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03.06.2012: DorobekINSIDER: The TAG Challenge and helping government be entrepreneurial

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So… day two of GovLoop Insight’s DorobekINSIDER. Thanks so much for being here.

Here is what we have for you today…

* We all remember tag — we all played it as kids. But what if the technologies of the Internet and the networked world could be brought to the game of tag. The TAG Challenge is going to be testing that concept later this month. And this challenge is being made possible by a State Department grant. You’ll learn about this innovative new program.

** You face big problems. How would you like to be able to tap the best minds to help solve those problems — or at least move the ball down the field. We’ll tell you about Fuse Corps…. we’re going to talk to Peter Sims, the author of the DorobekINSIDER Book Club book, Little Bets… he’s the man behind this program and we’ll get details…

** AND… feds, you have a TSP account? We’re going to have the DorobekINSIDER exit interview with the man who has kept you informed about what was going on with your Thrift Savings Plan account… he has just retired. We’ll talk to Tom Trabucco.

After the break… some updates on yesterday’s program… and the stories that impact your life for Tuesday 6 March 2012… the government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

DorobekINSIDER: DOD doing more with less, and Cureton’s Leadership Muse

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Our first broadcast…

The Leadership MuseOne of the topics we will discuss often is leadership. And the way people talk about it, leadership has almost mystical qualities. How many conferences have we been to where people say that almost any problem can be solved with more leadership. And these days, leadership has nothing to do with a title. There are leaders at ever level of every organization. So leadership — and the challenges of leadership — will be a staple of our conversation. Later on, we’re going to talk about one person’s leadership quest. Linda Cureton is the chief information officer at NASA and she is the author of the book, The Leadership Muse. The book has very little to do with the challenges of being a tech leader at the world’s preeminent space agency. It is about leadership — and how you get there. We’ll talk to Linda Cureton just ahead.

And just head… doing more with less… the age of austerity. Everybody is having to deal with budget challenges. And that is true at the Defense Department too. We’re going to talk to an expert about the options facing DOD — and what sequestration means anyway. That’s just ahead…

But we’re going to start off with the stories that impact your life for Monday 5 March 2012… the government world in 120-seconds…

* The Office of Personnel Management is in some hot water over its Presidential Management Fellows. The leadership development program is geared towards entry level feds who envision a long career in public service. The Washington Post says that California Congressman Darrell Issa and Florida’s Dennis Ross are calling on the Obama administration to explain recent mishaps with a prestigious program. They say the current mismanagement is threatening the prestige and the government’s ability recruit future fellows.

* The Air Force’s flight plans just got a little lighter. The Air Force Air Mobility Command has awarded Phoenix based Executive Technology a roughly 10 million dollar contract for 18-thousand iPads. NextGov says the tablets will replace paper flight charts and manuals that currently weigh as much as 40 pounds.

*These days, it seems like every agency is turning to challenges to solve problems and come up with innovative ideas. But successfully launching a challenge is easier said than done. That’s where the Office of Management and Budget comes in. They’ve come out with an F-A-Q — frequently asked questions [PDF] — to help agencies stay in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act and navigate different platforms like

* After tornados ripped through parts of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia over the weekend, FEMA is on high alert. But so far, the states have not asked for federal aide. FEMA does have teams on the ground helping to assess the damage.

* How effective is the SEC? Much better, if you listen to officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC officials have been citing a jump in the number of enforcement actions last year as proof that an overhaul of the agency’s investigative force is bearing fruit. But an analysis by Bloomberg finds that claim isn’t supported by a detailed examination of the statistics. SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami has said that the unit filed 735 actions in fiscal 2011, but 31% of those weren’t new – they were follow-on administrative proceedings. If you exclude those, “the SEC filed 499 original cases last year, fewer than the 520 in 2009, the year before the reorganization.”

* And on GovLoop we’re talking citizen engagement…. you’re on all these social media platforms. Now what? That was the subject of a GovLoop webinar with Digital Gov Group. A few tips: Review your social media policies — make sure you have one — and train your folks about how to use these tools.

On the program today:

* DOD doing more with less: Todd Harrison is the Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. His analysis: Strategy In a Year Of Fiscal Uncertainty

* Linda Cureton is the author of The Leadership Muse. She is also the chief information officer at NASA. Her GovLoop post: Hero-Leaders: The Oasis in Today’s Desert of Leadership – Thoughts from Chapter 37 of The Leadership Muse


Written by cdorobek

March 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Posted in budget, DOD, Management

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week: What governance means to you

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GovLoop InsightsHey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — and welcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek.

