Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

DorobekINSIDER: Issue of the Week: Cyber-security

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UPDATED: The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek is posted online.
Yes, I’m starting to get back to it. (More on where I’ve been this weekend.)
One of the projects I’m working on is with GovLoop, the collaboration platform for government. And each Friday, I’m doing a podcast focused on the issue of the week. Our goal is to look at an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past seven days… but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.
We’ve been honing it in recent weeks — and it’s the great thing about GovLoop: They move quickly and  they are very agile. And it is still a work in progress. We are working to make it easier to find, for example. But it can be found right now at
Each week, I’m trying to post my script here… and link to GovLoop Insights where you can find the audio.
This week, I got to sit down with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security.
But there was other news this week:
But before we get to the big story of the week, we look at the other stories making news… and we’re trying something new this week selecting the top stories across a number of topic areas — management… policy… technology… Defense… security… Your Money…And we start with the Defense story of the week… where the new Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, made his first policy speech this week laying out his vision of the future of the nation’s fighting forcein the age of austerity. In his speech, Panetta scaled back the amount of money that the armed services can cut to $60 billion. The Pentagon has been waging an agressive battle to reduce overhead, waste and duplication. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said those efforts could save $100 billion.Panetta also said that military pay and benefits must be part of an over all austerity plan, but that the troops should not bear the burden for reducing the deficit.

He also said that lawmakers on Capitol Hill should keep pet projects out of the defense budget. Panetta said that Congress must be a responsible partner in creating a defense strategy that may not include specific projects or systems.

Read more about the speech… and read the Defense Secretary’s speech for yourself.

And we always like to follow the money, so… A few short stories about your money this week… first, your agency’s money… The budget super committee continued its meetings — very little is known about what is actually going on. Politico however, spoke to insiders to get a rough a rough sketch of the priorities of the individual members. They found that some members seem intent on guarding their turf, others want to be seen as real deal makers, while others feel the need to protect their party’s base priorities. Meanwhile National Journal says that House Democrats have offered their suggestions for cuts — and revenues. The House Democrats recommend the committee avoid “precipitous” cuts to defense and national security programs.

And Americans are skeptical about the federal government’s role in the economy and its ability to reach an agreement on the budget deficit… that according to a new poll just out from National Journal.

And YOUR money… where will the stock market end the year with only one quarter left. That, of course, impacts your Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The New York Times find that the experts are… well, they’re more pessimistic.

Our procurement story of the week… from the Government Accountability Office, which testified this week saying that most federal agencies aren’t doing enough to police unethical government contractors. GAO analyzed five years’ worth of government contracts. It found that only a handful of agencies penalized contractors. Six agencies that awarded billions of dollars to contractors never suspended nor disbarred any of them. We have a link to the GAO report online.

Our gov 2.0 story of the week comes from Fast Company, which reports that the The New York Federal Reserve Bank is going to be tracking how people feel about the economy — by watching social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Fed officials wouldn’t provide many details, but… they did say that the goal is to monitor these public feeds to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place… and to improve the Federal Reserve’s communications and engagement with the public.

And a few tech stories — a Blackberry outage sent many Washingtonians spinning, but National Journal says that for official Washington, the Blackberry is still number one. And some experts say that isn’t likely to change quickly. Yet the new iPhone got it’s release and, as we said last week, most of the changes are behind the scene. But every indication is that customers are still thrilled. Record numbers signed up for pre-order. AND it is getting rave reviews. David Pogue of the New York Times calls the new iPhone conceals sheer magic.

Finally my must-read of the week — and it comes the Harvard Business Review — with a hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal — and the headline is How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management? Harvard professor James Heskett, who studies how culture affects management trends, asks a fascinating question about whether the “Moneyball” film (and book) will result in more Billy Beane-style managers in business. Moneyball is about Billy Beane, the baseball manager, who is credited with revolutionizing baseball by focusing not only on metrics, but on the sort of indirect metrics that others were ignoring — and that are particularly key to winning games, such as performance in late-inning pressure situations he discusses the  importance of adding non-financial measures to the management dashboard, “indirect goals” that help predict and explain financial performance beyond the “direct goal” of profit. VERY interesting for government. Heskett has written a new book himself: The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance. In that book, he comes up with  35 indirect measures key to future company performance. They included such things as the proportion of new business referred by existing customers and the proportion of employees leaving the organization voluntarily. My thought was what might be those non-financial metrics for government.

But our Issue of the Week is one that has been dominant throughout 2011 — cyber-security. And it is about another book that I told you about a few weeks ago. This week I got to sit down for a conversation with Mark Bowden — the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book — Worm: The First Digital World War — and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security. There have been many stories in recent weeks about the challenges facing government cyber-security experts— with a skyrocketing number of attacks.Worm is really a story as old as time — good guys vs bad guys…

And that brings us to the GovLoop Insights Question of the Week: How should the government prioritize cyber-security in this age of austerity. We don’t have to tell you that money is tight. So — where does cyber-security get prioritize?It’s GovLoop — so we’d love to get your thoughts.
The GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is still a work in progress. I’d love to get your thoughts…. about what we are doing… what we should be doing…

Written by cdorobek

October 14, 2011 at 11:24 AM

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  1. […] And we told you last week about Moneyball managers. Politico this week has the story about Moneyball economics. And they quote White House Office of […]

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