Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for June 2010

DorobekINSIDER: Helping out a Postal employee in a time of need

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Those here in DC may have heard the horrible case of Vanessa Pham, a young woman who was murdered. Her body was found on Sunday.

The connection to the federal workforce: Pham’s mother is a postal worker — and family friends let me know that the family is having struggling financially to make ends meet. Friends have established a memorial fund to raise money for the funeral and burial costs.

Contributions may be sent to:
Navy Federal Credit Union
Vanessa Pham Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 3100
Merrifield, VA 22119-3100

More about Pham from the Washington Post:

Pham had just finished her freshman year at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where she was studying fashion design. She had received a “distinguished senior” award from Madison for her work in fine arts, and her family said she was a talented artist and designer.

Pham’s body was found about 3:30 p.m. Sunday inside her Scion hatchback. The hatchback had been driven into a ditch along Route 50 in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, near the intersection with Williams Drive just before Gallows Road. Police publicly identified her on Monday.

More on Pham’s murder from the Washington Post:

Vanessa Pham was on her way to realizing her dream of being a fashion designer. Then someone left her to die in her car in a ditch just a few yards from a busy Fairfax County highway.

Fairfax police on Monday identified Pham, a 19-year-old Northern Virginia native, as the woman whose body was found in a white Scion hatchback shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday. She had been stabbed multiple times, sources familiar with the investigation said.


Written by cdorobek

June 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Posted in Circuit, community

DorobekINSIDER: Robert Carey joins Navy cyber command

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Federal News Radio told you that Robert Carey, the widely respected CIO for the Department of the Navy, would be leaving that post.

The DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that Carey will join the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet, which is responsible for directing the Navy’s cyberspace operations. Carey has been one of the leaders for government cyber-security efforts and initiatives. And Carey mentioned the Fleet Cyber Command in a recent blog post.

No word on a timetable.

Also no word on Carey’s replacement as the Navy CIO, although I’d put money you’ll see a uniformed person in that post. (The almost unnoticed trend among DOD CIOs is that they are shifting from civilian posts to military posts. The notable exception, of course, is the nomination of Teri Takai to be the Defense Department CIO and Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information Integration. That being said, no word on where that nomination stands.)

More on the mission of the Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. Tenth Fleet:

The mission of Fleet Cyber Command is to direct Navy cyberspace operations globally to deter and defeat aggression and to ensure freedom of action to achieve military objectives in and through cyberspace; to organize and direct Navy cryptologic operations worldwide and support information operations and space planning and operations, as directed; to direct, operate, maintain, secure and defend the Navy’s portion of the Global Information Grid; to deliver integrated cyber, information operations cryptologic and space capabilities; and to deliver global Navy cyber network common cyber operational requirements.

U.S. TENTH Fleet Mission:

The mission of Tenth fleet is to serve as the Number Fleet for Fleet Cyber Command and exercise operational control of assigned Naval forces; to coordinate with other naval, coalition and Joint Task Forces to execute the full spectrum of cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and signal intelligence capabilities and missions across the cyber, electromagnetic and space domains.

The Fleet Cyber Command is led by Vice Admiral Bernard J. “Barry” McCullough III, and his deputy, Rear Admiral William E. Leigher.

Written by cdorobek

June 30, 2010 at 8:36 AM

DorobekINSIDER: An open letter to OMB: Stop the public sector bashing

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An open letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag:

Dear Mr. Orszag,

I write this with a certain regret. I have tremendous amount of respect for you and the work you have done over the years. And I appreciate the Office of Management and Budget’s initiative to cut waste across government — and improve the use of IT. I have been covering government IT for nearly 20 years — and, as I wrote in Federal Computer Week years ago, I firmly believe that the government can use technology to accomplish its mission more effectively.

And I think the administration has taken a number of positive steps in its first 18 months.

And therefore, I was pleased with Monday’s OMB announcement about the initiative to cut waste by reforming government IT. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported on the policy memos — he has been out in front covering this issue.

There are three steps to the plan:

  • Fix federal financial systems — a critical step
  • Stepped up and detailed reviews of troubled IT systems
  • A plan for improving the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. That plan will come within by October.

I even read the policies [PDF]:

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with your post on the subject. It included this line:

While a productivity boom has transformed private sector performance over the past two decades, the federal government has almost entirely missed this transformation and now lags far behind on efficiency and service quality. We are wasting billions of dollars a year, and more importantly are missing out on the huge productively improvements other sectors have benefited from.

