Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for January 2009

GCN Editor Wyatt Kash adds Defense Systems to his duties

with one comment

111708coverimageDefense Systems magazine, which covers DOD, has a new editor. 1105 Government Information Group editorial director David Rapp announced this morning that Wyatt Kash will add that magazine to his duties. Kash, of course, is the editor in chief of Government Computer News.

As part of that change, Sean Gallagher, who has been leading Defense Systems for the past year, will be leaving 1105 GovInfo, although Rapp said that he will continue to be a contributor to the magazine. Read Gallagher’s blog post about his career change here.

Read Rapp’s note to staff after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 30, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Posted in press

No CTO, but Team Obama a ‘director of citizen participation’

with 2 comments

Katie Jacobs Stanton

Katie Jacobs Stanton

UPDATED at 11:15a ET with DorobekInsider confirmation… and the interview from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.]

No word on the Obama CTO yet, but… Peter Kafka over at Media Memo is reporting that Team Obama will soon announce weeks the appointment of has hired a Google executive to be the administration’s “director of citizen participation.” (The DorobekInsider has also confirmed the appointment.) And the person should sound familiar — Katie Jacobs Stanton has been principal of Google’s new development team and regular listeners to Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris remember that we spoke with her about the Obama transition Web site’s use of Google Moderator for it’s “as a question” feature.

[UPDATE: The interview has been re-posted on You can hear our conversation here.]

Here is an excerpt from Kafka’s report:

What the job entails isn’t completely clear to me, but I gather that she plans on using Web tools to let, well, citizens participate in the Obama White House…

Per her LinkedIn bio, she’s also worked on Google Finance and Google’s Open Social initiative. And prior to joining Google (GOOG) in 2003 (which means she came on pre-IPO and is fully vested, if you’re doing the math), she was at Yahoo (YHOO) as a production manager and worked in Yahoo Finance.

Read the full post here.

This from Paid Content via the :

Google CEO Eric Schmidt may not be interested in the new federal CTO post but a member of his team is headed to Washington, D.C.: business development exec Katie Jacobs Stanton is joining the Obama administration as “director of citizen participation,” MediaMemo reported and we have confirmed. As Peter Kafka notes, the title doesn’t clearly define what Stanton’s responsibilities will be when her new job begins in March. But given her background at Google, she worked on the search giant’s election team, on its Open Social initiative, and helped launch Google Finance in 2006. She likely will be involved in the development of online tools that help Americans get more involved with what’s going on at the White House. Stanton joined Google in 2003, early enough to be in on the IPO; she previously served as a production manager at Yahoo.

Stanton’s appointment is in line with the administration’s efforts during the campaign and transition to reach out to supporters through digital means: the weekly fireside chats via YouTube, the Twitter account, as well as the launch of while Obama was president-elect. But Stanton and other tech-savvy new hires may find it more difficult to do their jobs effectively in the coming months, as they contend with White House technology policies that are more restrictive than participatory. (Much like Obama himself did during the struggle to keep his Blackberry).

Congratulations to Katie Jacobs Stanton — and Team Obama.

Written by cdorobek

January 30, 2009 at 8:13 AM

What’s up with the CTO? Also the DOD CIO and Roger Baker to VA?

with one comment

20090129-obama-cto-marketWe’ve been seeing all sorts of appointments coming out of various agencies as many key spots in agencies start to get filled.

What’s interesting is that we haven’t heard much of anything about the much-discussed — at least much-discussed outside official Washington — Obama CTO post. That has prompted some to ask what is going on with the Obama CTO.

I’m hearing that there is some discussion about the role of the CTO as compared to the OMB administrator of e-government and information technology, the post most recently held by Karen Evans, of course. Some people have suggested that the Obama CTO job could end up being… well, much ado about nothing. Others think that they may do essentially what they have done with the chief performance officer — double up on an existing job. In other words, they might name the OMB administrator of e-government and IT also as the CTO. that seems to be a missed opportunity to me. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on how you would actually organize this.

UPDATE: Reader Ron Mecredy noted that the Obama administration did mention the CTO post in the transparency memo.

I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

An interesting read: David Kralik, the director of internet strategy for American Solutions and the manager of its Silicon Valley office, wrote a column for HuffingtonPost, where he suggested that the CTO should be thought of as the chief transformation officer… and that the person should have no government experience.

The appointment of a CTO may very well be one of the most important hires in this new administration if it is thought of as an opportunity for enacting real change in how the government functions. For that reason, maybe we should think of the CTO instead as the “Chief Transformation Officer.”

