Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for September 24th, 2008

DorobekInsider: Site worth watching —

with one comment

So I discovered a new Web site: FedScoop. The site pulls the news from various news sources — GovExec, FCW, GCNFederal News Radio — and puts them all in one place. So it trys to bring all the headlines together for you.

The site also has some of the popular federal blogs — with one noticeable missing blog! (They tell me the Dorobek Insider will make the page.)

The site is pulled together by Goldy Kamali, who is vice president of business development, public sector at Adventos.

Of course, I have just a few critiques:

  • ID yourself: This site, like many sites out there these days, doesn’t say specifically who put it together. Why? In the age of transparency, why not say who did the work? Have a way to contact that person.
  • Great layout: The site was designed by FaraJoomla and it is very sleek.
  • FedScoop vs RSS feeds: I’m guessing that FedScoop pulls from RSS feeds, so… in the end, why would somebody not just use RSS feeds? We’ll see.

Over all, the site is nice looking and it is great to be able to find stuff in one place. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 11:23 PM

Posted in Web sites

Tagged with , Cureton exits the GITEC board

leave a comment »

Earlier, we told you about the changes at GITEC — slow changes, but changes, or so it seems. Many of those changes have been spurred by Linda Cureton , the CIO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a GITEC board member.

Soon after the post, we learn that Cureton has decided to leave the GITEC board.

We’ve heard that there were other board members who were going to step down.

One of GITEC’s value propositions is that it is one of the only organizations out there with a government only board.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 10:56 PM

DorobekInsider: FBI CIO retiring

leave a comment »

Federal Computer Week and CNet are reporting that the FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi is stepping down.

Zalmai Azmi, FBI’s chief information officer since 2004, announced he will be retiring from government Oct. 17.

This from the CNet report:

The biggest challenge for his successor, Azmi said, “will be maintaining those relationships. More than anything, it’s about the transparency we’ve brought.”

Azmi’s last official day will be October 17, and he said his successor will likely be named a few weeks after that. From a large pool of applicants from the public and private sectors, the bureau has narrowed its choices to candidates from the private sector.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 4:19 PM

DorobekInsider: More info on the passing of Suda’s mother

leave a comment »

I told you earlier this week that former GSA-USDA-DOTer Bob Suda’s mother passed away early Monday morning. The obit has been posted… and there is info on what you can do…

Suda let me know that the family is asking, in lieu of flowers, people can make a donation in memory of his mother to the American Cancer Society. To donate, go to Go to “Donate Now” and click on the “Gifts In Memory” button. Suda’s mother’s name is Rose Suda.

Cards should be sent to Bob Suda, 11416 Meath Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Rose Suda, formerly of Watkins Street, Swoyersville, passed away on Monday, September 22, 2008, at the Davis Manor, Mountain Top, where she had been a guest.

Our thoughts are with Suda and his family.

You can read the full obit after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

Tagged with

DorobekInsider: More shifts at GSA

with one comment

We’ve been tracking the changes going on over at GSA… Last week, we mentioned that Tyree Varnado is the acting FAS Commissioner effective September 21.

Today, we’re hearing that John Phelps is going to GSA’s National Capital Region to serve as Acting Regional Administrator, effective today. NCR is GSA’s largest region. Phelps has has served as GSA’s chief of staff since July 3, 2006 and it looks like he will serve in both roles.

Tony Reed, who has served as the regional administrator of the National Capital Region since June 11, 2007, is apparently coming to GSA headquarters to serve as a special assistant to GSA Acting Administrator Jim Williams.

Only partially confirmed, but… it comes from good sources.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Posted in GSA, Whose In and Whose Out

Tagged with

DorobekInsider: Happy birthday to Washington Technology’s Nick Wakeman

leave a comment »

A happy birthday to Nick Wakeman, the editor in chief of Washington Technology.

Nick has had a very exciting year — welcoming the newest Wakeman into the world.

On this date in history:

It was this week in 1066 that William the Conqueror of Normandy first arrived on British soil. (Read more here.)

