Archive for the ‘Government Groups’ Category
05.07.2012 DorobekINSIDER: And the SAMMIES nominees are…; EPA turns trash into energy; and the Newseum’s New Media Gallery
On today’s program for Monday May 7th, 2012:
- The nominees are in for the Oscars for Federal Employees — The Service to America Medals award.
- Turning garbage into energy at the EPA — just one of the amazing SAMMIES nominees.
- Taking an inside virtual tour of the Newseum’s new media gallery here in Washington… and what it means for government.
Big federal government contracting news this morning: GTSI, which government marketing guru Mark Amtower called the grand-daddy of government resellers, is being sold. GTSI announced this morning that Unicom, based in Los Angeles, is buying the company for $77 million. Washington Technology says it is quite a fall from grace for the company, particularly after the company’s run-in with the Small Business Administration over its small business sales.
Did you see 60 Minutes last night? CBS News correspondent Leslie Stall spoke to two Air Force pilots who refuse to fly the F-22 Raptor — the most expensive fighter ever — because it has been plagued by a mysterious flaw that causes its pilots to become disoriented, apparently from a lack of oxygen.
- 12.1 — that’s the percentage of spending cuts agencies could see next January if Congress does not come up with an alternative to sequestration. Federal News Radio says the cuts are based on agencies’ fiscal 2012 discretionary budgets. The Budget Control Act passed last August called for reducing federal spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade with half of the cuts come from defense spending. Congress returns today, and the House will take up an alternative to sequestration.
- There could be another rounds of base closures. The Washington Post says the Defense Department is gearing up for consolidation once again, putting local companies and lobbying firms on alert. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta says that despite the controversy that normally surrounds such moves, “it is the only effective way to achieve infrastructure savings.”
- Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement intelligence chief James Woosley pleaded guilty for part in a scheme to file almost $600,000 in false travel expense reports for contractors. MSNBC says Woosley must surrender over $180,000 of his profits in a scheme that also included several other ICE employees and contractors. He faces 18 to 27 months in jail and a potential fine.
- We told you about this last week, but the Washington Post is reporting this morning that the Air Force plans to restart the IT contracts after protests from losing companies. The April 16 award for network equipment is valued at $6.9 billion. General Dynamics and technology company GTSIwere among nine contractors picked to share the network equipment contract. The Government Accountability Office says the Harris Corp and Dell, were two of those contractors challenging the deal.
- Speaking of contracting – government relationships….The White House has just released a second round of advice for how government and its contractors can communicate more freely. Federal News Radio says the announcement is part of a new memo from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy that outlines eight myths plus eight realities to dispose of them. The so-called Mythbusters 2 is signed by acting procurement chief Lesley Field. The new memo emphasized industry misconceptions. The original 2010 Mythbusters memo dealt with myths held by government.
- ‘Tis not the season—to be moving Christmas trees, that is. The National Christmas Tree succumbed to “transplant shock” after being moved from the White House lawn, the National Park Service reported Saturday. The Park Service says it already has a replacement in mind for the Colorado blue spruce that occupied a spot on the White House’s South Lawn, and it will be in place by the time the holiday season rolls around next winter. The new tree reportedly will not be planted until October.
- And on GovLoop, we go myth busting with the federal sector equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint process. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like all that much fun. But it’s an important part of government that many people don’t understand. We separate fact from fiction in a post by GovLoop member David Grinberg.
A Few Closing Items:
- It hasn’t happened since Richard Nixon was president — the government shrank. The New York Times’ Floyd Norris reports that for the first time in 40 years, the government sector of the American economy has shrunk during the first three years of a presidential administration. Spending by the federal government, adjusted for inflation, has risen at a slow rate under President Obama. That increase has been more than offset by a fall in spending by state and local governments, which have been squeezed by weak tax receipts. In the first quarter of this year, the real gross domestic product for the government — including state and local governments as well as federal — was 2 percent lower than it was three years earlier, when Barack Obama took office in early 2009, the Times says. The last time the government actually got smaller over the first three years of a presidential term was when Richard M. Nixon was president. That decrease was largely because of declining spending on the Vietnam War.
