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Archive for October 13th, 2008

Story mentioned on air… Vets using tech to recover from stress disorders

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On Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris today, we were chatting about DOD pondering a requirement to have everybody returning from war zones undergo an assessment about whether they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there’s a reluctance to acknowledge psychological problems for fear of showing weakness. Troops now fill out questionnaires after combat tours that help determine if they have suffered psychological damage. They’re examined by medical professionals for physical injuries, but not by mental health experts.

It’s a great idea.

Combat trauma theater [Government Health IT, February 19, 2007]
Virtual reality technologies are helping combat veterans overcome the mental wounds of war

The scene from the front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) offers a postcard view of palm trees swaying in the breeze, rain-greened hills and, in the distance, the Pacific Ocean, marked by the wake of a Navy cruiser leaving Pearl Harbor.

In a nondescript VAMC conference room on the fifth floor at the Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui, the visions of paradise fade to the reality of combat. After donning a head-mounted virtual reality display, you’re bouncing behind the steering wheel of a Humvee making its way down what looks like a street in Iraq.

At first, the drive seems routine. A woman clad in black crosses the road while a civilian SUV turns in front of the Humvee. The only sounds are engine noises. Dr. Sarah Miyahira, co-director of the Virtual Reality Behavioral Health Program and Laboratory at the center, then asks a technician to turn up the intensity.

The SUV suddenly swerves in front of the Humvee, and the vehicle’s occupants start firing machine guns. A rocket-propelled grenade comes within inches of the Humvee’s windshield. The rat-a-tat-tat of combat fills the room. Then the technician turns off the action, and the room returns to silence.

Miyahira, a VA psychologist, wants to use this immersive experience to help treat Iraq war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Using virtual reality to treat PTSD has its roots in the traditional treatment for the disorder, imaginal exposure therapy. In that therapy, a patient repeatedly describes traumatic events to a therapist and, in the process, tries to overcome memories, similar to those that have afflicted more than 800,000 Vietnam War veterans.

The virtual reality experience benefits those who cannot or will not conjure the images that cause them stress, Miyahira said. Virtual reality therapy helps break down those barriers by gradually reintroducing patients to the scenes of their trauma. Patients usually attend 10 therapist sessions during a five-week period, Miyahira said.

Continuing reading this fascinating story here.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 5:34 PM

Visiting DC’s “Googleplex”

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DC’s Googleplex

Originally uploaded by cdorobek

I told you that last week, I got to moderate a panel featuring the team that created Virtual Alabama.

That event was held at DC’s Googleplex right downtown.

Let me tell you that this is nothing like my office. My favorite, of course, were those big balls that you see at the gym — all in Google colors, of course.

Last month, the WP reported that Google was opening a federal sales office in Reston, VA.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 2:23 PM

OMB to memo on the role of the CIO (Hint: There should be one)

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Yes, there are only 21 days until election day… 98 days until inauguration day… but Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management, is going to put out a memo — possibly as early as this week — on the role of the CIO.

More than a decade after the Clinger-Cohen Act was passed that mandated agencies have a chief information officer, the role of theCIO is still being fully fleshed out. In some agencies, it is the person who makes sure that the e-mail gets through and that the BlackBerries work. In the best agencies, the CIO has — dare I say it — the CIO has the infamous “seat at the table.” (Even the phrase “a seat at the table” has grown to have almost nirvana-like qualities — ‘if I only had a seat at the table.’)

In my humble opinion — and I would love to be corrected — few CIOs are truly active members of agency senior leadership teams. And often times CIOs can get so tied up in making sure all the IT works and that systems are on track, that they just don’t have time to be the strategic player.

Some of the best organizations — public or private sector — are ones that use IT to accomplish their missions.

I’m hearing that the memo will remind agencies about what the role of the CIO should be.

It’s interesting because there are some who think that OMB has undercut the role of the CIO in recent years. More on that later.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Posted in CIOs, Management, OMB, Policy

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Monday’s Quote of the Day coming from Tweets from Gartner’s Symposium

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As Twittered by Gartner from the Gartner Symposium/ITExpo going on down at Disney World in Orlando:

This one has to be the quote of the day:

* Gartner analyst Whit Andrews “The age of conspicuous consumption is over; the age of conspicuous frugality starts now”

* #Gartner Whit Andrews “This is no downturn; this is a crisis”

* #Gartner Sondergaard identifies top 10 Gartner recommendations for cost optimization for attendees at Symposium in Orlando

* #Gartner Sondergaard “The top recommendation for cost optimization = reduce headcount/freeze hiring”

Read more about this at

A few other good items coming from Orlando:

* #Gartner Harris, live at Symposium Opening Keynote: “Innovation is a people concern, not a technology concern”

* Harris: “2 out of 5 users report using non-company owned devices on company systems and networks”

* #Gartner Harris “technical expertise is no longer the exclusive domain of IT”

* #Gartner Kathy Harris live: “Business is not waiting for IT”

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Posted in Management, strategy, Technology

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Happy birthday to… rising star Steve Ressler

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Steve Ressler (photo by Matthew Borkoski)

Steve Ressler (photo by Matthew Borkoski)

On this Oct. 13, a big DorobekInsider slice of birthday cake to Steve Ressler.

I mentioned Ressler earlier this year — he was part of the freshman class of FCW’s Rising Star award winners. In the years since then, Ressler has become a friend. He is one of those people who just can look at problems in new and innovative ways. (I hate those people! Actually, I LOVE them!) He was one of the co-founders of the Young Government Leaders, and now is the pervayor of the social networking site GovLoop, which is a social networking site for feds. Federal News Radio had Ressler on our mid-day program, InDepth with Francis Rose. You can hear that interview here. [.mp3]

So… happy birthday Ressler.

As public radio’s Writer’s Almanac reports, it is also the birthday of Margaret Thatcher and Paul Simon.

It’s the birthday of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, born in Grantham, England, in 1925. She said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”…

It’s the birthday of singer and songwriter Paul Simon, born in Newark, New Jersey, (1941). In 1964, he and his friend Art Garfunkel recorded a folk album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. It was a flop, and Paul Simon moved back in with his parents. But without telling Simon and Garfunkel, a producer added electric guitar, bass, and drums to the song “The Sound of Silence” and released it as a single. It went to No. 1 on the pop charts.

It is also the birthday on controversial comedian Lenny Bruce (10/13/1925 – 8/3/1966), who was actually tried on obscenity charges. You can read the NYT’s obit of Bruce here.

Other big events on this date in history:

1775 The Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet. (Happy birthday to the Navy!)

1792 The cornerstone of the White House was laid during a ceremony in the District of Columbia.

1960 Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy participated in the third televised debate of the presidential campaign, with Nixon in Hollywood, Calif., and Kennedy in New York.

1974 TV host Ed Sullivan died at age 72.

And, from the government IT world, from the archives of Federal Computer Week, this week back in 1996, nine companies won SEWP II contracts, the Defense Science Board report said the Defense Department need to “move aggressively to outsource most DOD support activities” — and one of the attractive early candidates were data centers. And this week in 1996, VA rolled out its then new Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA) system. VistA is now used across VA hospitals… and, I believe, is even used by some commercial hospitals.

And… happy birthday to Steve!

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 8:08 AM

Posted in Circuit

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