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DorobekInsider: On Government IT Solutions Spotlight – lessons from the Obama campaign

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This week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight , we are talking to Barry Libert, author of the new book, Barack, Inc.: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign. [NOTE: Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight airs Tuesday at 10a ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and on Programs are archived here.]

0137022077_Libert_Barack_cover.inddI don’t usually feature books where I haven’t read the book yet, but this book was recommended to me by my friends over at 1105 Government Information Group. Libert will be one of the keynote speakers at 1105’s upcoming Government Leadership Summit. More on the summit in a moment.

The book is a bit Obama centric, as you might imagine, but there are some interesting lessons to be learned from the Obama campaign. Libert boils the lessons down to these three: Be cool. Be social. Be the change.

In short:

* Be Cool to Build Your BrandL Leadership first requires focus. Barack Obama remained calm and collected under unparalleled pressure—a lesson that can benefit even the most seasoned executives.

* Be Social to Empower Your Workforce:Barack Obama showed the world that social technologies can transform the way you communicate with employees, support your customers, and go to market.

* Be the Change Others Can Believe In: Change begins with you. If you want your business to chart new paths and conquer new endeavors, you need to become a catalyst for change.

Buy the book here … Get more information about the book here… hear Adam Tuss, Amy Morris and me discuss it here… and the program will eventually be archived here.

A quick plug for 1105’s Government Leadership Summit . Libert is one of the keynote speakers at the Summit. This event was formerly known as the CIO Summit. When I was at 1105, we changed the name to reflect the change in how people use technology — technology is tied to management and leadership. It isn’t just technology. And the summit is a marvelous event. They do a good job of bringing together the people who are thinkers — and having a conversation around programs and issues. The summit three years ago was the first government 2.0 event — and these events are always on the cutting edge. You can get more information here.

Written by cdorobek

May 11, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Obama CTO frenzy: More names in the mix

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So there almost seems to be a frenzy around who might be named the Obama CTO.

The Industry Standard has its selections of 10 contenders (and one real long shot) for Obama’s CTO.

Frankly their list seems like mostly long-shots. Their list includes Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and’s Jeff Bezos — my good friend — kidding.

Most of these seem like long shots to me. First off, most of them would have to give us some of the best jobs in the world — and some of the highest paying jobs in the world. And most of them are used to being able to do what they want — they create the bureaucracy. Are they really going to have to work within the confines of government — even an Obamaized government? Finally, are those people going to be willing to fill out the Obama team’s job application form, which is seven pages long and has more than 60 questions? (The NYT has a copy of the application here. PDF)

The Industry Standard’s actual long-shot is Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, who just announced that he is stepping down from his post.

The list has some more likely names — Julius Genachowski makes their list. As the DorobekInsider told you, he part of the Obama transition leadership and is one of Obama’s former colleagues from the Harvard Law Review. Genachowski seems one of the more likely. The other candidates in their list is Sonal Shah.

Shah is one of the few rumored contenders to have actually worked in government. She currently heads global development initiatives at Google, but prior to that worked at Goldman Sachs, the Center for American Progress, and the U.S. Treasury Department. She’s also advising Obama’s transition team on the CTO search.

They also have Donald Gips

Gips is the vice president of corporate strategy and development for Level 3 Communications, and served Al Gore. Although Gips didn’t help the former vice president invent the Internet, he was Gore’s chief domestic policy advisor and has a deep understanding of technology and communication policies. He too is advisingObama’s transition team.

The Silicon Alley Insider also has a list of CTO candidates.

And’s list, which has been the buzz around town, includes some government IT luminaries:

  • Cisco’s Alan Balutis, who served as the Commerce Department’s chief information officer
  • Bob Gourley, the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now chief technology officer at advisory firm CrucialPoint.
  • Dawn Meyerriecks, a consultant in Washington, D.C., formerly CTO of the Defense Information Systems Agency.
  • Harry Raduege Jr., who was director of DISA and now chairs the Deloitte Center for Network Innovation.

More than the person — we’ll get that when we get it — I’m interested in what role the CTO will play. To that end, this afternoon on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we’re going to talk to CJD-fav Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the person credited with the term ‘enterprise 2.0.’ He recently post an item on his blog headlined What This Country Needs is a Chief Technology Officer .