Quite simply, we can’t significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government without fixing IT.

The emphasis is mine, not yours. But, to be honest, I found the wording unfair… and disappointing.

A few points:

It is utterly untrue to say that the federal government has “almost entirely missed this transformation.” I have been covering government technology for nearly 20 years. During that time, there have been remarkable strides. Today, IT touches just about every facet of every part of every business in government — and has utterly transformed certain parts of government. In fact, I would argue you would be hard pressed to find a part of government that hasn’t been transformed by IT.

Is there more to be done? Absolutely, and I give you and your team credit for your IT initiative… but it leads to the second point…

Please oh please retire the tired, tedious comparison between the public and private sectors. I would argue that it simply isn’t true because it isn’t a fair comparison. The challenges facing government agencies are, in many ways, larger in scope — and they are more complex — than those faced by most private sector organizations. And there are scores of cases that make this point. The one I often use are Homeland Security’s efforts to secure ports from potential terrorism. That mission can be accomplished: We can enlist resources to stop anything from coming into or out of the country. That would bring trade to a screeching halt — and having the same result on the U.S. economy… clearly not an option. And opening for any and all trade is also not an option. So the federal government has the unenviable task of finding the mix of those black-and-white options — essentially, they have to determine what is the right shade of gray.

That task is even more complex because those decisions are subject to constant hindsight review — sometimes years later. And then layer a complex management structure… within agencies… within the executive branch itself… and within Congress.

And none of this even touches on a almost utterly broken budget process where agencies are assigned money months into the fiscal year — and then told that they must spend it before the end of that fiscal year.

But even beyond that, the public-private comparison is specious because it is overly broad. What are you talking about when you highlight the private sector? Is the model General Motors? AIG?

We all have worked for private sector organizations where we have been amazed by what we deem as inefficiencies — or organizations that have terrible service quality. I now no longer use my United Visa card — put out by Chase Bank — because just about every third charge is rejected. Even worse — try to find a Chase official in their credit card division to contact.

And what are you talking about when you lambaste the public sector? There aren’t any examples of government agencies that use technology effectively?

Last year in AFCEA’s Signal magazine, I pleaded for a stop to this public-private comparison. What is most insidious about this private sector envy like the one in your post is that it feeds the false notion that government cannot do anything right, and that public employees — and public service — are somehow inept. It infers that somehow the problems agencies face are intractable… that government cannot — and does not — change… and that somehow government performance and government innovation are oxymorons.

To be blunt, it is unfair.

And even beyond that, it does something that I know you abhor: It adds no value. It adds nothing to the discussion.

You raise important issues — ones faced by both the public and private sectors — at what point to you cut off a troubled system by making the determination that continuing would be throwing good money after bad. It is a tough decision to make.

But some of the troubled programs mentioned — the Department of Veterans Affair’s financial management system and FBI’s Sentential program — are complex.

In the end, the issues you are facing are not new. I’d point to Raines Rules, published in 1996 by then OMB Director Franklin Raines to get a handle on IT systems.That OMB memo, issued under the title, “Funding Information Systems Investments,” was quickly renamed Raines’ Rules. And it became a seminal document for guiding IT management. The rules issued guidance for complying with the Information Technology Management Reform Act, which eventually became part of the Clinger-Cohen Act. It essentially set the criteria for evaluating major information system investments — and they read as if they could have been issued today.

There are issues — and I think even feds will give you credit for working to fix problems.

Again, I’m not taking away from this initiative — and the work that you and your OMB management team are doing is very important. But the slams against government are unwarranted — and unnecessary. That rhetoric simply is… not helpful, to be kind.


Christopher J. Dorobek

Written by cdorobek

June 29, 2010 at 7:11 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Week in review: June 20-26 — backlashes and USPS

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What stories made news for the week of June 20-26?

