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02.08.2009 DorobekInsider newsbytes

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Dr. Mark Drapeau has a wonderful column in ReadWriteWeb headlined Government 2.0: The Rise of the Goverati

What is the goverati? It is made up of people with first-hand knowledge of how the government operates, who understand how to use social software to accomplish a variety of government missions, and who want to use that knowledge for the benefit of all.

The goverati includes not only government employees, but also people from think tanks, trade publications, and non-profits. And it includes high-profile thinkers outside of the government who have an interest in a more open, transparent, and efficient government; people such as Joe Trippi, Craig Newmark, and Tim O’Reilly. Using formal and informal social networks, the goverati is networking, sharing information, and changing how parts of the government interact with each other and with citizens.

Read the full post here.

DorobekInsider in Signal… The February issue of Signal magazine is out and it includes my column, Government Needs to Find Balance in Oversight

A simple solution is the acknowledgment that these are difficult issues and that mistakes are not necessarily waste, fraud or abuse. People have to make decisions at certain times based on certain data. Most people simply are trying to do the best job they can. The public must recognize that mistakes can and will happen. Yet another truism is that we tend to learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.

Greater transparency also is needed throughout the process. Currently, not enough data or decisions are fully shared. Better decision making is a direct result of better data sharing, so technologies and capabilities enabling this sharing should be made more widely available. Greater transparency is unlikely to happen without across-the-board acknowledgement that mistakes can, will—and even should—be made. People are unlikely to share their mistakes in the current framework, where those revelations can result in public recriminations.

The Personal Democracy Forum’s TechPresident blog has a piece on Britian’s Open Government report , including a link to the DorobekInsider’s post on the report. (TechPresident says that Dorobek — me — “writes a top blog for the Federal IT community.” Wow! Thanks!) A reminder that the author of the UK report will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Monday as part of our regular “Meet the Innovator” series .

The DorobekInsider — yes, me — was also on WCBS in New York — a program called Dishin’ Digital — talking about government IT and the Obama PDA. [The MP3 can be heard here.] And yes, I’m getting over my bitterness about them misspelling my name — and not mentioning either Federal News Radio 1500 AM nor the DorobekInsider.com blog. Instead, it’s this: “Tech expert Chris Dorobeck — there is no “C” — talks about the phone that could replace President Obama’s Blackberry and the technological state of the White House.

Some other reads — and none of the rest involve me, thank goodness…

ExecutiveBusiness has a interesting round-up of what government contractor CTOs say about the year ahead. And they spoke to the rock stars. But one of the more interesting write-ups comes from IBM’s hyper-smart Dave McQueeney…

“2009 is going to be about the responsible use of existing technology to provide accountability and traceability. As the government starts making investments — whether for stimulus investments or the TARP program, for example — we in industry are going to be responsible for implementing the mechanics of those systems, which will be focused on achieving mission outcomes, while also providing the public with a view of both accountability and traceability.  There’s some exciting new technology that’s been developed and deployed recently that can instrument IT systems to track business outcomes.  The bottom line is that through a better understanding of an agencies data, delivering mission critical information, or improving citizen services through the use of technology all leads to an important outcome — smarter government.”

Read insights from CTOs here.

NextGov’s TechInsider reports that Roger Baker is being vetted for the VA CIO job. (I’ve been hearing a similar buzz.)

President Lincoln (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress via Flickr.com)

President Lincoln (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress via Flickr.com)

The Flickr blog posts about the Library of Congress posting portraits of President Lincoln. The Library of Congress blog has more… and there is a Lincoln exhibit celebrating Lincoln’s bicentennial opening at the Library of Congress. It is called “With Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition.” Read more about the exhibit here… and the “online exhibit” here.

And Craig Newmark — that’s the “Craig” of Craig’s List — is now a member of the government social networking site GovLoop.

And, just for fun…


Written by cdorobek

February 8, 2009 at 12:36 PM

11.30.2008 NewsBytes: Obama jobs… fiscal discipline… and an OMB director blog?

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Two stories that I read on my way back to DC (on Saturday to avoid the Sunday rush — whew!)

