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DorobekINSIDER: Kundra names Schlosser as deputy federal CIO

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Lisa Schlosser has been appointed the next deputy administrator in the Office of E-Government and Information Technology in the Office of Management and Budget. She will start in that post on July 5, sources tell the DorobekINSIDER.In that role, she effectively serves as the deputy federal CIO.

Schlosser has been at the Environmental Protection Agency since 2008, initial overseeing the Office of Information Collection and most recently as the principal deputy associate administrator for EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. Before that, she was the CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (NOTE: This information has been updated at of 06.02.2011.)

She will replace Mike Howell, who left the OMB post late last year to become deputy program manager for the Information Sharing Environment.

Schlosser is widely respected within the CIO community and she has an impressive resume having experience across a wide variety of issues, including cyber-security. She also served as a military intelligence officer for the Army. Her efforts have also been recognized with Federal Computer Week’s 2008 Fed 100 award and the Laureate Award by the Computerworld Honors Program.

Before HUD, she was the associate CIO and chief information security officer at Transportation Department and she served as the vice-president for Business Operations and Response Services for Global Integrity and a a senior manager for Ernst & Young.

Schlosser is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and did a tour of duty in the Middle East during the Iraq war.

Read her full bio after the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

June 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM

DorobekINSIDER: OMB’s government performance self-assessment

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The Obama administration’s chief performance officer self-assessment of how the federal government is doing so far: “I believe we are off to a good start, and that we are developing the momentum required for meaningful, sustained improvements in how the government works for the American people.”

In a memo to the Senior Executive Service from Jeff Zients, OMB’s Federal Chief Performance Officer and Deputy Director for Management, titled, “The Accountable Government Initiative – an Update on Our Performance Management Agenda,” Zients lays out the administration’s management plan — and how the administration is doing so far.

Here is the memo:

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

September 14, 2010 at 9:29 AM

DorobekINSIDER: An open letter to OMB: Stop the public sector bashing

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An open letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag:

Dear Mr. Orszag,

I write this with a certain regret. I have tremendous amount of respect for you and the work you have done over the years. And I appreciate the Office of Management and Budget’s initiative to cut waste across government — and improve the use of IT. I have been covering government IT for nearly 20 years — and, as I wrote in Federal Computer Week years ago, I firmly believe that the government can use technology to accomplish its mission more effectively.

And I think the administration has taken a number of positive steps in its first 18 months.

And therefore, I was pleased with Monday’s OMB announcement about the initiative to cut waste by reforming government IT. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported on the policy memos — he has been out in front covering this issue.

There are three steps to the plan:

  • Fix federal financial systems — a critical step
  • Stepped up and detailed reviews of troubled IT systems
  • A plan for improving the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. That plan will come within by October.

I even read the policies [PDF]:

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with your post on the subject. It included this line:

While a productivity boom has transformed private sector performance over the past two decades, the federal government has almost entirely missed this transformation and now lags far behind on efficiency and service quality. We are wasting billions of dollars a year, and more importantly are missing out on the huge productively improvements other sectors have benefited from.

Quite simply, we can’t significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government without fixing IT.

The emphasis is mine, not yours. But, to be honest, I found the wording unfair… and disappointing.

A few points:

It is utterly untrue to say that the federal government has “almost entirely missed this transformation.” I have been covering government technology for nearly 20 years. During that time, there have been remarkable strides. Today, IT touches just about every facet of every part of every business in government — and has utterly transformed certain parts of government. In fact, I would argue you would be hard pressed to find a part of government that hasn’t been transformed by IT.

Is there more to be done? Absolutely, and I give you and your team credit for your IT initiative… but it leads to the second point…

Please oh please retire the tired, tedious comparison between the public and private sectors. I would argue that it simply isn’t true because it isn’t a fair comparison. The challenges facing government agencies are, in many ways, larger in scope — and they are more complex — than those faced by most private sector organizations. And there are scores of cases that make this point. The one I often use are Homeland Security’s efforts to secure ports from potential terrorism. That mission can be accomplished: We can enlist resources to stop anything from coming into or out of the country. That would bring trade to a screeching halt — and having the same result on the U.S. economy… clearly not an option. And opening for any and all trade is also not an option. So the federal government has the unenviable task of finding the mix of those black-and-white options — essentially, they have to determine what is the right shade of gray.

That task is even more complex because those decisions are subject to constant hindsight review — sometimes years later. And then layer a complex management structure… within agencies… within the executive branch itself… and within Congress.

And none of this even touches on a almost utterly broken budget process where agencies are assigned money months into the fiscal year — and then told that they must spend it before the end of that fiscal year.

But even beyond that, the public-private comparison is specious because it is overly broad. What are you talking about when you highlight the private sector? Is the model General Motors? AIG?

We all have worked for private sector organizations where we have been amazed by what we deem as inefficiencies — or organizations that have terrible service quality. I now no longer use my United Visa card — put out by Chase Bank — because just about every third charge is rejected. Even worse — try to find a Chase official in their credit card division to contact.

And what are you talking about when you lambaste the public sector? There aren’t any examples of government agencies that use technology effectively?

Last year in AFCEA’s Signal magazine, I pleaded for a stop to this public-private comparison. What is most insidious about this private sector envy like the one in your post is that it feeds the false notion that government cannot do anything right, and that public employees — and public service — are somehow inept. It infers that somehow the problems agencies face are intractable… that government cannot — and does not — change… and that somehow government performance and government innovation are oxymorons.

To be blunt, it is unfair.

And even beyond that, it does something that I know you abhor: It adds no value. It adds nothing to the discussion.

You raise important issues — ones faced by both the public and private sectors — at what point to you cut off a troubled system by making the determination that continuing would be throwing good money after bad. It is a tough decision to make.

But some of the troubled programs mentioned — the Department of Veterans Affair’s financial management system and FBI’s Sentential program — are complex.

In the end, the issues you are facing are not new. I’d point to Raines Rules, published in 1996 by then OMB Director Franklin Raines to get a handle on IT systems.That OMB memo, issued under the title, “Funding Information Systems Investments,” was quickly renamed Raines’ Rules. And it became a seminal document for guiding IT management. The rules issued guidance for complying with the Information Technology Management Reform Act, which eventually became part of the Clinger-Cohen Act. It essentially set the criteria for evaluating major information system investments — and they read as if they could have been issued today.

There are issues — and I think even feds will give you credit for working to fix problems.

Again, I’m not taking away from this initiative — and the work that you and your OMB management team are doing is very important. But the slams against government are unwarranted — and unnecessary. That rhetoric simply is… not helpful, to be kind.

Sincerely,

Christopher J. Dorobek

Written by cdorobek

June 29, 2010 at 7:11 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GSA reorganizes, Interior shuffles – and the CIO moves

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These posts are often difficult to write because… well, the situation appears fluid and the facts aren’t all in place yet. And given the nature of the issues, people don’t really want to talk about it. That being said, it appears there are a number of changes afoot at GSA, where GSA Administrator Martha Johnson is continuing her broad reorganization of that agency, and at the Interior Department.

As I said, details are still sketchy and it doesn’t appear that everything is locked down yet, but… here is what we are hearing:

* GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications will be transformed into the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology. Dave McClure, the Associate Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration Office of Citizen Services and Communications, will have two deputies, we hear. Martha Dorris, the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Citizens Services, will lead the citizen services part of the organization… and Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, currently in the Interior Department CIO, will become something like the Deputy Associate Administrator for innovative technologies. In that role, he will be leading issues like cloud computing and DATA.gov.

We hear that Bhagowalia’s last will be tomorrow — and he will start at GSA on Monday, May 24. Bhagowalia was testifying just this morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the transition — or lack thereof — to the Networx telecommunications contract. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller tried to ask him about his shift, but Bhagowalia said he couldn’t answer questions. (So… we have tried to get this information from official sources.)

* Interior Department CIO organization… We haven’t been able to nail these down precisely either, but… we hear that Bhagowalia will be replaced by Bernie Mazer, who is currently the CIO at Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.

* Interior Department’s National Business Center… There have also been changes at Interior’s National Business Center. Doug Bourgeois, Director of the Interior Department’s National Business Center, has left that post and is now at VMwar as the vice president and chief cloud executive. We hear there could be other changes. Donald Swain, who had been serving as NBC’s chief of staff, is the acting director.

Written by cdorobek

May 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Turco to lead GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy

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GSA Administrator Martha Johnson continues to get her leadership team in place — today, Johnson announced that Kathleen Turco, GSA’s current chief financial officer, will lead GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy.

GSA has issued a statement from Johnson:

Kathleen Turco has been a responsible, effective Chief Financial Officer for GSA for the past eight years,” said Martha Johnson, Administrator of General Services. “She knows the importance of providing exceptional services to the federal government at best value to the taxpayer and will use this experience well in leading the Office of Governmentwide Policy as we continue to develop and implement management and internal operations policies across government.

Turco will start on May 3, the same day that Michael Robertson will take over as GSA’s chief of staff.

Micah Cheatham, GSA Budget Director, will take over as GSA’s acting CFO, according to Sahar Wali, GSA’s deputy associate administrator for communications and marketing.

Robertson will continue to serve as the chief acquisition officer and White House liason until replacements are found, Wali said.

Insiders tell the DorobekINSIDER that Turco is very excited about the opportunities with GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy. OGP has been widely seen as directionless for awhile, and Turco has told friends that she is excited about working on important policy issues that can help government operate better.

Turco has received kudos for her work as GSA’s chief financial officer, including the recently issued “citizen report,” which explains GSA’s budget. Turco joined Federal News Radio’s Tom Temin from IRMCO earlier this month. Hear that conversation here.

The Office of Governmentwide Policy was created in December 1995 to consolidate its policy functions into a single organization. “OGP’s policymaking authority covers the areas of personal and real property, travel and transportation, information technology, regulatory information and use of federal advisory committees. OGP’s strategic direction is to ensure that governmentwide policies encourage agencies to develop and utilize the best, most cost effective management practices for the conduct of their specific programs,” the OGP web site says.

Meanwhile, here is Turco’s bio:

GSA's Kathleen Turco

Kathleen M. Turco – Chief Financial Officer

Kathleen M. Turco was appointed the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) on August 5, 2002.

In her capacity as the agency’s CFO, she provides enterprise-wide leadership for strategic planning, financial and budgetary analysis, performance budgeting, portfolio management, systems life cycle management, business case methodology and internal control processes and procedures. She provides the executive leadership and direction in administering the GSA’s Performance Management Process including the agencywide strategic planning, performance budgeting, financial management, and the core financial management system. She serves as principal advisor to the GSA Administrator on federal financial management, ensuring compliance with financial policies governing the $17 billion in financial activity for federal buildings, acquisition management, citizen services and governmentwide policy.

The GSA Office of the CFO (OCFO) is an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designated Financial Management Line of Business (FMLoB) Shared Services Provider (SSP). OCFO offers “corporate” shared financial management services to GSA and more than 50 external customers by providing: high quality financial management services including strategic planning; budget and performance management; labor forecasting and distribution; financial analysis; financial operations (accounts payable, accounts receivable, cost allocation, asset management); ePayroll; travel management (E-Gov Travel), charge card (travel and purchase), financial reporting; internal controls and audit follow-up.

Ms. Turco came to GSA from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). At IRS she served as the Director of Financial Policy, Planning and Programs in the Office of the Chief Information Officer from 2001 to 2002 and was the IRS’ Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Strategic Planning and Budgeting where she directed the IRS strategic planning and budgeting from 1998 to 2002.

Prior to IRS, Ms. Turco was an examiner at the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Management and Budget for 10 years. She began her career with the Department of Education.

Ms. Turco was the recipient of a 2006 Presidential Rank Award as a meritorious executive and the 2008 Donald L. Scantlebury Memorial Award for Distinguished Leadership in Financial Management Improvement. She is a member of U.S. Chief Financial Officers Council and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s Cost Accounting Standards Board.

Ms. Turco has an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in business administration from the University of West Florida.

Here is GSA’s description of the Office of Governmentwide Policy:

In December 1995, GSA created the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) to consolidate its policy functions into a single organization. OGP’s policymaking authority covers the areas of personal and real property, travel and transportation, information technology, regulatory information and use of federal advisory committees. OGP’s strategic direction is to ensure that governmentwide policies encourage agencies to develop and utilize the best, most cost effective management practices for the conduct of their specific programs.

To reach the goal of improving governmentwide management of property, technology, and administrative services, OGP builds and maintains a policy framework, by (1) incorporating the requirements of federal laws, Executive Orders, and other regulatory material into policies and guidelines, (2) facilitating governmentwide reform to provide federal managers with business-like incentives and tools and flexibility to prudently manage their assets, and (3) identifying, evaluating, and promoting best practices to improve efficiency of management processes.

Guided by the principles of the President’s Management Agenda and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), some of OGP’s recent efforts have been devoted to providing leadership in the development of a policy environment and key enablers for electronic government, and supporting OMB in the implementation of various E-Gov initiatives to standardize and streamline government processes. The new model calls for involvement of other federal agencies, the private sector, interested parties, and other stakeholders from the very onset of policy review and/or formulation. Such collaborative efforts are seen to offer numerous advantages, not least of which is to ensure “buy-in” from the policy customers.

Written by cdorobek

April 26, 2010 at 1:57 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GSA clarifies the role of regional administrators

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Many GSA watchers believe that one of the longstanding systemic issues within GSA were regional administrators. The issue: Did the regional administrators report to the GSA administrator. Because the regional administrators are political appointees, it was a cloudy issue.

Earlier this year, GSA renamed the regional administrations as ‘regional commissioners’… and named regional senior executives

But last week, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson issued a memo titled “Regional Leadership Structure” — posted below — which seeks to define the role of the regional administrators.

The regional administrator is the GSA official in the region who represents the administrator, and is the face of GSA and the White House in the region. There is new significance to this role because GSA, for the first time, is in a limelight position with an administration. We are being asked to do much more and do it in a much more visible and governmentwide arena.

While previously, the regional administrators were expected to “run” the operational divisions of the region, that ends up being “somewhat foolish” as the expertise, situational knowledge, and functional clustering was in the Federal Acquisition Service and the Public Building Service, she said. “Asking a regional administrator to assume a knowledgeable oversight role did not regularly match their qualifications.”

Read the full memo here:

View this document on Scribd

Previous posts:

DorobekINSIDER: GSA renames regional administrators as ‘regional commissioners’ — the first step to a broader reorg? [March 18, 2009]

DorobekInsider.com: Many changes at GSA – this week, it’s the regional senior executives [April 25, 2009]

Written by cdorobek

April 21, 2010 at 6:19 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Johnson’s memo re: Robertson: His talent and passion is remarkable

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We told you that the White House has appointed Michael Robertson as GSA’s chief of staff.

Here is the memo that went out to GSA staff earlier today about the appointment:

MEMORANDUM FOR ALL GSA EMPLOYEES

FROM: Martha Johnson
Administrator

SUBJECT: Our New GSA Chief of Staff

I am delighted to announce that effective May 3, 2010 the White House has appointed Michael J. Robertson as GSA’s new Chief of Staff.

Michael is no stranger to the agency. Since March 2009 he has served as our White House Liaison and then in August he took on the roles of Associate Administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy and Chief Acquisition Officer. In those roles, Michael ably and successfully merged OCAO with OGP and helped drive important White House initiatives on recovery, sustainability, and open government at GSA.

As Chief of Staff, Michael will serve as one of my closest advisors with particular emphasis on furthering the Obama Administration’s agenda throughout GSA. He will work closely within GSA to connect and partner us with client agencies and with the White House, to assure our strong focus on our customers, align us with the President’s priorities, and ensure that we find creative and collaborative ways to be a leader in sustainability, open government, recovery, and acquisition workforce initiatives.

Since his arrival early last year, Michael’s talent has been evident and his passion for this agency and our work together is remarkable. Please join me in welcoming him to this new position.

Sincerely,

Martha

Written by cdorobek

April 20, 2010 at 1:52 PM