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Archive for December 2008

Godspeed John Gioia (Nov. 11, 1932-Dec. 26, 2008)

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john_gioia02Sad news that John Gioia passed away on Dec. 26 after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Gioia is probably best known for creating the firm that bears his name, Robbins Gioia, which focuses on helping agencies with program management issues — something that was really unheard of at the time.

A good friend of mine simply said, “Very sad. He was a true gentleman who built an incredibly successful company after a distinguished government career. He will be missed.”

I have posted the notice below… but after the break, I have the very classy note that Robbins Gioia posted… and the note the family sent around that has information on arrangements…

The Gioia family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to USO-Metro. You can donate online at by selecting Donate from the menu. You will be able to specify that your donation is in memory of John Gioia.

Here is the death notice as posted in the Washington Post:

John Gioia

GIOIA JOHN GIOIA Colonel Air Force, retired of Alexandria, VA and North Palm Beach Florida died on Friday December 26, 2008. Husband of Patty Gioia. Father of Eric Gioia and his wife Piper. Grandfather of Parker, Luke and John-Austin Gioia; son of Mary Gioia and brother of Sal and Jerry Gioia. Friends may call at the Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 where the family will be present on Friday January 2, 2009 from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday January 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. where funeral services will begin at 12 p.m. Graveside services with Full Military Honors will be held on Monday January 26, 2009 at 11 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to USO Metro, PO Box 1710, Fort Myer, VA 22211.

Much more after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

December 31, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Posted in Circuit

Most read DorobekInsider posts for 2008

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I started the in late-August — well, actually in September, when all was really running. My goal was — and is — to be a place where people can get information that helps them do their jobs better and to help build a community. It follows more than three years of blogging at Federal Computer Week and as the FCW Insider.

So this list actually represents slightly more than a quarter rather then the full year, but… given that it is the end of 2008, it’s the list we’ll use. But it does represent the top posts so far. And yes, this is most of them. I put the top ones here… and you can read the full list after the break.

Some brief explanations: The list isn’t totally scientific. In the Web world, these numbers and rankings are indications, but like most data, they have to be interpreted. So, for example, not everybody clicks on a specific item. I will also note that I have not include the ‘most read items from the past 7-days’ items in the list. There were actually 228 items for the year, while this list includes only 219.

All of that being said… the top posts for (part of) 2008:

  1. FCW gets a new editor — and the new 1105 GovInfo marketing person is official
  2. HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
  3. Navy out with one of the first Web 2.0 policy
  4. About the and Christopher J. Dorobek
  5. Interior’s Howell to move to OMB
  6. Who might be the government’s CIO… er, CTO
  7. A correction… and a even bigger congratulations to Microsoft’s Teresa Carlson
  8. Obama CTO frenzy: More names in the mix
  9. We talk to the new head at Unisys federal
  10. OMB’s Tim Young is going to… Yes, we now we know
  11. Microsoft federal names a CTO — a chief transition officer
  12. OMB’s Tim Young announces his departure, but to where
  13. Another big score for Deloitte — Tom Davis
  14. GSA names Tyree Varnado to lead its acquisition shop
  15. Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy
  16. Read a draft of the much discussed OMB CIO memo
  17. News on OMB’s Tim Young… today?
  18. The Federal News Radio Book Club: The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
  19. FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done in 2008 with the annual awards nominations
  20. Tech guru Genachowski named to Obama transition team
  21. IAC meets with Team Obama
  22. Apps for Democracy… and my recommendation for Obama’s CTO
  23. Obama’s yet-to-be-named CTO suggestion box
  24. Hearing that Interior has named a new CIO
  25. Evans offers details on the coming memo defining the CIO
  26. Dee Lee wins ACT/IAC’s prestigious ACT/IAC Mendenhall award
  27. The 10.22 Marty Wagner update… with good news
  28. Gartner’s 10 technologies worth watching
  29. DorobekInsider: Why feds may not be able to use YouTube
  30. The 09.16 Marty Wagner update
  31. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

December 30, 2008 at 4:50 PM

Posted in DorobekInsider

What are the biggest stories for government — 2008?