LAT: Obama administration jobs

Apparently there are a whole lot of people who are interested in working for the Obama administration. The transition team has received 290,000 applications, and that’s not including all the calls, e-mails andFacebook exchanges that have been flooding in to the Obama staff.

Go-getters seek jobs in Obama administration [LAT, 11.28.2008]

One member of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team measures meetings by the number of resumes arriving on his BlackBerry.

Another says job-seekers have offered him tickets to Redskins football games, which he has turned down. And yet another has given his mother in Chicago “talking points” to deal with people trying to get to him by going through her.

“People are anxious to figure out every possible avenue in and want to get advice on how to do this,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who has gotten calls asking how to break into the new administration — even though he backed Hillary Rodham Clinton during the presidential primaries.

For people on the receiving end, it’s an unrelenting daily bombardment of resumes and requests to meet for coffee.

“I think it’s wonderful that people want to serve. But for those of us who have to deal with the onslaught, it’s a little overwhelming,” said a senior official with the transition who asked not to be identified for fear it would prompt a further deluge of applicants to his in-box.

So far, the transition team has received 290,000 applications for jobs in the Obama administration through its website — www.change.gov — and officials believe they could wind up with 1 million job-seekers by the time Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20.

By comparison, before President Bush took office in 2001, he received just 44,000 requests for political jobs. As former President Clinton assumed the White House in 1993, he had received 125,000 applications for jobs.

The problem is that only about 8,000 non-career service positions are available, according to the Plum Book, which lists those jobs.

Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, has been hearing from people he knows and from people Biden knows.

Klain is also making new friends at a rapid pace on Facebook, the social networking website. He’s up to 1,000 friends, and his Facebook page is filled with good wishes on his new assignment.

Read the rest of the story here.

WSJ: Fiscal discipline

Meanwhile, the WSJ reported last week that Team Obama is going to be looking at fiscal discipline… despite the economic stimulus plackage that is now being discussed as high as $700 billion.

Obama Pledges Discipline Even With Stimulus Outlays [WSJ, 11.26.2008, WSJ.com is a paid site]
President-Elect Targets Wasteful Spending As Stimulus Funds Are Set to Strain Budget

President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday emphasized his commitment to fiscal responsibility, promising that his team would strip the federal budget of all unnecessary spending to help offset large outlays expected for his planned stimulus package.

But Mr. Obama didn’t provide many specifics, and he gave little sense of how he would tackle entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Few experts believe the budget deficit can be brought under control without trimming spending on these programs.

President-elect Barack Obama, flanked, by Budget Director-designate Peter Orszag, left, and Deputy Budget Director-designate Rob Nabors, speaks during a news conference in Chicago.

The deficit totaled an estimated $438 billion for fiscal 2008 ended in October, and is expected to surge in 2009 due to a $700 billion government rescue package for the financial sector, among other expenditures. Mr. Obama has pledged to push for a stimulus package to create or save 2.5 million jobs soon after he takes office in January, but he hasn’t provided a cost.

“If we are going to make the investments we need, we also have to be willing to shed the spending that we don’t need,” Mr. Obama said in his second news conference in two days on the economy. “We can’t sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups.”

It should be noted that Orszag is part of the bloggosphere. As the director of the Congressional Budget Office, he has posted to the CBO director blog.

You can read his farewell message… and more… after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

November 30, 2008 at 1:46 PM

NewsBytes — the November 28 edition… Bush gets a cyber-attack briefing… and TARP job search

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On this Black Friday, there are two stories that caught my eye — in addition to the continuing story out of India, of course…

* Cyber-attack on Defense Department computers raises concerns [LAT, 11.28.2008]

Just days ago, I pointed to the BusinessWeek story about attacks on NASA networks… Today, the LAT has a story about cyber-attacks on DOD systems — attacks so severe that military leaders briefed President Bush. This synopsis from the WSJ.com:

Senior military leaders took the exceptional step of briefing President Bush this week on a severe and widespread electronic attack on Defense Department computers that may have originated in Russia — an incursion that posed unusual concern among commanders and raised potential implications for national security. Defense officials would not describe the extent of damage inflicted on military networks. But they said that the attack struck hard at networks within U.S. Central Command, the headquarters that oversees U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and affected computers in combat zones. The attack also penetrated at least one highly protected classified network.

