Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

03.23.2012 GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week: Battle of the budget, fiscal 2013

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Hey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we 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.

This also closes out our third week that we’ve been daily show… and we had some good conversations this week…

Yesterday, in fact, was our producer Emily Jarvis’s favorite show so far… we spoke with one of the real thought leaders in the government space, Bill Eggers of Deloitte, about disruptive innovation and how you can be ready for it… even embrace it. And we also spoke to the man behind the federal Web site, but also behind Virginia Decoded Web site — a site that was called the prettiest version of legal code… and who knew the laws of the land could be pretty… but we talked about how you can make all that data useful… usable

And earlier in the week, we spoke with Warren Suss, who has been watching the government market for decades… he joined us this week to talk about how the doing more with less is actually causing fundamental changes in the government market.

And there was some lighter stuff along the way… This week was the sixth birthday for Twitter — that ubiquitous social media platform. I started a discussion about how Twitter has changed government. It’s interesting because one person argued that Twitter is a waste of time and money — his words. I’m not sure how one can make that arguement these days. In fact, Alec Ross, who is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tech guru, has argued that Twitter and Facebook and these other sites have created a massive shift of power. He says that social media isn’t just about personal communication. It’s a collective network of users that brings great influence — and great power. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it

OH… an update on GSA’s March Madness brackets — no, not basketball. We told you earlier this week that GSA has brackets for your favorite federal architecture. We have the update… The final four starts today — and you can cast your vote… Vote on GSA’s Facebook page:

And I can’t really start the program today without noting that it was on this date in 1775 that Patrick Henry made his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, urging military action against the British Empire. The speech was made at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia and the speech spurred the the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution and add Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. There you go…

Our issue of the week… your money… the budget… and the battle of the budget: fiscal 2013 edition…

That is just ahead.

Also ahead on the program… We’ll also have your weekend reading list — the weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box. Among our items this week… amid the talk of pay freezes and pay cuts, we’ll tell you how you can meet the hackers to sell spies the tools to crack into your computer… and we’ll also tell you about a really big paper airplane. What can I say — it’s just too awesome to pass up…
All of that just ahead…

Each day on the DorobekINSIDER, we bring you the news that matters to you. On Fridays, we like to take a step back and look at the stories from the week that rose to the top. So… your government world for the past seven days… in 120 seconds… after the break…

  • The military is preparing to charge the soldier accused in the Afghanistan massacre with murder. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, assault and a string of other offenses in the massacre of Afghan villagers as they slept.. The Washington Posts says, the killings are the worst U.S. atrocity of the Afghan war and have hurt relations between the United States and Afghanistan. The timing is particularly bad with American commanders trying to stabilize the country in preparation for an eventual U.S. exit.
  • Last year — 2011 — was the year of hactivists. That’s the conclusion of Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. [PDF] Government Technology says hacktivists were able to compromise more than 100 million records in 2011. Verizon working with federal authorities reviewed 855 data breaches across the globe and many of those attacks can be linked to politically minded hacktivist  groups. The stats are part of a Verizon study. And Verizon notes that most breaches are still caused by criminals seeking financial gain, who generally target smaller organizations for specific types of potentially lucrative information. Cyberthieves commonly access insufficiently protected information using weak, default or stolen log-in information. [Verizon press release; past reports]
  • Assessing reorganization… The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on President Obama’s request for reorganization authority. Senate Hearing on Government Reorganization. The Washington Post says the hearing witnesses included representatives from the Government Accountability Office [PDF] and the Office of Management and Budget. OMB’s Daniel Werfel, the federal chief financial officer, described progress to date [PDF] on the President’s efforts to reorganize trade and competitiveness functions in government, along with a plea for statutory reorganization authority. [HT Gadi Ben-Yehuda on GovLoop.]
  • The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search through data on Americans that was gathered for purposes other than national security threats. The New York Times reports that Attorney General Eric Holder signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, which was created in 2004 to foster intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse. The guidelines will lengthen the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism… it goes to five years – from 180 days – to five years, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is hitting the twitter-verse and the blogsphere. Ed Felten the Chief Technologist at the FTC has launched his blog Tech @ FTC. Felton says he wants his blog to, “talk about technology in a way that is sophisticated enough to be interesting to hard-core techies, but straightforward enough to be accessible to the broad public that knows something about technology but doesn’t qualify as expert.” You can also check out Ed Felton’s twitter handle @edfelten — and the more official @techFTC.
  • And… What could make Friday better? How about a 45-foot paper airplane? Yes — 45 feet… 800 pounds… it was hoisted into the air by a helicopter over the Arizona desert. And it has set a world record. Much more at But things like this just make my day…

Just ahead… your weekend reads… What can a mock Congress tell us about the real Congress?

But our issue of the week… your money… the federal budget… and a lot of talk about your money this week. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, this week proposed the Republican alternative to the Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 budget. It would make cuts beyond last year’s Budget Control Act — and re-opened the discussion on government spending. But there is a lot in there that would impact feds — pay freezes, job cuts, retirement changes…

Julie Tagen, is the legislative director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, says the cuts could hurt the defense department more. She told Congressman Ryan’s bill is very deja vu for federal workers…


Weekend reads

And that brings us to your weekend reads… That brings us to your weekend reads — we know weekend time is precious, so we try to pull some stories throughout the week that are worth your time… and may just plant a seed for new ideas…

  • All this talk about doing more with less… Forbes has the story about hackers who sell spies the tools to crack into your computer. Forbes calls it the “shady but legal market for security vulnerabilities,” and they say that a zero-day exploit could earn a hacker $2,000 or $3,000 from a software firm could earn 10 or even 100 times that sum from the spies and cops who aim to use it in secret. And it asks the question, Why tell Google about a security hole when you can make six figures selling it to government agencies and spies? Talk about outsourcing… or is that insourcing…
  • The Financial Times this week featured a special report on what they called the “connected business” — integrating all of those c-level folks… and what they should be doing to capitalize on the changes in technology. Some highlights: They say that by having close ties between CFOs — they money folks — and CIOs — the tech folks — finance is an integral part of the decision making process. They also talk about cloud computing gaining acceptance among CFOs, who, the Financial Times says, are increasingly “disillusioned with the way that software industry behemoths profit from a billing system that is two decades old.”
  • Finally, the National Journal has the story about students at Harvard’s Model Congress — a mock congress that took place over four days in Boston. The Model Congress was able to pass more legislation than Congress has this year, much of it addressing issues that have divided the U.S. government for years, such as education, immigration, and the threat of terrorism. And the National Journal asks whether there is something the The real Congress could learn a lot from them.

As always, if you see something worth sharing, let us know…

That does it for us today… and this week. Have a good weekend. The producers of GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER are Emily Jarvis and Stephen Peteritas.

You can find more information about today’s program — and we’re always looking for your comments — and GovLoop Insights…

I’m Christopher Dorobek… Thanks for being here. Go out and do good work.
And we’ll see you online…

Written by cdorobek

March 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Posted in budget, CFO, CIOs, security

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