I don’t know how much traffic Matthew Burton’s Obama CTO prediction market has been getting — my guess is it has been pretty quiet with not much news to report. That being said, “Field” — essentially a ‘none-of-the-above’ category — has taken a big lead. See the most recent tally here.

Elsewhere… NextGov/GovExec’s Bob Brewin is “picking up strong signals” that Team Obama is looking at retired Radm. Robert “Willie” Williamson to succeed John Grimes as assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration, also known as the DOD CIO. Grimes is staying on as DOD CIO until a new person is selected, insiders tell the DorobekInsider.

And over at VA, where Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is now setting up his office, there are a number of names floating around — including Roger Baker, who the Washington Post’s In the Loop column suggests, could be tapped for “chief innovation officer.”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general, appears to be stacking his sub-Cabinet with fellow veterans. We’re hearing buzz that Shinseki will name W. Scott Gould, who served in Iraq as a naval intelligence reservist, as his deputy secretary. Gould, a former assistant secretary of commerce who once served in the Clinton White House, is a vice president at IBM Global Business Services.

Meanwhile, Shinseki is eyeing disabled Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth as assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. Duckworth, whom Obama had considered for the top VA post, currently runs the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. A former congressional candidate, Duckworth had been mentioned as a candidate for the Senate seat Obama vacated. After losing both her legs in combat, Duckworth was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s Iraq war policy.

Sources say Shinseki also could tap Roger Baker, who served on Obama’s transition team and is a longtime information technology executive in government and private industry, for a top VA post, perhaps as chief innovation officer.

I’ll be fascinated to hear what a chief innovation officer is.

Written by cdorobek

January 29, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Posted in Transition

NAPA’s Collaboration Project helps with government 2.0 policy and legal issues — highlighting the problems and starting the work on solutions

with 4 comments

One of the biggest obstacles to some of the using some of the government 2.0 tools are the government’s legal and policy frameworks, some of which were formulated long before there was an Internet. The National Academy of Public Administration’s Collaboration Project is taking a big step toward helping agencies deal with these sticky issues.

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we recently spoke to Marcus Peacock, who at the time was the deputy administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency. Peacock and former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill, before they left, got started a parallel government 2.0 comment process around air quality standards. We spoke to Peacock and O’Neill about the process. One of the things he told us was that many of the government law that at the time were designed to ensure public comment today actually prevent agencies from reaching out to encourage a broader public comment. The laws, for example, require public comment. Agencies post rules and regulations in the Federal Register — or on — and then people can comment. Those comments are assessed and posted. In the end, you don’t get an open, transparent debate about the process. Instead, you get a lot of individual comments unrelated to one another. And it has seemed that there wasn’t an alternative.

Peacock and O’Neill, creatively, aren’t letting those laws prevent the EPA from trying something new. Instead, they are running a parallel process — following the old way and creating a new way.

My suggestion has been to open up regulations to a wiki — some broad way to allow people to change the rule in a way that they think would improve it. In other words, don’t just comment — make it better. We’re still a few years away from that.

(A historical aside: Dee Lee deserves a foresight award. More than a decade ago, Dee Lee, who I believe was the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, also ran a parallel comment process for a rule allowing people to comment on other people’s comments. It was very innovative for the 1990s. It’s only taken a decade for us to get back to this point.)

NAPA to the rescue

All of this is a long introduction to the National Academy of Public Administration’s Collaboration Project, which has been working to help agencies find share lessons learned on these government 2.0 tools. They have been holding meetings about the policy and legal issues surrounding government 2.0 — and the issues are wide ranging. They go from the use of Internet Web cookies… to security and policy issues. Earlier this week, we spoke to NAPA’s Frank DiGiammarino about the legal and policy issues. NAPA has now posted a draft document seeking comment on those rules.

The document below represents a rough draft of the research agenda that will guide the Collaboration Project going forward. It is a living document and we are always looking for new additions to this list. In reviewing it, please consider some of these questions:

  • What are the issues on this list that resonate with you the most? Is there anything you see missing?
  • Have you or anyone you know had success in meeting these challenges? Do you have any best practices to share?
  • How, if at all, has your agency altered policies to enable better collaboration?
  • What are the actions the next administration and Congress could take to increase collaboration and the use of the Web 2.0 suite of tools?

If you have something to contribute, please don’t hesitate to contact us and send it in, or just use the comments feature at the bottom of this page !