- A budget update:The Hill reports that House Republicans will bring their budget up for a vote this week. The Hill says that House lawmakers will return to a familiar debate over the deficit when they come back to Washington today. Republican leaders are planning to bring up a $260 billion measure to slash the budget gap and replace across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect in 2013. And we mentioned this earlier, but… The bill, known as a ‘reconciliation’ proposal, is the product of six House committees and will be combined into one piece of legislation by the House Budget Committee… Principally, the GOP measure would replace $78 billion in sequestered cuts resulting from the failure of the congressional ‘supercommittee’ to strike a bipartisan deficit deal last fall… In addition to the $78 billion in sequester replacement, the bill contains an additional $180 billion in cuts aimed at reducing the deficit. Among the federal programs hit are food stamps, funding for the 2010 healthcare and financial regulatory laws and the refundable child tax credit.
- The Human Capital League has a wonderful post… Top 10 HR Lessons from Star Wars -Number 10: Nepotism doesn’t work… and they have Darth Vader saying, ‘Luke, you know, I really think you should reconsider Imperial employment. We pay competitively, and we have a great benefits package.
Happy Monday — I hope you had a good weekend.
And I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about the new iPad. I don’t have it… YET. Yes, it was supposed to be delivered Friday, but… we are putting on an addition at home and there was an electrical issues, so… I wasn’t home on Friday to get it. I’ll get it today and report back, of course.
On today’s program…
- Everybody is thinking mobile. And there will be a plan very soon. We’ll get a preview from the federal Deputy CIO Linda Schlosser.
- The American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council have been bringing government and industry together for decades. We’ll talk to the leaders of both of those organization about what is changing in 2012.
- Do you have a password on your smartphone? We will tell you why you just may want to do that.
All that ahead…
But after the break… we’ll start with the stories that impact your life for Monday the 19 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
Today, as part of ELC’s technology innovation track – the last panel of the day – and we are trying an ELC innovation about innovation. We are holding an UN-session. For the past several years, there have been un-conferences. Un-conferences — and, by extension, our un-session — is very open. There is a topic, but there are no set list of speakers. It is wisdom of the crowds in the conference format — it enables open, collaborative learning using a format that “creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.”
I’m thrilled to be working with Kathy Conrad, the principal deputy associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.
The UN-session is the final panel of the ELC’s technology innovation track. And our goal is to walk out of the UNsession with… homework, for lack of a better term. We want to come up with tools that people can take — and try — in their organization that encourage and enable innovation. And we are then continuing the sharing after ELC ends — I’ve created a section on GovLoop, the social network for government, where I hope people will share their lessons… what worked, what didn’t. (Hear Conrad talk about some of her thoughts on the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week podcast from this past week.)
One of my new favorite books is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries — and I think it is a book about innovation. It’s about making it a part of your live and your thinking. (A preview: The DorobekINSIDER book club will be coming back next year — and, if we can work out schedules, this will be our book. More to come. Stay tuned.)
Read our thoughts — and our notes for the un-session — after the break.
On Monday, the DorobekINSIDER pointed you comments made by Senator elect Scott Brown (R-MA) where he said that feds made double the private sector.
Read the full comments here, but the relevant portion:
We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts.
I have been asked, “How true are Brown’s stats?”
As I noted previously, I believe Brown is pulling from a December story in USAToday headlined, For feds, more get 6-figure salaries: Average pay $30,000 over private sector.
And we wanted to find out how accurate those data are. The long and short of it: They are accurate on their face, but… it isn’t necessarily a fair comparison.
Yesterday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey about this issue. Hear the entire conversation here.
But Causey tells us that technically what Senator elect Brown says is accurate. But as we all know, nothing lies like numbers — and it is not really a fair comparison for several reasons.
First: What’s an average? The federal government doesn’t employ many fast food workers, for example, or “greeters” at Target. To the contrary, the federal government employs scores very highly skilled workers — scientists, IT workers, attorneys, doctors. And if you compare what those feds are paid compared to what they could get in the private sector, it generally doesn’t compare.
There are other factors, of course. Federal employment is, by and large, very stable work — you don’t have to worry about the federal government filing for bankruptcy and having ones job disappear. Feds also have a pension plan and one of the best retirement plans anywhere in the Thrift Savings Plan.
I wanted to set the record straight regarding your recent comments on “This Week” on ABC that federal employees earn twice as much as those who work in the private sector.
Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys, the present gap between public and private sector workers is some 26 percent—in favor of the private sector. A law was passed in 1990—the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA)—to close that gap between public and private sector pay in stages. It has not, however, been implemented as intended. The disparity identified more than a decade ago, between federal employees and their private sector counterparts, still exists.