Read the full story here.

* Rescue Plan Strained by Lack of Staff [WSJ, 11.28.2008]

The WSJ reports that the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program is having trouble getting qualified staff. Again, synopsis from the WSJ :

The U.S. Treasury has so far struggled to keep up with the task of hiring enough people to handle the $700 billion financial rescue package passed by Congress in October. The man now in charge of running the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Assistant Secretary NeelKashkari, said the department’s Office of Financial Stability, with about 40 full-time employees, is operating at half-staff.

Read the full story here [registration required] or temporarily for free here.

Written by cdorobek

November 28, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Posted in NewsBytes, security

NewsBytes: Items worth reading (or hearing)… NASA undergoing hacks… Vivek Kundra… government 2.0… and Safavian pardon watch

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A number of items worth keeping an eye on — between bites of turkey, of course…

NASA under cyber-attack, BusinessWeek reports

BusinessWeek has a story — the first of what I’m sure will be scores of similar type stories — about agencies under cyber-attack. In this instance, it is NASA. We spoke to Keith Epstein, an investigative reporter in BusinessWeek’s Washington bureau, on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday about the story. You can hear that conversation here.

You can read BusinessWeek’s story here.

America’s military and scientific institutions—along with the defense industry that serves them—are being robbed of secret information on satellites, rocket engines, launch systems, and even the Space Shuttle. The thieves operate via the Internet from Asia and Europe, penetrating U.S. computer networks. Some of the intruders are suspected of having ties to the governments of China and Russia, interviews and documents show. Of all the arms of the U.S. government, few are more vulnerable than NASA, the civilian space agency, which also works closely with the Pentagon and American intelligence services.

In April 2005, cyber-burglars slipped into the digital network of NASA’s supposedly super-secure Kennedy Space Center east of Orlando, according to internal NASA documents reviewed by BusinessWeek and never before disclosed. While hundreds of government workers were preparing for a launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery that July, a malignant software program surreptitiously gathered data from computers in the vast Vehicle Assembly Building, where the Shuttle is maintained. The violated network is managed by a joint venture owned by NASA contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Undetected by the space agency or the companies, the program, called stame.exe, sent a still-undetermined amount of information about the Shuttle to a computer system in Taiwan. That nation is often used by the Chinese government as a digital way station, according to U.S. security specialists.

By December 2005, the rupture had spread to a NASA satellite control complex in suburban Maryland and to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, home of Mission Control. At least 20 gigabytes of compressed data—the equivalent of 30 million pages—were routed from the Johnson center to the system in Taiwan, NASA documents show. Much of the data came from a computer server connected to a network that tracks malfunctions that could threaten the International Space Station.

As I say, I’m sure this is just the first of many of these kinds of stories… and it gives you an indication as to why the Bush administration has stepped up its cyber-security initiatives.

Years ago — back in 2005, in fact — FCW had a story headlined, The new Trojan war, that looked at these cyber-security issues.

In mythology, the Greeks found an innovative way to avoid Troy’s defenses. By offering the gift of a huge horse — hollowed out and filled with soldiers — the Greeks were able to bypass Troy’s defenses and attack from the inside.

Today the Pentagon faces a similar situation. Adversaries have been attacking Defense Department computer networks in attempts to bypass the United States’ formidable defenses and attack from the inside out.

Defense and industry officials describe DOD networks as the Achilles’ heel of the powerful U.S. military. Securing military networks is even more critical in an increasingly transformed military in which information is as much a weapon as tanks and assault rifles.