In 1896, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famed American novelist of the Jazz Age, was born.
1755… John Marshall, (9/24/1755 – 7/6/1835), the fourth chief justice of the United States, was born in Germantown, Virginia. Marshall also served as a congressman and as Secretary of State.

1789… Congress passed the First Judiciary Act, which provided for an attorney general and a Supreme Court.
1869… Financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk tried to corner the gold market, sending Wall Street into a panic and leaving thousands of investors in financial ruin.
1960… The USS Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was launched at Newport News, Va.
1968… “60 Minutes” premiered on CBS.

Other people born on this date:

* Joseph Kennedy II, former U.S. representative, D-Mass., turns 56

And some people born on this date in history:

* Jim Henson (Sept. 24, 1936 – May, 16, 1990), the American puppeteer; creator of the Muppets
* Stephen Bechtel (9/24/1900 – 3/14/1989), the American construction engineer; founded Bechtel Corp.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Posted in Circuit

Tagged with , ,

Dorobek Insider: GITEC starts to embrace change

with 2 comments

Change is never easy. Despite almost becoming the mantra for 2008, we all know that change is very, very difficult. So whenever I watch other organizations evolve — and let’s be honest, none of us do it particularly well — I always watch with a large amount of empathy. GITEC seems to be one of those organizations right now. And, frankly, the leadership deserves a certain amount of credit because many people thought that the organization simply wouldn’t be able to make it happen.

First, some background…

GITEC is the Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC). (To be honest with you, I’ve always been confused about the councils and how these organizations work, their relationship with the American Council for Technology (ACT). As far as I understand it, the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) is also one of ACT’s councils. AFFIRM is also among them. To be completely honest, I’m unclear about how they work and I’m unclear why they are all necessary. But… maybe we can talk about that later or somebody can explain it to me.)

GITEC’s big event is the annual IPIC, which is one of the big government IT conferences of the year and has been held in Orlando, Fla. for some time in the late winter. IPIC 2009 will mark the 25th anniversary, so it has been around for some time. But these are different and challenging times. There is so much competition for people’s time — and money. And then there are so many conferences out there these days. So GITEC and IPIC have been facing a growing chorus of grumbling for the last several years. And there was some quiet talk about whether GITEC and IPIC were necessary these days. (There were a number of people at IPIC 2008 earlier this year who had not attended in a number of years and were shocked that conference had not evolved.)

Somewhat paradoxically, much of it came to a head just before the start of the GITEC IPIC 2008 conference earlier this year. (Perhaps somebody could have predicted that given that the theme of GITEC’s IPIC 2008 was “Transforming the infrastructure: Managing and protecting data for the future.”)

As they traditionally do, the GITEC board met on the Saturday, March 1 before IPIC started for one of its regular meetings.

These meetings are traditionally largely a formality. This one ended up being a more… how do they say it over at the State Department… a more frank and honest discussion then I gather typically happens at these gatherings. During that session NASA Goddard CIO and GITEC board member Linda Cureton gave a presentation, which she called, “Heroes needed for GITEC.” You can see that presentation here.

[I should note specifically that I did not get this presentation from Cureton. I should also not that I did not get it from Anne Armstrong, president of the 1105 Government Information Group and my former boss. Armstrong serves as a member of the GITEC executive advisory board. I generally have not spoken to her about the issues facing GITEC and IPIC — either when I was at FCW or since — because I felt it put her in an uncomfortable postion as a GITEC executive advisory board member. All of that being said, there were many people in the session.]

In her March presentation, Cureton essentially says that IPIC — and by extension GITEC — need to change.

It’s interesting because when I spoke to many of the board members and the executive advisory board, at that time there were fairly sharply divergent opinions about the state of the GITEC and IPIC. (The GITEC board is made up of feds. The Executive Advisory Board has no voting authority. They provide advice to the GITEC board.)

Essentially, Cureton said that GITEC is “dying and needs to be saved.” While she highlighted a number of the organization’s strength, she noted that GITEC has a weak management infrastructure, has been unable to expand beyond IPIC, and lacks a strategic focus.

One of the obvious issues facing the GITEC board is the length of IPIC. There have been ongoing complaints about IPIC’s length — Sunday through Thursday — and cost — the Renaissance Sea World hotel just across from Sea World has proven to be expensive.

Cureton recommended shortening IPIC, selecting a location that is closer to Washington, D.C., and having GITEC leverage the ACT infrastructure. (ACT and IAC have full-time, paid staff; GITEC does not. I believe the recommendation would be to have ACT/IAC essentially run IPIC the way the ACT/IAC runs MOC and ELC.)

Again, at the time, there were very divergent opinions on the board. At the time, the consensus of the board seemed to be that, while they agreed with Cureton’s viewpoint, they thought the timing was wrong coming just before the start of IPIC.

Then there is a contingent of GITEC board members who don’t think GITEC nor IPIC is broken. One board member noted that attendance is up — I heard a range of number of government attendees, all of them between 150-165. This board member noted that they have been doing well with sponsors and getting companies on the exhibit floor. And, this board member said, the conference agenda has improved in recent years. And IPIC has given away a lot of money to charities over the years.

By contrast, there are a group of board members — and a number of the Executive Advisory Board — who believe that IPIC simply has not evolved. And there are many people that I spoke to who believe that GITEC is… broken may be too strong, but it may not be that far off.

Unfortunately the board does not hold its meetings in public, so there is no open discussion of these kinds of issues. Several board members said that Cureton raised issues that the board has known about and discussed. Again, the meetings are not held in public, so there is no way of knowing. My sense is that GITEC’s issues have been acknowledged, but they have not been discussed in a truly public way. Instead, they have been discussed around the edges. Again, I should note that I am not in the GITEC board meetings.

I give Cureton a lot of credit for bringing the issues front and center, opening it up to discussion.

And, in fact, I think it had an impact. GITEC is changing. I don’t have any official word from GITEC board members. The current GITEC president, who I believe is FBI’s Gail Scavongelli, and the former president Scott Craig of the Department of Vetarans Affairs, did not respond to various e-mails. I have, however, spoken to many of the board members as well as many of the members of the advisory board. If GITEC officials want to talk, I will certainly post their comments.

What I have been able to cull from those semi-official sources is that there IPIC — and GITEC — are changing and evolving. From what I hear, this will be the last year that IPIC will be held at the Renisance hotel. GITEC is also actively considering shortening the conference — perhaps following the model used by many of the conferences these days where they start Sunday and finish up mid-day on Tuesday. The board is also looking at whether there needs to be a show floor. And, in a significant move, GITEC has also decided not to renew its agreement with Jim Dean, who had run IPIC’s operations for several years and has proven to be very controversial.

Over the weekend, I got a note from Dean:

I have resigned and Technology Forums will be handling IPIC 2009. I will be with GITEC until December 31 working with Mark Hamilton on transition logistics and with Gail Scavongelli, GITEC President, with Admin support.

I will certainly miss relationships established over the years, and working with such notables as Ann Armstrong, Linda Cureton, Elaine Dauphin, Bob Bruce, Bob Woods, Faye Shepherd and so many others too many to mention.

As Dean mentioned, GITEC has apparently hired Technology Forums, apparently without putting the opportunity out to bid. I have no doubt whatsoever that there would have been several bidders. My former employer, the 1105 Government Information Group, has an entire events team — and there are many others out there. Joanne Connelly’s ConnellyWorks, for example, helped me with FCW’s Government Leadership Summit earlier this year and has run the state of Virginia’s Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) for several years. And there are others… the Digital Government Institute… or Hosky Communications. I don’t fully understand why one wouldn’t put the conference management out for competition.

So… stay tuned. I hope we will hear more as IPIC and GITEC evolve. And a big kudos to Linda Curtin for saying to the board what many have been saying privately.

There are other issues here, but… more later.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Posted in Circuit, community, Government Groups

Tagged with , , ,