Friday, July 19, 2019
The IBM Center's Weekly Roundup highlights articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending July 19, 2019.

Michael J. Keegan

How to train your algorithm. The federal government is starting to bet big on artificial intelligence in the federal space, but agencies must be careful not to repeat IT mistakes of the past that have resulted in insecure legacy technology.

Agencies seek betters ways to track past performance. Federal officials want new methods to get feedback on their vendors into the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System.

DOD looks to do more with acquisition data. DOD plans to release a data access and dissemination guide for acquisition by the end of 2019.

New CMS BPA showcases non-traditional IT contractors. Steve Kelman sees signs that new firms are becoming the new normal. Recently the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies awarded a BPA for work on Medicare Payment Systems Modernization. The MPSM work will replace a system using 10 million lines of Cobol and assembly language with a new cloud-based system. I was astonished to learn that all six awards on the BPA went to non-traditional contractors – loosely defined as small new firms, often founded by people who had worked previously in the private-sector tech industry.

Collaboration is the key to strategic change. Act on issues that cross organizational boundaries to set yourself apart as a leader, preparing to collaborate while managing the hurdles that may arise, writes Art Petty. "There are risks, but in my experience, the biggest threat comes from failing to try and make a difference," he writes.

Hone the strengths that make you a great leader. The most effective leaders use their strengths to create a vision, model successful behavior, challenge others to act and seek new ways to accomplish goals, writes Dan Rockwell. Every leader should acknowledge their weaknesses and work to shore them up, he writes

Aim Higher: Great Leaders Ask Great Questions. For leaders, how you ask questions is especially important. You are only ever going to be as successful as the team you lead.

How to Have Your Best Week. Let’s face it. There’s way more to do in any given week than you can possibly do. What you can do, however, is manage your week in a way that gives you the best chance of living and leading at your best.

John Kamensky 

Shifting Power. Government Executive reports: “How Agency Heads Are Shifting Power Away From Federal Employees and Toward States. Federal officials have had too much discretion to institute their personal policy preferences, administration officials say.”

Grant Reform. A commentary column in Federal News Network reports: “ A significant and growing part [of grant dollars] goes to administrative compliance. According to the Annual Grants Management Survey, conducted by REI Systems, the National Grants Management Association, and The George Washington University, grant managers spend more time monitoring compliance than anything else.”

Evidence Act Guidance. Government Executive reports: “[The] White House is pressing ahead with implementing the bipartisan legislation enacted last year to discipline agencies to rely more heavily on evidence and data when making policy and managing programs. . . . In a July 10 memo to all agency heads, acting Budget Director Russell Vought laid out a timeline from September 2019 to February 2022 for four phases. . . ”

Employee Engagement Turnaround. Federal News Network reports: ”The 69-employee workforce at Federal Occupational Health, a fee-for-service agency housed within the Department of Health and Human Services, told a different story about their office than what previous data has shown: that in the years following several rounds of management changeover, employees felt more satisfied with their workplace than before, despite a diminished headcount and an increasing workload.”

AI Director. NextGov reports: “The Veterans Affairs Department on Wednesday appointed its first director of artificial intelligence as part of a broader push to expand research into the emerging tech. . . . The agency tapped Dr. Gil Alterovitz, a Harvard Medical School professor and member of the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, to spearhead its efforts to improve veteran care through AI-enabled solutions.

Section 809 Wrapup. Federal News Network reports: “Three reports and nearly 100 recommendations later, the Section 809 panel is set to wrap up July 14. . . . The panel, created in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, looked deeper at ways the Defense Acquisition System could deliver capabilities to warfighters easier and quicker than near-pier competitors and non-state actors. . . . While many of the panel’s suggestions will take time and resources to enact, the chairman says there are several that could be implemented “with a stroke of a pen.”

DOD’s Hershman Nominated. Federal News Network reports: “As the upper echelons of Pentagon leadership continue to shift, President Trump said he intends to nominate the acting chief management officer—third in line to the defense secretary—to take the role permanently. . . Trump announced Monday his intention to ask the Senate to confirm Lisa Hershman to be the permanent CMO, a position she’s held in an acting capacity for seven and a half months.”

Training Your Algorithms. FCW reports: “The federal government is starting to bet big on artificial intelligence in the federal space, but agencies must be careful not to repeat IT mistakes of the past that have resulted in insecure legacy technology. . . . Much of the legacy tech built in the 1970s and 80s was developed with functionality, not security, in mind. The federal government (and much of the rest of the world) has paid a heavy price since.

Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: Conversation with Nuala O'Connor, President and CEO, Center for Democracy and Technology. What is the mission of the Center for Democracy and Technology? How is it advancing federal privacy law to protect our digital rights? What is the Center for Democracy and Technology doing in the area of cybersecurity? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Nuala O’Connor, President and CEO, at of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Network 1500AM WFED

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