DOD networks have been breached. Department officials acknowledged hackers attacked military networks almost 300 times in 2003 — sometimes by cyber Trojan horses, which can operate within an organization’s network. DOD officials say intrusions reduced the military’s operational capabilities in 2004.

Along those lines, 1105 Media and Juniper are hosting a seminar on the trusted Internet connection initiative — the program designed to trim down the government’s connections to the Internet in order to make them more secure. They have a good agenda lined up. In the morning, there will be presentations by RDML Michael (“Mike”) Brown , the Homeland Security Department’s National Protection and Programs deputy assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications, and OMB’s Karen Evans. I will also be moderating a panel about what TIC means to people on the front lines.

EDITOR’S NOTE AND DISCLOSURE: I am being paid for moderating this panel.

DC’s Vivek Kundra advising Team Obama

We told you about this earlier, but WTOP star reporter Mark Seagraves scored an interview with DC CTO Vivek Kundra and confirmed that he has, indeed, been advising Team Obama on technology issues. Federal News Radio spoke to Seagraves about his interview with Kundra on the Daily Debrief with(out) Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.

The Fenty Administration’s top techie is helping President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team develop new ways to use technology.

Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District, tells WTOP the same applications and innovations he’s brought to the District government can be applied at the federal level.

“I’m advising on what we’ve done in the District of Columbia,” Kundra says. “I think it’s scaleable nationally, and globally, too.”

Kundra isn’t eager to talk about his work with the Obama transition team, preferring to direct the conversation back to his work for the District. But when pressed, Kundra acknowledges the scope of his consultations go beyond the transition.

“I’m advising in terms of some of the ideas that are in the District government that can be leveraged not just in the transition team, but across the country,” says Kundras from his ninth floor office, which overlooks the federal enclave below Capitol Hill.

Read the full story here.

More on government 2.0… and Safavian… after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

November 26, 2008 at 5:53 PM

DorobekInsider.com: Monday’s must-reads

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So there are 56 days until election day… 133 days until Inauguration Day… one week until Federal News Radio shifts to DC’s 1500 AM and we officially launch The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris…

Some of today’s must reads…

* The Pentagon is trying to refocus its ability to cyber-attack as much as it cyber-defends, the LAT’s Julian E. Barnes reports this morning:

Pentagon debates development of offensive cyberspace capabilities [LAT, 09.08.2008]
The current emphasis is on intelligence gathering and defending U.S. electronic security, but some officials think the military should know how to attack other nations’ computer systems.

WASHINGTON — Igniting a provocative new debate, senior military officials are pushing the Pentagon to go on the offensive in cyberspace by developing the ability to attack other nations’ computer systems, rather than concentrating on defending America’s electronic security.

Under the most sweeping proposals, military experts would acquire the know-how to commandeer the unmanned aerial drones of adversaries, disable enemy warplanes in mid-flight and cut off electricity at precise moments to strategic locations, such as military installations, while sparing humanitarian facilities, such as hospitals.

An expansion of offensive capabilities in cyberspace would represent an important change for the military. For years, U.S. officials have been reluctant to militarize what is widely seen as a medium for commerce and communication — much like space.

But a new National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations, declassified earlier this year, fueled the Pentagon debate and gave the military a green light to push for expanded capabilities.

The monthslong debate took on added urgency after the electronic attacks that coincided with the Russian military’s early August push into Georgia and reflects a newfound uncertainty over the state of global cyber-warfare capabilities.

* In NYT columnist Thomas Friedman’s Sunday column, he mentions a must read: Judy Estrin’s new book, “Closing the Innovation Gap.” I mentioned last week that we are going to have Estrin on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris next Tuesday, September 16 at about 3:30p ET.

Georgia on My Mind [NYT, 09.07.2008]
Barack Obama and John McCain need to focus, not on war, but on strengthening our capacity for innovation our most important competitive advantage.

Friedman’s much anticipated new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America, hits the bookshelfs today.

Written by cdorobek

September 8, 2008 at 9:06 AM