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04.20.2012 DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: GSA watcher assess the impact of the conference scandal, and your weekend reading list

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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.

It wasn’t a great week for public servants. There were congressional hearings into the General Services Administration Public Building Service 2010 Western Region conference — and plenty of lawmakers heaping aghast horror… then there were the stories of the Secret Service agents who were accused partying with prostitutes just before a Presidential visit to Latin America… and then there were the gruesome photos out of Afghanistan of soldiers posing — seemingly gleefully — with the body parts of Afghan rebels. Not a week highlighting the best and the brightest.

ImageWe can’t solve the problems here, but we’ll try see how the best and the brightest can rebuild in order to do their jobs better. Our issue of the week looks at GSA… that conferences… what happens now… and what it means for contractors…Larry Allen has been following GSA for decades. He is the President of Allen Federal Business Partners. He said told Chris Dorobek this is a difficult situation because it really knocks GSA on its heels — again…


WEEKEND READS:

  • It is sometimes remarkable how quickly we forget painful situations — and I sometimes feel that way about the 2008 economic crash. Sometimes it feels like we are looking to move on — and time does move so quickly — that we haven’t taken a step back and looked at what caused the near cataclismic crash… what we learned… and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. This week, BusinessWeek magazine has a story about the Securities and Exchange Commission that essentially talks about how the SEC got its groove back. The story chronicles the recent series of enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it argues that there is a new era at the agency. They are working hard, even though they are outmanned and outgunned.
  • The Pulitzer Prize awards were handed out this week, but Atlantic Media also handed out its Michael Kelly award for a writer who went above and beyond. The story they selected is from The New Yorker — it’s headlined the “The Invisible Army.” Reporter Sarah Stillman tells the story of ten Fijian beauticians who were recruited for lucrative jobs in a posh Dubai salon, only to end up in Iraq giving manicures and massages to U.S. soldiers. It tells of their mistreatment, and talk about the scandal of thousands of foreign workers on U.S. military bases reduced to something like indentured servitude. It is a remarkable story that I missed at the time and was pleased to read this week.
  • Finally, how do you get agencies to be innovative, whether it be some gov 2.0 application — or some different kind of procurement process? Craig Thomler writes this week about convincing risk advisers management to yes to social media initiatives — but I think it applies to more than just social media. My take: focus on doing the job better… and keep pressing.

The producers of GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER are Emily Jarvis and Stephen Peteritas.

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Posted in Events, GSA, Uncategorized

04.04.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Charting the future of government tech with Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel

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Federal CIO VanRoekel speaks at FOSE

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel kicked off the FOSE conference. And he did a pretty amazing presentation — going through the history of technology.

He had one of those overhead projectors — yes, really. Apparently they found one in a White House closet.

Then used ASCII. Then PowerPoint. And then an iPad… to show the evolution of tech.

VanRoekel says the aim of his office is to cut down the amount of money agencies spend on technology operations and maintenance so that they can plow that money back into new initiatives.

Since 2009 the federal tech budget has flattened out to roughly $80 billion. So now agencies need to innovate without expanding their budgets. VanRoekel outlined how they can achieve that goal. 

  1. Root out duplication and implement Share First
  2. Strengthen the role of the CIO
  3. Data center consolidation — goal is to go down by 40%
  4. Cloud — implement FedRamp across government this year

VanRoekel says agencies also need to focus on the mission — Focus on Service Delivery

  1. Maximize investments — growing profit is easier than growing costs
  2. Address the productivity gap
  3. Improve business and citizen interactions
  4. Cybersecurity needs to be incorporated into everything tech

Government cannot work in a silo. VanRoekel compared the data overload to the music industry. 

  • “Right now government couples data and presentations together. But they need to break it up and find relatedness across platforms. Think of government data like the music industry. You used to buy a whole album from the store. Now you go on iTunes and you can buy one song at a time, not the whole package.”
  • “And with iTunes Genius and Pandora similar content is sent directly to you. Government needs to do that with data.”

– Emily Jarvis

Written by jarvisdorobek

April 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop issue of the week: CES, CES Government, and mobile

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GovLoop InsightsWelcome 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.

This week, we’re going to get geeky… we’re going to embrace our inner nerd. This week was the annual gadget-a-thon known as CES — the Consumer Electronics Show out in Las Vegas. I got to attend for the first time this year — both to CES and CES Government. One of the key speakers was Steve VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer. And later on, we’ll have highlights of his speech, and talk about what it means for you.

Also later on, we’ll have our weekend reading list — the 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.

But after the break, we’ll have our look at the week that was for the second week of January 2012… plus the full Week in Review…

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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: ELC 2011: UNsessioning about YOUR role in government innovation

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Innovation — we all know it’s important, particularly in these rapidly changing times. We also know that it is hard. At the 2011 Executive Leadership Conference, hosted by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council, we are going to try to help. And even if you are not at ELC 2011, there is still a way for you to participate — even if you aren’t here in Williamsburg.

ACT-IACToday, as part of ELC’s technology innovation track – the last panel of the day – and we are trying an ELC innovation about innovation. We are holding an UN-session. For the past several years, there have been un-conferences. Un-conferences — and, by extension, our un-session — is very open. There is a topic, but there are no set list of speakers. It is wisdom of the crowds in the conference format — it enables open, collaborative learning using a format that “creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.”

I’m thrilled to be working with Kathy Conrad, the principal deputy associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

The UN-session is the final panel of the ELC’s technology innovation track. And our goal is to walk out of the UNsession with… homework, for lack of a better term. We want to come up with tools that people can take — and try — in their organization that encourage and enable innovation. And we are then continuing the sharing after ELC ends — I’ve created a section on GovLoop, the social network for government, where I hope people will share their lessons… what worked, what didn’t. (Hear Conrad talk about some of her thoughts on the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week podcast from this past week.)

One of my new favorite books is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries — and I think it is a book about innovation. It’s about making it a part of your live and your thinking. (A preview: The DorobekINSIDER book club will be coming back next year — and, if we can work out schedules, this will be our book. More to come. Stay tuned.)

Read our thoughts — and our notes for the un-session — after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

October 24, 2011 at 11:31 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Pre-panel prep: Building a bridge between IT and acquisition

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Communication is difficult — any of us who have been married have learned this lesson the hard way — and we do it over and over again. And in organizations, it can be intensely difficult.I get to moderate a panel next week that looks at the issue of communication between agency IT and acquisition organizations. And improving that relationship cover four of Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s 25 point IT management reform plan (PDF):
Align the Acquisition Process with the Technology Cycle
13. Design and develop a cadre of specialized IT acquisition professionals
14. Identify IT acquisition best practices and adopt government-wide
15. Issue contracting guidance and templates to support modular development
16. Reduce barriers to entry for small innovative technology companies
On Tuesday, April 26, I get to moderate a fantastic panel of luminaries to talk about the issues and challenges of bringing IT and acquisition. (More information about the 1105 Government Information Group’s Federal IT Acquisition Summit here.)

The panel:

  • Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA Headquarters
  • Simon Szykman, Chief Information Officer, Department of Commerce
  • David Wennergren, Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense
  • Roger Baker, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Department of Veteran Affairs
Read our discussion points… and add your thoughts… after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

April 21, 2011 at 5:39 PM

DorobekINSIDER: AFCEA Bethesda scores $675K for the Children’s Inn at NIH

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One of the best events of the year is hosted by AFCEA’s Bethesda, MD chapter — it is the annual gala for The Children’s Inn at NIH, a simply remarkable place where sick children undergoing research at the National Institutes of Health can find a respite at a “place like home.”

The Children's Inn at NIH

The Children's Inn at NIH

AFCEA Bethesda has been a long-time supporter of The Children’s Inn at NIH. And the AFCEA Bethesda team managed to break yet another record for the 13th year of the gala, collecting more than $675,000 — at least as of initial estimates. The tallying was still going on, but… No small feat given the current environment.

I have been to the event for many of the past 13 years — and blogging about it in recent years… 200820092010… For 2011, I was honored to be asked to be a part of the presenting team — they asked me to help goose the silent auctions. (By ‘goosing,’ I can only assume they mean ‘come home with as many items as possible!” On that account — mission accomplished!)

A special thanks to Teresa Bozzelli of Sapient Government Services, who invited me to participate.

Hear Bozzelli and Linda Berdine, the chairwoman of The Children’s Inn at NIH Board, talk about it on The DorobekINSIDER.

AFCEA Bethesda has been a long-time supporter of the Children’s Inn at NIH. For those of you who don’t know about it, the Children’s Inn is similar to the Ronald MacDonald houses — they are a place where families can stay near the hospital and have as normal of a life as is possible. The big difference: The Children’s Inn provides that home to those families at no cost. Remarkable. (And yes — you can contribute… $139 buys a night for a family at the Children’s Inn.)

Donna Appell at 2011 AFCEA Bethesda Gala for The Children's Inn

Donna Appell

See a slide show of photos from the event.

See more photos after the break.

One of the most amazing parts of the Children’s Inn Gala is that the audience gets to hear from the children themselves. This year, we got to meet Ashley Appell, 24, and her boyfriend Mervin Hernandez, 24 — who actually performed at the event… she sang and he played the saxophone. Both suffer from Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, a genetic metabolic disorder which causes albinism, visual impairment, and a platelet dysfunction with prolonged bleeding. Ashley’s mother, Donna, told the audience that they started singing and playing the sax as part of their therapy — to help with their lung capacity. And there therapy has turned into a joy and passion.

Ashley Appell, 24, and Mervin Hernandez, 24
Ashley Appell, 24, and Mervin Hernandez, 24

And it was thrilling that Ashley’s mother got to speak because I cannot imagine the torture of watching a child in pain. But the remarkable thing is the Children’s Inn also becomes a place for real information sharing. Donna told me that the Children’s Inn, in addition to providing a home, has also provided her with a network of people who have been there and done it.

Some photos from the event…

The DorobekINSIDER gooses the silent auction

The DorobekINSIDER gooses the silent auction (Photo: GTSI's Leslie Barry http://on.fb.me/fRQme5

$676,614

AFCEA Bethesda raises more than $676,000 for The Children's Inn at NIH

Bozzelli and Berdine at the AFCEA Bethesda Children's Inn Gala

Bozzelli and Berdine at the AFCEA Bethesda Children's Inn Gala

More photos… a slide show… and Children’s Inn at NIH – by the numbers… after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

April 6, 2011 at 5:39 AM

Posted in Circuit, community, Events

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