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DorobekINSIDER: Northrop makes it official: Drabkin is the new director of acquisition policy

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The DorobekINSIDER told you first that David Drabkin was retiring from government… and that he was joining Northrop, but it is now official: Drabkin will serve as Northrop Grumman’s director of acquisition policy.

From the press release:

Northrop Grumman Corporation has named David A. Drabkin director of acquisition policy for the company. Drabkin reports directly to Larry Lanzillotta,corporate vice president of customer relations.

In his new role, Drabkin will be responsible for coordinating the company’s efforts related to pending and upcoming acquisition regulations and policy at the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies. He will lead internal coordination of Congressional relations activities related to acquisition policy and reform and representing the company at numerous acquisition and related professional associations.

“The extensive acquisition expertise David Drabkin brings from his work with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), theDefense Department and the Defense Logistics Agency is critical and will greatly benefit Northrop Grumman,” said Lanzillotta.

Before joining Northrop Grumman, Drabkin served as the acting chief acquisition office/deputy chief acquisition officer and senior procurement executive for the GSA. In those two positions, he led several acquisition-based initiatives such as the Federal Acquisition Institute, Federal Procurement Data Center, Catalog of Domestic Federal Assistance and the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council. He also servedas procurement counsel to the Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Drabkin held several executive positions at the Defense Department including the deputy program manager for the $4.2 billion Pentagon Renovation Program. He also worked as the chief counsel for the Defense Logistics Agency. In 2009, Drabkin was presented with the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award for his strong leadership and commitment to public service.

Other awards include the Federal 100 Top Information Technology Executive Award and the Leadership Award in Acquisition & Procurement. Drabkin earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and politicalscience from Washington and Jefferson College, in Washington, Pa., anda law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala.

Written by cdorobek

March 4, 2010 at 2:29 PM

DorobekINSIDER EXCLUSIVE: GSA’s Drabkin to join Northrop

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The DorobekINSIDER told you last week that GSA’s deputy chief acquisition officer David Drabkin will be retiring. In fact, his last day at GSA HQ is today. Well, the DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that Drabkin will join Northrop, where he will start on March 8. We don’t yet now what his job will be.

As we said earlier, Drabkin is one of the most respected people in the government procurement community and has had a distinguished career.

Mr. Drabkin has served GSA for nearly 10 years including a tour on detail to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

He served on the Acquisition Advisory Panel (SARA Panel), Deputy Program Manager, Pentagon Renovation Program, the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition Process and Policies), Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition Reform) (ODUSD(AR)); and the Director, Regulatory Reform and Implementation, ODUSD(AR), where he served as the Project Manager for FASA Implementation.

The question buzzing around the procurement community: Who will replace Drabkin as the acting chief procurement officer. It is an important post given that the Chief Procurement Officer, Michael Robertson, who also serves as the head of GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy and the White House liason. Robertson worked for then-Senator Barack Obama as the legislative coordinator and deputy to the chief counsel. In that post, he managed the appropriations process, handled judicial nominations, and conducted political outreach to promote Obama’s legislative priorities. But he has suggested that he is not a government contracting expert — and it is not his forte. Therefore, the deputy chief procurement officer becomes very important.

In the speculation, there are a few names in the mix. If GSA officials decide to hire from within the agency — and that isn’t certain at this point, but if they decide to hire from within GSA, one of the names that is making the speculation rounds is Joseph Neurauter, who served as the chief procurement officer at HUD before rejoining GSA. The other is Al Matera, director of GSA’s Acquisition Policy Division.

There isn’t any official word yet — about an acting deputy nor how GSA plans to move forward. We’ll keep watching it.

Written by cdorobek

March 2, 2010 at 4:58 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

DorobekINSIDER EXCLUSIVE: GSA cancels one cloud RFQ, plans to launch a new cloud RFQ

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The General Services Administration has canceled its for cloud infrastructure as a service request for quotations and will move to a new RFQ, GSA officials confirmed this afternoon.

In September, GSA extended the deadline for the RFQ saying that the agency wanted to give vendors more time.

This shift comes as the cloud environment has really evolved, GSA officials tell’s DorobekINSIDER.

