Friday, July 6, 2018
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the weeks of May 7-18, 2018.

John Kamensky

DOD: Data-Driven Reforms. NextGov interviewed the new Chief Management Officer at the Pentagon: “The Defense Department’s new reform chief plans to use data and IT to map the future of the department as his office looks at overhauling decades-old processes and functions. . . . That process begins with nine teams, each tasked with collecting data on their subject areas and proposing specific projects that can improve operations across the department. Those teams are focused on: information technology; contracting for common goods and services; logistics and supply; health care; financial management; tests and evaluation; community services; human resources; and real property.”

HHS Data-Driven Reforms. NextGov describes how the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General “. . . has been bringing lawbreakers to justice for years, but it’s recently transformed the way it uses data to uncover fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid by adopting sophisticated analytics tools that tap into troves of information stored across the agency.”

OPM Civil Service Reforms.  Federal News Radio reports: “It’s been a busy three months fo the Trump administration, which spent the bulk of this past winter researching and developing new ideas to improve the federal hiring process, declutter performance management systems and retrain employees for future-state jobs. . . . Officials have also drafted and presented civil service modernization concepts to the Office of Personnel Management director, chief human capital officers and Office of Management and Budget, according to a 2018 second-quarter update on Performance.gov.

GAO Testimony on AI. C4ISRNet reports: “As artificial intelligence advances there has been an increased push to incorporate it into defense technology. Recently, the Department of Defense ordered the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which will be a hub for AI research. . . . Timothy Persons, chief scientist of applied research and methods for the Government Accountability Office, testified June 26 before the House of Representatives Subcommittees on Research and Technology and Energy about AI’s implications for policy and research.”

Pay-for-Success Explained. Government Executive reports: “Instead of relying on tax revenue or straightforward charity, state and local governments are signing contracts with Wall Street investment houses and banks as well as foundations. These contracts, often called “social impact bonds,” leverage capital from investors and expertise from service providers to do everything from rehabilitating young offenders to helping the homeless find shelter.”

Balancing Transformation Objectives. In an op-ed for Federal Computer Week, Matt Erskin writes: “The Administration released its overarching plan for government reform in June, and federal leaders are now busy unpacking it. We now know which agencies are flagged for reorganization, and which leaders have immediate cost savings on the agenda. . . . For even the most experienced leaders, this is a daunting act to balance. In the battle of innovation versus efficiency, here are three ways that agencies can work smarter in the short term, without losing sight of the greater mission.”

Michael J. Keegan

VA's new health record could yield savings –in 10 years. As the Department of Veterans Affairs embarks on a decade-long, $16 billion journey to replace its homegrown electronic health records system with a commercial platform, there's some hope there will be savings on the post-implementation side. Currently, operation and maintenance costs for the 40-year-old Vista system exceed $1 billion per year. At a June 26 hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a key tech oversight official said this figure could actually come down following the implementation of the Cerner system. "I sure hope that it's a hell of a lot less than the $1 billion we currently spend," said Dave Powner, the director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office. "We got standardization. We won't have an old language. And we can save a lot of money in the hosting arena," he said.

GSA looks to streamline acquisition for federal buyers. The new Order Level Materials ordering upgrade to schedule contracts can speed up agency buys. In a step it hopes will help ease agency acquisition of everything from IT systems to pencils, the General Services Administration is adding a feature to its schedule programs called Order Level Materials, which was the subject of a recent rulemaking process. The move will let agencies get products and services along with the associated items they need to make use of them at the order level, Mark Lee, assistant commissioner in the agency's Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Policy and Compliance, wrote a July 3 blog post.

18F gets a new boss. The General Service Administration's digital shop has a new executive director, Angela Colter.

Army leverages machine learning to predict component failure. The Army will be using machine learning software to predict when components on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle need maintenance. Through an award facilitated by Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the Army will be working with Uptake, a company that provides artificial intelligence solutions for industrial sector clients, to predict component failures, decrease the frequency of unscheduled maintenance and improve the productivity of repair operations.

Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: Conversations with Authors: Jean Liedtka on the Uses of Design Thinking in Public Service. What is design thinking? How is design thinking being used to tackle public management challenges? Join host Michael Keegan next week as he explores these questions and more with Prof. Jeanne Liedtka, author of DESIGN THINKING FOR THE GREATER GOOD: Innovation in the Social Sector. That’s next week on The Business of Government Hour.

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

If you can't wait, though, you can listen to (or download) this week's program and all our previous interviews at businessofgovernment.org.

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