Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Issue of the Year: Cyber-security

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GovLoop InsightsThe GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week is changing a few for December. Generally, we try to find a issue — a person — an idea — that helped define the past 7-days… and we always work to find an issue that will 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.

For the month of December, we are taking a break from the issue of the week — and we are taking a look at the issues that defined government for the year. And we’ll unveil the issue that defined 2011 later this month. But that gives us a few weeks to look at a few of the big issues of the year. And this week, we’re going to talk about cyber-security and making sense of big data.

But first, a look at some of the big stories for the end of November and the beginning of December, 2011 — yes, the final month of the year.

Listen here…

Or read more… after the break…

Once again we start off our weekly review talking money — specifically, the budget. December is typically a more quiet time here in Washington. But not this year. For those playing the home version of the federal budget, lawmakers  passed yet another temporary spending bill in mid-November. That averted a government shutdown. That temporary measure expires December 16. House Speaker John Boehner has said he wants to be out of town by then.

Much of the wrangling this week came after the budget supercommittee’s not-so-super pass of the buck. Last week, the budget supercommittee confirmed what many has been predicting: Divisions were too deep to find compromise. As a result of that, the budget bill requires $1.2 trillion in mandatory spending cuts, called the trigger.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor this week floated a deal to scale back the mandatory cuts to the Defense spending.

For his part, President Obama has said that he would veto any attempts to do away with those spending cuts. But this week, Rep. Duncan Hunter wrote the President urging him to exempt military pay from the budget cut trigger. Politico says that the Budget Control Act allows the President to do that.

The spending cuts — triggered or otherwise — are driving changes across government — and industry. The Pentagon has given the President a draft of its strategic budget review, one of the final steps before the Defense Department releases the results, Bloomberg reports. The Pentagon is seeking to trim about $450 billion in spending over 10 years to meet deficit reduction targets as a result of the Budget Control Act. Meanwhile, InformationWeek Government this week reported on the Pentagon’s new IT stragegy, which seeks to find a new path in the age of austerity.

And there are big impacts for contractors too, as you might imagine. Clay Johnes, the CEO of Rockwell Collins, tells the Wall Street Journal that the company is looking for new avenues of growth. Rockwell has relied heavily on sales of cockpit electronics for U.S. military aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Defense Authorization Bill has also been caught in the political crossfire. Congress and the White House have been gearing up for a showdown over a massive, $662 billion defense bill that would require the military to hold suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even those captured on U.S. soil, and detain some indefinitely without trial, the Associated Press reports. The Senate passed that bill late Thursday. It is unclear if the President will veto that bill.

And we talk about money at the federal level — states have been living and breathing budget cuts for years now.  The fall 2011 Fiscal Survey of States [PDF] by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, find that the overall fiscal condition of states has improved from the depths of the recession. But it also showed that shows that states are facing a ‘big squeeze’ from both local and federal governments. Read a summary [PDF] or the full report.

Governments around the world are struggling with similar issues. In Britain this week, there was a massive strike by public workers protesting cuts proposed by that government.

And we don’t want to leave money news without talking about the Thrift Savings Plan results for November. Frankly, it wasn’t a great month for TSP funds. Most of the TSP funds were down in November — although just slightly in most cases. See a chart of how TSP funds performed in November — and for the year… not bad numbers for the last 12 months, by the way.


TSP results - click to see full size

A few other stories to keep on your radar.

Regular listeners know I’m fascinated by open government and gov 2.0. And we were talking about Britian. A big story out of the UK this week. The government announced it is going to open up most government data — some are saying this will be the biggest trove of open government data ever. It will be interesting to watch.
#UK @guardian: UK gov to open one of the largest troves of gov data

One is snow — and the potential of snowmagedon. December marks the start of winter — and here in Washington, we all remember the challenges that can come with winter weather. The Office of Personnel Management this week announced they will have more options for this winter season. Gone is merely closed or open. There are now three new possible responses to severe conditions: staggered early departure with a final departure time, immediate departure and shelter in place.

And we should mention that HUD Deputy CIO Chris Niedermeyer has announced that he is retiring after 33 years of public service. Patsy Garnett will assume his responsibilities.

And I’ll give you a few stories worth reading this weekend, but first… our first issue of the year for 2011…

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley

During the month of December, we are going to look at the big issues of the year — the issues, people, and ideas that defined 2011… and that will define the years ahead.

And we thought we’d start with cyber-security. Cyber-security has changed a lot over the years, but this year, the pace of change was even more rapid. The U-S discussed the idea of using a cyber-attack on Lybia — and there were reports that a cyber attack that penetrated a US public water system in Illinois. Both proved to be premature, but they are certainly signs of changing times.

Bob Gourley is the former chief technology officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently an regular blogger at and he is the CTO for Crucial Point, an IT consulting company. He says one of the big stories of 2011 is big data — dealing with all the information coming at us these days….

Bob Gourley is the former chief technology officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently an regular blogger at CTOvision dot com and he is the CTO for Crucial Point, an IT consulting company.

Before we close out, a few things worth reading this weekend.

One deals with cyber-security… and intelligence. It is a story in the most recent issue of BusinessWeek headlined The War on Terror’s Secret Weapon — and it is about the company Palantir, which they call ‘indispensable’ to US intelligence. It is a fascinating company — and a fascinating story.

We also have delicious stories for you about reverse mentoring — what and how you can learn from those young ones… NASA’s Apps store… and I also put a link to a recent interview Charlie Rose had with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. It’s a fascinating conversations.

Two other items… One is a page Google has pulled together highlighting government transformers. As Google says, these are people using Google’s technology — but it is always good to see people doing interesting work in government. It’s definitely worth a look.

And finally, I mentioned a few weeks ago that GovLoop now is 50,000 members strong. GovLoop is saying thank you. If you are here in Washington, GovLoop is giving away lunch. Collaboration can make you hungry, so… BBQ sandwiches, mac and cheese… I have details…

And we are still seeking your insights about what is the big story of the year – via a poll or on GovLoop.

Have a good weekend. Go out and do good work.

Written by cdorobek

December 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

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