As we told you earlier, the Federal Web Managers Council has created a similar but different document that lists the federal government social media challenges — perceived or real — and some possible solutions. You can see that document here. (Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Jason Miller spoke to GSA’s Bev Godwin about this document. You can hear that discussion here.) My challenge to the Federal Web Managers Council is that they often kicked the ball further down the field, recommending that there needs to be policy developed to solve some of these problems. We all certainly agree that there are new policies necessary in many cases, but my recommendation would be to offer short term solutions — what can agencies actually do — today — to resolve those challenges. The longer term policy development can still go on, but there is so much to be learned by doing, and I get concerned that agencies will avoid ‘doing’ because of the policy limbo. That being said, the Federal Web Managers Council deserves a whole heap of credit for this marvelous document. It is an excellent and very valuable document and they deserve credit for pulling it together.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy — the first in government. You can read that policy here.

My other challenge is that I hope we can actually collaborate on these challenges. Too often, people operate behind closed doors. What better way to demonstrate the power and agility of collaboration?

Written by cdorobek

January 28, 2009 at 11:30 PM

CQ for sale… if the price is right

with one comment

Another indication that this is just a tough business — The Times Publishing Company has announced it is “exploring the sale of Congressional Quarterly.”

The Washington Business Journal says:

In the late 1990s, CQ moved aggressively into the online world, turning into a powerful tool for tracking legislation moving through Congress. CQ also publishes Governing magazine, which covers state governments.

01.28.09 9:15p ET UPDATE: I have a number of friends over at CQ. The owners had a meeting with staff today, during which they were told that the brokers had recommended that they not tell staff until after the sale was complete, but they decided to keep their employees informed. Wow — wonderfully novel. It seems unlikely that CQ would be bought by a private equity or venture capital firm because of the tight credit market these days. It will be interesting to see what happens… and how CQ evolves.

You can read the full release after the break…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 28, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Posted in press

Prouty’s first message to GSA employee: “Exciting Times”

leave a comment »

Paul Prouty

Paul Prouty

Newly appointed acting GSA Administrator Paul F. Prouty sent out his first agency-wide e-mail today. (More buzz on Prouty here.) The theme: These are exciting times.

My philosophy is simple: we will continue to satisfy our customer’s needs through business excellence, which will be delivered by employees who are dedicated, well-trained and excited to go to work each day. I have felt that way since I began working for GSA as a real estate intern 38 years ago.

The phrase is over-used, but I believe this is a defining moment for GSA. The President’s economic recovery plan and priorities include investing in federal infrastructure, greening the federal government and using Internet technology to simplify citizen access to official information and services. We are leaders in these areas. And we have much more to contribute in other areas as well. I know you are as eager as I am to continue to grow the GSA business and enhance the GSA reputation.

Read the full memo… after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 28, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Posted in GSA

More buzz around the new acting GSA administrator

with 4 comments

Paul Prouty

Paul Prouty

There has been a lot of buzz around the appointment of new GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty, who most recently had been the assistant regional administrator for GSA’s Public Building Service’s Rocky Mountain Region.

Here is the note that was circulated among GSA officials:

PAUL PROUTY NAMED ACTING GSA ADMINISTRATOR: President Obama has named Paul F. Prouty, Assistant Regional Administrator, Public Buildings Service (PBS), Rocky Mountain Region, to serve as the Acting Administrator for GSA.Prouty joined GSA in 1971 as a Real Estate Intern in Denver, CO and worked to become Director of the Real Estate Division in 1988. He subsequently served as the Director of the Colorado Service Center and as the Assistant Regional Administrator for PBS in the New England Region.Prouty received the GSA Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and 1998, and was named the Outstanding Federal Executive by the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board in 1997. Former Acting Administrator, James A. Williams, will return to his previous position as the Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

Federal News Radio 1500 AM has put in requests to chat with Mr. Prouty. He told me that GSA would “make it happen” as soon as he gets settled in.

Lurita Doan, the former GSA administration, was passing through Federal News Radio 1500 AM the day the DorobekInsider first broke the news of Prouty’s appointment — and Doan had very good things to say. She particularly mentioned that Prouty has been particularly focused on green initiatives — in particular Denver Federal Center Solar Park, which last year produced 1,726,000 kWh of energy in 2008, beyond GSA’s prediction of 1,600,000 kWh. (We’re working to get the team that lead the Denver Federal Center Solar Park on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.) No doubt the PBS background will be helpful as Team Obama looks to help buildings be more green.

That being said, most people don’t believe that Prouty is going to be the permanent GSA administrator — otherwise he would have just been nominated. The most often mentioned name these days is Martha Johnson, who was the GSA chief of staff under the wildly popular — and wildly successful — GSA Administrator David Baram, who served during the Clinton administration. Johnson was on the GSA transition “parachute” team and GSAers say hear that Johnson and Prouty are close — or at least know each other.

Prouty, however, only has PBS experience — no experience with acquisition. But DCers say he is well liked within PBS.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s resume, if she should be named as the GSA administrator nominee, from her resume on her LinkedIn profile:

Vice President at SRA International
Director at Touchstone Consulting Group
Vice President at Council for Excellence in Government
Vice President at Computer Sciences Corporation

Meanwhile, back in April 25, 2000, Baram and Johnson were on the Business of Government Hour sponsored by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. (Read it hereHere it here. MP3)

Surprising enough, Jim Williams, the FAS commissioner, seems to teathered with a Doan taint. The former GSA administrator, of course, made the bold move of naming Williams, a career public servant, to what could have been a political post. But some say that Williams is seen as being too supportive of Doan, particularly regarding the now infamous Sun Microsystems GSA schedule contract fiasco. That being said, it will be good to have Williams and his deputy, Tyree Varnado, at the helm of FAS, particularly if Prouty does not have much experience with acquisition and acquisition issues.

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 11:16 PM

Government media aren’t dodging the recession — 1105 Media decides not to publish this week’s GCN

with 2 comments

gcn_logo1If you’re looking for your Jan. 26 issue of 1105 Media’s Government Computer News today, don’t hold your breath — I what I believe is a first in the publication’s 26 year history that ofGCN, the magazine did not publish a scheduled issue. Why? The horrible, terrible, awful advertising market.

gcn_cover_01120911105ers have been told that advertisers are waiting until February — or later in the year — for advertising buys. (The government market has traditionally been defined by what publishers call the “hockey stick” — there is a spike in advertising in the months before the end of the government’s fiscal year on September 30 when advertisers are looking to get in front of readers right around the time they are making buying decisions. As most of us know, most government funds are ‘use it or lose So there was an opportunity to avoid losses, and that was just too much to pass up. They have been told that things seem on track for the rest of the year, but I’m guessing nobody is doubling down.

I have no doubt there was some debate how how this would look ‘in the market.’

This recession has been tough on many markets — the financial markets have been ransacked, of course… the housing market… the list goes on. But I would argue that few have been as hard hit as journalism — to the point that some have suggested that it might be time for a journalism bailout bill. I’m not sure how exactly one measures the difference between a recession and a depression, but… in my many years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like it. And it has struck just about every organization — the Tribune Company, purchased by SamZell , has filed for bankruptcy protection… the Wall Street Journal was sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp… even the vaunted New York Times and Washington Post have been struggling. All of journalism is under intense competitive pressures right now — and I mean intense. Print journalism, where I have spent most of my career, has been struggling with how to monetize the Web — print ads carry pay for most of the infrastructure, but they they don’t have the cache that they once did, yet Web ads don’t nearly cover the expensive costs of a news gathering organization. So print publications put more online, where more eyes are, but nobody has yet to figure out a workable business plan.

I share BusinessWeek’s Steve Baker’s hope that journalism will come through this stronger. “All kinds of opportunities are going to come out of this. The money’s a mystery, a course. That’s part of what makes the movie scary,” he writes.

In previous recessions, government publications have been somewhat protected — I say somewhat. During the dot-bomb period in 2000-2001, there were tough times and some belt tightening — even some layoffs, but — as awful as it is to say, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks brought a lot of money into the government market. And just about anybody who was somebody started a homeland security publication of some kind. But the market has been tough for awhile, but I’ve never seen anything like what we’re seeing right now.

Back in October, we reported that two government related publications shuttered.The big IT publisher, CMP, has all but eliminated Government VAR, essentially merging it in to VAR Business giving it token attention on a government business section on their Web site. But many of those have not been the big government publications. The big books are 1105 Media’s Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News and Washington Technology — and, of course, the respective Web sites,,, and; Atlantic Media’s Government Executive with its two Web sites — and the tech focused; and there are the suite of Army Times Publishing publications including Defense News and Federal Times, among others. And then there is AFCEA’s publication, Signal magazine. (By way of disclosure, I used to work for 1105 Media as the editor of Federal Computer Week. I currently write a column for Signal magazine.) And, of course, in the state and local market, there are a handful of publications, the big one being eRepublic Inc.’s Government Technology. (Disclosure: I have a column that will be published in the coming issue of Government Technology’s sister publication, Public CIO.) There are others, but… those certainly are the big guys.

In my scan of the most recent issues of 1105 GovInfo’s publications, the ad rundown:

Washington Technology’s January issue: 2 ads in a 36p folio
Government Computer News’s January 12 issue: 3 ads
Federal Computer Week’s January 12 issue: 2 ads in a 36p folio

I don’t have the print issue of Government Executive. If somebody has one and can count the number of ads and let me know… The big difference is that Government Executives is essentially a monthly. They pushed up to 24 issues for one year, and have backed off of that since then. This year, it is essentially a monthly with a few “special” issues.

The government market is not alone, by far. Other publications — and tech publication — are also hurting. The February issue of Wired magazine has 114 pages, the smallest I’ve seen.

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Posted in press

Snow delay for Operation Jump Start… New date: Feb. 11

leave a comment »

I know many people were looking forward to Operation Jump Start, which was scheduled for tonight, has been snow delayed because of the snow here in Washington, D.C. It just isn’t possible to get injured soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Operation Jump Start, of course, is the marvelous event where you can donate all sorts of stuff to help warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they “jump start” their post-military careers.

I’m told all the details remain the same — only the date is changing. You can find those details in my previous posts here… and here… And I will re-post the “official” note when I get it.

Meanwhile, you can still donate to the program by going here.

UPDATE: Read the official delay announcement after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

January 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

The most read DorobekInsider posts for the third week of January 2009

leave a comment »

The third week of the new year — and inauguration week… The DorobekInsider reached new records in terms of single day number of visitors… and total number of visitors for the week. As always, thank you very much. That was spurred by the fact that we first reported that GSA had a new acting administrator. Others confirmed the news but, unfortunately, didn’t give credit.

So, the most read DorobekInsider items for the third week of January 2009:

  1. Welcome to 44 — President Barack Obama… and a new White House blog
  2. GSA gets a new acting acting administrator — Paul Prouty
  3. Technology and the Obama administration — insights from the transition team
  4. Some must-reads from Killefer, Obama’s performance person — in her own words
  5. Why blog? And welcome to another government CIO blogger: GSA’s Casey Coleman
  6. Another coup for Cisco: Paul Brubaker? [I should note that, in fact, Cisco’s Brubaker hire was confirmed… and we had him on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Friday. If the audio isn’t posted yet, it will be soon.]
  7. Narrowing the Obama CTO list — one big names comes off the list
  8. FEMA administrator in a Twitter first? @FEMAinfocus to answer questions
  9. Your 01.09.08 Federal CTO reader: No official word yet, so… let’s speculate
  10. Government Insights’ crystal ball: More TARP issues, and government 2.0 gets ‘redefined’
  11. Obama CTO this week? Maybe… or maybe not… and a Kundra WP profile
  12. Still don’t get Twitter? A radio explainer
  13. Godspeed John Gioia Nov. 11, 1932-Dec. 26, 2008
  14. VA CIO Bob Howard reportedly has a new gig
  15. HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser to join to EPA
  16. Team Obama’s — abuzz about how it was created
  17. Helping returning warfighters: Operation Jump Start [Reminder that Operation Jump Start is Tuesday night — you can still register … and there are all sorts of ways to help ]
  18. VA CIO Howard lands at FCI
  19. Obama talks government spending transparency in the weekend ‘radio’ address
  20. Hear the Navy CIO talk about the Navy’s Web 2.0 policy
  21. FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people in the annual awards program
  22. Most read items for the second week of January
  23. German named acting NASA CIO, Pettus returns to Marshall
  24. 1105 sells Government Health IT
  25. Fed 100 nomination: Navy CIO Robert Carey
  26. Happy birthday to… Anne Armstrong and Paul Brubaker
  27. Federal CIO Council posts its ‘Transition Guide’
  28. Government 2.0 challenges — and some some solutions
  29. Who might be the government CIO… er, CTO

And we have good stuff ahead this week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris… We’ll be talking about a remarkable, inovative program from the National Holocost Museum that puts genocide on a map so you can really comprehend the nature of the calamity… We’re going to be talking to NAPA’s Collaboration Project team about policies that can help you move from government 2.0 talk to government 2.0 action… We’re going to talk to the remarkable Stanford University Prof. Laurence Lessig about “open” government and “Change Congress.” We’ll work to keep you informed and educated, we hope a bit enlightened… and maybe even enertained… 3-7p ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and

Written by cdorobek

January 26, 2009 at 6:10 AM

Posted in DorobekInsider