Archive for the ‘Workforce’ 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.
Despite everything else, the big story of the week is The Conference — GSA Public Building Service’s now infamous 2010 Western Regions Conference, as highlighted by the GSA Inspector General report.
This week, Martha Johnson, the GSA Administrator, decided to fall on the sword, despite the fact that by every account, she had nothing to do with the planning of this conference. Johnson was finally confirmed by the Senate in February, 2010 — a mere eight months before the Western Regions Conference took place in October 2010. It is sometimes remarkable to me that people who claim government is incompetent somehow now somehow contend that Johnson crafted this conference — or that it somehow blights her view of government ethics. Those of us who know Johnson — now and through the years — know that, regardless of how they feel about her decisions within the agency, she would never do anything to blight GSA’s reputation. Many of us would argue she hasn’t. (Kudos to Gartner analyst Andrea Di Maio, for his truly fair and balanced assessment: Why it’s chief’s resignation should make GSA proud.)
Personally, I continue to believe the situation is terrible. Without taking anything away from the new acting administrator, I believe it was a bad decision to get rid of Johnson… and it will hinder good government. Mistakes were made. Nobody questions that. Personally, I would argue that any event that involves clowns is a bad idea. But if we want good government — if we really want good government and value our empoyees — it is time to stop the scapegoating and drive-by judgements.
That being said, the DorobekINSIDER has obtained Johnson’s final words to the agency… and acting administrator Dan Tangherlini first words.
First, Johnson’s parting remarks to the agency:
On April 2, 2012, I submitted my resignation as the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration to President Obama and he has accepted it.
I take this action with great sorrow. GSA holds a special place in my heart. It has been a singular honor to lead you as Administrator and I am enormously proud of everything this innovative and agile agency has been able to do.
I leave a GSA deeply committed to its mission of helping government organizations deliver on their missions to the nation. I have been privileged to be able to translate the President’s agenda into effective strategies that range from more energy efficient buildings and vehicle fleets to innovative use of cloud technologies, and much more. I am proud of our progress and believe it has been a catalyst for important change to affect government operations.
The Agency, however, has made a significant mis-step. Reports of an internal conference in which taxpayer dollars were squandered led me to launch internal reviews, take disciplinary personnel action, and institute tough new controls to ensure this incident is not repeated. In addition, I feel I must step aside as Administrator so that the Agency can move forward at this time with a fresh leadership team.
Collectively, the people of GSA now must review, repair, and rebuild. I am absolutely confident that this work of renewal can be done by the hard working people of GSA and that our creative abilities will continue to find true value for our government and nation.
With the deepest regard,
After the break, read Tangherlini’s first words to GSA…
Today, I am joining your team to serve as your Acting Administrator. I recognize that this is not easy, but I am confident that you will not allow circumstances to slow your momentum or progress in the many important areas of the federal government where GSA plays a vital role.
As the Assistant Secretary for Management and CFO of the Treasury Department and GSA customer for the last three years, I am impressed by the progress of this agency, as both a service provider and a business partner. Over the course of the last several years, GSA has made tremendous strides to promote efficiency and cost savings throughout the federal government. This is a mission we remain committed to through programs such as the Green Proving Grounds, our efforts to increase sustainable buildings in our government portfolio, and effectively executing the President’s Executive Order around fleet efficiency. We cannot allow mistakes or misjudgments of a small number of individuals to slow our progress or take our focus from our goals. GSA’s business is to solve customers’ problems; we are acting quickly to address them.
We are making immediate actions to ensure that our customers maintain their faith in our services and their basic value proposition. Some immediate steps that we are undertaking include:
· Reviewing all planned and proposed conferences and meetings that involve travel or substantial expenditures of public funds.
· Canceling a number of conferences that only or primarily involve internal staff.
· Launching an evaluation of our GSA conference and travel policies and business justification.
· Enhancing our focus on oversight by improving our management of risk.
As the provider of services and solutions to the federal government and its agencies, we have a special responsibility to ensure that we conduct our business at the highest level of efficiency, delivering the best value to the American people and in a way that is beyond reproach or question. We need to redouble our efforts to those core values and ensure they are reflected in every action we take. We will continue to demonstrate our value proposition to our customer agencies through our own improved internal efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Every step of the way I will work with you, the talented, committed members of the GSA team to leverage the challenges we face today as an opportunity to build an even stronger GSA. I look forward to meeting you, talking to you, and hearing your ideas for improving our agency. We’ll be exploring ways to more formally engage you in the discussion, but until then, if you have an idea, suggestion, or concern, please do not hesitate to contact me at Dan.Tangherlini@gsa.gov.
The success of federal agencies is determined by their workforce. I am confident that the excellent women and men of GSA can continue to deliver service excellence and integrity.
Good luck, Mr. Tangherlini… and I deeply hope the workers at GSA, most of whom have started to show true innovation over the past three years, demonstrate the courage that comes with true public service.
03.28.2012 DorobekINSIDER: Frank’s career corner – the ‘who’ question; making diversity matter; are LinkedIn resumes honest?
Happy Wednesday… And a glamorous night ahead… Federal Computer Week’s annual Fed 100 Awards Gala… Looking forward to seeing some of you there and honoring the winners… and then tomorrow, I’m moderating a panel at the Acquisition Excellence 2012 conference… we’re talking about what doing more with less means for acquisition. And we’ll bring you highlights here on the DorobekINSIDER.
Before we get to the rest of the days news… a few items up front…
The lack of transportation bill: And we’ll go into more in the news, but… yes, there are only a few days for Congress to take action on the highway bill or it is highway Armageddon… well, that’s what The Washington Post calls it. The House again dodged efforts to move forward. Everybody keeps thinking that this will get resolved, right, because… well, really? Politico says that it is looking bleak. They say it looks eerily similar to previous struggles… we all remember the good times around the stalemate over government spending bills… or the showdown over increasing the borrowing cap… and, of course, the payroll tax holiday. We’ll see. There are only a few days left. Saturday is the big day.
Supreme Court health care arguments: And we have to mention the continuing arguments about healthcare before the U.S. Supreme Court. Today is the third and final day. And if you have some time, it is well worth your time to listen to the arguments. These days, it is difficult to find really smart discussions and debates about real issues, the arguments before the Supreme Court meet those criteria. They are smart. Yesterday, the question was about the mandates: Can the federal government require citizens to buy a good or service. Today, the discussion is about severability: if the Court rules the mandate is unconstitutional, how much of the law can survive?
- Heard the audio…also here [HT: PBS NewsHour]
- Read the transcript [PDF]
- SCOTUSblog: The ‘plain English’ summary of the arguments
- WashingtonPost.com WonkBlog: The 3 ways the Court could rule against Obamacare’s mandate
Keyboard pants: And… You may know somebody with fancy pants. Well, what about keyboard pants. That’s right — they are jeans with a built-in keyboard… and they are designed for… maybe… public works crews, police, emergency responders and the military… they have a wireless rubber keyboard that is sewn into the midsection. The idea comes from the Netherlands… They have a set of speakers, a wireless mouse and a keyboard… all integrated into the jeans… and they bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, Is that a keyboard in your pocket?
On today’s program…
- Are you happy in your career? Yes — happy and career can go together. Frank DiGiammarino will walk us through the first step of the career framework.
- Diversity in the federal workforce — does it matter? or is it just another mandate? We’ll talk to Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service.
- And that traditional resume… and the one people put on, say, LinkedIn. Which is more accurate? We’ll talk to the person who has actually done research to determine the answer.
All that ahead…
But after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Wednesday the 29 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
03.21.2012 DorobekINSIDER: At work bullying; making mobility work (at work); the first take of the New iPad
Happy Wednesday… SO much to get to today.
On Tuesday, the House Republicans unveiled their version of the fiscal 2013 budget. There is a lot of stuff in there, as you might imagine. The budget wars are heating up again. Government Executive says the plan includes an extension of the federal pay freeze and a reduction in the federal workforce. We’ll get to some of those details in just a minute.
Let’s be honest… just as the Obama administration’s version of the fiscal 2013 budget is really just a vision document, this plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan isn’t going to get passed as is. But it is an important read because it gives you a real sense as to the issues in the debate.
And… Today marks the 6th birthday of Twitter — the now ubiquitous collaboration platform where people share 140 characters of information. It was on On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey (@jack) sent the first Tweet.
And it’s GovLoop — we’re looking for your insights… How has Twitter changed government? how you do your job? how you get information?
On today’s program…
- Bullying doesn’t stop in middle school. Tips for dealing with a workplace bully with the Partnership for Public Service.
- Making mobility work…its not an easy 1,2,3…but you can do it, with some tips from our expert panel of federal CIOs and CTOs.
- We’ll talk about the New iPad… my first impressions…
- And how is your March Madness bracket doing? Not great? Well… we’ll tell you about the bracket that GSA has going on… it’s cool stuff…
All that ahead…
But as we do each day, after the break… we start with the stories that impact your life for Wednesday the 21 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
03.12.2012: DorobekINSIDER: New media matures – and changes the VA; how to take responsibility; and having good conflicts
The start of our second week… thanks for being here.
And there was some significant news on Friday — a new nominee to be the Obama administration’s chief technology officer — Todd Park. Park has been serving as the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services. He is an awesome guy… and he has done some remarkable things. We’ll chat about that more later… And HHS has also named Frank Baitman as the new chief information officer at the HHS. Baitman has served most recently at FDA and SSA. That post has been filled in an acting capacity for some time.
We have a great show for you today…
- Remember when everybody was talking about NEW media — you needed a new media person to change how you get information out to the public? Well, that term is becoming passe. But new media — whatever you want to call it — it is more that just messaging. It has really changed the very nature of how organizations work and operate. And we’re going to talk to the person who has led new media at the Department of Veterans Affairs about their challenges in 2012…
- Accountability — we’re always talking about accountability in government, right? As if there isn’t enough accountability… but sometimes people don’t feel really responsible for the agency’s goals and mission. We’re going to talk to a professor who has studied this subject — and he’s written a new book… Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. We’ll talk to him about responsibility.
- Ever have a big of a fight with somebody at work? Nothing physical, but… is there a way to have happy conflicts? Seem too good to be true? We’ll talk to an expert about how you can turn a negative into a positive.
All that ahead… but after the break, we start off with the stories that impact your life for Monday 12 March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
NOTE: Updated to clean up formatting
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.
And for the month of December, we have been taking 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 next week, we’ll talk about the issue of the year — I don’t think anybody will be surprised, but… we’ll talk about it next week.
Over the past few weeks, we spoke about cyber-security — and dealing with big data… How do you deal with all the information that you now have access to?
And then last week, we spoke about how transparency and open government can really help you get your job done — talking to Earl Devaney, who is retiring from government after more than 40 years… for the past two years, he has been the chairman of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board.
This week, we are going to talk to one of the concepts that is really changing… well, it’s changing so much in technology, but it is also having a huge impact on government… and I’m going to bring you some highlights of one of the best speeches that you probably didn’t hear.
But we’re going to start off this week, as we have so many week’s this year, talking about… yes, the budget. And it was a roller coaster week — one of many this year. After it seemed likely that there could be a government shutdown, House and Senate negotiators this week signed off on a more than $1 trillion, year-end spending bill and it made its way through the House on Friday.
The bill is more than 1,200 pages and Politico reports that it covers a remarkable breath of topics — domestic spending… the Pentagon and foreign aid — plus tens of billions more related to the war in Afghanistan.
The funding bill sets government spending for the year at $1.043 trillion, a level agreed to in an August deal that raised the nation’s legal borrowing limit. The figure represents a 1.5 percent drop in spending from the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
That doesn’t count $115 billion for overseas military operations, a $43 billion dip since this past year as the war in Iraq winds down. It also doesn’t include $8.1 billion in emergency disaster-relief spending.
The measure covers spending for three-fourths of the government. A number of agencies were covered in the November deal including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, and Transportation, as well as NASA and some smaller agencies. This deal covers the all other agencies.
And as a result of this deal, most domestic programs will see cuts as part of the effort to reduce the deficit.
The measure omits funding for the Internal Revenue Service to prepare for the 2014 implementation of the federal health-care law. But it increases funding for border agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
It includes $8.4 billion for the EPA — a $233 million drop from last year. And provides $550 million for Obama’s signature Race to the Top education program, a cut of more than 20 percent.
The other big event, which seemed to get less attention, is the end of the war in Iraq after nine years. The flag of American forces in Iraq has been lowered in Baghdad, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told troops the mission had been worth the cost in blood and dollars. I’ll leave that debate to others.
About 4,000 US soldiers now remain in Iraq, but they are due to leave in the next two weeks. At the peak of the operation, US forces there numbered 170,000.
With that, we turn to one of 2011’s big issues — even if you don’t work in technology, you’ve heard of cloud. Last week, we spoke with Earl Devaney of the Recovery Board about how cloud computing allowed the Recovery Board to be much more agile then it could otherwise.
In November, I got to moderate a program focusing on cloud computing. [By way of transparency: I was paid to emcee the event.] It was one of the most interesting presentations I had heard all year.
I go to a lot of events and hear a lot of speakers. Many of them are very good — and many of them seek to peer into the future. But one of the best futurists I heard all year was John Rucker. He isn’t a professional speaker. In fact, he even jokes that he looks like a fed. And he is a fed. Rucker is the acting lead for the Department of Veterans Affairs data center consolidation initiative. And he gave a revealing look at the future of technology — and of cloud computing in the government.
After the break… I have his full speech — and his slides as well. But I wanted to bring you two highlights of his speech.
I noted that VA has long been seen as one of the most hapless agencies for government IT. VA CIO Roger Baker and VA CTO Peter Levin have made enormous strides to change that — and Rucker called him the best CIO he has seen in his more than 30 years of government service.
But he noted the cloud is going to have a big impact on the future of government technology…
John Rucker of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He also said the cloud isn’t for everything…
John Rucker… he is the acting lead for the Department of Veterans Affairs data center consolidation initiative.
As I say, the speech doesn’t have flash — but I think it is one of the most far sighted assessments of government technology that I’ve heard.
It’s GovLoop — I’d love to hear what you think. Do you agree with his assessment? Or is cloud just a lot of hype?
Again, after the break, hear the speech in full… and the DorobekINSIDER must read list…
It’s looking increasingly likely that the government will shutdown — at least for a period of time.
Today, the Office of Management and Budget posted a memo: Planning for Agency Operations During A Lapse in Government Funding. [PDF]
It says that feds will have four hours to do what they need to do before the government fully closes.
Read the full memo below:
The other is a fascinating report out earlier this week from the Congressional Research Service: Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects [PDF]
Among the impact of a shutdown, according to CRS:
* Health. New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance; hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites reportedly stopped and resulted in 2,400 Superfund workers being sent home.
• Law Enforcement and Public Safety. Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal lawenforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were delayed.
• Parks, Museums, and Monuments. Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) reportedly occurred, with loss of tourism revenues to local communities; and closure of national museums and monuments (reportedly with an estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.
• Visas and Passports. Approximately 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.
• American Veterans. Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.
• Federal Contractors. Of $18 billion in Washington, DC, area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20%) reportedly were affected adversely by the funding lapse; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was unable to issue a new standard for lights and lamps that was scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996, possibly resulting in delayed product delivery and lost sales; and employees of federal contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay.
Another CRS report: Government Shutdown: Operations of the Department of Defense During a Lapse in Appropriations. [PDF]
Interesting reads as we face Friday’s deadline.
[HT to the Federation of American Scientists, which regularly makes CRS reports public.]