Written by cdorobek

November 18, 2008 at 7:36 AM

@barackobama: Where are you? Obama’s Twitter feed goes silent

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Where has @barackobama gone?

Where has @barackobama gone?

Eight days after the election and the Twitter feed of Barack Obama has gone silent.

Now President-elect Obama has recieved a lot of praise for his use of social networking to stay in touch with voters. And he received praise for using the microblogging site Twitter, which essentially asks the question: What are you doing now? And Obama’s campaign would post links to campaign informatino and videos.

Obama’s Twitter feed, which can be seen at, has 128,043 people following it.

But the last post was on election night.

Some in the social networking world quickly noticed that the Twitter feed had slowed and were wondering whether President-elect Obama would continue the feed. But now bigger sites have started to notice. Here is how the Silicon Valley blog ValleyWag put it:

@barackobama: Please update your Twitter. Since last Tuesday’s historic election, Barack Obama’s Twitter account hasn’t sent any messages. Some Internet President-Elect! He didn’t even use Twitter to announce his transition website, — and what is Twitter for, really, if not spamming your friends with your latest URL? There’s no better sign that his 127,196 followers have been pumped and dumped — Twittered into contributing money and time, and then passed over for more presidential means of communication. Like, say, press conferences.

Ah, one of the challenges of the connected world — people actually want to stay in touch.

AND… don’t know what Twitter is or why people use it or for those of you who are at all curious, tonight, I’ll post my Twitter primer — who to follow on Twitter to get a feel for what this is.

Written by cdorobek

November 12, 2008 at 7:17 AM

Posted in 2008 Vote, Transition, Web 2.0, White House

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Tech guru Genachowski named to Obama transition team

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The Washington Post is reporting that Julius Genachowski, a former executive of Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, has been named to the Obama transition team.

Genachowski worked at the Federal Communications Commission as chief counsel to former Chairman Reed Hundt. He has also been advising Obama’s campaign on tech policy issues and chaired a group of advisors on the president-elect’s Tech & Innovation Plan.

Here is his blog post on the Obama campaign Web site.

I recently heard this summary of the core principles of the Obama Technology & Innovation Plan:

Open Government. Open Networks. Open Markets.

The plan is the most comprehensive and detailed tech & innovation plan put forward by any candidate. But also bold, and simple at its core. I liked the sharp summary and wanted to share it.

I was fortunate to chair the group that advised Senator Obama and the campaign on the tech & innovation plan – a large and hardworking group that generated terrific ideas, rooted in the great work that the Senator and his strong Senate staff have been doing in this area for quite some time.

The response to the plan has been great. One independent comment that stands out: “If even half of the proposals outlined here were to be implemented, it would fundamentally change the nature of our democracy for the better”. That’s why Barack Obama is running for President – fundamentally changing the country and the world for the better. A lot will have to happen on many fronts for that to occur, and Senator Obama has been addressing all the topics in compelling ways. He is a 21st century candidate who recognizes that technology will be a key part of the solution to better government, and a key part of the solution to so many of the specific issues that concern Americans: health care, energy, education, as well as job creation and economic growth.

Send copies of the plan to people you know, especially people interested in technology and innovation. Or better, send them to where they can read the plan and also participate in the discussion on the site. The Senator wants the feedback – and (not a small thing) is using technology to generate the best thinking and best ideas to make the country a better place.

More from the WP post:

With a relationship with Obama that goes back to their days at Harvard Law School, Genachowski helped push technology issues to a more prominent spot in the campaign, according to analysts and high-tech lobbyists.

Among those issues are laws that would prevent telecommunications carriers from slowing, blocking, or placing other controls on Internet content over their networks.

Obama has said he would also focus on protecting online privacy of users and improve access to broadband Internet services by increasing speed standards for broadband and freeing up more government spectrum for public use.

Read more from the WP here.

Written by cdorobek

November 6, 2008 at 8:59 AM

Get ready — change is coming to Washington

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Even the most cynical out there had to be touched to a certain degree by the electoral results. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his policies, it is a remarkable moment to think that a African American has been selected to serve as the President of the United States.

I mentioned yesterday that I have received many calls from family and friends around the country who say how exciting it must be to be at the political epicenter at this point in time. But in actuality, for the past year, people have been running against Washington. But come Wednesday, Washington, D.C. is once again the epicenter — and the topic is transition. And the topic is what change will mean for Washington.

