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DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week: What governance means to you

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GovLoop InsightsHey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — and welcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek.

Each week, our goal is to where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

Transforming American GoveranceThis week, we’re going to talk about governing — and the relationship between governing and what you do. We’re going to talk to one of the editors of a new book — just out this week — titled Transforming American Governance: Rebooting the Public Square. We’ll also have some weekend reads — he weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box. We’ll take a look at the impact drones have on the military… and on how you can actually do more with less. All of that just ahead…

But after the break… we will start off as we do every week with a look at the week that was for the third week of January 2012…

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Written by cdorobek

January 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights issues of 2011: Tech that is fundamentally changing government

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GovLoop Insights

NOTE: Updated to clean up formatting

Hey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

And for the month of December, we have been taking taking a break from the issue of the week — and we are taking a look at the issues that defined government for the year. And next week, we’ll talk about the issue of the year — I don’t think anybody will be surprised, but… we’ll talk about it next week.

 

Over the past few weeks, we spoke about cyber-security — and dealing with big data… How do you deal with all the information that you now have access to?

And then last week, we spoke about how transparency and open government can really help you get your job done — talking to Earl Devaney, who is retiring from government after more than 40 years… for the past two years, he has been the chairman of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board.

This week, we are going to talk to one of the concepts that is really changing… well, it’s changing so much in technology, but it is also having a huge impact on government… and I’m going to bring you some highlights of one of the best speeches that you probably didn’t hear.

But we’re going to start off this week, as we have so many week’s this year, talking about… yes, the budget. And it was a roller coaster week — one of many this year. After it seemed likely that there could be a government shutdown, House and Senate negotiators this week signed off on a more than $1 trillion, year-end spending bill and it made its way through the House on Friday.

The bill is more than 1,200 pages and Politico reports that it covers a remarkable breath of topics — domestic spending… the Pentagon and foreign aid — plus tens of billions more related to the war in Afghanistan.

The funding bill sets government spending for the year at $1.043 trillion, a level agreed to in an August deal that raised the nation’s legal borrowing limit. The figure represents a 1.5 percent drop in spending from the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

That doesn’t count $115 billion for overseas military operations, a $43 billion dip since this past year as the war in Iraq winds down. It also doesn’t include $8.1 billion in emergency disaster-relief spending.

The measure covers spending for three-fourths of the government. A number of agencies were covered in the November deal including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, and Transportation, as well as NASA and some smaller agencies. This deal covers the all other agencies.

And as a result of this deal, most domestic programs will see cuts as part of the effort to reduce the deficit.

The measure omits funding for the Internal Revenue Service to prepare for the 2014 implementation of the federal health-care law. But it increases funding for border agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It includes $8.4 billion for the EPA — a $233 million drop from last year. And provides $550 million for Obama’s signature Race to the Top education program, a cut of more than 20 percent.

And it includes an increase for the e-government fund.

The other big event, which seemed to get less attention, is the end of the war in Iraq after nine years. The flag of American forces in Iraq has been lowered in Baghdad, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told troops the mission had been worth the cost in blood and dollars. I’ll leave that debate to others.

About 4,000 US soldiers now remain in Iraq, but they are due to leave in the next two weeks. At the peak of the operation, US forces there numbered 170,000.

With that, we turn to one of 2011’s big issues — even if you don’t work in technology, you’ve heard of cloud. Last week, we spoke with Earl Devaney of the Recovery Board about how cloud computing allowed the Recovery Board to be much more agile then it could otherwise.

In November, I got to moderate a program focusing on cloud computing. [By way of transparency: I was paid to emcee the event.]  It was one of the most interesting presentations I had heard all year.

John Rucker

VA's John Rucker

I go to a lot of events and hear a lot of speakers. Many of them are very good — and many of them seek to peer into the future. But one of the best futurists I heard all year was John Rucker. He isn’t a professional speaker. In fact, he even jokes that he looks like a fed. And he is a fed. Rucker is the acting lead for the Department of Veterans Affairs data center consolidation initiative. And he gave a revealing look at the future of technology — and of cloud computing in the government.