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The week between Christmas and New Year and we get a parade of lists — movies, books, music… and biggest stories from the past year. And in a few days, we’ll start trying to predict what is ahead — which is always a foolhardy exercise.

After the break, I have posted the Associated Press’s list of the biggest stories of 2008 — many obvious ones like the election… and some that we never would have predicted, like the economy or Sarah Palin.

What are the biggest stories impacting government for the past 12 months?

I’m following Team Obama’s use of Google Moderator to give you an opportunity to help decide. The simple question: What are the biggest stories for the government in 2008?

I have posted a few obvious stories — but feel free to add — and vote.

Here are three that I’ve put in there:

* The election of Sen. Barack Obama to be president of the United States
* The transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration
* The economic turn — and what it will mean for feds

That’s just a start, of course. Suggestions not only welcomed, but invited.

After the break, read AP’s full list of the top stories of 2008.
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Written by cdorobek

December 29, 2008 at 6:31 PM

Posted in DorobekInsider, poll

Team Obama’s — abuzz about how it was created — and how difficult change in government is

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Change in government is difficult. Team Obama is going to find that out. In the meantime, they are doing a good job of doing — and asking for permission later.

One example is Team Obama’s transition Web site, They are already doing some very innovative things such as the feature that lets you ask a question. There are some bureaucratic issues raised here. For example, the “open for questions” feature uses Google’s Google Moderator application to let people post questions — and rate other people’s questions.

A brief aside: We spoke to Katie Jacobs Stanton, principal of Google’s new development team on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris recently. She told us about Google Moderator — what it is and how it can be used. Hear that conversation here.

On one hand, that is precisely what government should be doing — why go out and create a government-only application when the private sector can do it maybe better… definitely faster… and absolutely cheaper? That being said, how does a government organization go about doing that — was there a request for proposals for these kinds of applications, for example, because there are others who have similar kinds of applications… and there are privacy implications. Google Moderator requires that a person register. I don’t know for sure because the page doesn’t say, but I’m guessing that when you do register, it falls under Google’s privacy policy, which is very different from the federal government requirements under the Privacy Act of 1974, which governs how the government deals with privacy.

(I should note that if you listen to our Daily Debrief conversation about Google Moderator, we did not get into these issues with Stanton. I specifically agreed to that beforehand — and said so on air — because these issues are not Google issues. They are issues that need to be addressed by Team Obama. And I have requests in, but, as you might imagine, they are not top issues for the transition team.)

So I think the Web site could be a microcosm of how difficult change is in government.

Specifically, I’m hearing that GSA, which is responsible for getting the transition team set up, is getting pings with FOIA requests of people seeking information about how came about. Michelle Malkin, who is apparently a conservative blogger, has received access to some of the FOIAed documents and her take is that there is something wicked afoot.

Last month that I blogged several questions about the propriety of allowing the perpetual Obama campaign to use a .gov domain name for what appeared to be a fund-raising front. Readers and industry observers noted that the decision appeared to violate General Services Administration rules governing government domains.

Guess what? They were right. The FOIA documents sent to Lance O., which he forwarded to me, reveal that the GSA initially rejected Obama’s application for “” On Oct. 21, Peter Alterman, Deputy Associate Administrator of Technology Strategy at the GSA, denied the Obama campaign’s request for a government domain because:

1) It would be a a violation of the government’s naming conventions (too generic); and

2) using ‘change’ in the domain name would be political, since it was the trademark slogan of the Obama campaign.

The day after the election, on Nov. 5, GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman overruled Alterman after apparently receiving a waiver from Chris Lu, Executive Director of Obama’s Transition Project. As reader Lance discovered through his FOIA request, Ms. Coleman did not elaborate on the granting of this waiver except to say that she had “determined that it is in the best interest of the Federal Government to register the subject domain name.”

TechPresident has its take — they aren’t nearly as concerned.

I’m generally not that suspicious nor cynical, so, unless proven otherwise, I don’t see any nefariousness here. That being said, GSA and Team Obama would do well to have some transparency here — make theseFOIAed documents available on GSA’s FOIA online reading room Web site. (Most agencies don’t actively use their FOIA electronic reading rooms. GSA’s, for example, is fairly awful. If something is there, it is hard to find. But GSA is not alone here. Most agencies make these reading rooms difficult to find — and often don’t post much information. It has always baffled me. In the age of transparency, why not post just about every request an agency gets unless there is a reason not posting it?)