Here are the most read stories across Federal News Radio 1500 AM … on the … for Mike Causey’s Federal Report… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris… and for

…from the

Why there’s been a backlash against feds lately
Comments needed for TSP beneficiary designation
Mobile devices can leave you open to cyber attacks
Why continuous monitoring is gaining popularity
In budget crisis, states take aim at pension costs
DorobekINSIDER: Treasury’s Gross to be deputy CIO at Interior
Census reports it has reached almost all households
How government will eliminate user names & passwords
Web inventor discusses importance of open data
Senate unanimously confirms TSA head
Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
Education Department crowdsources for innovation
How to get your TSP questions answered
Federal pay raises safe … for now
Dorobek Must Reads – June 21
Dorobek Must Reads – June 23
DorobekINSIDER: Green government – and telework
Agencies to crack down on waste, fraud, abuse
Hacking the hackers could solve cybersecurity woes
Flemming Award honors unique work of feds
Is blaming the MMS really fair?
Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
What you need to know about cyber bills on the Hill
Google Apps could help agencies move to the cloud
Financial management system updates coming
Geographic information systems increase participation
DorobekINSIDER: Week in review: June 13-19 — telework, pay freeze, and salaries
Dorobek Must Reads – June 24
DorobekINSIDER: Connecting Toy Story and government and innovation
Why security needs to catch up to Web 2.0 technology
Analysis: OMB’s Orszag first high-profile member to leave
Dorobek Must Reads – June 22
Causey: How agency budget cuts will affect you
Analysis and updates on the Gulf oil spill
Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
Looking for a cool new job? GSA is hiring!
Section: Blog Entries
National townhall brings citizens together to solve debt crisis
Resources: Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments
Cybersecurity bill unanimously voted out of Senate committee
How to create the best federal cybersecurity workforce
FBI finds 14 leak suspects during past 5 years
How accurate are annual hurricane season predictions?
The TSP as a model for other 401(k)s?
How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
DorobekINSIDER: Take your puppy to work day
Dorobek Must Reads – June 18
Enterprises need to be proactive in cyber war

… for Mike Causey’s Federal Report

Retirement: You Can Go Home Again!
TSP Warning: Cover Your Assets
Feds in Heat: The Misery Index
Hot Enough For You?
Feds: Global warming is real!!!

… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris

Cyberthreat of Joe Biden leads to arrest
Federal retirees should consider the Roth IRA
Monday Morning Federal Newscast – June 21st
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 25th
Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 23rd
Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 24th
Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 22nd
Private concerns about Booz Allen going public
War zone corruption allegations rise
MSPB to survey feds about personnel practices
Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 18th
The ten biggest errors federal employees make, pt. 3
Cybersymposium features security rock stars
Wesley Clark: cyberattacks must be stopped
Security software often misses new malware
Social Security has more than a math problem
GPO celebrates its sesquicentennial
VA innovates innovation ideas
Analysis: HHS health IT program is the right start
Smartgrid cyber spending to hit $21 billion by 2015
Wartime commission plans for a first hand view
Data center survey contains concerns, optimism
Congress eyes cyberattacks options

… and from

Postal unions offer alternative to five-day schedule
Federal pay freeze proposal defeated
OPM wants to settle the fed salary debate
White House tells agencies to use data analysis to reduce improper payments
White House to give identity management a push
OMB bakes new cookie policy for federal websites
Cybersecurity bill clears Senate hurdle
Telework success depends on clear expectations
DISA launches BRAC relocation FAQ page
Bill would put DHS in charge of all civilian networks
Agencies get ready for FISMA changes
OMB Watch says Orszag ‘made budget cool’
OMB’s Werfel plugs financial modernization
DoD sees change in cyber culture
HHS creates process to certify health IT systems
New executive order further restricts lobbyists
PSC voices concerns over Hill Defense bills
Industry group encourages DoD to use GSA
Federal CTO issues mandate for innovation
Interior’s Salazar pledges bureau overhaul
Exclusive: OMB to propose major changes to financial management systems
NASA launches software assurance program
Cybersecurity bill gets first Senate hearing
Senate’s newest cyber bill on fast track to passage
Education Department launches open government tool
GSA plans to take e-mail, collaboration to the cloud
White House ready to reveal identity management plans
Critical tests to decide future of DHS’s virtual fence
Military attacks mental health stigmas
DHS women convene inaugural diversity forum
Task force seeks comments on small business contracting
OMB preparing performance management dashboard
Arlington starts to return calls after cemetery scandal
Support snowballs early for Senate cyber bill
Federal News Radio Reports
OMB shifts to real time cybersecurity monitoring
OMB pressing agencies to get IT projects on track
SBA CIO Naylor resigns
OMB’s Werfel lays out new plan to follow agency money
VA tries to speed claims processing for vets
DoD shows off health IT progress
GSA, DHS approve first governmentwide cyber provider
White House works to change online transactions
Navy CIO Carey leaving
Executive Order seals OPM hiring reforms
GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
No federal pay freeze for now
NIH faces economic strains in 2011
Postal Service prepares to move to five day delivery
Feds lead Smart Grid development effort

Written by cdorobek

June 27, 2010 at 9:09 PM

DorobekINSIDER Reader: Federal Internet cookie policies

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The Office of Management and Budget has just issued a new policy for dealing with Internet “cookies” — these are text files that a Web site can put on your computer to track how you traverse the site.