Comparing salaries of federal employees and private sector employees is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The only appropriate way to make a fair pay comparison is to compare similar jobs with one another. The federal workforce is a white collar, highly-educated workforce, consisting of such professionals as doctors, attorneys and scientists in virtually every discipline.
The White House took note of the educational level of the federal workforce, pointing out in its budget blueprint that 20 percent of federal employees hold either a master’s or professional degree, or a doctorate. This contrasts with 13 percent in the private sector. Overall, 51 percent of federal employees hold at least a college degree compared to 35 percent in the private sector.
It is clear that a great many federal employees who could make more money—and quite possibly, much more money—in the private sector choose public service instead.
I hope as you become more familiar with the efforts of the men and women of the federal workforce, you will begin to see the direct connection between their day-to-day contributions to our nation and the well-being of the American public they serve so diligently.
Finally, the WSJ editorial page, which generally leans right, has an editorial today The Public-Union Ascendancy.
It’s now official: In 2009 the number of unionized workers who work for the government surpassed those in the private economy for the first time. This milestone explains a lot about modern American politics, in particular the paradox that union clout with Democrats has increased even as fewer workers belong to unions overall
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that 51.4% of America’s 15.4 million union members, or about 7.91 million workers, were employed by the government in 2009. As recently as 1980, there were more than twice as many private as public union members. But private union membership has continued to decline, even as unions have organized more public employees. The nearby chart shows the historical trend.
Overall unionism keeps declining, however, with the loss of 771,000 union jobs amid last year’s recession. Only one in eight workers (12.3%) now belongs to a union, with private union employment hitting a record low of 7.2% of all jobs, down from 7.6% in 2008. Only one in 13 U.S. workers in the private economy pays union dues. In government, by contrast, the union employee share rose to 37.4% from 36.8% the year before.
It’s just a few days away — and it is one of the most marvelous events of the year if you’re looking to help other people and have a dramatic impact on somebody’s life — it is called Operation Jump Start.
The long and short of it is this: Help soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom transition to civilian careers.
This is now the sixth year of Operation Jump Start, which is co-sponsored by the Federal CIO Council, 1105 Media, and TechAmerica — along with AFCEA Bethesda, ACT-IAC and AFFIRM— and it is open to anybody who wants to help.
Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: Army Navy Country Club
1700 Army Navy Drive
See coverage of last year’s event here. And hear Ed Meagher talk about the event from last year — we’ll be talking to him later this week.
More information is available on Facebook here… and I’ve posted some details below…
As I’ve said before, one of the most touching parts of this event happens near the end of the evening when soldiers are trying on the suits.
But if you don’t have suits left over, there are other ways to donate.
SPECIAL NOTE: Organizers are only able to take items on that night only — this is a volunteer run organization so they don’t have resources to pick-up and transport items. That being said, if you want to get things to the event but you’re not able to get there on that night, if you can get it to me here at Federal News Radio 1500 AM in Northwest DC, I’ll make sure it gets there.
All the information is posted below:
Please join the organizing sponsors, Federal CIO Council, 1105 Media and TechAmerica on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 as we hold our sixth annual “Operation Jump Start VI” event to help the soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom transition to civilian careers. The event is also supported by AFCEA-Bethesda, AFFIRM and ACT-IAC and open to all who want to give.
We are pleased to announce this year’s Honorary Chair from our community – the Honorable Roger Baker, CIO, Department of Veterans Affairs.
Please join us for hors d’oeuvres and the music of the Bank Street Band. There will also be a cash bar. We will also have special VIP visitors from Walter Reed Medical Center and anticipate a full house, so registration is required!
To Register: Please register online at https://1105govinfoevents.com/EventRegistration.aspx?Event=OJS10
Registrations will be accepted through January 30th. In case of Inclement Weather the day of the event, please check the website. IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND, and want to contribute – you can!! Go to: http://www.techamerica.org/donate/operation-jump-start.cfm?&nossl=1
The price of admission is a donation to support the soldiers as they “jump start” their new career.
Suggested and valued donations are as follows:
All Phases: Cash donations
Cash donations are always appreciated and will go into a special, non-profit, tax-exempt fund established for the soldiers and their families. Make checks payable to the 501(c)3 organization The Aleethia Foundation, Tax id #51-0529300. This fund is used 100% to support special needs for the recovering soldiers and their families as they work to build new lives, whether it is a “first month/last month” deposit, bills forgotten while recovering or to meet other educational/emotional needs.
