Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for February 3rd, 2009

Tonight on DC’s NewsChannel 8: Government 2.0 — evolution or revolution

with 2 comments

I am on NewsChannel 8 tonight in the 7:30p ET half-hour on the station’s Federal News Today program.

If you watched over there, here is some additional background… We are/were talking about government 2.0 and whether it is a revolution or an evolution.

As I have mentioned before, there are these two groups of people out there — government people interested in Web 2.0 collaboration tools, and then Web 2.0 people who are interested in applying these tools to government. And you can tell which group is which by how they reacted to the evolution of the change of the Obama transition Web site,, to the Obama administration’s White House Web site,

Back on inauguration day, January 20 , I praised the White House Web site for actually launching a blog. It was a first for the White House Web site. Many feds saw that as an enormous step — it made it difficult for other agencies to say that they can’t have a blog if the White House has one. And remember it was just about one year ago — last January — that NavyCIO Robert Carey was the first government CIO to post to a public blog. (Read Carey’s blog here.) So government has come a long way in a year.

The Web 2.0 proponents, however, ask why is this going so slow? The blog, for example, doesn’t even allow comments. The transition Web site,, was seen as very innovative, but in the end wasn’t a government Web site. When it transformed into, suddenly they have to follow the laws of the land. For example, how do you deal with privacy?

So there are some issues that have to be overcome. One is laws in and of themselves. Some of the laws, which were written to promote public participation, were written years ago — in most cases well before the Internet was widely known let alone widely used. They require that, for example, federal rules and regulations be posted to the federal register and then people can send in their comments. That doesn’t permit a broader dialogue — how many of us really read the federal register, after all. Earlier on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris , we spoke to then EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock about an initiative that EPA was undertaking to try new ways of reaching out to people about a specific rule. You can hear that conversation here.

How will all this ferret out? It remains to be seen, but many of the “goverati” — a phrase coined by Dr. Mark Drapeau, the government 2.0 guru — many of the goverati believe there is a real opportunity to change the government’s relationship with citizens.

There are issues to resolve, but they are probably issues that need resolving.

Written by cdorobek

February 3, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Stand by for news: Obama’s performance czar pulls her nomination

leave a comment »

Breaking news this morning, which will likely have an impact on other posts throughout management posts within government — Nancy Killifer, the executive at McKinsey & Co. and a former official in the Clinton administration’s Treasury Department, has withdrawn her nomination to be the deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget and the Obama administration’s chief performance officer. has the report:

Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, has withdrawn her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government, the White House said Tuesday…

The White House said Obama had accepted Killefer’s decision and that the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co., would explain her reasons for pulling out later Tuesday.

More here… and we’ll continue to stay on top of the story on Federal News Radio 1500 AM.

The impact: This delays many other appointments throughout OMB, including the OMB administrator of e-government and information technology, the Obama chief technology officer, and the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. (So, our earlier report about DC CTO Vivek Kundra… without any information, my guess is they won’t announce those appointments without a OMB deputy director of management in place.)

Thoughts on who would be the next in line for the OMB deputy director of management job?

After the break, read Killifer’s letter to President Obama.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM

The 02.03.2008 CTO update: Buzz about appointments

with 4 comments

Vivek Kundra

Vivek Kundra

You can often tell that there are developments around a certain subject because a certain buzz starts to develop around that topic. The challenge for journalists is that the buzz doesn’t always mean that something will happen, but generally things don’t happen if you don’t hear that buzz — if that makes any sense at all.

The DorobekInsider is starting to pick up buzz around the CTO job.

The latest discussion is that DC CTO Vivek Kundra will be named the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology. The Obama chief technology officer job will apparently be assigned to the White House Office of Science, Technology Policy, an office that has historically been much more policy focused and, frankly, very quiet to be almost unnoticed — perhaps undeservedly so.

There seems to be a growing consensus that the CTO job will be much less then what most people had been making it out to be — almost marginalized from the policy-making authority and the budget influence, most of which are almost essential to get things done. Instead, much of the authority will be with the OMB administrator of e-government. Frankly, I had been supposing that they would do something similar to what they did with the chief performance officer — and give two titles to what is really one job. In Nancy Killefer‘s case, the OMB deputy director for management also carries the “chief performance officer” title. I had been expecting that they would have some position — most likely the OMB administrator of e-government — also serve as the CTO.

I have been hearing for weeks that Team Obama was trying to resolve the White House IT centers — the office of e-government (often referred to as “the Karen Evans job), the Office of Science and Technology Policy, OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which historically has had a heavy hand in IT issues and could play a significant role in any “open government data” initiatives, and, of course, the mostly undefined Obama CTO.

As stated in the CRS report on the Obama CTO , there needs to be some organizational structure around all those pieces… and what people have said publicly, we simply don’t know.

As we say on the radio, stay tuned… That being said, I’m hearing that a decision has been announced internally and that they would wait for a good time to announce it, possibly sometime this week.

Read Kundra’s bio… after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 3, 2009 at 8:15 AM