Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for February 27th, 2009

Friday fun — “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy”

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Joanne Connelly of ConnellyWorks had this posted are her Facebook page and it absolutely made my Friday.


Written by cdorobek

February 27, 2009 at 7:43 PM

Posted in Off-topic, Technology

Godspeed to GSA legend Nancy Potter

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Editor’s note: Updated at 3:45p ET

Godspeed to GSA legend Nancy Potter

It seems to be one of those days, but… we also get news today that GSA legend Nancy Potter passed away yesterday at the age of 80. Potter was GSA’s longest serving employees when she retired on Dec. 12, 2007 after a 63-year career in federal service.

I have been getting comments coming in about Potter.

* GSA Federal Acquisition Service’s deputy commissioner Tyree Varnado: “Nancy was an “institution” at GSA. There was no one more respected nor knowledgeable of the federal budget process.”

* Former GSAer Bob Suda: “She truly bled GSA. One of the finest people you will ever meet.”

* Frank Pugliese, formerly the commissioner of GSA’s then Federal Supply Service and now with Dupont: “She was a TERRIFIC example of an exceptional civil servant. They don’t make anymore like Nancy. She helped and mentored many people along the way — including me. She will be greatly missed.”

Here is the item sent to GSA employees:

GSA Mourns the Passing of Nancy Potter
The longest-serving employee in U.S. General Services Administration history passed away on Feb 26 at 80.

Nancy Potter began her federal career in 1945 as a clerk with the Federal Works Agency, the predecessor organization that would eventually become GSA four years later. As a witness to GSA’s creation, she was a part of, and assisted in, the agency’s creation under authorities in the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, which established the provision of services and facilities to support the needs of other federal agencies.

Throughout her career at GSA, Potter served with an unsurpassed level of distinction and dedication, receiving numerous awards and citations, including GSA’s Distinguished Service Award, the agency’s highest honor. In March 1979, Potter assumed the responsibilities of deputy director, Office of Budget, in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, from which she retired in January 2008 after having worked for every GSA administrator.

“Public service is a noble calling,” she said when asked for her advice to the next generation of public servants during an agency celebration commemorating her exemplary contributions to GSA’s history. “Whatever your role, always remember that our mission is to help our country and our fellow citizens.”

GSA has lost its living legend, but the imprint of her contributions to GSA live on. “Nancy will be greatly missed by those of us who knew her, learned from her, and held enormous respect for her knowledge of federal budget policy and appropriate law,” said Kathleen Turco, chief financial officer.

If you ever doubt the work that government employees do, read Potter’s words at her retirement party after the break — and then bookmark this page. She is representative of so many government employees who are passionate about helping government carry out its mission more effectively.

Ms. Potter — godspeed.

Again, as I get details, I will update this post with information about services and where people can make contributions.

Again… read Potter’s retirement comments and GSA’s release on her retirement after the break…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 27, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

The OrszBlog — the OMB director re-joins the blogosphere

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In what I think is a very powerful step, the director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag is re-joining the blogosphere.

As I mentioned back in November, as the head of the Congressional Budget Office, Orszag posted to a public blog. (I have a link to his final CBO blog post here.) Well, he’s back.

The Office of Management and Budget has redesigned its Web site and it includes… a blog… and the first post — Discipline, Efficiency, Prosperity — is by Orszag.

Here is the note from the Web site:

One of the things Orszag was known for at his last position in the Congressional Budget Office was his ability and commitment to explaining the details of budget evaluations in a straightforward way, whether that was in a Congressional hearing or on his CBO blog. He’s showing his continued commitment on that front today by launching his own blog and the newly redesigned OMB site. He has his first post up walking through the context and the outlook on the budget — it’s worth reading in full, here’s his take on the health care provisions in the budget:

“Reforming health care. At the President’s direction, we have begun the process of doing a line-by-line review of the Budget. One of the lines we’ve started with is among the most important to the budget and to many other aspects of our economy: health care.

“As I have long said, health care is the key to our nation’s fiscal future – and there are substantial efficiency improvements that are possible to deliver better results at lower costs in the health system. In the Recovery Act and in this Budget, we begin to make the investments necessary to bring about these efficiencies over the long-term—such electronic health records and comparative effectiveness research—and also identify more immediate saving measures to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid spending. These savings are devoted to a health reserve fund, which will be available as we work through the legislative process on health care reform this year. This proposal is a starting point, not an ending point, for health reform as additional resources will be needed to improve and expand health care for all Americans.

At the bottom of this post from the, you can see Orszag talk about why he thinks blogging is worthwhile.

OMB will get poked for not enabling comments — and I hope they are working on that, but, as I’ve said before , I think that blogging can be very powerful. Having the OMB director post is a powerful toward transparency — and of opening the conversation, tapping into the idea that all of us are smarter then each of us individually.

And I’ll reiterate what some other feds said when they launched the blog — if the White House and OMB director are blogging, why can’t you and your agency?

Hat tip: Personal Democracy Forum’s

Written by cdorobek

February 27, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Godspeed Valerie Wallick — a public servant who was dedicated to improvement

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The government IT community this week lost one of the greats: Valerie Wallick.

I don’t have many details, but she passed away this week after a battle with cancer. Wallick worked at the Department of Navy and on the Information Technology Resources Board, which was a organization of feds who worked together on improving government performance. They worked behind the scenes — and were interested in making things better. And it is good to remember how long performance has been a challenge for government — this isn’t a new challenge. (Want an interesting read — ITRB’s report, Project Management for Mission Critical Systems . It could have been written today but it is more than a decade old.)

Wallick also served as a senior senior adviser to the John Koskinen, the chairman of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion… and she worked at SAIC for a period after retiring from government.

I will post additional details as I get them. If you get details before I do, pass then along and we will make sure people hear about them.

Wallick was a remarkable and dedicated public servant who worked tireless for better government and for the American people. I know you will join me in honoring her, wishing her godspeed, and offering peace to her family and friends.

Written by cdorobek

February 27, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Posted in Circuit, community