Phase 1: Still in the Hospital, Keeping in Touch, Building up Strength
1. Gift cards in $5 increments from Dunkin Donuts or Burger King (all at the hospital).
2. Gift cards for a nice meal out with the family – Macaroni Grill is close to Walter Reed
(Takoma Park/Silver Spring metro) – in increments no larger than $25 please.
Phase 2: Transitioning to the Work Force, Moving Up and Out
1. Dry-cleaned mens and ladies suits, coats, ties, etc. for office wear. This is not a
clothing drive; emphasis is on mint quality, not quantity. Donate only what you
would be proud to see our soldiers wearing as they dress for success on the way
to a new career.
PLEASE MARK CLOTHES with a TAG indicating the SIZE of the item (makes
SPECIAL NEED FOR LARGER SIZES 44 -48+!!
ALSO, formal wear for both men and women appreciated, as many of these soldiers and their spouses are invited to attend formal functions around town.
2. Gift Certificates to Target (daily shuttle), Macy’s, and Safeway (in increments of $20-25 denominations makes disbursement easier). All are within easy access of Walter Reed/Navy Bethesda.
3. Thumb drives
4. New Laptops
What has made this event so successful in the past is that everyone is there to give back to the soldiers for giving so much for us. Although the event is sponsored by several organizations and companies for monetary and organizational support, all are doing this for one purpose – the soldiers. Thank you.
I have mentioned that I will be moderating a panel on Wednesday morning talking about the Better Buy Project, which is an innovative collaborative platform for improving the government procurement process. Find more at betterbuyproject.com. There is more information on the ACT/IAC Web site here.
We are pleased to announce the next IAC Executive Session featuring The BetterBuy Project on December 16th, 2009 from 9:00am – 10:30am at The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), 900 7th Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20001.
The BetterBuy Project, a collaborative initiative between the General Services Administration (GSA), the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) and the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA), has become front page news and has captured the attention of both government and industry acquisition professionals. The initiative is focused on collecting ideas that will make the federal acquisition process more open, transparent and participatory through the implementation of collaborative processes and collaborative technology.
Come and learn more about this dynamic project and how it could change – for the better – the way the government buys products and services.
- Chris Dorobek, Managing Editor of FederalNewsRadio.com and Co- Anchor of the afternoon Federal News Radio program (Moderator)
- Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner of GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services
- Peter Tuttle, Senior Procurement Policy Analyst with Distributed Solutions, Inc.
- Chris Hamm, Operations Director of GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM)
- Esther Burgess, SVP and Deputy COO of Vistronix, Inc.
- Lena Trudeau, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA)
On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Davie about the Better Buy Project. Hear that conversation here.
Harvard Kennedy School professor Steve Kelman wrote about the Better Buy Project in his FCW.com blog The Lectern under the headline, Better Buy: Crowdsourcing at work in acquisition forum:
The basic idea behind the Better Buy project is so-called “crowdsourcing.” The Better Buy Web site invites people to propose ideas for improving the procurement process. Others are then invited to vote on which ideas they like best — each computer from which a person votes is allowed a total of up to 20 votes, of which up to three may be allocated to a given proposal. People may also post comments about the proposals.
Some details of what has happened so far:
- 88 unique ideas submitted
- 223 voters
- 761 votes cast
At the forum, we’re going to talk about how this came about and how difficult it was… and what has worked well and what can be improved.
I love this project because it is a group of people talking in the GovLoop Acquisition 2.0 community who decided to make something happen — and they are trying it. I think there will be many lessons learned.
If you have thoughts, I hope you will share your ideas.
Some FAQ information from the Better Buy Project:
Why the Federal Acquisition Process?
On his first day in office, President Obama challenged leaders in government to “use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.” The acquisition process represents one of the most important areas of collaboration between government and the private sector.
Unfortunately, it is also among the most complex and least transparent. The Better Buy Project is an experiment dedicated to the belief that there’s a lot of room for improvement in the way government buys products and services. We’re testing this hypothesis by asking for your ideas on how to make acquisition process more open, transparent and collaborative.
The best part of this project is that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) GSA would really like to adopt some of your best ideas. Promising ideas will be selected by GSA to be piloted on an upcoming acquisition, where lessons learned will be captured for future implementation. But that really depends on us, and the ideas we’re able to produce.
What Topics Are At Issue?