Each week, our goal is to where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

Transforming American GoveranceThis week, we’re going to talk about governing — and the relationship between governing and what you do. We’re going to talk to one of the editors of a new book — just out this week — titled Transforming American Governance: Rebooting the Public Square. We’ll also have some weekend reads — he weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box. We’ll take a look at the impact drones have on the military… and on how you can actually do more with less. All of that just ahead…

But after the break… we will start off as we do every week with a look at the week that was for the third week of January 2012…

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Written by cdorobek

January 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM

DorobekINSIDER: All this shutdown talk — what’s the cost of that?

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Federal workers and contractors seemly have dodged yet another shutdown — I’ve actually lost count about how many there have been this year. (Federal Computer Week says there have been five.)

Last night, I was invited to the annual holiday party hosted by ASI Government, formerly Acquisition Solutions. Not surprising, the buzz of the night was about… the change of leadership at ASI Government — former Agriculture Department CIO Anne Reed stepping into the role of chairwoman after seven years, and Kimberly “Kymm” McCabe has taken over the role as ASI Government’s President and Chief Executive Officer…

McCabe specifically mentioned the end of the war in Iraq

But most of the focus was on… the then potential of a government shutdown. Last night, as the festivities were going on, there seemed to be progress toward a resolution, but it was only late last night that the sides announced they had found common ground. But there was still interesting discussion around the topic. One person — now in industry after a distinguished government career — said that the shutdown threat had almost become SOP. It has become standard operating procedure. Yet several govies showed up late specifically because they were working on shutdown contingency plans.

But 1105 President Anne Armstrong asked about the costs of all this.

The short answer is… there is no easy answer.

The Congressional Research Service actually looked at the shutdown issue back in September 1995.

The estimated costs of shutting down the federal government during a lapse in appropriations are incomplete and sketchy at best. That is especially true in the brief shutdown periods that occurred prior to 1995. In those federal shutdown experiences, the General Accounting Office (GAO) attempted to evaluate such government-wide costs, but incomplete and lack of response by various agencies hampered this undertaking. Certain limited costs have been identified over the years, however. GAO found costs of about $1 million resulting from having to issue split or late paychecks in October 1979 and approximately $1.1 million from having to prepare agency shutdown plans in 1980.

In 1991, GAO found that the estimated partial costs for the federal government shutdown over the Columbus Day Holiday week-end in 1990 was $1.7 million.

There have been two other CRS reports — one on September 27, 2010: Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects. The other is more of a round-up of information about shutdowns from April 8, 2011: Past Government Shutdowns: Key Resources.

Regardless, there was almost uniform agreement among government insiders that the shutdown threats, ongoing continuing resolutions and general budget upheaval have an enormous impact on the government’s ability to accomplish agency missions. (Going out on a limb there, aren’t we?)

To be honest, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has seemed to put forward 12 fairly reasonable principles for the discussion — regardless of political viewpoint.

The 12 principles are:

  • Make Deficit Reduction a Top Priority.
  • Propose Specific Fiscal Targets.
  • Recommend Specific Policies to Achieve the Targets.
  • Do No Harm.
  • Use Honest Numbers and Avoid Budget Gimmicks.
  • Do Not Perpetuate Budget Myths.
  • Do Not Attack Someone Else’s Plan Without Putting Forward an Alternative.
  • Refrain From Pledges That Take Policies Off the Table.
  • Propose Specific Solutions for Social Security, Health Care, and the Tax Code.
  • Offer Solutions for Temporary and Expiring Policies.
  • Encourage Congress to Come Up With a Budget Reform Plan as Quickly as Possible.
  • Remain Open to Bipartisan Compromise.

Find the September 1997 CRS report after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

December 16, 2011 at 2:02 PM

DorobekINSIDER poll: What is the chance of a shutdown?

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How many times have we done this — this year alone?

Once again, there is a deadline Friday — and as of Thursday morning, there is a greater threatof a government shutdown — and the Obama administration has recommended agencies make shutdown plans. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee, early this morning, released details of more than $1 trillion spending package.

So what is the likelihood of a government shutdown?

Written by cdorobek

December 15, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Posted in budget, poll

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DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Issue of the Year: Cyber-security

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GovLoop InsightsThe GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is changing a few for December. Generally, we try to find a issue — a person — an idea — that helped define the past 7-days… and we always work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

For the month of December, we are taking a break from the issue of the week — and we are taking a look at the issues that defined government for the year. And we’ll unveil the issue that defined 2011 later this month. But that gives us a few weeks to look at a few of the big issues of the year. And this week, we’re going to talk about cyber-security and making sense of big data.