From GSA:

There was an Infrastructure as a Service RFQ that was canceled today. We are moving to issue a new RFQ. Both the definition of IAAS and the marketplace have evolved and matured since GSA began this procurement process. With this new RFQ, we hope to enable a robust pool of vendors and maximize industry participation providing federal customers with a wide range of IAAS offerings. With the rapid evolution of the Cloud Computing marketplace and the ever-present security needs of federal agencies, the new RFQ that will allow vendors to provide additional offerings with a higher level of security than was required in the original RFQ.

Industry sources say that GSA hopes to have a new RFQ out in the next 30 days.

Industry had been concerned because there were a lot of unanswered questions around the RFQ specifically — and cloud computing in general. And industry has been pushing GSA to address issues such as security and privacy, among others. Industry sources say those issues need to be addressed by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget.

The new RFP will be led by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, led by Dave McClure. GSA’s Office of Citizen Services operates, which operates in the cloud.


From’s FedCloudBlog: GSA’s Casey Coleman at the Gov 2.0 Summit

InformationWeek from Aug. 9, 2009: GSA Outlines U.S. Government’s Cloud Computing Requirements

Written by cdorobek

February 25, 2010 at 6:54 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

The DorobekInsider reader: Howard Schmidt as cybersecurity coordinator

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Somehow it feels that the White House it clearing off its desk before the end of the year. What else would explain Tuesday’s announcement that Howard Schmidt would be the Obama administration’s cybersecurity coordinator — just shy of seven months after the creation of the post was originally announced.

The announcement is curious because Schmidt was one of the first names that was tossed around — and in so many ways, he seems to have the skills necessary for this still-being-defined post.

But this strikes me as an important — and complex — job. So, as we often do around these kinds of big events, I like to pull together resources, analysis and opinions around key topics. (Previous DorobekInsider readers: Obama cyber-security policy review, the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System pay-for-performance reports and Veterans Day.)


President Obama meets with cyber-coordinator Howard Schmidt

Right at the top, I should note that the DorobekInsider reader: Obama cyber-security policy review has links to the administration’s policy review and much more.

From the White House itself:

* WhiteHouse blog: Introducing the New Cybersecurity Coordinator, which includes a short video with Howard Schmidt.

* To see how Schmidt’s thinking has evolved, read the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, which he helped craft before he left the Bush administration. Find the report from DHS here.

Federal News Radio 1500 AM and coverage

Federal News Radio 1500 AM has has team coverage of the announcement.

* On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris… we spoke with Karen Evans, former administrator of e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget, and Randy Sabett, a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, where he is a member of the Internet, Communications & Data Protection Practice. Sabett served on the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, which had recommended the creation of the cyber-coordinator post.


Now, think about it. He was doing cybersecurity in Microsoft when it wasn’t cool. So, for him to be able to do that — that experience there within a company as big as that company is and the focus that they had, which was at that point pretty consumer-oriented, [but] has now switched to a very comprehensive type of cybersecurity strategy going forward with solutions for consumers, as well as other folks — that’s due to Howard’s insight and education. That experience will really help when he’s talking with private industry people and what their part is in this.


The difference between the two relates to the areas where the frustration has been felt in the past. The so-called cyber czars — many of them, including Howard — have expressed the idea that they had all of the responsibility but they didn’t have the authority. I think the difference here is the emphasis on coordination, which is a recognition that that there are many pockets, both within the government and within the private sector, of excellence — of people doing really good things in the cybersecurity area. Those don’t need to be shaken up. At the same time, they do need to be coordinated and . . . having this position be the Executive Office of the President is, I think, a significant difference from where the so-called cyber czar positions have been in the past.

You can hear and read parts of those interviews here.

* Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller culled reaction from industry, while Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas got the reaction from Capitol Hill — Cacas notes that one of the more interesting comments came from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Ranking minority member of the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Susan Collins from Maine, was even more blunt, releasing a statement outlining her “disappointment at the Administration’s decision to add yet another czar at the White House.” Collins wants Schmidt’s new job elevated to one that would be subject to Senate confirmation.

Read and hear Cacas’s full story here.

* Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller is hearing Sameer Bhalotra, a staff member from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is a leading candidate to be the deputy cyber coordinator. Miller also spoke to Melissa Hathaway, the former senior director for cyberspace for the National Security Council under President Obama and now president of Hathaway Global Strategies:

“I would advise him to visit those centers and know what they are doing and have a good operational understanding of what’s out there,” she says. “He should know how the partnership is growing between the different departments and agencies.”