After the break… I have his full speech — and his slides as well. But I wanted to bring you two highlights of his speech.

I noted that VA has long been seen as one of the most hapless agencies for government IT. VA CIO Roger Baker and VA CTO Peter Levin have made enormous strides to change that — and Rucker called him the best CIO he has seen in his more than 30 years of government service.

But he noted the cloud is going to have a big impact on the future of government technology…

John Rucker of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He also said the cloud isn’t for everything…

John Rucker… he is the acting lead for the Department of Veterans Affairs data center consolidation initiative.

As I say, the speech doesn’t have flash — but I think it is one of the most far sighted assessments of government technology that I’ve heard.

It’s GovLoop — I’d love to hear what you think. Do you agree with his assessment? Or is cloud just a lot of hype?

Again, after the break, hear the speech in full… and the DorobekINSIDER must read list…

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Written by cdorobek

December 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Issue of the Year: Cyber-security

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GovLoop InsightsThe GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is changing a few for December. Generally, we try to find a issue — a person — an idea — that helped define the past 7-days… and we always work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

For the month of December, we are taking a break from the issue of the week — and we are taking a look at the issues that defined government for the year. And we’ll unveil the issue that defined 2011 later this month. But that gives us a few weeks to look at a few of the big issues of the year. And this week, we’re going to talk about cyber-security and making sense of big data.

But first, a look at some of the big stories for the end of November and the beginning of December, 2011 — yes, the final month of the year.

Listen here…

Or read more… after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

December 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Issue of the Week: Cyber-security

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UPDATED: The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek is posted online.
Yes, I’m starting to get back to it. (More on where I’ve been this weekend.)
One of the projects I’m working on is with GovLoop, the collaboration platform for government. And each Friday, I’m doing a podcast focused on the issue of the week. Our goal is to look at an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past seven days… but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.
We’ve been honing it in recent weeks — and it’s the great thing about GovLoop: They move quickly and  they are very agile. And it is still a work in progress. We are working to make it easier to find, for example. But it can be found right now at insights.govloop.com.
Each week, I’m trying to post my script here… and link to GovLoop Insights where you can find the audio.
This week, I got to sit down with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security.
But there was other news this week:
But before we get to the big story of the week, we look at the other stories making news… and we’re trying something new this week selecting the top stories across a number of topic areas — management… policy… technology… Defense… security… Your Money…And we start with the Defense story of the week… where the new Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, made his first policy speech this week laying out his vision of the future of the nation’s fighting forcein the age of austerity. In his speech, Panetta scaled back the amount of money that the armed services can cut to $60 billion. The Pentagon has been waging an agressive battle to reduce overhead, waste and duplication. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said those efforts could save $100 billion.Panetta also said that military pay and benefits must be part of an over all austerity plan, but that the troops should not bear the burden for reducing the deficit.

He also said that lawmakers on Capitol Hill should keep pet projects out of the defense budget. Panetta said that Congress must be a responsible partner in creating a defense strategy that may not include specific projects or systems.

Read more about the speech… and read the Defense Secretary’s speech for yourself.

And we always like to follow the money, so… A few short stories about your money this week… first, your agency’s money… The budget super committee continued its meetings — very little is known about what is actually going on. Politico however, spoke to insiders to get a rough a rough sketch of the priorities of the individual members. They found that some members seem intent on guarding their turf, others want to be seen as real deal makers, while others feel the need to protect their party’s base priorities. Meanwhile National Journal says that House Democrats have offered their suggestions for cuts — and revenues. The House Democrats recommend the committee avoid “precipitous” cuts to defense and national security programs.

And Americans are skeptical about the federal government’s role in the economy and its ability to reach an agreement on the budget deficit… that according to a new poll just out from National Journal.

And YOUR money… where will the stock market end the year with only one quarter left. That, of course, impacts your Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The New York Times find that the experts are… well, they’re more pessimistic.

Our procurement story of the week… from the Government Accountability Office, which testified this week saying that most federal agencies aren’t doing enough to police unethical government contractors. GAO analyzed five years’ worth of government contracts. It found that only a handful of agencies penalized contractors. Six agencies that awarded billions of dollars to contractors never suspended nor disbarred any of them. We have a link to the GAO report online.