But first, a look at some of the big stories for the end of November and the beginning of December, 2011 — yes, the final month of the year.

Listen here…

Or read more… after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

December 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week: More budget

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Welcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week…
The full audio
There is really little doubt about what the big issue is for the third week of November — it has really been one of the most dominant issues this year.
But before we get to that, there were two other issues this week…And this week, we learned that feds are not quite as thrilled with their jobs. In fact, satisfaction among federal workers is down for the first time in four years, according to an annual Best Places to Work survey conducted by the Partnership for Public Service. Given the age of austerity, that probably isn’t a huge surprise. The Washington Post reports that 64 percent of employees were satisfied with their work across the federal government. That represents a slight drop of 1.5 percentage points from last year but the most pronounced dip in the history of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings. Morale improved at just 31 of the 308 federal agencies, bureaus, departments and offices in the survey.
And, for what it’s worth: the best big agency to work for: the FDIC… small agency: the Surface Transportation Safety Board… and the best agency component: the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Read the full list — we have the link online — and You can read the Washington Post breakdown of the survey… hear audio from the awards ceremony from Federal News Radio… and, of course, it’s GovLoop — we want your insights. And people are discussing the Best Agency list. What do YOU think?

Another significant milestone this week — and it involves GovLoop. The up-start social network for government passed 50,000 members this week. GovLoop founder Steve Ressler said he remembers being a fed and being asked to do something that every agency was doing — yet being frustrated that there wasn’t an effective way to share what worked — and what didn’t. And GovLoop was created. It’s a remarkable platform and Steve deserves a lot of credit for having created it. Over the weekend, we’ll post my conversation with Steve Ressler about the creation of GovLoop.

And don’t miss the GovLoop/NASPAA scholarship contest — GovLoop asked if they only had $100 million to spend, what would they do. Read the answers — and vote for your favorites… we have the link online. To use a Steve Ressler term — awesome.

But the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week, as it has been so often this year — it’s the budget. First the good news, such that it is…

The House and Senate managed to pass a budget bill. The Washington Post calls it a detailed vision of the federal government on a diet.” The House and Senate late in the week approved a $130.4 billion measure to fund five Cabinet departments, the first big budget bill since this summer’s promise of greater austerity.

And this week, the Obama administration announced the winner for the third round of the SAVE awards — the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency awards. This is a contest to find the best way to save money. There were four finalist for the ideas they proposed — the person who proposed the winning idea gets to meet with President Obama. And the winner is… Matthew Ritsko of Crofton, MD, who recommended the creation of a centralized tool repository, or “lending library,” for NASA employees to use when developing and building space flight projects.

From the SAVE award page:

Create a tool “lending library” for NASA flight projects
Matthew Ritsko of Crofton, Maryland
Financial Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
At Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA employees purchase specialized tools and ground support equipment for developing and building flight projects. Many of the tools are not tracked once projects are complete, and as a result funds are wasted on duplicative purchases. In order to cut down on repeat purchases, Matthew suggests creating a centralized tool repository — or “lending library” — where these tools can be stored, catalogued, and checked in and out by NASA employees.
Despite a few steps forward, there is still broad concern that the budget process is still broken — and that there are still significant issues. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal said that “Washington is set to let down the nation yet again, as the supercommittee approaches its deadline with no real chances of a deal.”Of course, the deadline for the deal comes up next week.Rosalind Heldermanis a congressional reporter for the Washington Post. And she says that there are very important days ahead…Rosalind Helderman is a congressional reporter for the Washington Post.
And it’s GovLoop, so we want to get your thoughts… And on GovLoop, the questions has been posted: What would a supercommittee deadlock mean to you?
Weekend reading
Little Bets by Peter SimsBefore we head off, I want to note that there are a few extras that you can find online — including some great weekend reading. I have links to a story about how the Department of Veterans Affairs has worked to create an app to help people assess if they have PTSD. Very cool. And a story about 5 Government Procurement Practices That Stifle Innovation… three types of people that you should fire immediately… and a reading list from the Wall Street Journal of books for entrepreneurs. Among the books: a CJD fav: Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims. An awesome book — particularly for government right now.
Some of the others:
The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm by Verne Harnish
Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham
Happy Thanksgiving!
Next week we will be seeking your thoughts on the issues of the YEAR. Throughout December, we will look at the stories that shaped 2011. And we hope you’ll help craft our list.
Finally, I just wanted to thank you for the work you do. I know times are tough, but having covered the government for a long time now, I know that you are the best and the brightest… and you will find the opportunities to make the changes. And I’m happy to help.

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM