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DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop Insights issues of 2011: Tech that is fundamentally changing government

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GovLoop Insights

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.

And it includes an increase for the e-government fund.

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.

John Rucker

VA's John Rucker

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…

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Written by cdorobek

December 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM

DorobekINSIDER poll: What is the chance of a shutdown?

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How many times have we done this — this year alone?

Once again, there is a deadline Friday — and as of Thursday morning, there is a greater threatof a government shutdown — and the Obama administration has recommended agencies make shutdown plans. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee, early this morning, released details of more than $1 trillion spending package.

So what is the likelihood of a government shutdown?

Written by cdorobek

December 15, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Posted in budget, poll

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