details broad management doctrine
  40. TSP Snapshot: Your money, working hard
  41. Some insurance companies leave Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan as Open Season approaches
  42. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  43. DHS completes roadmap for change
  44. White House proposes 1.4 percent pay raise
  45. OPM shops for a culture change
  46. Federal Teleworking: A look at the numbers
  47. White House IT budget request lower in 2011
  48. Agencies to justify not using cloud computing to OMB
  49. State reviews priorities and policies
  50. Army to test enterprise e-mail for all of DoD

Written by cdorobek

February 14, 2010 at 9:39 AM

DorobekINSIDER poll: Did OPM make the right decision to open DC offices on Friday?

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For those outside the Beltway, sorry for yet another snow post, but… it has been a long week. And already tough DC traffic got much worse this morning.

DC's snowy roads

(WTOP Photo/Kristi King)

And, as we’ve said all week, the decision to close the government is a thankless job — and as we said yesterday, the decision about whether to open today (Friday) was the toughest one. OPM Director John Berry told us on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris that he makes the close/no close decision purely on the facts. Yet it seems almost inconceivable that there wasn’t some pressure — spoken or unspoken — to get people back to work. No doubt that is why OPM felt it was necessary to put out a statement last night defending this week’s decisions to close government for most of the week.
From listening to traffic reports on WTOP radio‘s traffic coverage (more here), Twitter reports, anecdotal accounts from people I know, and traffic cameras, it is a mess out there. One person said her 20-minute commute took 95 minutes.

So how was your commute? Share your stories here… or Tweet them to me @cdorobek or on Facebook.

And while hindsight is always 20/20, we’re going to ask the question: Did OPM make the right decision to open the government on a 2-hour delay today?

(WTOP Photo/Kristi King)

Written by cdorobek

February 12, 2010 at 10:36 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Back to work for feds in DC, OPM defends closure decisions

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OPM has decided to open DC federal offices on Friday — although under a 2-hour delay and under an unscheduled leave policy. From OPM’s Web site:

  • Employees should plan their commutes so that they arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would normally arrive. Employees who arrive for work more than 2 hours later than their normal arrival time will be charged annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence from work.
  • Employees who cannot report for work may request unscheduled leave for their entire scheduled workday.
  • Telework employees are expected to report for work on time.
  • Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.

Meanwhile, OPM Director John Berry is defending the decision to shut down the federal government in DC for much of the week.

His statement:

“First and foremost, I want to assure every American that their government is working for them, as it has been throughout the snow emergency. Over 87% of government workers live and work outside the National Capital Region, and the vast majority of them are functioning normally. Within the National Capital Region, emergency and mission-critical staffers are at their posts or teleworking. We are receiving daily reports from across government that many thousands more are also teleworking.

The decision to close government buildings in the National Capital Region has two components: first, the safety of our employees and the public. Second, maintaining government operations to the greatest extent possible. As Director of OPM, this decision rests with me, and I will always accept responsibility for it.

The Federal government has plans and systems to maintain operations during emergencies like this one. We are still digging out from a blizzard of historic proportions, and some work has doubtless been delayed, but all the work will get done. Some buildings have been closed, but the people who do the work have been open for business. We’ve equipped many of them with tools like notebook computers, Blackberries, and secure Internet connections that allow them to work from almost anywhere.

Traditionally, OPM has calculated the cost of closure as the cost of giving all Federal workers in the National Capital Region a paid day off. But with so many emergency and mission-critical personnel reporting to work as scheduled, and so many others teleworking, that calculation is outdated. With the new data that agencies have been reporting to us throughout the week, we will be able to update this calculation.

The new cost calculation will be one component of a larger assessment of lessons learned that we are already working on. The data and experience gained from this emergency are helping the government to be even better prepared for future storms and other events that might cause widespread disruptions in the National Capital Region.

But despite rumors, OPM says that the President’s Day holiday will go on. There had been some rumors that federal agencies might open on the holiday to make up for lost time. That is NOT true. The holiday goes forward.

Written by cdorobek

February 11, 2010 at 7:05 PM

DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for FRIDAY?

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Washington, DC is pretty much paralyzed again today — again, after being pummeled by snow storm after snow storm. (At least we hit the record — if we’re going to go through this torture, we might as well get the bragging rights of saying that we survived snowpocalypse 2010.)

NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

The federal government is closed for the fourth day running — and that comes after DC feds closed early last Friday in anticipation of the last storm. Wednesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management and the guy who has to make the call as to whether the federal government is open or not — on his 51st birthday, no less. And we got to talk to him about making that decision.