I actually think the change could be profound. I actually think that this is a unique moment in time — a confluence of events that are coming together. I have been talking about it in the context of government 2.0 — and, it will come as no shock to regular readers, I think that is a part of it. And I think there are unique opportunities ahead. That is in part because of the need — and belief — that there needs to be change. That is in part because there is a changing demographic of the government workforce — and, if Obama can tap even a portion of the enthusiasm of his campaign, he might actually succeed at making government work “cool again.” There may just be a flood of the so-called “millennials” — those that are “born digital” who may decide that public service is cool again. And then there are these tools — these easy to use tools that allow people to collaborate and come together.

Just the latest case in point — tonight, just before he gave his acceptance speech, Obama sent out the following e-mail to his supporters, which, I might note, includes my mother:

I’m about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don’t want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign — every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it’s time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing…

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


My mother’s comment: “This is even better than the fireside chats of FDR.”

Get ready for change. (Now we have to figure out what exactly that means.)

Written by cdorobek

November 5, 2008 at 12:55 AM

Election night — what to watch

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So it is in your hands now. All of the reporting has been done. You decide.

And then, we’ll all sit back and watch tonight.

And it doesn’t make much sense for me to post about anything else because, as we media type say, the election is sucking the oxygen out of the room — there simply is no other story. It is the story.

What should you be watching for when you tune in tonight?

The best recap I have seen about what to watch for — hour-by-hour — was put together by CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield for CBS’s Sunday Morning program. He deliniates out what you’ll know — and when you’ll know it — when the polls close, state by state. And we’ll be able to tell fairly quickly whether it is going to be a early evening… or a long night.

Newsweek also has a story about what to watch for tonight.

There are also urban legends. For example, the Washington Redskins lost last night. I’m sure you’ve heard that the final Redskins game before the election has been a predictor of the presidential election results, right? Well… actually — wrong. found that just isn’t true.

One other site I’ll point to: has a wonderful map where you can track the vote. The map has separate layers for Presidential, House and Senate races, showing results down to the county level. The map updates in real time as the AP posts votes, and shows data at the county level if you zoom in, or at the state level if you’re zoomed out. For the presidential race, it also be keeping track of the electoral count as states are called for one candidate or the other.

Stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

November 4, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Posted in 2008 Vote

Get out there and vote today… and let people know how it goes

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So Tuesday is election day, of course.

It’s interesting because my family called from out in California over the weekend and they said, ‘Wow, it must be so exciting to be in the heat of this exciting political race.’ Yes, DC is a company town and it feeds on politics, but the election season really is an outside DC event — it is in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida and the others.

Get out there and vote — for whomever. Just do it.

A few election day resources…
Twitter Vote Report

There are always concerns about how the vote will go, particularly with anticipation that there could be a record number of people at the polls. So a group of people have created the Twitter Vote Report, which will allow you and other voters to report on the status of polling stations. Is it going well? Long lines? Are there problems? You can report them all… and we all can see reports from across the country… in fact, you can see peoples reports on a map in real time.

We spoke to one of the creators of the site Monday on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. You can hear that interview here. [MP3]

And if you don’t get Twitter, you can report your voting experience by text. There are multiple ways of reporting your voting experience…

How do I submit a report?
By Twitter: Post a tweet that includes the hashtag #votereport. More tags.

By Text Message: Send a text message starting with #votereport to 66937 (MOZES).

By Phone: Call the automated hotline at 567-258-VOTE (8683) or 208-272-9024 with any touch-tone phone.

By iPhone/Android Phone: Download the iPhone App or find the “votereport” app in the Android marketplace.

Get more details on how to participate.

Don’t get Twitter? Here is “Twitter in Plain English”…

Other election day resources…

This site has more than 65 different election resources — information about the candidates, and links to where you can track polls and votes.

And… if you haven’t seen the stories about the’s ‘get out and vote’ ad that you can tailor to your friends… too cool! Really — you can have it say that Chris Dorobek, for example, rocked the vote. Read’s story about it.

Written by cdorobek

November 3, 2008 at 11:20 PM

Posted in 2008 Vote

The Obama-McCain ELC government IT “debate”

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It was just about a week ago that I was down in Williamsburg, VA for the annual ACT/IAC ELC 2008 conference. I’m still catching up on items, but… I told you earlier that I was part of a team moderating a debate about government IT.

