Archive for April 2009
GovLoop, the remarkable social networking site built specifically for govies, hit a simply remarkable milestone this week — 10,000 members. (When I just checked, it was up to 10,412.)
GovLoop was launched less than a year ago by Steve Ressler. Ressler is a young fed who does his GovLoop work in his hown time. I’ve posted the GovLoop press release below, and the release notes that there are some big names among the GovLoop membership — GSA CIO Casey Coleman… White House director of new media Macon Phillips… but in the end, it is the numbers that I find remarkable:
GovLoop members have written over 1,500 blogs, started 1,200 discussions, posted over 450 events, shared 4,000+ photos and created over 200 videos.
In the end, people are using it. There is a new Acquisition 2.0 group that has formed. People are using it. Really remarkable stuff.
As I noted soon after I started the DorobekInsider, I first met Ressler as part of Federal Computer Week’s Rising Star awards program. And, as I said back then, ff you want to have faith in the “next generation,” you simply have to make it a point to talk toRessler. I don’t admit to be objective here. I was so impressed with Ressler, that when FCW created the Rising Star awards program three years ago — these are award that recognize the next generation of government leaders — we put Ressler on the cover… and featured him and his step-sister in the magazine. So I still try to claim to have discovered him.
But in the end, he’s the one who has done it — and he won his second Fed 100 award this year for that work. (More here.) And I’d keep an eye on him. He is passionate about public service. He has a good head on his holders. And he has a remarkable moral compass. And he is an intent listener — and he soaks up knowledge. And I think that is what, in the end, makesGovLoop successful — and unique. It isn’t just a ‘get rich’ scheme. Ressler’s goal is to create an environment where people can collaborate to the benefit of government.
So… congratulations to Steve… and if you’re not a member, go here …
GovLoop, the “Facebook for Feds,” Reaches 10,000 Users in Less Than a Year
Watch Out Washington! Young Fed Topples Silos 04.29.2009 – Washington, D.C. – April 29th, 2009 – GovLoop (http://govloop.com), an online community created for and by government employees, announced today it has signed up its 10,000th member less than a year after launching. Dubbed by some as a “Facebook for Feds,” GovLoop brings together government employees from the U.S. and other nations to discuss ideas, share best practices and create a community dedicated to the betterment of government.
A revolution is happening in government as the result of a new generation of government employees, the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, and the Obama administration’s focus on transparency, participation, and collaboration. This revolution is often called “Government 2.0” andGovLoop is at the center of this movement. The social network was developed by Steve Ressler, a 28-year old federal employee from Tampa, Fla. who is also a co-founder of Young Government Leaders ( http://youngovernmentleaders.org). Fed up with the silos that existed across government agencies, including artificial barriers between levels of government, rank and age,Ressler believed there had to be a better way to share information, so he launched GovLoop.com in June 2008.
The only social network for government employees, the site offers a safe place for the government community to connect, share best practices, and ideas to improve government.GovLoop is smashing the age-old silos that existed between federal agencies and facilitating dialogue that has never existed before between state, local and international government agencies. Members range from CIOs such as Casey Coleman, CIO at GSA, political appointees such as Macon Phillips, White House Director of New Media, dozens of city managers to brilliant government innovators all across levels of U.S. government. And it doesn’t stop there; over 500 International government thought leaders from New Zealand, the U.K., Canada, Germany and Hong Kong have joined the dialogue as well.
The open, accelerated flow of information on GovLoop has led to the rapid replication of ideas and best practices across all levels of government, assisting in improved government operations and performance. For example, a California City Attorney’s Office was able to set up an official government social media presence in a matter of days instead of months by leveraging the best practices and experiences of the state of Massachusetts, which was shared onGovLoop.
Since its launch, GovLoop members have written over 1,500 blogs, started 1,200 discussions, posted over 450 events, shared 4,000+ photos and created over 200 videos.
GovLoop members have already:
• Developed a burgeoning “Acquisition 2.0” movement to employ innovative acquisition methods
• Been the leading source of government input into the Obama Administration’s Open Government Memo
• Established a repository of best practices on items including Social Media Policies, Government Hiring and Government Twitter Use
• Launched a top-rated podcast “Gov 2.0 Radio” (http://gov20radio.com) with guests like Tim O’Reilly (founder of O’Reilly media, http://oreilly.com) and Craig Newmark (founder of Craig’s List, http://craigslist.com)
• Helped GovLoop.com win the prestigious Federal 100 award and stand as a finalist for the 2009 ACT Intergovernmental Solutions Award
Starting May 4th, GovLoop will continue the spirit of government collaboration by hosting the official online dialogue for Public Service Recognition Week (May 4th – May 10th). Participants across the U.S. are encouraged to share their experiences of the week and suggest ideas to improve government. To participate in the conversation joinGovLoop and the Public Service Recognition Week group ( http://govloop.com/group/psrw).
As such, GovLoop welcomes all members of the government community to join the conversation at GovLoop.com, the premier social network for government employees.
DorobekInsider.com: The National Dialogue on transparency and Recovery.gov — an update after two days
Just a reminder for those who haven’t been following the National Dialogue, the Obama administration is essentially asking for your help on how to build transparency into the stimulus package. This stuff is difficult — making the transparency of recovery.gov happen — but it seems there are some real opportunities coming out of this. [Earlier, on Federal News Radio 1500 AM's Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Lena Trudeau of the National Academy of Public Administration about the National Dialogue. Hear that conversation here.]
More on Thursday’s Daily Debrief, but… I got some insights how things are going two days into the National Dialogue…
As of 10am this morning, 676 registered users, 205 ideas, 470 comments, over 700 votes on the ideas and just shy of 10,000 unique visitors.
I got a few mid-dialogue questions answered on how things are going so far:
How are things going?
The Dialogue is going very well. We’re very pleased with both the pace of participation and its quality, and it really seems as though this will provide some very good input for the Recovery Board on how to set up Recovery.gov.
It’s also important to say that the dialogue is being conducted in an incredibly civil way. People seem impressed that the Recovery Board chose to reach out to a broader audience at the outset of theirdecision making process rather than after it’s completed, and are taking that opportunity for input seriously. Even the criticisms we’ve had of the site itself—and in such an IT-focused audience, those are inevitable—are respectful and really provide us with some constructive criticism for how to do this even better next time around.
What are you seeing so far?… traffic… comments…
We’re really pleased with traffic so far. The overall number of visits to the site has held relatively steady, which is very noteworthy. We are also thrilled with the volume of activity. The site itself has 676 registered users, but together those people have generated over 1.5 million requests to our server. At peak times, we are getting about 25 requests per second, which is about a quarter of the number that the entire Google Apps can take before it crashes. Everyone involved with monitoring the site has said it’s rare to see a site that is this “sticky” — to attract such a proportion of browsers into actually signing up and taking advantage of all the interaction opportunities that are offered.
The comments themselves have been very high caliber. The Academy is not able to judge what the best or most useful comments are, that is up to the Recovery Board, but we have had some that illustrate how highly people value the site:
“As a work in progress I think you must agree this is an extraordinary step, which lacks precedence.”
“[Participation] involves a commitment to allowing public contributions to the dialogue. It’s the holy grail of online democracy, and seems to be one of the driving motivations of this “National Dialogue” site.”
“Traditionally the US Gov has only really been a successful early IT adopter via NSA or NASA, and actions such as this National Dialogue give me hope that may change.”
“This is the ultimate David vs. Goliath thing!” (Comment received via e-mail from Dialogue participant.)
It’s also been interesting to watch the tag cloud on the site grow and evolve as people raise new topics and make new connections between ideas. One thing we do that a lot of other similar sites don’t is that anyone can tag anyoneelse’s idea. The idea behind this is that everyone can make connections that might not have been obvious to the original idea submitter. We think that is working so that at the end of the process, the Recovery Board will have not just a bunch of great ideas, but also the community’s sense on which are the best, which are the most controversial, and what overarching “buckets” they fall into.
I heard that the servers actually got overloaded… how did you deal with that?
We did experience some technical difficulties Monday morning that were caused by an overwhelming amount of participation on the site. We were ready for a massive number of people to use the site–it is hosted in a cloud, which is highly elastic and scalable — but what we didn’t anticipate is how much activity each user would generate by immediately becoming engaged in submitting, rating, tagging, and discussing the ideas. That’s what sort of caused us to overheat. Some users experienced technical difficulties. At one point, we were just adding servers furiously, trying to keep pace with the activity! As of now, we’ve expanded to 12 servers to catch all the traffic, and have also made changes to the database structure and made the caching more aggressive to provide a better user experience and access times for all.
Anything surprise you so far?
It’s hard to say we were surprised by anything, just because we didn’t really go into it with any concrete expectations. When you do these kinds of Dialogues, you provide people with the platform, then wait to see what they do with it. But some of the things we found most notable are:
This is not being seen as free ad space. There are many vendors participating and talking about their own products—which is fine and actually helpful to the Recovery Board—but most people are talking about other products, or just ideas or websites that they have been impressed with.
The community is doing some vetting of its own. On one thread where a vendor basically posted a brochure for their product, the commenters came in and began “kicking the tires,” asking some really probing questions. The vendor came back on and posted a response to some of it. While it was all civil, you can really see the value that the Recovery Board is getting by enlisting this whole community in thinking through different solutions.
The community really is diverse. While this was largely pitched as being oriented towards IT vendors, we have used social networks like Twitter,GovLoop, and Facebook to get the word out to a community that is more interested in topics like social media, open source, innovation, and collaboration. Those audiences are both present and vocal on the site, and seeing how they interact to discuss solutions, and bring different perspectives to the table, has been interesting.
In a unexpected change, John Johnson, the retiring Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Technology Services at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, has named Mary Powers-King as the acting deputy assistant commissioner for FAS’s Integrated Technology Services.
Powers-King has been leading GSA’s governmentwide acquisition contracts and the IT schedules contracts program. She will continue in that role, according to Johnson’s memo.
Here is Johnson’s memo to staff:
TO: All ITS employees and contractors
Effective immediately, I am designating Mary Powers-King as the Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Integrated Technology Services. Mary will be acting in this capacity until further notice. Mary will also continue in her role as the Director,GWAC & IT Schedule Programs.
I will appreciate your continued support as Mary takes on this new responsibility.
John C. Johnson
Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Technology Services
Federal Acquisition Service
U.S. General Services Administration
The Navy has posted what I believe — and I stand to be corrected — but I believe is the first agency green IT policy. The memo is posted below and can be found here or the PDF here … The policy lays out the initial criteria for green IT energy efficiency… and it requires command information officers to provide a policy describing how to implement the Navy’s green IT policy.
I almost felt like the headline of this post should be: Did you hear what I heard?
I mentioned that federal CIO Vivek Kundra spoke last week at AFCEA’s Bethesda chapter. (In fact, I’m going to hear Kundra speak again this morning at the 2009 Government Web Managers Conference and, like last week, you can follow along with my notes, which I’ve posed online here.)
During Kundra’s presentation last week — FCW’s Ben Bain has a good summary here — he seemed to save the best for last. And it is an interesting example of what people hear vs what people say — often a journalistic conundrum.
The comments came from a questions that I asked earlier in the program. My question, essentially, is how do CIO’s remain relevant?
Sometimes — perhaps often — CIOs and IT organizations are seen as the “NO Zone.” If program people go to their IT organization with an idea, they are told all the reasons they can’t do something. And that is particularly true with Web 2.0 applications with security as the big bugaboo. And the classic case comes from Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Security Administration. TSA wanted to start a blog. They went to their IT shop and were told that that could be built… for thousands of dollars — in my memory it was $60,000, but I stand to be corrected. Somebody rightfully said, ‘Um, isn’t Blogger [or my personal favorite, WordPress or Typepad] free?’ Thankfully, the TSA program people found a crafty IT person who made it happen.
The TSA story is a good one because it shows how many organizations view their IT shop — they don’t see them as the enablers. Too often, the IT organization — and CIOs — represent the NO Zone — or the CI-NO.
So earlier I asked how CIOs can avoid being the CI-NO. And it is one of the things that can just crush innovation.
But at the end, Kundra came back to it and stressed the importance of innovation.
And it is interesting because what I have had many people say that they heard Kundra telling people to go around their IT shops if they get blocked — and they say it with horror in their eyes.
In fact, he did say that we need to encourage people to “challenge traditional thinking.” (As I mentioned, I posted my notes, so you can go to the bottom and see how I remembered it — they didn’t clear it up all that much, to be honest.)
First off, I know that Kundra wasn’t telling everybody to go around their IT organization. He understands how government organizations work. And I have spoken to people who know Kundra very well and what he wanted to say was that this is a real opportunity — and his real message was to industry: Provide value to the taxpayers.
But there is still a lot of buzz about it out there. So last night, I pulled out my recording of the event, and I can understand how people heard what they think they heard. I don’t think it is what he was actually saying, but I understand the confusion. The quality isn’t great, but… I’ll let you listen for yourself.
I think his point is very important — there are real opportunities here and now. And for too long, the government has turned to integrators to build collaboration systems that, frankly, fail when compared to… say, Facebook. The innovation is coming from the consumer market and driving the enterprise market. (I would add that if IT organizations are the NO Zones, technology is ubiquitous enough, people, in fact, will just go around their IT organizations — and that is bad for everybody.)
Kundra is speaking again this morning. Perhaps he will clarify a bit.
As we say in radio, stay tuned.
Editor’s note: I updated with a few items discussed this morning. Find the updated links at the bottom of this post.
I will be moderating a panel on Monday for Bisnow on government 2.0 — and he has an all star panel:
* Dr. Mark Drapeau, Associate Research Fellow at the National Defense University [Twitter ]
* Dan Mintz, Chief Technology Officer for CSC and the former CIO at the Transportation Department [Twitter ]
* Molly O’Neill, former CIO for the Environmental Protection Agency
* Lewis Shepherd, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments [Twitter]
The event is Monday morning at the Tower Club in Tysons, if you are interested in joining us… more information here.
When I speak someplace, I have taken to providing “liner notes,” because there are always links that people want to mention and it can be frustrating trying to write them all down and missing one letter… so I may actually update this after Monday’s session. Some previous liner notes from when I spoke at HHS back in February… and at a ACT/IAC session at FOSE back in March.
One of the big challenges these days in speaking about government 2.0 is that there can be very different levels of understanding. Some people who attend these sessions have a ton o’ knowledge about what government 2.0 is… what web 2.0 tools are… While others barely have aFacebook page. To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect from a Bisnow crowd.
As of now, I’m guessing that we will start somewhat untraditionally — by having the audience talk first… what brought them here… what are they hoping that we will all talk about…
Mintz posted on Twitter tonight what he hopes to talk about:
For BISNOW 2.0 Mon am: (1) Fast sensors, (2) Transactional Cost Economics, (3) Data not systems, (4) Privacy & 4th amend; anything else?
I hope we get to talk about the business implications for the government market growing out of government 2.0, because I think they could be profound.
For those new to this, here are a few recommendations to get you started…
This video, which is a good starting point to what Web 2.0 is… and how it is different.
But some essential readings…
* Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams… This was one of the year books about Web 2.0 — and spurred a government 2.0 project and the National Academy of Public Administration’s Collaboration Project… and many other things. The book is a few years old, but is still almost essential reading if you are thinking about how to do this.
* What Would Google Do? By Jeff Jarvis This book was the subject of the recent Federal News Radio Book Club selection… The name sounds like a Google suck-up, but… it really isn’t. This book does a really good job of capturing the different mind-set changes that go into Web 2.0 — and, by extension, government 2.0.
So we’ll see how the conversation goes tomorrow morning and there may be a part 2 to this post. And I hope you’re able to join us.
UPDATE: After the event, as is always the case, there were items discussed that I did not predict. Here are some of those links:
* EPA’s Jeremy Ames radon videos: I mentioned the EPA radon video contest. You can find more on those here: EPA’s wonderful radon video example
* I mentioned Steve Ressler’s remarkable GovLoop social networking group…
* Former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill mentioned her remarkable EPA Puget Sound wiki. More here .
* I mentioned the National Dialogue seeking ideas on transparency and the stimulus that started this morning… More information here.
* And for the gentleman who was tweeting on his iPhone using the Twitter interface… there are some great Twitter iPhone applications out there. The one I use most is TwitterFon.
I think those are the items that were mentioned. Let me know if I missed anything.
I’ve been hearing a lot about changes at GSA — some concrete, and some just discussed. I’ll talk about potential changes later, but… a concrete move from Acting Administrator Paul Prouty Friday. In a memo, Prouty announced a number of changes to GSA’s regional leadership. Earlier, we told you how Prouty decided to change the names of the assistant regional administrators and deputy assistant regional administrators in GSA’s regions to regional commissioners and deputy regional commissioners. This was widely seen as a first step in broader changes.
On Friday, there was another step in a memo from Prouty:
The Deputy Regional Administrator (DRA) role is being eliminated and Senior Executives in these positions are moving into leadership roles within our two business lines—the Federal Acquisition (FAS) and Public Buildings Services (PBS). This is a significant, necessary action to position GSA to meet the challenges ahead with economic recovery work and the Administration’s agenda to improve how Government works.
This memo just came out yesterday, so I’m still trying to ferrit out what it all means, but… your thoughts always welcome, of course.
Here is the full memo:
April 24, 2009
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL EMPLOYEES
FROM: PAUL F. PROUTY
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR (A)
SUBJECT: Regional Senior Executives
Today, we are announcing a number of moves in GSA’s regional leadership. The Deputy Regional Administrator (DRA) role is being eliminated and Senior Executives in these positions are moving into leadership roles within our two business lines—the Federal Acquisition (FAS) and Public Buildings Services (PBS). This is a significant, necessary action to position GSA to meet the challenges ahead with economic recovery work and the Administration’s agenda to improve how Government works.
Effective April 26, 2009, the following Senior Executives will step out of the DRA role and into the following:
• Steve Ruggiero will become the permanent FAS Regional Commissioner (RC) in Region 2. Steve will continue to serve as Acting Regional Administrator RA.
• Jimmy Bridgeman will become the permanent PBS RC in Region 4. Jimmy will continue to serve as Acting RA.
• Michael Brincks will become the permanent FAS RC in Region 6. Mike will continue to serve as Acting RA.
• George Prochaska will become the permanent FAS RC in Region 7. George will continue to serve as Acting RA.
• Greg Porter will become the permanent PBS Principal Deputy RC in Region 9.
• Sharon Banks will become the permanent PBS Principal Deputy RC in Region 11. Sharon will continue to serve as Acting RA.
The DRA positions in Regions 3 and 5 are vacant, and the DRA positions in Regions 1, 8, and 10 are currently held by GS-15 leaders. Tim Horne in Region 8 and Gary Casteel in Region 10 will remain as FAS RCs. Marjorie Samra will serve as a Special Assistant to the PBS RC in Region 1.
Regional General Management & Administration (GM&A) functions that previously reported to the DRA will now report to the Acting RA. Discussions are underway regarding where GM&A functions can best be performed. Once a decision is made and the necessary stakeholder notifications are completed and union obligations are met, GM&A functions will be realigned within the Regions.
I want to thank all of the DRAs for their significant contributions to this agency and thank them for agreeing to undertake these new roles.
This is an exciting and challenging time for GSA. We will continue to position the agency to better serve our customers as we all help our country during this dynamic time.