Several interesting points from Berry. He tells Federal News Radio that OPM is going to reexamine the often mentioned figure of $100 million per day cost of the federal government closing. He notes that figure is 20-years-old — and doesn’t take into account all the people who are working nor people who telework.

But we’re also looking into telework questions such as whether agency policies don’t fully take telework into account.

Regardless, the decision to close the federal government today seemed relatively easy, particularly when DC’s MetroRail announced that above-ground stations would be closed. But — the decision about Friday seems more difficult as there is increasing pressure to open. That being said, everybody is cognisant of 1996 when the federal government opened before the system was able to handle it.

So the question today — if you were OPM Director John Berry, what decision would you make about the federal government in DC’s operating status?

What say you?

The most remarkable thing about this story is how people really are getting some work done. People are so much more mobile these days — and while they can’t do everything, work is getting done.

As one person posted on my Facebook page:

Instead of emphasizing that the federal govt is closed for the 4th straight day someone in the fed govt should get out the message that while Headquarters offices are in DC, there are regional offices of every branch in every agency that are up and running and keeping the govt working. This happens when other areas around the country when there are hurricanes, tornadoes or whatever emergency happens. Those govt officials are every bit as competent as those that are in DC.

Point taken.

Written by cdorobek

February 11, 2010 at 10:42 AM

DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for Thursday?

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Washington, DC is pretty much paralyzed today — again, after being pummeled by snow storm after snow storm.

Luckily, I live near Federal News Radio 1500 AM — so I’m able to talk to work. That being said, even that relatively short 1.2-mile trek was torturous this morning. (Assuming I have kids, it will be one of the stories that I tell my kids.)

The federal government is closed for the third day running today — and DC feds closed early on Friday in anticipation of the storm this weekend. Federal News Radio’s senior correspondent Mike Causey told us that is really unprecedented.

Earlier this week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management and the guy who has to make the call as to whether the federal government is open or not. And we asked him about that decision. It always strikes me that it is one of the toughest decisions because it is so easily second guessed. As Berry told us, there is a real cost to closing the federal government in DC. But there can also be extreme costs to keeping it open.

The difference these days is that so many people can — and are — mobile workers in one way or another. As one person tweeted, there really aren’t any snow days because most people can — and are — connected in one way or another. It is an important difference. Not everything can be done — but work is being done.

So the question now — what will the federal government do for Thursday?

What say you?

Written by cdorobek

February 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Johnson sworn in as GSA administrator — telework style

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GSA — the long wait is over.

The General Services Administration now has a new administrator. The DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that Martha Johnson was sworn in as GSA administrator on Sunday — by phone. The phone swearing was first reported by the Washington Post’s Federal Eye.

GSA officials confirmed that Acting Administrator Steve Leeds called Johnson at her Annapolis home on Sunday to administer the oath of office. Johnson’s husband, Steve, served as the official witness.

Johnson was confirmed by the Senate last week. And she was scheduled to be sworn in today. DC’s snowpocalypse delayed that to Thursday. All of that created this odd situation where Johnson was confirmed — but not yet in that job.

Somewhat curiously, GSA decided to do the phone swearing in on Sunday night.

GSA officials say that the phone oath is legal — and was necessary because of the snow.

GSA last had a permanent administrator nearly two years ago when Lurita Doan stepped down from that post.

Written by cdorobek

February 9, 2010 at 4:02 PM

DorobekINSIDER: DC snowpocalypse delays swearing in ceremony for GSA’s Johnson

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DC’s snowpocalypse has delayed the swearing in ceremony for GSA’s newly confirmed administrator Martha Johnson. The DorobekINSIDER told you last week that the swearing in ceremony was scheduled to be Tuesday at 2p ET at GSA HQ. But given that there is yet another storm eying the Nation’s Capital, GSA officials have decided to delay that ceremony to Thursday, Feb. 11 at 2p ET at GSA HQ.

The note to staff:

Martha Johnson Swearing-In Moved to Thursday Good Afternoon GSA

Due to the inclement weather in and around the Washington, D.C. metro area we have decided to postpone our welcoming for Martha Johnson. The
Swearing-In Town Hall event has been tentatively rescheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 2 p.m. For employees in Central Office, we will continue to keep you updated on details for attending the event. For employees in the regions, we will be sure to update you on how to watch the ceremony on InSite.

Thank you for your patience!

Frankly, I’m not sure what Johnson is able to do pre-swearing in — whether that is a formality. I’ve asked, but if you know…

Written by cdorobek

February 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM