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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: Operation Jump Start is a GO for tonight

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We told you last week about Operation Jump Start, the marvelous program that helps soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom transition to civilian careers.

Washington has a chance of snow tonight — and there have been a number of questions about whether the event was a go. I just got word — it’s a go!

From the organizers:

Like the service men and women we are honoring and serving tonight we are undaunted by threats of any kind and “OPERATION JUMPSTART VI WILL BE HELD TONIGHT AS PLANNED! So don’t let a few snowflakes stop you from coming out tonight. BE BRAVE!

And if you haven’t registered, you and your donation are welcome at the door!!

Last week, Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris spoke to Ed Meagher, who spearheads this event.

It’s a remarkable event to help some remarkable people.

Written by cdorobek

February 2, 2010 at 1:11 PM

DorobekInsider recommended event: Operation Jump Start VI – helping transitioning soldiers

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It’s just a few days away — and it is one of the most marvelous events of the year if you’re looking to help other people and have a dramatic impact on somebody’s life — it is called Operation Jump Start.

The long and short of it is this: Help soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom transition to civilian careers.

Suits from Operation Jump Start 2009

This is now the sixth year of Operation Jump Start, which is co-sponsored by the Federal CIO Council, 1105 Media, and TechAmerica — along with AFCEA Bethesda, ACT-IAC and AFFIRM— and it is open to anybody who wants to help.


Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: Army Navy Country Club
1700 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA

See coverage of last year’s event here. And hear Ed Meagher talk about the event from last year — we’ll be talking to him later this week.

More information is available on Facebook here… and I’ve posted some details below…

Register here

Or just donate here

As I’ve said before, one of the most touching parts of this event happens near the end of the evening when soldiers are trying on the suits.

But if you don’t have suits left over, there are other ways to donate.

SPECIAL NOTE: Organizers are only able to take items on that night only — this is a volunteer run organization so they don’t have resources to pick-up and transport items. That being said, if you want to get things to the event but you’re not able to get there on that night, if you can get it to me here at Federal News Radio 1500 AM in Northwest DC, I’ll make sure it gets there.

All the information is posted below:

Please join the organizing sponsors, Federal CIO Council, 1105 Media and TechAmerica on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 as we hold our sixth annual “Operation Jump Start VI” event to help the soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom transition to civilian careers. The event is also supported by AFCEA-Bethesda, AFFIRM and ACT-IAC and open to all who want to give.

We are pleased to announce this year’s Honorary Chair from our community – the Honorable Roger Baker, CIO, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Event Details
Please join us for hors d’oeuvres and the music of the Bank Street Band. There will also be a cash bar. We will also have special VIP visitors from Walter Reed Medical Center and anticipate a full house, so registration is required!

To Register: Please register online at
Registrations will be accepted through January 30th. In case of Inclement Weather the day of the event, please check the website. IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND, and want to contribute – you can!! Go to:

The price of admission is a donation to support the soldiers as they “jump start” their new career.
Suggested and valued donations are as follows:

All Phases: Cash donations
Cash donations are always appreciated and will go into a special, non-profit, tax-exempt fund established for the soldiers and their families. Make checks payable to the 501(c)3 organization The Aleethia Foundation, Tax id #51-0529300. This fund is used 100% to support special needs for the recovering soldiers and their families as they work to build new lives, whether it is a “first month/last month” deposit, bills forgotten while recovering or to meet other educational/emotional needs.

Phase 1: Still in the Hospital, Keeping in Touch, Building up Strength
1. Gift cards in $5 increments from Dunkin Donuts or Burger King (all at the hospital).
2. Gift cards for a nice meal out with the family – Macaroni Grill is close to Walter Reed
(Takoma Park/Silver Spring metro) – in increments no larger than $25 please.

Phase 2: Transitioning to the Work Force, Moving Up and Out
1. Dry-cleaned mens and ladies suits, coats, ties, etc. for office wear. This is not a
clothing drive; emphasis is on mint quality, not quantity. Donate only what you
would be proud to see our soldiers wearing as they dress for success on the way
to a new career.

PLEASE MARK CLOTHES with a TAG indicating the SIZE of the item (makes
disbursement easier).
ALSO, formal wear for both men and women appreciated, as many of these soldiers and their spouses are invited to attend formal functions around town.

2. Gift Certificates to Target (daily shuttle), Macy’s, and Safeway (in increments of $20-25 denominations makes disbursement easier). All are within easy access of Walter Reed/Navy Bethesda.
3. Thumb drives
4. New Laptops

What has made this event so successful in the past is that everyone is there to give back to the soldiers for giving so much for us. Although the event is sponsored by several organizations and companies for monetary and organizational support, all are doing this for one purpose – the soldiers. Thank you.

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2010 at 2:07 PM

DorobekInsider: Energy Department CIO to retire after 45 years of public service

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The DorobekInsider has learned — and confirmed — that Energy Department CIO Tom Pyke notified his staff that he is retiring from that post.

As he said in his note, he just completed 46 years of federal service, including four years at the Energy Department. He also notes that 2010 marks 50 years since he started work as a summer student National Bureau of Standards, now NIST.

While Pyke has often been less visible then some other CIOs, he is respected in the government IT community.

Here is his note to staff:

It is with mixed feelings that I announce that I am going to retire from the Federal Government.

As of last Wednesday, I completed 46 years of Federal service, including the last four years here at DOE. This year, 2010, marks 50 years since I began work as a summer student at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST). I will miss all of you! What a terrific team we have in the Office of the CIO! I am proud to be leaving the Department of Energy on a high note! Our IT capital investment process shows all green on the Dashboard. Our cyber security protection of systems and data is solid. And our IT service customer satisfaction is at an all time high. We have just received our highest customer satisfaction rating yet from the latest independent Gartner group survey of all of our customers. My last date at DOE will be February 26, 2010.

I wish all of you the very best in everything you do, here at the Department of Energy and in your personal lives!

Here is Pyke’s bio:

Tom Pyke
Chief Information Officer

As Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Department of Energy, Tom Pyke leads the Department’s management of information technology (IT), ensuring that the Department acquires and manages its IT resources so as to provide strong support for DOE missions, and at lowest cost. Mr. Pyke has led DOE in revitalizing its cyber security program and improving its IT capital investment review and enterprise architecture processes. The Department of Energy’s annual IT budget is $2.1 billion.

Before joining the Department of Energy, Mr. Pyke was the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Commerce, from 2001 to 2005. At the Department of Commerce, Mr. Pyke was a senior manager of information technology for over 30 years. As Commerce Chief Information Officer, he led major improvements in the Department’s IT security posture and IT planning and capital investment review processes. Previously, Mr. Pyke created and led the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and became NOAA’s first CIO. He was also Director of the GLOBE Program, leading an interagency team to create an international environmental science and education program now involving over 21,000 schools in 110 countries.

Tom began his career at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology), where he was Director of the Center for Computer Systems Engineering and then Director of the Center for Programming Science and Technology. He joined NOAA as Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services, a post he held for six years prior to becoming NOAA Director for HPCC and then NOAA’s first CIO.

He earned a BSEE as a Westinghouse Scholar from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and an MSE in Computer Systems as a Ford Foundation Fellow from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of more than 40 technical papers and reports and has lectured widely at conferences and symposiums. He has received numerous awards, including the Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award and two Presidential Meritorious Rank Awards, and he is listed in Who’s Who in America.

Mr. Pyke is a senior member of the IEEE, a member of the ACM, AAAS, Sigma Xi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Omicron Delta Kappa, and is a Fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences, from which he received the Engineering Science Award.

Written by cdorobek

January 22, 2010 at 1:15 PM

The DorobekInsider Reader: Martin Luther King Jr.

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Today, of course, is a federal holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. — technically his birthday was January 15 and he would be 81 this year.

As President Obama noted in this year’s White House presidential proclamation for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, this is good time to think about service to others — and equality for all people.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged our Nation to recognize that our individual liberty relies upon our common equality. In communities marred by division and injustice, the movement he built from the ground up forced open doors to negotiation. The strength of his leadership was matched only by the power of his words, which still call on us to perfect those sacred ideals enshrined in our founding documents.

Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey, in his Federal Report today, noted that it is a good time to thank people who do serve.

Back when Congress authorized the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, most federal workers got the day off. Just like other federal holidays.

Some, maybe many, private sector firms give their employees some (but usually not all) federal holidays off…

But since 9/11, everything has changed. More feds work on holidays – people in VA and PHS hospitals, law enforcement officers, people patrolling the borders and air traffic controllers. IRS types, Agriculture and Interior Department workers. And the gang at the CIA, FBI, DEA and DIA.

Employees of the State Department, AID and Defense are also busy today with Haitian relief. USGS is keeping a keen eye on the aftershocks. Also on duty are Homeland Security, TSA and lots, lots more.

So we say it every time and we mean it. Thanks for being there and for doing what you do.

Read Causey’s full column.

Some resources around the MLK Jr. holiday…

Of course, the remarkable “I have a dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. If you haven’t listed to this speech in some time, it is simply remarkable.

The other site worth visiting is, which pulls together Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.

GovLoop is asking what you are doing for others

MLK Jr Memorial… Here in Washington, check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial plans, which will be constructed across from the Jefferson Memorial.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center has all sorts of information about the man and his message.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center has all sorts of information about the man and his message.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University also has all sorts of resources, including speeches. And also has resources about the man and his message. You can also find King quotes.

The National Park Service has information on the historic site in Georgia, including King’s birth home just outside of Atlanta.

And the FBI has posted King information that has been requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Written by cdorobek

January 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM

DorobekInsider: Godspeed Nick DeCarlo

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I am sad to hear the news that Nick DeCarlo, the husband of Sara DeCarlo, the current chairwoman of the Industry Advisory Council and the executive vice president of strategic business development of the newly created Avaya Government Solutions, passed away on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.

Our deep condolences go out to Sara and the DeCarlo family during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with them and Nick.

This is the note she sent out…

It is with great sadness that I am writing to say that my dear husband passed away early this morning at home. I have been swamped today with getting the details for the services in order, so am just writing now. I want to thank you all for your constant support of me as Nick fought his cancer. There could not have been a more wonderful group of friends and colleagues to support me while going through this very difficult time. We are really urging people to not send flowers as some of our friends have started the Nick DeCarlo Scholars Fund for an eighth grader at Holy Trinity [Catholic Church] where he taught for 10 years. This legacy is very important to me and the family.

I am attaching the information on all the upcoming funeral arrangements. They should also be in the Post in the next day or so…

Thank you again for all the prayers. Nick’s battle is over and he is at rest.


And the text of the notice with funeral arrangements:

Nicholas Peter DeCarlo

On Wednesday, December 30, Nicholas Peter DeCarlo, former teacher for 10 years and retired captain, US Navy JAG Corps, passed away at his Arlington home after a long fight with cancer. The family will receive friends at Murphy’s Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA on Sunday, January 3, from 1-5 pm. Rosary at 4:30 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday, January 4, at 11 am at Holy Trinity Church,1325 36th St. NW , Washington DC. A reception will follow. To continue Nick’s legacy and passion for scholarship, service and leadership, we urge friends to donate to the Nick DeCarlo Scholars Award, c/o Holy Trinity School, 1325 36th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007 in lieu of flowers.

Written by cdorobek

December 30, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

DorobekInsider: GSA’s Tyree Varnado to retire

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Tyree Varnado, the deputy commission for the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, told FAS employees that he is retiring from GSA and government services after more than 35 39 years, Federal News Radio has confirmed.

His last day will be Jan. 3.

Varnado is a long time GSA employee — and is well respected within both GSA and the acquisition community. As the DorobekInsider reported first, he served as the acting commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service when Jim Williams was tapped to serve as the acting administrator.

Since 2002, Varnado has been the Assistant Regional Administrator (ARA) for FAS’ Greater Southwest Region, where he managed the region’s FAS operations. These include the Central Fleet Program, Marketing, and Property Management within the Greater Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions, as well as several significant and unique programs: the Greater Southwest Acquisition Center, the Southwest Supply Center, the Information Technology Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) Center, and the Fleet Payment Processing Center.

Some resources from Federal News Radio 1500 AM:

* From October 2008, after Varnado became the acting administrator, he was on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. Hear that conversation here.

* February 3, 2009: Federal News Radio’s Off the Shelf with Larry Allen talks to Varnado.

* January 17, 2009: Federal News Radio: Acquisition oversight to shift to vendors

* January 17, 2009: Federal News Radio: GSA schedules expecting growth spurt

Written by cdorobek

December 10, 2009 at 1:54 PM

DorobekInsider: The buzz of the Input holiday party 2009

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Input kicked off the holiday season, as they do every year, with the company’s 8th annual holiday party. There was a new location this year for the first time — the Ritz in Tysons — but the event still benefits the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

The Input holiday bash is always one of the better events of the year — and the new location was great. I was there late, of course — heading there after I finished up on the radio. But there was still a good crowd there…

And there were a lot of buzzable items:

* USDA’s management reorganization: This is still a very hot topic. Of course, as the DorobekInsider reported, USDA just last week got approval for buy outs and early retirements. The changes have been controversial within the organization — there seems to be a growing consensus that USDA just isn’t talking about their plans enough — or at all, which I continue to just find baffling. But there are very differing views on whether the management reorg is a good idea or not. But now people are saying there could be more shifts coming. We’ll keep an eye on it.

* Chris Niedermayer to leave USPTO for HUD: I haven’t been able to confirm with Neidermayer yet — and he was gone by the time I arrived — but a number of people last night told me Neidermayer was at the Input party and his name tag identified him as being with HUD, where he would again be teamed with relatively new HUD CIO Jerry Williams, who has been at the department since July. UPDATE: Confirmed — Neidermayer will join HUD as deputy CIO for business and IT modernization.

* Deborah Diaz also leaves USPTO for NASA: We have been hearing this for weeks, but we finally confirmed — as did Diaz on her Facebook page — but she has also left USPTO — hmmm — to be the associate CIO at NASA. And we’re hearing that she is spearheading a big NASA IT contract — perhaps it’s the agency’s IT Infrastructure Improvement Program (I3P)? [UPDATE: Federal Computer Week’s Doug Beizer has a report about the Diaz appointment today — and, in a very classy move, he credits the DorobekInsider.]

WFED's Chris Forest and Input's Kevin Plexico

* Federal News Radio’s new hire… A number of people asked me about Federal News Radio hiring Chris Forest, which the DorobekInsider reported last month. Forest has been in the government market for years and is well known, so the Input party was something of his first coming out as a part of the Federal News Radio team.

See the complete set of my unflashed photos here… I’ll start bringing a real camera rather then just my iPhone.

Written by cdorobek

December 4, 2009 at 9:05 AM

DorobekInsider: Celebrating a Happy (Fiscal) New Year with GovLoop

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GovLoop and GovDelivery, fresh off their new partnership, had a party — to celebrate that collaboration, but it was also a Happy Fiscal 2010 New Year Party at Current in Washington, DC.

Some of the buzz items at the event:

* The future of Intellipedia: We’ve been telling you about the decision by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to shut down one part of the Intellipedia suite of collaboration tools. It’s important to remember that the crowd that comes to a GovLoop party is more of a gov 2.0 crowd. That being said, it is also a younger group — and they are collaborators. And they are passionate about the mission of government. They are, by and large, the kind of people the government wants to hire — and keep. Despite reassurances by ODNI officials that they will replace the uGov e-mail system with something else, there is a lot of suspicion. In the end, e-mail is a 1990s technology and is not really a collaborative technology. But there is great concern about what this will mean for the rest of the Intellipedia suite of collaborative tools. But people believe that this has a significant impact on what other agencies will do.

* Collaborating around Buying — specifically, A group of folks — GSA and the National Academy of Public Administration — are working on improving the acquisition process… even the crowdsourcing of an acquisition. It is a great idea and a marvelous attempt at trying something new and different. The official announcement of the program will come later this month at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference… and we hope to have GSA’s Mary Davie on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris with a preview in the coming days.

Meanwhile, some photos of the event…

GovLoop’s Ressler with Deloitte’s Rachel Azaroff… Azaroff was one of FCW’s interns when I was editor in chief. One of my goals with interns was to give them something they could have as a “clip” when they went out into the “real” world — and Azaroff was there when FCW launched the Rising Star awards program. So… for the Rising Star issue, I asked a young person to write a story about the challenges facing young feds. The headline, Hire me, already: New recruits say government work is a good gig — and as rewarding as ever — but getting a foot in the door can be a drag, and the story is probably just as apt today as it was back in 2006 when the story was written. I also asked her to write a “comment” piece based on what she had learned:

Azaroff: Forget MySpace. It’s time for FedSpace [Federal Computer Week, Oct, 9, 2006]
Twenty-somethings could make e-government and other cross-agency initiatives happen

You’ll notice that Ressler was going incognito…

And, of course, the DorobekInsider was there too (photo courtesy of Kathleen Smith of See more of her photos from the event here.)

Happy Fiscal 2010

Happy Fiscal 2010

In fact TechBisnow was able to grab a photo that I did not — GovLoop’s Ressler and GovDelivery’s Burns.

And, by the way, yes — Federal News Radio 1500 AM was a sponsor.

Written by cdorobek

October 11, 2009 at 10:18 PM