Back to the subject at hand — there are a whole host of issues here — some complex and dictated by existing law, and some still complex and dictated by the way government has always done business.

I, for one, am happy that Team Obama is reaching out and trying new things, new ways to involving citizens, new ways to be transparent. Shouldn’t that really be the goal anyway? Yes, these laws, rules and regulations are important, but they should serve the public, not the other way around. Times are changing, and government needs to be a part of that change.

Written by cdorobek

December 29, 2008 at 5:46 PM

Tracking Santa… even on Twitter

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Yes, there are more serious things out there — I’ll get to them while enjoying some time away next week — but everybody is busy with last minute shopping and, so… NORAD Santa Tracker .

The BBC reports:

Children wanting to track Santa Claus’s global journey on Christmas Eve have a number of options this year.

As always, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) will be keeping tabs on Santa and children can follow his progress on Google Earth.

In addition, they can send e-mails to the tracking team or even follow Santa on Twitter.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a tradition that started by accident in Colorado, in the US.

Father Christmas’s journey will start at 1100 GMT and children worldwide can track his progress using Google Maps and Google Earth.

He will pass 24 “Santa cams” around the world, providing live video feeds of his progress, which will in turn be put onto Norad’s YouTube channel as they happen.

For even more up-to-the-minute progress reports, Santa can be followed on the Twitter microblogging service, on which he is known as @noradsanta.

And lastly, Norad volunteers can answer e-mails about Santa’s journey (the address is

A very happy holiday. Please travel safely.

Written by cdorobek

December 24, 2008 at 8:12 AM

Posted in after hours, Off-topic

Helping returning warfighters: Operation Jump Start

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Update: We spoke with Ed Meagher, the former deputy CIO at Interior and Veterans Affairs, now with SRA, on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. You can hear that conversation hear.

There is an absolutely wonderful program that helps warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they “jump start” the rest of their careers. The program is called Operation Jump Start. And it is a great way to help others.

There is an actual event on Tuesday, Jan. 27  at the Army Navy Club in Arlington, VA. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a single place where you can find information. You can register here… and I’ve posted all the information after the break. That includes all the ways you can help… and there are many ways you can help out.

If you are not able to get there on that day, you can send it here to Federal News Radio 1500 AM and I will personally make sure it arrives. Our address here… and more information about the event… after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

December 23, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Fed 100 deadline postponed… happy Christmas!

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For those of us busy working on Fed 100 nominations… we have some additional time — until Jan. 5, in fact.

FCW’s Michael Hardy posted on FCW’s blog:

FCW Insider: Fed 100 deadline extended

Good news for those of you struggling to complete Federal 100 nominations by the original Dec. 23 deadline: You have some more time.

We’ve extended the deadline to close of business (call it 5 p.m.) Jan. 5. You can find details on who is qualified to win the awards and the electronic entry form here.

The awards will honor 100 of the most accomplished members of the federal IT community, but we can only know about the accomplishments that set them out as deserving the recognition if you tell us. Take some time to nominate your colleagues who have performed well above and beyond their job requirements this year.

Contact FCW News Editor Michael Hardy or Editorial Assistant Timieka Nichols with any questions.

Written by cdorobek

December 23, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Posted in awards

VA CIO Bob Howard reportedly has a new gig

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VA CIO Robert Howard

VA CIO Robert Howard

I don’t have it fully confirmed yet, but… I’m hearing from VA and industry sources that VA CIO Robert Howard has post-January 20 job.

Howard, a political appointee, is reportedly going to be the COO for a small, women-owned company. I don’t know which one — leads welcome and names will be kept quiet, of course.

Howard has served as the VA CIO since September 30, 2006. He is one of a few CIOs that have control over VA IT spending — and the only one to have that authority by law. Howard came on board as VA was reeling from a unencrypted laptop that was stolen from a VA employees home in the DC suburb of Montgomery County, MD.

If anybody knows where he is going, let me know.