Read and hear Miller’s full report here.

Just as an aside, something worth reading: Hathaway’s Five Myths about Cybersecurity. Number 3: Government has the solutions and will protect me. Not necessarily, Hathaway says. Read more here.

* The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Jane Norris, soon after the announcement, Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, praised Schmidt’s appointment.


Of all the people they were looking at, only two had on the ground experience, and this is a field you can’t do without on the ground experience. This is a job you can’t do without on the ground experience because you get lied to by people, and if you don’t have the experience of having actually managed security, you just can’t do the job.

Read more and hear the full interivew here.

And this morning on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Jane Norris, Jim Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies spoke about the appointment. Hear that interview here.

Other coverage…

Needless to say, there was a whole lot of coverage of Schmidt’s appointment, so if you’re looking for everything, Google News can do that. I’m just pulling some of the more interesting stories that have some above-and-beyond insights to highlight here.

* As attacks increase, U.S. struggles to recruit computer security experts [WP, 12.22.2009]
My favorite quote was right at the end from Bob Gourley, the former CTO at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Cybersecurity lawyers, researchers and policymakers are also in short supply. The Pentagon, for instance, lacks a career path to develop “expert decision-making in the cyber field,” said Robert D. Gourley, a former Defense Intelligence Agency chief technology officer. “The great cyber-generals are few and far between.”

* Workforce Hurdles for New Cyber Czar [NextGov’s WiredWorkplace blog, 12.22.2009]
Along the lines of Gourley’s comments:

Underlying all of these goals is the challenge of improving the recruitment and retention of a top-notch federal cyber workforce. In July, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service released a report that found that the federal government faces major human resource challenges, such as difficulty in recruiting and retaining high-skilled workers, poor management and a lack of coordination that leaves some agencies competing against one another for talent. Such problems are particularly acute within the federal cybersecurity workforce, the Partnership found.

* Obama cyber czar pick looks to secure smartphones, social nets [ComputerWorld, 12.22.2009]
Calls on social media firms to alert users about various security threats

* Finally, A Cyber Czar [, 12.22.2009]
The new U.S. cybersecurity coordinator, Howard Schmidt, is an impressive leader in government and industry. He’s also Obama’s fourth choice at best

At least three other candidates had been privately offered the position and turned it down, as Forbes reported in July (see: “Obama’s Unwilling Cyber Czars“). Cybersecurity industry watchers told Forbes at the time that was because the position had been stripped of much of its power in an effort to ensure that new cyber regulations didn’t hamper economic recovery.

In a campaign speech at Indiana’s Purdue University in July of 2008, Obama promised to “declare our cyber-infrastructure a strategic asset, and appoint a national cyber advisor who will report directly to me.” In the year that followed, cybersecurity has only grown as a public issue following a steady drumbeat of foreign hacking incidents that have allowed cyberspies to steal military information and breach the power grid.

But Schmidt will hardly report directly to Obama. Instead, according to a report that resulted from a 60-day government cybersecurity review ending in May, the cyber coordinator position will be “dual-hatted,” reporting to both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council under Obama’s economic advisor Larry Summers.

How Dangerous is the Cyber Crime Threat? [PBS’s NewsHour, 12.22.2009]
Talking to Jim Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

* National cybersecurity coordinator choice widely applauded [, 12.22.2009]

* Obama’s New Cyber Security Chief, Howard A. Schmidt, Speaks in Gibberish, but Not the Highly Technical Kind [Seattle Weekly, 12.22.2009]

DorobekInsider: The liner notes: Why blog — or Web 2.0 — anyway?

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On Monday, I am part of an event focused on the use of Web 2.0 in the government market hosted by government marketing guru Mark Amtower titled, Social Networking for B2G: Who’s Doing What, Why and How Can It Create a Fuller Pipeline for your Company in 2010. Specifically, I’m on a panel talking about blogging with Debbie Weil and Mark Drapeau. Other topics through the day include Twitter and Amtower favorite LinkedIn.

As I said, they have me scheduled to talk about blogging — and I guess it is because I’ve been doing it for a long time now, at least for this market and in terms of this market. I started blogging at Federal Computer Week more than four years ago… that blog has now morphed into theDorobekInsider. And more than a 17 months ago, I wrote a post headlined, Some tips to bloggers. I’ll amplify on it here… and alter some because, as we know, 17 months is near a lifetime in the Web 2.0 world… even the gov 2.0 world… And in January, even before theDorobekInsider moved to, I wrote: Why blog? And welcome to another government CIO blogger: GSA’s Casey Coleman.

So in preparation for the Amtower event, I’ll just review the ‘why blog’ question… and then update some of my tips… and I’d love to hear your take on them.

First — why blogs?

Blogs have been around for awhile — at least I don’t have to explain what a blog is anymore.

They seem so simple, but from a journalistic standpoint, what an absolute revolution — putting publishing into the hands of… anybody… everybody. Absolutely remarkable.

But blogs also fit into the Dorobek definition of Web 2.0 — these are tools that enable information sharing. We have always understood that information is power, but what we are learning is that the real power of information comes when that information is shared. Blogs are one way to broaden that conversation. And in the government space, we have seen that with Rob Carey, the CIO at the Department of the Navy, the first government CIO to blog… Linda Cureton, now the NASA CIO, who is a regular blogger… and GSA CIO Casey Coleman, who has both a private blog within GSA and a public blog titled, Around the Corner : Innovation in the Business of Government: A GSA Blog. We spoke to Coleman on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about the blog and why she does it.

In fact, Cureton wrote a very thoughtful blog post about blogging… and that spurred me to invite her to chat about it on Federal News Radio 1500 AM. Cureton clearly uses her blog as a way of thinking about issues in a very public — and very transparent — way. Again — my definition of Web 2.0: These are merely tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. They tap into the theory that information is power — and that shared information becomes exponentially more valuable when it is shared. So Cureton thinks about issues and problems — and decisions that might otherwise seem out of the blue are suddenly clear… there can be buy-in… and it makes our decisions very human. Transparency and accountability — and, I would argue, leadership — require courage. It takes intestinal fortitude to step out and make your ideas very public. People can disagree — and there is still the ‘got ya’ culture out there. So I give these leaders a lot of credit. Carey and Cureton and Coleman are demonstrating that this tool can be an important part of leadership.

So I think blogs are an important step towards transparency and tapping into the wisdom of the crowds.

Cureton listed her reasons for blogging:

The truth of the matter … that I am not comfortable and I am afraid.  So, why do I blog?  Here are my reasons:

  • To learn and demonstrate the value of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the spirit of innovation that should be required of a NASA CIO
  • To communicate to stakeholders and customers the activities and issues related to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center IT Transformation
  • To focus my thoughts and learning to the things that matter in my role as the CIO

A very different example is the TSA blog, which has helped TSA improve their processes.

How to actually do it?

As  I mentioned, more than 17 months ago while at Federal Computer Week, I posted tips for bloggers. I have tweaked them below:

* Content is king… Write about something that matters — to you, to the community, to your organization — I mean that in the broadest sense of the word, but…

* Have a notion… Have an idea why you’re doing this and what you want to get across and the audience you’re trying to reach. Who are you writing this for? It makes a big difference.

* Understand that notion will change… My experience is that blogs evolve. And how you use them will evolve.

* Post regularly… If a blog is going to work, you have to post regularly. Find some regular interval and make the time. But realize that this does take time. The corollary to that is… And yes, regularly can mean daily… or monthly, but do it regularly.

* Integrate your blog into your life… This one is important. If it is going to work and be sustainable, you need to work it into your life. So, for example, if you are working on a security policy, blog about it. What better way to show people that you are pondering the issue — and get others insights. The same can be true about whatever you are working on. Ponder how much time you spend on documents and — god help us — e-mail messages responding to one issue or another. Rather then just sending an e-mail message, turn it into a blog post and send others the link to that post. Blogs are an opportunity to be real — and I think people will appreciate the work you do and the challenges you face much more.

* Don’t let perfection get in the way of the good… We hear this so often, but it is particularly true in the blogging world. Blogs are iterative. I often kick myself because I’ll think about some post several times. Well, just break it up into pieces. Don’t write the great American novel. Write the OK chapter or the not-bad paragraph. It is about sharing thoughts — and the people who are expecting perfection in a blog have come to the wrong place and, frankly, should go somewhere else.

* Appreciate comments… Even critical ones. Yes, bosses. It isn’t always easy, but… relish in the discussion. It is going on. It’s it better to be a part of that discussion rather then having it go on without yo ? (And in the government world, comments can be hard to come by. Know your audience and realize that feds have been burned before for speaking. It takes time.)

* Time management… The one thing you will hear from any blogger is frustration about time. And you need to realize and understand that this does take time. I have found that it works best if I have a time that I blog — each and every day. Some people have done multiple-user blogs to defray the time cost.

* Don’t discount what you do… This one frustrates me the most — and I’ve heard it from CIOs. They say, ‘Who would want to read what I work on?’ And most government folks will probably have this notion. Have you looked at some of the blogs out there? If you build a community of even a few hundred people and get a few new notions of a better way of doing your job or creating a policy, it could be worth it. This community works on important issues and important programs. Please don’t discount that.

* Just do it… Really — just do it. By doing it, you will learn… and this stuff isn’t as difficult as you make it out to be.

* Share… Share your lessons learned, share your ideas, share your thoughts. Be open to what might happen.

Written by cdorobek

December 7, 2009 at 10:44 AM

DorobekInsider: Stories of the Decade: Looking at the changing government marketplace

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All month on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we are looking at the Stories of the Decade — taking a look at the stories/developments/ideas/events that defined government in the past 10 years as we end the first decade of the 21st century. (Read how the idea for the series came about — and suggest ideas for guest or topics from my initial DorobekInsider post talking about how this series came about. Read that here.)

We are pulling all of our Stories of the Decade conversations together in one place — and we have had a number of great conversations

* Former Rep. Tom Davis talking about 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and procurement
* Federal News Radio’s senior correspondent Mike Causey on how the Thrift Savings Plan really came into its own in the past 10 years
* NextGov’s Bob Brewin on how health information technology has saved lives — and money
* Steve Radick of Booz Allen Hamilton about Gov 2.0
* Government marketing guru Mark Amtower, the host of Federal News Radio’s Amtower Off Center, talking about the changes to government marketing in the past 10 years

Today, we spoke to Ray Bjorklund of market research firm FedSources talking about the evolution of the government marketplace — and the decade of the frenzies — a fascinating take.

He actually sent us a great explainer — essentially, his thought, but it was so good, I thought it was worth sharing:

Not sure there’s a single “issue,” but I suggest address the decade behind us as the “decade of the feeding frenzies.” The decade has brought us wondrous new technologies for convergence, mobility, and social networking and aggravating, enhanced threats against those technologies.

But sandwiched between two recessions that have contributed to increased competition for federal contracting dollars, we have witnessed wishful pursuits of business that have many times been less than rational. In the months following 9/11, we saw small companies betting their whole business and large companies betting entire business units on “homeland security.” After “boots and suits,” what was left did not meet expectations. The ensuing wars have yielded new opportunities for technology contractors, but “beans and bullets” have been more important. The rise of the Intelligence Community also brought new opportunities, but evolved into more of a tightened re-alignment of existing resources. The feeding frenzies often targeted left the participants less than satisfied.

Healthcare reform has been a big topic, and healthcare IT was to be a big thing. After establishing an Office of the National Coordinator, the wheels fell off that wagon when the participants and collaborators found information exchange was a hard thing to do. Health information technologies incentives were tacked on to the ARRA and so we’re starting over again, but most of the appropriations for those provisions are going to commercial healthcare providers and practitioners who haven’t shown a lot of excitement about them.

And then there’s the icing on the cake: the stimulus bill. When industry got excited about the $787B price tag and decided to chase those dollars, many of the companies in pursuit were slow to realize that less than 8% of the economic stimulus would be destined for federal contractors. And, typically, directed toward existing contractors working existing programs. There are many (appropriate) instances of less-than-fully-competitive acquisition procedures.

We’ve certainly seen ups and downs during the past decade, but the net-net of it is that growth in contract spending has only risen 2% in that time (CAGR GFY2001-2009). The federal market is still a great place to be—where you can make meaningful contributions to our national security and well-being, and be reasonably compensated for your contributions. But you have to be rational about approaching the market so you don’t end up committing to a feeding frenzy when there’s not enough in the trough for everyone.

Great information!

Written by cdorobek

December 4, 2009 at 5:37 PM

DorobekInsider: The books of IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference — books worth reading

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This is a much belated post — you can thank the flu.

A few weeks ago, I got to moderate a panel at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference 2009 on innovation. And we had a great group:

Turning Ideas into Value: The panel will discuss the process for generating ideas and how to select the best ones to maximize the benefits of innovation. Who do you look to for innovation? What are examples of creating the environment for innovative thinking? How to share ideas in nurturing an ecosystem that encourages innovation and creativity?


  • Moderator: Chris Dorobek, Co-Anchor, Federal News Radio
  • Sanjeev Bhagowalia, Chief Information Officer, Department of Interior
  • Tom Freebairn, Acting Director, Technologies, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration
  • Mike Nelson, Visiting Professor, Internet Studies, Georgetown University
  • Mike Seablom, Head, Software Integration and Visualization Office, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

And one of the great things about conferences is people share good books — and there were a ton o’ books mentioned in this session. I promised that I would share the list. (I planned to do it earlier, but… the flu got in the way.)

If you heard books mentioned that I haven’t listed here, either send it along or post it here as a comment.

Of course, I mentioned a few books.

* Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, which is slated to be released on Dec. 1 but seems like it is available now. Transparency notes: McAfee asked me to write a “blurb” for the book, so I got an early read. My blurb didn’t make the actual jacket of the book, but… he posted it. Regardless, it is a fascinating read — and it highlights the remarkable work done by the intelligence community’s Intellipedia suite of collaboration tools. Second transparency note: McAfee will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Dec. 1 — the official book launch day.

* If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government by William Eggers and John O’Leary — Again, I got a pre-read of this book and it is just delightful. And one of the issues Eggers and O’Leary deal with is innovation. And a programming note: Eggers and O’Leary will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Thursday, Nov. 19… LIVE

* The Pixar Touch by David A. Price — I hear what you are saying — what does a movie studio have to do with government? Well, there is a real connection. First off, the technology that creates those amazing movies is made possible by a grant from ARPA — now DARPA. And the Defense Department is still one of the largest users in the world of this technology. (Pixar, remember, started as a software company, not as a movie studio.) I used Pixar as an example of an organization that was literally built on innovation — innovation is built in. And Price does a wonderful job detailing that. Pixar has also been remarkably successful — all of their movies have more than exceeded the magic $100 million gross that marks a hit movie in Hollywood. That is pretty remarkable in and of itself.

* Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation by James P. Andrew… This book was actually highlighted by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra — and we featured it on the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear our book club conversation with Chopra, Andrew, Federal News Radio’s Francis Rose and myself here.

* What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis… This book was also part of the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear the meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club here. The book, in the end, isn’t about Google. Rather, it is about innovation and being innovative. A lot of the book focuses on journalism, but…

Books mentioned by others:

* Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy by Judy Estrin mentioned by Nelson. We spoke to Estrin on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris soon after her book was released. Read more and hear our conversation here.

* Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology by Paul Glen, David H. Maister, and the legendary Warren G. Bennis, mentioned by Nelson

Did you hear any good book titles? I’d love to hear them.

Meanwhile, there is a great social networking site for bookies — people who love to read, not people who make bets. It’s called You can book friend me here.

Written by cdorobek

November 17, 2009 at 2:31 PM

DorobekInsider: Watching the Networx transition — or lack there of — at AFFIRM on Wednesday

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One of the more interesting stories of the year in government IT is the transition to the new Networx telecommunications contract — or lack of transition, to be honest. During the confirmation hearing of Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Services Administration, she said that Networx transition was going to be one of her top priorities — and she said that the process has been too slow and is costing the government big bucks.

On Wednesday, I will be moderating a panel at the AFFIRM luncheon billed as Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition, & Beyond.

We have a great line-up:

  • Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Interior Department (bio);
  • Karl Krumbholz, Director, Network Services Programs, GSA Integrated Technology Solutions (bio)
  • Michael Brown, Executive Director, IT Services Office, Homeland Security Department (bio);
  • Mike Ponti, Director, Strategic Resources Planning, ASD/NII, Defense Department (bio)

We’re waiting on one other confirmation, we hope.

Regardless, there should be some great lessons learned — and some really good insights about how the CIOs are really very focused on this transition — you’ll get to hear how the CIO Council specifically is focused on the Networx migration… and why.

Earlier on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Bob Woods, president of TopSide Consulting, about the lagging transition. Read more and hear that conversation here.

Meanwhile, Federal Computer Week recently ran an interesting three-part series on the status of Networx transition.

I hope you’ll join us Wednesday. You can register from the link here.


Written by cdorobek

November 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM