Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for September 23rd, 2008

DorobekInsider: NOAA’s Lautenbacher to take his leave

leave a comment »

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher has told his staff that he is going to be leaving. Lautenbacher is the undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. He also serves as the eighth administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He was appointed Dec. 19, 2001. He will leave at the end of October. On his departure his deputy administrator, William J. Brennan, will become acting administrator.

Here is the note sent to his NOAA staff:

This note is to inform you that as the Administration comes to a close and after almost seven years of service as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and theNOAA Administrator, I will be leaving this position as of October 31. It has been an extreme pleasure and privilege to serve in this capacity and I am most grateful for your support and interest during these years. I intend to relocate to the Atlanta area in the near future and look forward to remaining active in a number of areas. I hope that we will maintain our connection in the future (email to be provided). With many thanks and best wishes for your future success!

Many politicals making their way…

Written by cdorobek

September 23, 2008 at 6:24 PM

DorobekInsider: My favorite spam: From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson

leave a comment »

This was sent along by a friend over at the 1105 Government Information Group… and it is simply delicious. It is a satirical spam-like e-mail that is circulating following the $700 billion economic stabilization package. I found it posted over on the

(Full text of email)

From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Written by cdorobek

September 23, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Posted in budget

Tagged with ,

DorobekInsider: Seeking visibility in the federal budget process

leave a comment »

Government 2.0 has become quite a buzz word these days. To be honest, that worries me a bit — things sometime can become more buzz then substance. And I believe there are a lot of benefits to having government apply these Web 2.0 tools because it allows government to collaborate in a way that has been difficult previously.

But we’re now seeing folks who are using “government 2.0” as a hook for… well, stuff that isn’t really government 2.0.

As far as I can tell, a company named Primavers Systems has done exactly that. Primavers today announced the results of its second annual government management study, titled “Government 2.0 – The Performance Opportunity.” The study, however, does raise some good points about how people would like more visibility into how money is spent.

Here is the top of the release:

The study shows that both Federal managers and average Americans are calling for management reform in the next administration. Federal managers leverage their inside knowledge to provide specific recommendations on how the next administration can improve. These recommendations point to Government 2.0 – the next generation of government that leverages technology to enable two-way communication with the public, improve management practices, and prepare the leaders of the future.

The survey apparently queried “average Americans” for their views.

With mere weeks until the next Presidential election, the study reveals that average Americans believe that 42 percent of U.S. tax dollars are wasted due to government inefficiency. The value of this “Efficiency Gap” equates to the combined personal income tax payments of approximately every taxpayer in the 11 states that comprise the Northeast. Surprisingly, Federal managers echoed the perception of waste, reporting that they believe nearly one-third of their own tax dollars are wasted or misused.

And they asked these “average Americans” about government waste, fraud and abuse. For example, why do programs and systems go over budget? To be honest, I’m suspicious about surveys that ask these kinds of detailed questions about the government budget process of “average Americans.” Let’s be honest — many feds don’t know about the budget process. It still often confuses me, and I’ve been covering this for a long time. (What’s the difference between an “authorization” bill and an “appropriation” bill, for example. They often seem to have nothing to do with one another.)

For example, Primaver’s release says this:

Americans, too, want to see more communication from the government. Seventy-five percent of Americans would like the government to notify them when a program goes over budget, why it is over budget, and what the agency will do to fix the problem. Sixty percent of Americans say the government should publish information about government spending online.

To be fair, I think the Bush administration and Karen Evans have made great strides in putting more information online. You check on the performance of many programs at And, of course,, which lets people search government spending. was a requirement of the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008 (S.3077), sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

These sites are just a start — and there is a lot more to do. We still have the absolutely rediculous process where nobody in government can talk about the budget until it is released by the White House. And all the pass-back information that is all determined to be pre-decisional. It has always baffled me. Why not make all of that public. Let everybody see what was originally requested, what OMB put forward, and what lawmakers eventually passed.

It will be interesting to see how these things evolve as we move forward.

And I’m trying to get the folks from Primavers on Federal News Radio to talk more about their findings.

I have posted Primavers’ full release after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

September 23, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

DorobekInsider: Doan-Palin — separated at birth?

leave a comment »

Needless to say, Lurita Doan is a controversial person. As most people know, she does a weekly column for Federal News Radio. This column about oversight was particularly controversial. Frankly, regardless of whether you like or dislike her, it makes for great radio because she’ll say things other people will not say.

But Doan sent out the following e-mail that included this link that had a Doan-Palin separated at birth.

Doan’s note:

A friend just sent this weblink (linking me to Palin) to my attention and I decided to forward it on to you.

I think it is interesting to note, that there are obvious similarities in the “playbook” run by media, namely,

1. Don’t attack the policy, attack the person.
2. Allege “corruption” of whatever action is taken regarding any procurement.
3. Allege “interference” when an executive questions a decision
4. Drag the executive’s young daughter into the mud slinging
5. Crank up the bloggers and the media to spew the mud as thickly as possible.

Quite comical really, but, then again it is effective. Gov. Palin, no doubt, has already gotten used to this…took me a while but eventually I did too.

Have to admit that I rather admire Gov Palin, so if the bloggers and nutjobs want to cite similarities and suggest that we are separated at birth….well there is a lot worse that has been said about both of us.


To be honest, I can understand how difficult it must be to be under the media spotlight. Frankly, we in the media — and the public at large — is quick to judge. And, frankly, we as the media don’t always get it right. And there is often more to the story.

To be fair, it is often difficult to get ‘the rest of the story.’ That often becomes more clear over time, and by the time that picture becomes more clear, we’ve moved on. So I hear — and understand — her frustration.

Written by cdorobek

September 23, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Posted in Circuit

Tagged with , ,