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03.27.2012 DorobekINSIDER: A Yelp for government healthcare; Budget transparency; using virtual worlds at work

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Happy Tuesday…

And we have to start out with the historic debate at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday over the health care bill — the first of three days of talks. The Washington Post notes that Monday was just the warm-up — arguments about whether the Supreme Court should take up the health-care case at all. Today, the focus is on mandates: Essentially, can the federal government require that all people buy health care. And Slate says that the arguments Monday showed the Supreme Court at its best. Slate says that arguments Monday showed that court doing what it does best: Taking complex old statutes and asking practical qauestions. Dahlia Lithwick says that while protesters outside were hollering about religion and freedom, the justices were boring those inside almost senseless with statutory construction. And, she says, “sometimes, check that, most of the time, boring is what the justices do best.”


And we go from talking about how benefits of being boring… Well, here is a reason to go online… You’ve probably heard of the Twitter feed… well, it is S my Dad Says… Yes, use your imagination. It is the Twitter feed that was a short-lived TV show. Well, now there is S that bureaucrats say… hat tip to GovLoop member Mike KujawskiWe have the link online… and my guess is this will go viral and be much discussed around government water coolers… and yes, it is safe for work.

On today’s program…

  • They’re debating health care at the Supreme Court. What if there was something like a Yelp of Government Healthcare… something that could help veterans navigate the confusing world of healthcare with dashboards.. and sharing information. We’ll talk about that…
  • Making budgets transparent. It has been the goal of the federal Web site, But state and local governments have been doing this for some time… and there are some new rankings out… grades, really… for how they are doing. We’ll talk to the people behind the budget transparency grades…
  • And yesterday we told you about the virtual worlds conference. And I heard some of you roll your eyes and say that this is just game playing. Today, we’ll talk about how these tools can actually be used — and, yes, how they can save you money.
  • And later in the program…  What do Conan O’Brien, Cory Booker, Sesame Street’s Grover, Suze Orman, Ted Leo, Neil Patrick Harris and NASA have in common? We will tell you about an award that NASA has won…

All that ahead…

But as we do each day, after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 27 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…

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Written by cdorobek

March 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM

DorobekINSIDER poll: The Federal News Countdown for Feb. 22 – what’s the big story of the week?

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Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose each Friday at 2p ET features the Federal News Countdown, where Francis has a panel of three people who select their top three big stories that impacted the federal government.

This week on the Federal News Countdown:
* Robert Burton, the former deputy administration of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, now a partner with the Venable law firm.
* Melissa Chapman, the former CIO for the Department of Health & Human Services now with Agilex.
* Alan Chvotkin, Executive Vice President & Counsel of the Professional Services Council

What do you think is the big story of the week? Select one of theirs — or offer up one of your own…

Written by cdorobek

February 26, 2010 at 9:12 AM

FCW’s Mosquera leaving for Government Health IT

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Earlier this year , we told you that 1105 Media was selling its Government Health IT publication to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). HIMSS puts on the biggest health IT conference out there — just held this past week — and HIMSS has been trying to increase its presence in the government world. That is probably wise given the Obama administration’s focus on health IT. In fact, just yesterday, the White House announced the creation of a “Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record” between DOD and VA. Federal News Radio 1500 AM has the audio of President Obama’s comments. Hear his comments and read the story here . And on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris — although without me — they spoke to Tommy Morris, the acting Director of the Defense Department’s Office of Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs, which has been leading the effort to improve the medical record access. Hear that conversation here.

And also this week, there is word that FCW’s Mary Mosquera is leaving the 1105 Government Information Group to join Government Health IT magazine. Mosquera had been with Government Computer News before the FCW-GCN merger. She came over to FCW soon after that merger. She is an experience reporter with good background covering health IT issues and will be a real asset to GHIT editor-in-chief Paul McCloskey, who is one of the best editors I know. Congratulations to both of them.

Finally, I should note that on Tuesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solution Spotlight, we will be talking to McCloskey about health IT — why it matters and why the Obama administration seems so focused on it… that airs at 10a Tuesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM.

Written by cdorobek

April 10, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Lessons learned from the National Academy’s National Dialogue — a way to tap into the power of us?

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UPDATE: We spoke to Lena Trudeau of the National Academy on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about the report. You can hear that here.

Back in October, we looked at a interesting attempt to use a power-of-us initiative around a specific topic — in this case, they called it the National Dialogue on Health Information Technology and Privacy. It was was conducted by the Office of Management and Budget partnered with the National Academy of Public Administration, which has been way in front helping provide government with ways to implement collaboration with their Collaboration Project. In fact, I was fascinated enough by it that I nominated NAPA’s Lena Trudeau for Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100 award . She didn’t win, but…

Back then, I said that my hope was that there would be lessons learned. After all, not many organizations have tried this — particularly federal agencies. The EPA conducted it’s own national dialogue … so this is really only the second real case.

On Tuesday, NAPA released its report on the dialogue. You can read the full report for yourself after the break — and it is definitely worth reading.

There are recommendations specifically in health IT and privacy — one of the big issues for the Obama administration and which gets a big boost in the stimulus package signed into law on Tuesday.

But I was particularly fascinated if NAPA would provide lessons learned from the tool itself — and, thankfully, they did.

Here are their lessons:

People Are Willing (Even Eager) To Engage — perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the National Dialogue pilot is that, when asked and presented with a clear value exchange, citizens and stakeholders are eager to engage in the process of governance. The Dialogue had a very meager advertising budget (<$10,000) and took place the week before a major national election. Despite this, the Dialogue garnered 4,413 visits from 2,835 unique visitors, with 420 of those—nearly 15%—going on to create an account on the Dialogue site. The Dialogue produced not only a substantial number of ideas, but also fostered discussions of those ideas in which participants responded directly to each others’ arguments. This demonstrates persuasively the potential value of bringing together a wide range of participants and allowing them not only to respond to a single point of contact, i.e. directly to leaders in government, but to interact with and respond to each other.

Civic Engagement Is a Starting Point — using this type of citizen feedback to effectively guide policy requires a clear-eyed view of what purposes such public engagements do and do not serve. While tools like the National Dialogue are useful for generating innovative ideas and uncovering insights into the concerns and priorities of participants, they are not representative of “the people” as a whole. The Panel believes strongly that this National Dialogue did uncover important insight into the shape of debate on health IT and privacy. The Panel also believes that building on this initiative would continue to provide policymakers with valuable insights and interested citizens with a needed forum to express and debate their views. However, no civic engagement used in isolation, online or otherwise, can deduce consensus where none existed previously. Ultimately, initiatives like the National Dialogue must mark the beginning, rather than the end, of public debate on any given issue.

Timing Is Important — the timing of the National Dialogue presented a unique challenge that, in the view of the Panel, kept this effort from reaching its full potential. In order to better demonstrate the ability of leaders to quickly solicit and analyze large amounts of feedback, and to prove the viability of such methods in advance of a presidential transition, the National Academy and its partners built and ran the National Dialogue pilot, from start to finish, in a time span of about six weeks, and conducted the Dialogue itself over the course of one week. While this quick turnaround limited the extent of the participation, it also demonstrated that even efforts as brief as the pilot can create real value that could not be achieved without the use of the online dialogue method.

The use of this type of method should, although valuable, be distinguished from more scientific surveys of public opinion. It is too soon, in the judgment of the Panel, to claim that the views of the public or any significant subset of it can be ascertained reliably using this method. That possibility would need to be tested in subsequent projects that would include breadth of participation as a primary objective.

It’s this last graph — emphasis added by me — that I’m particularly pondering. I’m not sure these tools are comparable to surveys, but…

I’m reading the rest of the report now… and we’re going to talk to Trudeau Wednesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about some of the lessons learned… and the recommendations.

Again, more on this after I’ve read the full report.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the NAPA report. You can read it after the break.
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Written by cdorobek

February 18, 2009 at 6:17 AM

Speaking to HHS about government 2.0: The liner notes

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I’ve been asked to speak this morning to the folks over at the Department of Health and Human Services about government 2.0.

I’m always thrilled to get out there and speak to people for several reasons. One, I get to find out what people really think. Two, particularly on government 2.0 topics, people are collaborative. And there is plenty to talk about.

In this case, HHS is doing exactly what I think they should be doing — they are following the Nike rule and doing it. And the latest example came just yesterday when we had Richard Stapelton, HHS’s national content management for HHS departmental Web sites, on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris talking about how HHS is using social media to get information out about the recent salmonella concerns. In fact, HHS has created a social media lab to look at how to use these tools to reach out to the public. They created a blog specifically about the peanut recall , for example. And the FDA has a feed on Twitter about food recalls. And HHS’s Centers for Disease Control has created widgets for people to put on their own Web sites that have information about health.

Hear Stapelton talk about these issues here — he offers some insights about what agencies can do and lessons they have learned.

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to say to them that they don’t already know.

And, frankly, I didn’t get much guidance.

We’re open on content, really looking for your take on what you see happening, what you expect to happen, pitfalls, possibilities, how this might change government and governance. Spectrum ranges from big to very small – cover what you will.

And it’s interesting because how I speak about this stuff really has evolved over time. And it depends on the audience. I used to always recommend people watch this video.

I think it does a good job of really demonstrating the power of information — but more importantly, the power of shared information. This group, I’m guessing, gets that. They have different challenges.

3125936268_d71b8a90a1_oSo… we’ll talk about opening up data as they are talking about doing in the UK government 2.0 report , which I would recommend… and as they are doing at DC with its Apps for Democracy. We’ll talk about the National Academy of Public Administration’s Collaboration Project, and specifically its guidance on legal and policy issues… and the Federal Web Managers Forum’s guidance as well… and I will undoubtedly talk about the CJDfav Virtual Alabama, which still is one of the most powerful examples out there because, in the end, the Alabama Department of Homeland Security created a platform that others are now using… I will also mention EPA’s wonderful radon video example… I mentioned Steve Ressler’s remarkable GovLoop social networking group… and Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Meet the Innovators series… and I spoke about Twitter, where you can follow me at

I will also talk about the new book that I’m just loving: What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. I’ll finish it tonight and write more about it, but it really is a management book in the end — a management book for creating an innovative, collaborative and agile culture. Jarvis talks about looking at information in a very different way… he talks about being tolerant of mistakes… he talks about managing abundance, not scarcity and about giving up control (freeing up data) and getting out of the way. (We are going to have Jarvis on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris next week.)

So I’m looking forward to it. I’ll report back.

Written by cdorobek

February 5, 2009 at 8:15 AM

Story mentioned on air… Vets using tech to recover from stress disorders

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On Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris today, we were chatting about DOD pondering a requirement to have everybody returning from war zones undergo an assessment about whether they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there’s a reluctance to acknowledge psychological problems for fear of showing weakness. Troops now fill out questionnaires after combat tours that help determine if they have suffered psychological damage. They’re examined by medical professionals for physical injuries, but not by mental health experts.

It’s a great idea.

Combat trauma theater [Government Health IT, February 19, 2007]
Virtual reality technologies are helping combat veterans overcome the mental wounds of war

The scene from the front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) offers a postcard view of palm trees swaying in the breeze, rain-greened hills and, in the distance, the Pacific Ocean, marked by the wake of a Navy cruiser leaving Pearl Harbor.

In a nondescript VAMC conference room on the fifth floor at the Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui, the visions of paradise fade to the reality of combat. After donning a head-mounted virtual reality display, you’re bouncing behind the steering wheel of a Humvee making its way down what looks like a street in Iraq.

At first, the drive seems routine. A woman clad in black crosses the road while a civilian SUV turns in front of the Humvee. The only sounds are engine noises. Dr. Sarah Miyahira, co-director of the Virtual Reality Behavioral Health Program and Laboratory at the center, then asks a technician to turn up the intensity.

The SUV suddenly swerves in front of the Humvee, and the vehicle’s occupants start firing machine guns. A rocket-propelled grenade comes within inches of the Humvee’s windshield. The rat-a-tat-tat of combat fills the room. Then the technician turns off the action, and the room returns to silence.

Miyahira, a VA psychologist, wants to use this immersive experience to help treat Iraq war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Using virtual reality to treat PTSD has its roots in the traditional treatment for the disorder, imaginal exposure therapy. In that therapy, a patient repeatedly describes traumatic events to a therapist and, in the process, tries to overcome memories, similar to those that have afflicted more than 800,000 Vietnam War veterans.

The virtual reality experience benefits those who cannot or will not conjure the images that cause them stress, Miyahira said. Virtual reality therapy helps break down those barriers by gradually reintroducing patients to the scenes of their trauma. Patients usually attend 10 therapist sessions during a five-week period, Miyahira said.

Continuing reading this fascinating story here.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 5:34 PM