You can read Howard’s bio after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

December 22, 2008 at 7:43 PM

IAC’s transition documents… read them and hear about them

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I mentioned last week that the Industry Advisory Council has posted its two overarching transition recommendation documents.

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we have been featuring some of the authors of these reports. Last Tuesday, we had Leslie Steele, the chairwoman of IAC, offering her insights — hear that conversation here… and on Friday, we had Mark Forman, partner at KPMG and former administrator of e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget — hear that conversation here.

Read the documents for yourself after the break. The two documents are “Using federal information technology as a strategic weapon to strengthen the economy” and “Drive Change for America and Returning Innovation to the Federal Government with Information Technology.”

Not surprisingly, IAC favors the Obama chief technology officer. But one of the better recommendations in the documents is about spurring innovation in government. As we all know, that can be difficult because government tends to be abnormally risk adverse. There are all sorts of reasons for that, but one of the big factors is lack of tolerance for mistakes. Many people will herald that as the fight against waste, fraud and abuse. In the end, the drive to eliminate so-called waste saps any innovation because people simply aren’t willing to risk doing something that might not work.

So IAC’s recommendations include having a series of projects and programs that are high-risk, but also high-reward. Here is from IAC’s innovation report:

It also would be wise for the new administration to consider choosing a small percentage of projects selected for investment to be designated as “high risk/high reward,” and managed with a risk acceptance approach that recognizes that failures will occur. Agency program and executive managers must be educated in managing and encouraging innovation and risk, and better options for encouraging risk acceptance and risk sharing with industry must be developed.

There are some people who have been very good at doing this — EPA’s Molly O’Neill has been particularly good at providing her team with the ability to try new things with the understanding that, when you try something new, there is the chance that something might not work. And she has been particularly good at selecting projects that can provide lessons learned while mitigating risk. The result is that EPA is transforming. I was thrilled earlier this year by the wonderful project to create radon public service announcements — and I was even more excited when I larned that O’Neill didn’t drive it. It said to me that the organization was transforming — people felt empowered to try new things.

Both reports are not that long and worth some time. I have posted them… after the break.
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Written by cdorobek

December 22, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Most read DorobekInsider items for the past 7 days

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As we head into the holidays, things this week will really start to calm down. (I’ll be away starting Christmas and return Jan. 5. I’ll probably continue to post, but it will be somewhat less regularly.)

Anyway… the most read items on the DorobekInsider over the past 7-days:

  1. HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
  2. Federal News Radio — the next generation (As mentioned below in number 10, there is also a video tour of the new Federal News Radio studio.)
  3. The big government CIO challenge: people… The most critical technology: Web 2.0, CIO survey finds (We had the authors of the report on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday. Hear that conversation here.)
  4. IAC transition reports are out… and we’ll hear from them Tuesday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM
  5. A happy birthday to… Joanne Connelly and Lisa Schlosser
  6. 1105 GovInfo’s Nancy Ferris to retire
  7. FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people… nominations are open for FCW’s annual Fed 100 awards (Yes — nominations for the Fed 100s close this week — Dec. 23 — so guess what I’m working on this week — and as promised, I’ll post my nominations here on the
  8. IAC meets with Team Obama
  9. poll: What do you think of Team Obama’s team? (You can still vote, but… you seem to like the team so far… 33 percent give them an “A”; 50 percent give them a “B”; 17 percent give them a “C”; and nothing falls ‘below average.”)
  10. Hearing that Interior has named a new CIO — and, in fact, Interior does have a new CIO — Sonny Bhagowalia started earlier this month.
  11. FCW gets a new editor: David Rapp
  12. A video walking tour of Federal News Radio 1500 AM
  13. The president-elect announces his science and technology team — but no CTO yet
  14. A government 2.0 movie — really (We had the director of the movie on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday. You can hear that conversation here .)
  15. What would you ask Team Obama — is now open for questions
  16. Interior’s Howell to move to OMB
  17. Microsoft federal names a CTO — a chief transition officer
  18. Read a draft of the much discussed OMB CIO memo
  19. Obit: Christina Nelson, formerly of the Digital Government Institute

Written by cdorobek

December 22, 2008 at 8:27 AM

Posted in DorobekInsider