So the final day of ELC featured a debate between two representatives of the presidential candidates on government IT issues.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller and I discussed this debate on the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris last week. Hear that conversation here. [MP3] GovExec’s NextGov covered the debate with word that the leaders said that government CIOs should be career workers. FCW covered the face off.

To be honest, I was looking forward to the conversation because we haven’t heard much conversation during the presidential race about government management issues, let alone government IT. The panel ended up being… OK. It certainly was a very valiant attempt and I think ended up being more entertaining then informative. There were several reasons for this. One was systemic — we had three moderators — Anne Armstrong of 1105 Media, Allan Holmes of GovExec/NextGov, and myself. With three of us, it left nobody really in charge of the conversation, which allows the presidential representatives the ability to either go on and on… or to get off track. The second issue was, frankly, the McCain campaign. Representative the Obama campaign was Michael Nelson, who is now a Georgetown University professor. And, while his answers were… detailed — more our fault as moderators then his — but he did stick to the topic: What will the presidential candidates mean to government and government IT. The person representing the McCain campaign however… well, it changed several times during the course of the conference planning. In fact, the day before the session, the McCain representative cancelled. ACT/IAC officials considered cancelling the session altogether — something that would not been good, in my view. They ended up getting Tim Hugo, a Virginia delegate.

The session was always a risk and was going to be complex. The campaigns, after all, don’t really care about government management issues, let alone technology policy. It’s too bad because there is a lot of gain that can come from these issues. And it was just one week before the election.

That being said, there were a number of media outlets there, as you can see above, and if Virginia is a battleground state, there were a number of potential voters there as well.

Hugo was somewhat thrown into this. I have heard from people that I trust and who know Hugo and they tell me that he is knowledgeable, but… he didn’t come off well and… I don’t think he ended up helping McCain. But I don’t think it was Hugo’s fault. It is the hapless McCain campaign, which has provided somebody and then threw Hugo into a situation where he was not prepared.

Another issue — and this one is my fault as much as anybody else, but… unfortunately there were three moderators. None of us were put in charge. (My sense is that nobody wanted to tick off the other two news organizations by making one of them above the others.) It led to a combination where there was nobody in charge… and one guy who was thrown into a situation… and it ended up being… less then it could have been. Nelson was fascinating, but Hugo essentially just kept going back to the tax issues — vote Obama and you’re going to be paying higher taxes. Unfortunately, I can turn on any network and hear that. The goal here was to delve into their technology policies and plans.

Just an aside: The New America Foundation and Wired magazine were scheduled to have an event this past week talking about the Obama and McCain views on technology. Representing Sen. McCain will be the campaign’s chief economic policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who Politico suggests could be the OMB director in a McCain administration. Representing Sen. Obama was former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. It ends up that Holtz-Eakin cancelled at the last minute — and the New America Foundation and Wired magazine went ahead with the Obama view, rightly in my view. Too bad. Missed opportunities.

That being said, you can see the New America-Wired magazine debate-turned-conversation below (20 minutes in they talk about open government):

Written by cdorobek

November 3, 2008 at 9:18 AM

Posted in 2008 Vote

The first take at leadership in a new Obama or McCain administration

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We’re in the final hours of the 2008 vote — a campaign that seems to have gone on and on and on… Much of my family lives in California, and they often say, ‘It must be so exciting to be ground zero of this election.’ Of course, as DC people know, the election actually is an outside the beltway event — very little of it happens here. But come Wednesday, Nov. 5, that’s when it gets very busy here in DC and for months to come as all the preparations for “transition” come to fruition.

Federal News Radio has been “tracking the transition” for months — and we will for months more. And there are others who are now covering the transition more actively. DC journalism blog Fishbowl DC got their hands on a memo from the WP saying that the paper is going to step up its coverage of the transition and feds. It would be a thrilling change. That being said, the Washington Post used to own Government Computer News and, in my humble opinion, just never got it. That being said, I think it is a very important topic — it’s my career — so I welcome the Post stepping up its coverage., the start-up Hill newspaper which has become one of my favorite reads, has done two pieces looking at who might be the big cheeses in the new administrations. I’ve picked the ones that I found interesting, but… I have links to Politico’s full lists for Obama and McCain.