Our gov 2.0 story of the week comes from Fast Company, which reports that the The New York Federal Reserve Bank is going to be tracking how people feel about the economy — by watching social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Fed officials wouldn’t provide many details, but… they did say that the goal is to monitor these public feeds to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place… and to improve the Federal Reserve’s communications and engagement with the public.

And a few tech stories — a Blackberry outage sent many Washingtonians spinning, but National Journal says that for official Washington, the Blackberry is still number one. And some experts say that isn’t likely to change quickly. Yet the new iPhone got it’s release and, as we said last week, most of the changes are behind the scene. But every indication is that customers are still thrilled. Record numbers signed up for pre-order. AND it is getting rave reviews. David Pogue of the New York Times calls the new iPhone conceals sheer magic.

Finally my must-read of the week — and it comes the Harvard Business Review — with a hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal — and the headline is How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management? Harvard professor James Heskett, who studies how culture affects management trends, asks a fascinating question about whether the “Moneyball” film (and book) will result in more Billy Beane-style managers in business. Moneyball is about Billy Beane, the baseball manager, who is credited with revolutionizing baseball by focusing not only on metrics, but on the sort of indirect metrics that others were ignoring — and that are particularly key to winning games, such as performance in late-inning pressure situations he discusses the  importance of adding non-financial measures to the management dashboard, “indirect goals” that help predict and explain financial performance beyond the “direct goal” of profit. VERY interesting for government. Heskett has written a new book himself: The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance. In that book, he comes up with  35 indirect measures key to future company performance. They included such things as the proportion of new business referred by existing customers and the proportion of employees leaving the organization voluntarily. My thought was what might be those non-financial metrics for government.

But our Issue of the Week is one that has been dominant throughout 2011 — cyber-security. And it is about another book that I told you about a few weeks ago. This week I got to sit down for a conversation with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security. There have been many stories in recent weeks about the challenges facing government cyber-security experts— with a skyrocketing number of attacks.Worm is really a story as old as time — good guys vs bad guys…

And that brings us to the GovLoop Insights Question of the Week: How should the government prioritize cyber-security in this age of austerity. We don’t have to tell you that money is tight. So — where does cyber-security get prioritize?It’s GovLoop — so we’d love to get your thoughts.
The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is still a work in progress. I’d love to get your thoughts…. about what we are doing… what we should be doing…

Written by cdorobek

October 14, 2011 at 11:24 AM

DorobekINSIDER: The 100 most read items for 2010

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Happy New Year! What a great time to look back – and look forward… and to think about fresh starts.

The coming months are going to be interesting, no doubt.

All week, I’ll bring the most read items across Federal News Radio’s programs – Mike Causey tomorrow; the Federal Drive on Wednesday; FederalNewsRadio.com on Thursday; and In Depth on Friday.

But today, the 100 most read items on the DorobekINSIDER:

POLL: What do you think of the proposed pay freeze?
Federal pay up over 400 percent since 1969
Managing the fear of cutbacks among federal workers
IRS releases TSP contribution limits for 2011
Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
DorobekINSIDER poll: Did OPM make the right decision to open DC offices on Friday?
TSP end-of-year deadlines approaching
Analysis: What the pay freeze means to feds
Thrift Savings Plan update
Boeing may be losing edge in Air Force tanker award
Why TSP calculators don’t always work
How safe are your federal benefits?
Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
More TSP participants taking out money early
Federal intern program violates hiring rules
OPM targets poor-performing feds
Toss out that time card, get more productive employees
Why your office fridge could be hazardous to your health
Should feds work on Columbus Day?
POLL: How will the new Congress affect your job?
Why there’s been a backlash against feds lately
Analysis: What will happen to your pay?
Obama: Federal jobs may stay vacant
POLL: How big is the ‘bad government worker’ problem?
DorobekINSIDER: CA CIO Teri Takai to be named DOD CIO
TSP contribution limits for 2011 explained
How to manage older workers
TSP funds climb in July
Super bar codes gaining popularity in U.S.
Do agencies keep poor performers on the job?
Long-term tips for your Thrift Savings Plan
Your wireless router could leave you vulnerable
Are teleworkers happier?
DorobekINSIDER: An open letter to OMB: Stop the public sector bashing
How to make that performance review work for you
Budget top issue at TSP meeting
Author explores age of entitlement in “The Narcissism Epidemic”
POLL: Deficit commission recs hit feds
Rep. Connolly: Pay freeze unfair to feds
Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
FBI shuts down Sentinel computer program
TSP funds show gains in October
New TSP website launches
Berry lauds agencies for vet hiring
How to tune out noise in your office
Analysis: Causey and Miller on the pay freeze
Cool Jobs: USPS preserves stamps in cave
New Air Force motto gets mixed reviews
Investors make slight shifts to higher-risk TSP funds
Al Qaeda magazine calls for attacks on D.C. government workers
Elective deferrals for your TSP explained
TSP readies for debut of L-2050
How to make telework really work
Why continuous monitoring is gaining popularity
DorobekINSIDER: OMB’s government performance self-assessment
DorobekINSIDER poll: What should be the federal government’s operating status for FRIDAY?
The TSP as a model for other 401(k)s?
For TSP investments, most play it safe
DorobekINSIDER: Back to work for feds in DC, OPM defends closure decisions
TSP updates website, automatic enrollment options
Grassley: DoD IG’s lax oversight results in fraud
Was the Smithsonian haunted?
Vampire killers under federal contract?
The DorobekINSIDER iPad review: Will you see them in government?
Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
2010 and Beyond: Causey on the ups and downs of the year
Board objects to proposed TSP fund
Causey on health plan options in Open Season
DorobekINSIDER: DOD issues its much anticipated Web 2.0 policy
Analysis: What does public anger mean for feds?
Rule would change contractors’ hiring practices
Fantasy TSP – Are you in?
How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
Coast Guard Academy named top college
Dorobek Must Reads – June 2
Telework requires ‘culture change’
Poll results: Should feds work on Columbus Day?
Automatic enrollment in TSP starts next week
Fed satisfaction survey reveals vast amount of info
‘Government Doesn’t Suck’ rally puts human face on government
Causey: How agency budget cuts will affect you
Can a Facebook post get you fired?
Public-private pay gap is widening
Federal pay raises safe … for now
TSP numbers: Look past the short term trend
DorobekINSIDER: GSA reorganizes, Interior shuffles – and the CIO (apparently) moves
Survey: Performance reviews get poor ratings
Election watch 2010 – and what it means for porn
Hiring reforms could mean big changes for veterans
Will feds get a half-day off on Dec. 23?
Google sues U.S. government
Last-minute open season tips
How to get your TSP questions answered
Comments needed for TSP beneficiary designation
Can Facebook get you fired?
DorobekINSIDER: Helping out a Postal employee in a time of need
Inside the secret new Internet browser

DorobekINSIDER: GSA spokesman Sahar Wali leaving to go green

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GSA’s chief spokesperson, Sahar Wali, is going to be leaving the agency. She will be joining the White House Council of Environmental Quality as their communications director next month, the DorobekINSIDER has confirmed.

Wali has roots on Capitol Hill and she worked on the Obama campaign. She joined GSA soon after the election and has been part of GSA’s top management team. Speaking personally, she has been a fierce defender of GSA.

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, in a note to staff today, said, “Sahar has done a very important job in building and publicizing our GSA brand, in accelerating and improving our methods and practices for communicating internally and externally, and in helping us support the White House on key initiatives such as Sustainability, Open Government, and much more.  She has also been a tremendous coach to those of us who have been giving speeches and interviews and working with the press. GSA can stand tall and taller every day because more people hear and understand the story of GSA and how we are fulfilling our mission.  We will greatly miss her skill, tenacity, and sense of excellence.”

Read the full note from Martha Johnson below:

It is with very mixed feelings that I have accepted Sahar Wali’s resignation as our Associate Administrator for Communications and Marketing.  She has been offered the great opportunity to join the White House Council of Environmental Quality as their Director of Communications, beginning in mid-November.

On the one hand, Sahar is not going far.  Our relationship with CEQ is a special one.  They are great supporters and partners with us on our Zero Environmental Footprint goals and aspirations. Sahar will be simply helping us from a new vantage point and perspective. She knows our work well.

On the other hand, Sahar has done a very important job in building and publicizing our GSA brand, in accelerating and improving our methods and practices for communicating internally and externally, and in helping us support the White House on key initiatives such as Sustainability, Open Government, and much more.  She has also been a tremendous coach to those of us who have been giving speeches and interviews and working with the press. GSA can stand tall and taller every day because more people hear and understand the story of GSA and how we are fulfilling our mission.  We will greatly miss her skill, tenacity, and sense of excellence.

As this transition takes place, we will be working closely with the White House to appoint a new person to head GSA’s strategic communications efforts.  We will also be continuing the work she led in re-organizing the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Please join me in wishing Sahar the best in her next challenge and in asking her to come by and visit us often.  Like daily?

Martha

Written by cdorobek

October 6, 2010 at 11:42 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Tamela Riggs named GSA FAS assistant commissioner

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Some changes at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Tamela “Tami” Riggs will move from GSA’s Public Building Service and has been named to the post of Assistant Commissioner, Office of Customer Accounts and Research for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Riggs will replace Gary Feit, who has announced that he is retiring next spring.

Here is the note from GSA Administrator Martha Johnson:

From:  Administrator Martha Johnson
Re: A Move That Counts

I am happy to announce today that Tamela Riggs will be assuming the position of Assistant Commissioner, Office of Customer Accounts and Research in the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).

This move is significant in a number of ways.  First, Gary Feit who has held that position will be retiring next spring.  We want to avoid the discontinuity that occurs when we wait for a position to be vacant before beginning the process of filling it.  Therefore, we are allowing for an overlap so that Gary can help Tami as she steps into the position.  This is an important aspect of succession management, creating an appropriate overlap so institutional memory isn’t lost and the organization is not caught in leadership limbo.

Second, Tami is moving from PBS to FAS.  I can’t emphasize enough the value I place on all of our executives holding a GSA enterprise perspective.  Having experience in various service or staff offices enriches a leader’s perspective, builds networks, and demonstrates an eagerness and ability to change.

Hurray to Tami — and others — who are willing to make such moves.   Their actions speak louder than all the words we can puff about change.

Congratulations to Tami on the move and let’s all look for opportunities to continue to model the message of change.

Martha

And the message sent to FAS Staff from Steve Kempf:

Subject: FAS Leadership Announcements

Hello FAS,

I am pleased to announce several additions and changes in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service leadership team.

Gary Feit will be joining the FAS Commissioner’s staff as a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Commissioner.  In this role, he will reach out to industry associations, top officials at customer agencies and other stakeholders to improve the quality and effectiveness of FAS programs. Gary has held many positions throughout his GSA career – in the Regions, in various business portfolios and most recently as FAS Assistant Commissioner for Customer Accounts and Research.  He has extensive experience managing customer relationships through training and business outreach initiatives including the GSA Expo.  His deep understanding and thorough knowledge of FAS programs gives him a valuable perspective that will be useful in this new role.

Tami Riggs will be joining the FAS team as the Assistant Commissioner for Customer Accounts and Research.  Most recently, Tami has served GSA’s Public Buildings Service as the Acting Assistant Commissioner for Organizational Resources where she successfully planned and implemented business strategies to meet GSA customer needs.  She has a deep knowledge of both FAS and PBS business portfolios, having worked in each organization during her career.  Tami has a proven track record which will help her be successful in deepening FAS relationships with our customers.

Marty Jennings will join the FAS General Supplies and Services Portfolio as the Deputy Assistant Commissioner.  Marty has over 35 years of government experience, serving in the U.S. Army and most recently as Director of Logistics at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  His leadership and program management skills gained from his career as a soldier and as an officer, combined with his expertise in logistics, prepare him well to assist leading the GSS Portfolio employees and programs to future success.

Please join me in congratulating Gary, Tami, and Marty as they undertake these leadership roles in FAS.  Their spirit of service, commitment to innovative thinking and collaborative approach to building business solutions that work for customers will help FAS shape its future and ensure many years.