Cookies enable Web site personalization — for example, the allow a Web site to remember you and, maybe, the items you put in your online shopping cart. But they have always been watched by some privacy advocates because of the potential implications — for example, they could track a visitor’s travels to other sites. [Read how cookies work here… and how to delete them here.]

The federal government has been all but banned from using persistent Internet cookies because of those privacy concerns. OMB has just issued new policy guidance would enable agencies to use this tool. And Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas reported on the new policies on the Dorobek Insider on Friday. You can find his report here.

This is an issue I’ve followed for a long time (here is the FCW editorial I wrote on the subject back in 2006) — and, to be honest, I’m suspicious of the new policy. That being said, I have just started reading them.

The new OMB policy seeks to re-balance the privacy considerations given that the ban was instituted more than a decade ago. The idea: Times have changed and people are more accepting of these tools.

As I say, I’m reading the policies now, but… It is important to be very clear — agencies were absolutely not banned from using cookies. They had been banned from using PERSISTENT cookies — cookies that can track you long term. I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments that came in — and unfortunately OMB has not kept those comments online. And I still have to read the policies, but… I have year to hear a convincing argument why agencies must have persistent cookies. Some argue that the private sector does it, but that argument is specious — the government is not the private sector. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the private sector does. (Should government follow the Facebook privacy model?)

Let’s be very clear — this is not the most critical privacy issue facing government. That being said, it doesn’t help. People are already distrustful of government. I have yet to be convinced of the enormous public good that comes from using this tracking tool that one cannot accomplish otherwise. Again, agencies can use cookies — just not persistent cookies. How does it make people feel about their government if they feel like they are being tracked? (The stopwatch is running until the first story comes out of people using cookies to actually track people using government Web sites.)

I’m reading the new policies with an open mind, but… I’m very suspicious.

Regardless, I thought it was an opportunity to pull together the DorobekINSIDER Reader on the OMB cookie policy with background information, given that this has been going on for a long time…

The 2010 cookie/federal Web privacy policies:

* OMB policy M-10-22: Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies [PDF] [Scribd]

* OMB policy M-10-23: Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications [PDF] [Scribd]

* The OMB “fact sheet” on the two policies

View this document on Scribd

How these came about…
Giving OMB credit, they tried to evolve these policies in a relatively public way. As I seem to say a lot these days, I think they could have developed it in a public way. That being said, it would be nice if the comments were still available.

Here were some of the discussion:

White House blog post from July 24, 2009: Federal Websites: Cookie Policy
By federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Michael Fitzpatrick, associate administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Policy

During the Open Government Initiative outreach, Federal employees and the public have asked us questions about the federal government’s policy on cookies. As part of our effort to create a more open and innovative government, we’re working on a new cookie policy that we’ll want your input on. But before we get into that, let’s provide some context.

In June 2000, the OMB Director issued a memorandum (M-00-13, later updated by M-03-22) that prohibited Federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, due to privacy concerns, unless the agency head approved of these technologies because of a compelling need. That was more than nine years ago. In the ensuing time, cookies have become a staple of most commercial websites with widespread public acceptance of their use. For example, every time you use a “shopping cart” at an online store, or have a website remember customized settings and preferences, cookies are being used.

Read the full post — and the comments — here.

* The Federal Register item that went along with that comment period.

* blog post: Enhancing Online Citizen Participation Through Policy [June 16, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick

Last week, Vivek Kundra and Katie Stanton talked about the efforts underway to introduce more Web 2.0 technologies to the federal government sites and to open more back-and-forth communication between the American people and the government. Some of this naturally requires the adoption of new approaches and innovative technologies. But another big part of this is updating existing practices and how these tools can be used to break down barriers to communication and information.

We continue to ask for your feedback, but the best feedback is informed feedback. So what follows is background on current policies and some examples of what we’ve heard from you during the Brainstorming phase of our outreach.

Here is the specific section on cookies:

FEDERAL COOKIE POLICY: This has been a challenging issue to navigate. Put in place in 2000 to protect the privacy of Americans, the federal cookie policy limited the use of persistent cookies by federal agencies. A cookie, as many readers here know, is a small piece of software that tracks or authenticates web viewing activities by the user. In the nine years since this was put in place, website cookies have become more mainstream as users want sites to recognize their preferences or keep track of the items in their online shopping carts. We’ve heard a lot of feedback on this area. One person put it all together. “Persistent cookies are very useful as an indirect feedback mechanism for measuring effectiveness of government web sites . . . Cookies allow a greater level of accuracy in measuring unique visitors . . . Being able to look at returning visitors allows us to see what

Recognizing the fundamental change in technology in the past nine years, and the feedback that we’ve received so far, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reexamining the cookie policy as part of this Open Government Initiative. There is a tough balance to find between citizen privacy and the benefits of persistent cookies, and we would welcome your thoughts on how best to strike it.

Read the rest of the post here.

* blog: Cookies Anyone (the http kind)? [July 24, 2009]
By Bev Godwin, who was on assignment to the White House at the time. She is currently GSA’s Director of and the Office of Citizen Service’s Web Best Practices Office

Nine years ago – a lifetime in Internet time – the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a policy commonly referred to as “the cookies policy. “This policy prohibited federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, unless the agency head provided a waiver. This may sound like arcane, boring policy – but it is really important in the online world.

Unfortunately in this post, Godwin points to a site where people could post comments — Unfortunately that page doesn’t seem to exist. It would be great to see the comments now.content is important to our citizens. We can use that data to improve the content and navigation of our sites.”

* blog post: On Cookies [August 11, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick

Over the past two weeks, during the public comment period on OMB’s cookie policy, we have received significant feedback and suggested revisions to the current policy. These comments reflect individual opinions on all sides of the issue.

Our main goal in revisiting the ban on using persistent cookies on Federal websites is to bring the federal government into the 21st century. Consistent with this Administration’s commitment to making government more open and participatory, we want federal agencies to be able to provide the same user- friendly, dynamic, and citizen-centric websites that people have grown accustomed to using when they shop or get news online or communicate through social media networks, while also protecting people’s privacy.

It is clear that protecting the privacy of citizens who visit government websites must be one of the top considerations in any new policy. This is why we’ve taken such a cautious approach going forward and why we felt it so important to get feedback and hear from people on this. While we wanted to get people’s ideas for improving our policy, we also needed to hear any concerns so that we could understand better where potential pitfalls might lie.

This privacy issue has recently received some attention in the media. We want to make it clear that the current policy on Federal agencies’ use of cookies has not changed. Moreover, the policy won’t change until we’ve read the public comments that have been submitted to ensure that we’re considering all sides of the issue and are addressing privacy concerns appropriately.

Continue reading the full post here.

Going back a decade… some of the discussion that led to the persistent cookie ban.

* Letter from then Commerce Department CIO Roger Baker, now the CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to John Spotila on Federal agency use of Web cookies (July 28, 2000)

[The CIO Council] strongly support the requirement that the use of any technology, including persistent cookies, to track the activities of users on web sites be approved personally by the head of the executive department (for the 14 executive departments) or agency.

As we make progress towards electronic government, personalization of web sites, typically done through persistent cookies, may become necessary in order to serve our customer’s requirements. At that time, it would be appropriate for OMB to review the “no delegation” policy in light of the then-current “state-of-the-art” in privacy protections. For example, OMB may decide to relax this policy when customers are given a choice of selecting either a personalized (i.e., with persistent cookie) or non-personalized (no persistent cookie) web experience.

* Letter from Spotila to Baker, clarification of OMB Cookies Policy (September 5, 2000)

We are concerned about persistent cookies even if they do not themselves contain personally identifiable information. Such cookies can often be linked to a person after the fact, even where that was not the original intent of the web site operator. For instance, a person using the computer later may give his or her name or e-mail address to the agency. It may then be technically easy for the agency to learn the complete history of the browsing previously done by users of that computer, raising privacy concerns even when the agency did not originally know the names of the users.