This project is concerned primarily with the pre-contract-award stages of the acquisition process—the activities that take place before the government “signs on the dotted line” to buy a product or service. Those areas are:
- Market Research and Requirements Definition Phase—Includes publicizing agency needs and requirements, and refining them based on further input and research about current capabilities.
- Pre-Solicitation Phase—Includes web-based research, discussions with other federal agencies, meetings and open discussion forums with the private sector to discuss potential solutions, and requests for information soliciting input and ideas. The requirements are also further refined at this stage in the process.
- Solicitation Phase—Includes the government notifying the private sector of the requirement through various channels such as E-Buy and FedBizOpps, holding open forums to discuss the requirement and answer questions (e.g., Industry Days), a review of the solicitation by interested companies, the written exchange between government and the private sector of questions, answers and clarifications on government requirements, and proposal submissions.
The ultimate goal is to improve how government learns about and chooses what it buys—in other words, to make government a more informed, more effective consumer.
What Kind of Feedback Are You Looking For?
We are looking for ideas to make federal acquisition more open, transparent, and collaborative. What does that mean?
- Open—Raise awareness of upcoming needs government is trying to fulfill, in order to assemble a pool of qualified providers who can compete on specific requirements.
- Transparent—Give the public and interested parties timely data on upcoming and ongoing buying activities, with the goal of promoting fair and high-quality competitions.
- Collaborative—Find ways for the government to engage in more ‘open’ conversations with the private sector on topics such as best practices, emerging technologies and innovations, and market conditions.
We believe that making the process more open, transparent and collaborative will make government more likely to end up with the right item at the right price.
This is a much belated post — you can thank the flu.
Turning Ideas into Value: The panel will discuss the process for generating ideas and how to select the best ones to maximize the benefits of innovation. Who do you look to for innovation? What are examples of creating the environment for innovative thinking? How to share ideas in nurturing an ecosystem that encourages innovation and creativity?
- Moderator: Chris Dorobek, Co-Anchor, Federal News Radio
- Sanjeev Bhagowalia, Chief Information Officer, Department of Interior
- Tom Freebairn, Acting Director, USA.gov Technologies, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration
- Mike Nelson, Visiting Professor, Internet Studies, Georgetown University
- Mike Seablom, Head, Software Integration and Visualization Office, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
And one of the great things about conferences is people share good books — and there were a ton o’ books mentioned in this session. I promised that I would share the list. (I planned to do it earlier, but… the flu got in the way.)
If you heard books mentioned that I haven’t listed here, either send it along or post it here as a comment.
Of course, I mentioned a few books.
* Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, which is slated to be released on Dec. 1 but seems like it is available now. Transparency notes: McAfee asked me to write a “blurb” for the book, so I got an early read. My blurb didn’t make the actual jacket of the book, but… he posted it. Regardless, it is a fascinating read — and it highlights the remarkable work done by the intelligence community’s Intellipedia suite of collaboration tools. Second transparency note: McAfee will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Dec. 1 — the official book launch day.
* If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government by William Eggers and John O’Leary — Again, I got a pre-read of this book and it is just delightful. And one of the issues Eggers and O’Leary deal with is innovation. And a programming note: Eggers and O’Leary will be on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on Thursday, Nov. 19… LIVE
* The Pixar Touch by David A. Price — I hear what you are saying — what does a movie studio have to do with government? Well, there is a real connection. First off, the technology that creates those amazing movies is made possible by a grant from ARPA — now DARPA. And the Defense Department is still one of the largest users in the world of this technology. (Pixar, remember, started as a software company, not as a movie studio.) I used Pixar as an example of an organization that was literally built on innovation — innovation is built in. And Price does a wonderful job detailing that. Pixar has also been remarkably successful — all of their movies have more than exceeded the magic $100 million gross that marks a hit movie in Hollywood. That is pretty remarkable in and of itself.
* Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation by James P. Andrew… This book was actually highlighted by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra — and we featured it on the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear our book club conversation with Chopra, Andrew, Federal News Radio’s Francis Rose and myself here.
* What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis… This book was also part of the Federal News Radio Book Club. Hear the meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club here. The book, in the end, isn’t about Google. Rather, it is about innovation and being innovative. A lot of the book focuses on journalism, but…
Books mentioned by others:
* Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy by Judy Estrin mentioned by Nelson. We spoke to Estrin on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris soon after her book was released. Read more and hear our conversation here.
* Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology by Paul Glen, David H. Maister, and the legendary Warren G. Bennis, mentioned by Nelson
Did you hear any good book titles? I’d love to hear them.