Written by cdorobek

September 8, 2010 at 5:14 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Throwing elbows over cyber-security legislation

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It appears that the effort to pass a cyber-security bill is going to get a bit more tough then expected.

Late last month, officials from Cisco, IBM and Oracle sent a letter to the main sponsors of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, S. 3480 — Senators Joe Lieberman (DI-Conn.) Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.). The letter raised concerns about some provisions of the bill:

While well intentioned, it ultimately puts U.S. critical infrastructure at increased risk by threatening the intellectual property of American companies that create the IT that operates the vast majority of U.S. government and private-sector critical networks and systems.  The unintended result may be a weakening of the domestic software and hardware industry to an extent that could, ironically, leave the U.S. more dependent upon foreign suppliers for their critical IT systems.

The letter goes on to raise specific concerns about detailed provisions of the bill. You can read the full copy of the letter here.

The Senators issued a forceful response — a letter addressed specifically to the heads of those companies — and it was posted right on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Web site. In the response, they refer to the concerns as “mischaracterizations” of the bill:

This legislation is informed by years of oversight by this Committee and is the result of more than a year of drafting. Our staff spent considerable time working with industry representatives – including representatives from your companies – and the bill, as reported, addresses many of the concerns your companies raised during that time…

Your input on this important legislation is important to our Committee, and both our staff and yours have invested considerable time in this process. While we find the mischaracterizations of our bill in your letter inaccurate and disappointing, we welcome further discussion and hope that we can engage in a constructive dialogue going forward.

Again, you can read the full response here.

Meanwhile, Politico’s Morning Tech is reporting that the House version of the bill is having some trouble.

Staff representing the Senate’s top players in the cybersecurity debate – Rockefeller, Snowe, Collins, Lieberman, Carper – will begin huddling this week over ways to merge the chamber’s top two proposals. But the path forward in the House is still unclear.

The lower chamber’s version of the Lieberman-Collins-Carper plan, spearheaded by Reps. Jane Harman and Pete King, is still pending consideration by a slew of committees that all share jurisdiction. And the committee closest to the action – the House Homeland Security panel – plans to introduce its own bill soon, pitched by Chairman Thompson. Meanwhile, a Senate Dem aide tells Morning Tech that it is unclear whether Rep. Jim Langevin, another cybersecurity leader, is writing his own comprehensive legislation. Stay tuned.

IT WILL BE THE HOUSE SCI/TECH COMMITTEE that will take the first stab at cybersecurity once both chambers return from recess next week. The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee announced late Tuesday it had invited industry leaders from EPIC, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Council on Foreign Relations and Ponte Technologies to its scheduled July 15 hearing – and it promises additional witness announcements to come soon.

Read Politico’s Morning Tech here.

Written by cdorobek

July 7, 2010 at 9:32 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: Week in review: June 20-26 — backlashes and USPS

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What stories made news for the week of June 20-26?

Here are the most read stories across Federal News Radio 1500 AM … on the DorobekInsider.com … for Mike Causey’s Federal Report… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris… and for FederalNewsRadio.com

…from the DorobekInsider.com

Why there’s been a backlash against feds lately
Comments needed for TSP beneficiary designation
Mobile devices can leave you open to cyber attacks
Why continuous monitoring is gaining popularity
In budget crisis, states take aim at pension costs
DorobekINSIDER: Treasury’s Gross to be deputy CIO at Interior
Census reports it has reached almost all households
How government will eliminate user names & passwords
Web inventor discusses importance of open data
Senate unanimously confirms TSA head
Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
Education Department crowdsources for innovation
How to get your TSP questions answered
Federal pay raises safe … for now
Dorobek Must Reads – June 21
Dorobek Must Reads – June 23
DorobekINSIDER: Green government – and telework
Agencies to crack down on waste, fraud, abuse
Hacking the hackers could solve cybersecurity woes
Flemming Award honors unique work of feds
Is blaming the MMS really fair?
Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
What you need to know about cyber bills on the Hill
Google Apps could help agencies move to the cloud
Financial management system updates coming
Geographic information systems increase participation
DorobekINSIDER: Week in review: June 13-19 — telework, pay freeze, and salaries
Dorobek Must Reads – June 24
DorobekINSIDER: Connecting Toy Story and government and innovation
Why security needs to catch up to Web 2.0 technology
Analysis: OMB’s Orszag first high-profile member to leave
Dorobek Must Reads – June 22
Causey: How agency budget cuts will affect you
Analysis and updates on the Gulf oil spill
Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
Looking for a cool new job? GSA is hiring!
Section: Blog Entries
National townhall brings citizens together to solve debt crisis
Resources: Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments
Cybersecurity bill unanimously voted out of Senate committee
How to create the best federal cybersecurity workforce
FBI finds 14 leak suspects during past 5 years
How accurate are annual hurricane season predictions?
The TSP as a model for other 401(k)s?
How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
DorobekINSIDER: Take your puppy to work day
Dorobek Must Reads – June 18
Enterprises need to be proactive in cyber war

… for Mike Causey’s Federal Report

Retirement: You Can Go Home Again!
TSP Warning: Cover Your Assets
Feds in Heat: The Misery Index
Hot Enough For You?
Feds: Global warming is real!!!

… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris

Cyberthreat of Joe Biden leads to arrest
Federal retirees should consider the Roth IRA
Monday Morning Federal Newscast – June 21st
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 25th
Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 23rd
Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 24th
Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 22nd
Private concerns about Booz Allen going public
War zone corruption allegations rise
MSPB to survey feds about personnel practices
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 18th
The ten biggest errors federal employees make, pt. 3
Cybersymposium features security rock stars
Wesley Clark: cyberattacks must be stopped
Security software often misses new malware
Social Security has more than a math problem
GPO celebrates its sesquicentennial
VA innovates innovation ideas
Analysis: HHS health IT program is the right start
Smartgrid cyber spending to hit $21 billion by 2015
Wartime commission plans for a first hand view
Data center survey contains concerns, optimism
Congress eyes cyberattacks options

… and from FederalNewsRadio.com

Postal unions offer alternative to five-day schedule
Federal pay freeze proposal defeated
OPM wants to settle the fed salary debate
White House tells agencies to use data analysis to reduce improper payments
White House to give identity management a push
OMB bakes new cookie policy for federal websites
Cybersecurity bill clears Senate hurdle
Telework success depends on clear expectations
DISA launches BRAC relocation FAQ page
Bill would put DHS in charge of all civilian networks
Agencies get ready for FISMA changes
OMB Watch says Orszag ‘made budget cool’
OMB’s Werfel plugs financial modernization
DoD sees change in cyber culture
HHS creates process to certify health IT systems
New executive order further restricts lobbyists
PSC voices concerns over Hill Defense bills
Industry group encourages DoD to use GSA
Federal CTO issues mandate for innovation
Interior’s Salazar pledges bureau overhaul
Exclusive: OMB to propose major changes to financial management systems
NASA launches software assurance program
Cybersecurity bill gets first Senate hearing
Senate’s newest cyber bill on fast track to passage
Education Department launches open government tool
GSA plans to take e-mail, collaboration to the cloud
White House ready to reveal identity management plans
Critical tests to decide future of DHS’s virtual fence
Military attacks mental health stigmas
DHS women convene inaugural diversity forum
Task force seeks comments on small business contracting
OMB preparing performance management dashboard
Arlington starts to return calls after cemetery scandal
Support snowballs early for Senate cyber bill
Federal News Radio Reports
OMB shifts to real time cybersecurity monitoring
OMB pressing agencies to get IT projects on track
SBA CIO Naylor resigns
OMB’s Werfel lays out new plan to follow agency money
VA tries to speed claims processing for vets
DoD shows off health IT progress
GSA, DHS approve first governmentwide cyber provider
White House works to change online transactions
Navy CIO Carey leaving
Executive Order seals OPM hiring reforms
GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
No federal pay freeze for now
NIH faces economic strains in 2011
Postal Service prepares to move to five day delivery
Feds lead Smart Grid development effort

Written by cdorobek

June 27, 2010 at 9:09 PM