The big seats to fill — and quickly — are the jobs of chief of staff, Treasury Secretary — there is a slight economic issue going on — and Defense Secretary — there are two wars going on.

An Obama administration

OK, I know there seems to be some push back with people feeling almost ticked that the projections seems to indicate that we’ll wake up Wednesday morning to President-elect Barack Obama. The fact is that McCain has a much more much more complex path to the White House then Obama does. To me, the fact that McCain is as close as he is… that is just remarkable. Polls won’t matter any more come Tuesday. We’ll know for sure.

So… what might the leadership of an Obama administration look like?

From Politico:

White House chief of staff: Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.); Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.); or dark horse candidate Bill Daley, commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton and now an executive with JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Defense secretary : Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.); Richard Danzig, Navy secretary under Clinton; John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS and former deputy secretary of defense; President Bush’s incumbent, Robert Gates — would be for at least a year so he wasn’t a lame duck

Treasury secretary: Former Clinton treasury secretaries Larry Summers and Robert Rubin; FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair; New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, former Treasury under secretary and assistant secretary; former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker

Homeland Security secretary: Former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.); William Bratton, Los Angeles police chief and former New York police commissioner; former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), a member of the 9/11 Commission; Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.); Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

and one just fun one…

Secretary of Energy: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)… My comment — not theirs — the energy Terminator?

A McCain administration

Again, from

Previous reports have indicated that McCain’s transition team, headed by former Navy Secretary John Lehman

White House chief of staff: Lehman or longtime McCain aide and speechwriter Mark Salter

Treasury secretary: FedEx founder Fred Smith; former eBay CEO Meg Whitman; Bain Capital co-founder and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; John Thain, former Merrill Lynch CEO and now president of Global Banking, Securities and Wealth Management at Bank of America

Secretary of defense: Lehman; Lieberman; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); current Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Secretary of state: World Bank President and former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick; Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.); former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage

Office of Management and Budget: Former Congressional Budget Office director and campaign adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Written by cdorobek

November 2, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Posted in 2008 Vote, Executive

IAC’s ELC 2008 — Sunday night: political analyst Charlie Cook

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I have mentioned that I’m down at ACT/IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference 2008 through Tuesday. The lead-off speaker tonight was Charlie Cook, a political analyst and the name behind the Cook Political Report.

In general, Cook said that the election was close — until September’s financial crash. The October surprise ended up being a September surprise — and it completely altered the nature of the campaign. At this point, he said, the campaign is 100 percent about the economy.



Some interesting points and/or quotes.

  • The presidential race is over, save a huge event, Cook predicted. “Put a fork in it. This is done,” he said.
  • Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was having a difficult time anyway — an unpopular president, an almostunprecedented desire for change, an unpopular war, and then… the economy.
  • After September and the economy became the issue, national security — McCain’s cornerstone issue — almost evaporated.
  • Going in to September, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) had the lead, but there were still questions — was the lead enough. After the financial mess, that questions has been largely answered… it will be enough.
  • This will be a “train wreck” election for Republicans. That happens — to both parties. But this is the second train wreck election in a row for the Republican party. The GOP could lose anywhere from 7-10 Senate seats… and as high as 30 House seats.
  • Regarding Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, the nomination gave a “short of B-12 for the old guy,” but in the end, the question being asked is whether the section was a “stroke of genius, or just a stroke.” The Palin appointment also undercut McCain’s “experience” argument.
  • All of that being said, the two candidates face very difficult issues come Jan. 20. “Does the winner win? Or does the loser win?” Cook asked.

Cook had other good stories, including one about McCain’s mother, Roberta, who is well in her 90s. When she was 93, she traveled to Paris. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let her rent a car — so she bought a Mercedes so she could tour Europe. She eventually had it shipped to the United States and she picked it up on the East Coast and was driving back to Arizona and, on the trip back, she got a ticket for driving 100-miles-per-hour. That is a strong constitution.

More on the official ELC agenda tomorrow. In addition to sessions, there are keynotes from David Walker, the former comptroller general, and from CNN political analyst Amy Holmes.

I’ll live blog here… and try and post to my Twitter feed too. And I’ll be reporting what has been happening on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Monday afternoon. (I’m rushing to get back to be on Tuesday’s show.)

Written by cdorobek

October 27, 2008 at 1:12 AM

Posted in 2008 Vote, Circuit

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