* M-00-13, Privacy Policies and Data Collection on Federal Web Sites (June 22, 2000)

* M-99-18, Privacy Policies on Federal Web Sites (June 2, 1999)

Written by cdorobek

June 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Connecting Toy Story and government and innovation

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Toy Story 3 opened… big… great reviews… and a big box office.

What does that have to do with government?

But did you know that the technology that spurred the creation of Pixar was funded in the 1960s by… anybody? … the Advanced Project Research Agency, the precursor to today’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Yes, one of the biggest users of the Pixar-like animation technologies is the Defense Department — for simulations and other purposes.

Pixar Touch bookThat is one of the delicious facts that are packed in a wonderful bookThe Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company by David Price. The book is about the creation of Pixar. (Many more wonderful tidbits here, such as… did you know that Steve Jobs made big bucks from Pixar, not from Apple?)

The story is also one of remarkable innovation and learning to take risk. Wired magazine last month had a wonderful story headlined Animating a Blockbuster: How Pixar Built Toy Story 3.

Pixar has been owned by George Lucas… and then by Steve Jobs… back when it was a software company. Yes, Pixar was originally seen as a software company… and evolved into a movie studio — and one of the most successful movie studios out there. Pixar was sold to Walt Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion, the studio has seven consecutive blockbusters.

The book also talks about the process of innovating — and taking risks.

The book is a fun read — and interesting even if you didn’t grow up in California. And as you watch the box office of Toy Story, the government can relish in the role it played in innovation.

Written by cdorobek

June 21, 2010 at 10:28 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Treasury’s Gross to be deputy CIO at Interior

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Lawrence Gross, the Treasury Department’s associate CIO for e-government, is moving to the Interior Department.

Gross will leave Treasury at the end of this week. Starting June 28, Gross will be the Interior Department’s deputy chief information officer.

Prior to his tenure at Treasury, Gross served at the Energy and Justice Department. He also served as the Chief, Information Technology and Telecommunications at United States Navy Reserve.

Last month, Interior named Bernard Mazer to be its new chief information technology officer. Mazer, who has been CIO at Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), will start his new post June 7. That came after Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia left to become the deputy associate administrator for innovative technologies at GSA.

Written by cdorobek

June 21, 2010 at 11:49 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Green government – and telework

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I had the pleasure of moderating a panel last week… ostensibly on green IT, but it ended up being about the larger issue of green government.

The program was sponsored by the Java Team of the American Council on Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s Partners program, which is a marvelous development program designed to help government and industry understand each other better.

And we had a great line-up:

Jeff Eagan, Energy Department, who is on assignment at the White House reviewing the agency sustainability plans. I should note he is a 2010 Fed 100 winner.
Emile Monette, director of GSA’s Federal Technology Service’s sustainability division
Kimberly T. Nelson, Microsoft and former EPA CIO
Marian Van Pelt, a principal at ICF and a carbon inventory expert.

And we discussed Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance [PDF] — read more from the White House about EO 13514 here… and a blog post on the green initiative here.

The executive order essentially calls on agencies to cut energy use by 28 percent… and they were required to submit “sustainability plans” to the Office of Management and Budget by the begging of this month. (I understand all are in now.)

There were several issues that came out of our discussion.

One was that this just seems overwhelming. One CIO for one of the big agency departments asked, essentially, help me know what are the best things to do out there. Agencies — and agency CIOs — have scores of mandates on them… and most of them generally want to be as green as possible. That being said, the greening discussion became so broad that it became almost overwhelming.

The general response was…
1. Work with your sustainability officer… Each agency is required to appoint a chief sustainability officers. I can’t seem to find a list of those names, unfortunately, but the first recommendation was to find out who that person is and work with them.

2. Measure… The second was to come up with a plan for measuring what your organization’s energy footprint is… so you can then determine if you are having an impact.

3. Just do it… Start doing something… turning off computers at night… turn off lights in buildings… reduce your data centers… GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has actually taken this issue quite seriously. At recent conferences, GSA executives were prohibited from renting their own cars. Instead, GSA organized a bus to shuttle people where they needed to go. And, it was pointed out to me, GSA actually sought public input on its sustainability plan.

4. See helpful links below for other ideas.

The other big issue that was discussed was — ready for it — telework. I should note that this is now the third green focused panel that I have moderated — and it is the third time the panel has been dominated by telework issues. And again, people asked why the government seems to be so reluctant to institute telework — and why there isn’t more of a push for telework.

Last week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Dorobek Insider, we spoke about telework — and a new FedScoop survey on the government’s attitudes towards telework [PDF]. The survey shows the government is still behind, but that attitudes are changing.

Anyway, during the discussion, there were a number of helpful sites mentioned… I promised I would round them up.

* The Federal Electronics Challenge:
The Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC) is a partnership program that encourages federal facilities and agencies to:
Purchase greener electronic products.
Reduce impacts of electronic products during use.
Manage obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way.

EPEAT is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations and computer monitors.

* Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program
The Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program’s (FEMP) mission is to facilitate the Federal Government’s implementation of sound, cost-effective energy management and investment practices to enhance the nation’s energy security and environmental stewardship.

Other resources from Federal News Radio 1500 AM:

* For Earth Day, we spoke to Michelle Moore, Federal Environmental Executive in the Executive Office of the President. She is the person who is leading the oversight of the agency sustainability plans. Hear that conversation here.

* Somebody who just did it: Want to have hope in what you can do… and in young people… Last week, I got to talk to a 29-year-old woman who is making a difference. Saskia van Gendt is a resource conservation specialist at the EPA… and she is working in the field of “climaterials” — essentially the greening of all the materials to make buildings. And she launched a contest — the Lifecycle Building Challenge, a yearly online competition that recognizes cutting-edge building design and challenges students, architects and builders to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. This ‘just do it’ attitude scored her a place as a finalist for the Service to America Medals — the SAMMIES. Hear Ms. van Gendt talk about what she did here.

* Beneath the Green Dome: My colleague Amy Morris did a series looking at the greening of the Capitol. Find that series here.

Tomorrow… is there a better way to do sustainability plans?

Written by cdorobek

June 21, 2010 at 9:51 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Week in review: June 13-19 — telework, pay freeze, and salaries

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What stories made news for the week of June 13-19?

Here are the most read stories across Federal News Radio 1500 AM … on the … for Mike Causey’s Federal Report… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris… and for

…from the

  1. Government still faces numerous teleworking challenges
  2. Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
  3. How to get your TSP questions answered
  4. DOJ sues Oracle for alleged overcharging
  5. How to create the best federal cybersecurity workforce
  6. Agencies to compile ‘do not pay list’
  7. Agencies to crack down on waste, fraud, abuse
  8. Google Apps could help agencies move to the cloud
  9. Are Katrina/Deepwater comparisons appropriate?
  10. Report endorses pay for performance for Intel community
  11. Dorobek Must Reads – June 11
  12. Military Health System works out e-record kinks
  13. Dorobek Must Reads – June 17
  14. Web inventor discusses importance of open data
  15. Rep. Towns supports MMS restructuring
  16. Dorobek Must Reads – June 14
  17. How to get more minorities, women to participate in TSP
  18. What the cuts in federal building costs really mean
  19. Analysis: New cybersecurity bill promises big changes
  20. GAO: Collaboration is important for national security
  21. DHS requires agencies to provide network monitoring data
  22. U.S. electrical grid faces cybersecurity challenges
  23. House members support Senate cyber bill
  24. Dorobek Must Reads – June 15
  25. Why there’s still worry about the Conficker worm
  26. Is blaming the MMS really fair?
  27. Analysis: SCOTUS upholds ‘sexy text’ search
  28. DorobekINSIDER: Most read on Federal News Radio 1500 AM: June 6-12
  29. Learn all about the new Good News Czar
  30. Worldwide cybersecurity framework needed
  31. DoD: Improvements coming soon for health e-records
  32. Dorobek Must Reads – June 16
  33. How to improve the leadership skills of executives
  34. American man in custody after plot to kill bin Laden fails
  35. Agencies must justify non-competitive contracts
  36. Hiring reforms could mean big changes for veterans
  37. Senate cybersecurity bill: one step closer to passing
  38. Enterprises need to be proactive in cyber war
  39. Friday Fun Day: Plan to go to the National Harbor
  40. Most TSP funds suffer losses in May
  41. Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn launches new museum tour app
  42. Chances good for passage of TSP/annual leave bill
  43. U.S. agencies now collaborate to fight drug cartels
  44. DorobekINSIDER: Is cybersecurity over-hyped?
  45. Preview: Your monthly TSP Snapshot
  46. A look at the level of technology in federal offices
  47. House committee examines SBINet success
  48. Should feds be allowed to telework from anywhere?
  49. House says cybersecurity threat worse than it thought

… for Mike Causey’s Federal Report

  1. Pay Freeze? We Need To Talk
  2. Pay Freeze: Everybody in the Pool!
  3. The Smartest Fed Investors Work For…
  4. The $3 Million G-Man
  5. Time is Running Out for FEHBP Dependents
  6. Federal Pay Freeze: A November Surprise?
  7. Travel, Training, Hiring Hit List
  8. Good Son of NSPS or Bride of Frankenstein
  9. TSP Millionaires & Record Rollovers
  10. NSPS Express: Train Wreck or Rest Stop?

… on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris

  1. Cyberthreat of Joe Biden leads to arrest
  2. Monday Morning Federal Newscast – June 14th
  3. Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 18th
  4. Federal retirees should consider the Roth IRA
  5. How to succeed in the SES
  6. Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 15th
  7. OMB redefines performance expectations
  8. GAO: Agency rules allow conferences at resort locations
  9. Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 17th
  10. GPO reassures your passport is secure
  11. NSPS move cuts raises of the ‘best and brightest’
  12. Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 16th
  13. Agencies allow conferences at resort locations
  14. How to translate language skills into success
  15. USPTO turns to Google for help with TMI
  16. The ten biggest errors federal employees make, pt. 2
  17. ‘Shady’ porn site practices pose cyber risks
  18. DLA and FEMA prepare for hurricane season
  19. U.S. seeks allies in battle against cyber warfare
  20. Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 11th

… and from

  1. OPM wants to settle the fed salary debate
  2. Federal pay freeze proposal defeated
  3. GSA plans to take e-mail, collaboration to the cloud
  4. OPM freezes transfer of employee files, for now
  5. Navy CIO Carey leaving
  6. OMB pressing agencies to get IT projects on track
  7. House bill would require manager training at all agencies
  8. Air Force saves cash by changing cell phone rate plans
  9. DoD shows off health IT progress
  10. OMB preparing performance management dashboard
  11. Support snowballs early for Senate cyber bill
  12. Exclusive: OMB to propose major changes to financial management systems
  13. Bill would put DHS in charge of all civilian networks
  14. VA tries to speed claims processing for vets
  15. Cybersecurity bill gets first Senate hearing
  16. Telework success depends on clear expectations
  17. DHS women convene inaugural diversity forum
  18. Senate’s newest cyber bill on fast track to passage
  19. Critical tests to decide future of DHS’s virtual fence
  20. Feds lead Smart Grid development effort
  21. White House tells agencies to use data analysis to reduce improper payments
  22. Task force seeks comments on small business contracting
  23. HHS creates process to certify health IT systems
  24. NTEU slams federal pay freeze
  25. HUD embraces Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
  26. NIH faces economic strains in 2011
  27. Hearing offers suggestions for reducing Medicare waste, fraud
  28. No federal pay freeze for now
  29. Federal News Radio Reports
  30. CIS upgrading E-Verify Web site
  31. Feds lead smart grid development effort
  32. Mobile apps, TechStat lead OMB’s IT evolution
  33. VA reaping rewards from IT oversight
  34. OMB must sell Congress on budget cuts
  35. Section: WFED Stories
  36. Executive Order seals OPM hiring reforms
  37. OMB finally details broad management doctrine
  38. SBA CIO Naylor resigns
  39. OPM tests letting feds work without a schedule
  40. TSP Snapshot: What goes up does go down
  41. GSA SLAMs its IT modernization project
  42. White House asks agencies to cut spending by 5 percent
  43. GOP lawmakers pitch fed workforce reduction bill
  44. House lawmakers uneasy about hiring reforms
  45. GSA reissues RFQ for cloud computing
  46. OPM to test new employee health services
  47. OPM proposes changes to management of personnel files
  48. OMB’s Werfel lays out new plan to follow agency money
  49. DoD vows to become a leaner organization
  50. FISMA’s facelift focuses on four areas, for now

Written by cdorobek

June 21, 2010 at 7:23 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Take your puppy to work day

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Yes… if DorobekInsider producer Emily Jarvis sounds a bit distracted during the program today, here is why:


Ruby is visiting Federal News Radio 1500 AM today — something like ‘take your dog to work day.’ Ruby is my third. See the other two here.

Yes – she is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She is 9-weeks old. And she is much smaller in real life.

Written by cdorobek

June 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Posted in Circuit, DorobekInsider