Friday, December 4, 2020
Highlighting articles and insights that we have found interesting for the period ending December 4, 2020

Michael J. Keegan

DOJ's China hack indictments offer businesses key threat intel, officials say. The Justice Department's ongoing effort to crackdown on Chinese intellectual property theft has resulted in 1,000 foreign nationals being expelled from the United States, and a top intelligence official says U.S. businesses should take note of what the indictments disclose about China's tactics.

The 1,000 individuals were allegedly researchers who had to come the U.S. without disclosing their affiliation to the Chinese military, John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said during a Dec. 2 event hosted by the Aspen Institute event.

Demers characterized a handful of arrests that happened earlier this year as "just the tip of the iceberg," adding that "honestly the size of the iceberg is one that I don't know that we or other folks realized how large it was."

How COVID-19 accelerated IT modernization. As previous IT investments proved their worth in 2020, the pandemic is prompting agencies to accelerate their modernization efforts Everything changed when the COVID-19 crisis hit in early 2020 — including agencies' IT modernization plans. Although certain initiatives immediately proved their worth, allowing for remote work at a previously unimaginable scale, others had to be accelerated or rethought entirely. Stakeholder attitudes sometimes changed overnight, and new budget needs quickly became apparent.

In early October, FCW gathered a group of CIOs and other IT leaders to discuss how the past several months have altered their approach to IT modernization.

COVID prompts USCIS' pivot to video. Social distancing requirements under the pandemic led to the acceleration of a modernization plan that included adding video feeds to the asylum interview process.

USAF primed to launch new phase of data strategy. Eileen Vidrine, the Air Force's chief data officer, talks about department's priorities are, how they've changed this year and how the Defense Department's data strategy ties it all together

Wishing away problems won't make decisions easier. Leaders can't ignore hard decisions, so they need to be clear on the problem, reach out for support and weigh the pros and cons, writes Shackleton Group CEO and former Marine Ed Gillcrist. "When you don't clearly define the problem, you risk focusing on ancillary issues that may disguise the real problem," he writes. Fast Company

When criticism comes, what should you do? Criticism is inevitable, but what you control is how you react to it, writes Dan Rockwell, who offers four themes for handling feedback you disagree with. "It's a waste of mental resources to criticize a critic," he writes. Leadership Freak

What will it take to lead next year? Succeeding in the new year means continuing to react to the safety issues and strategic unpredictability of the pandemic, defining ethical processes and doubling down on customer satisfaction, writes Linda Fisher Thornton. She names 10 areas to focus on, with a quote and in-depth link for each. Leading in Context

This month, focus on goals that matter to you. Decide what you want to accomplish before 2020 ends, and decline activities that conflict with those goals, writes Lara Hogan. Saying "no" may upset people or make you feel like you're missing out, but you're "creating a path for you to truly get what you need: that thing you're optimizing for," she writes.

John Kamensky

Working from Home: GAO’s Best Practices. The Government Accountability Office notes that “the ability to telework has become a critical strategy for agencies as the COVID-19 pandemic wages on.” It encourages federal agencies to review their telework programs to see if they meet seven best practices.

Federal Buying Power. GAO studied the implementation of category management and found:the Office of Management and Budget needs to focus more on how agencies define requirements for common products and services. For example, Air Force officials told us they saved money by first analyzing what radio capabilities they truly needed rather than by replacing existing radios under an initiative contract.”

Oversight of Schedule FGovernment Executive reports: “A bicameral group of congressional Democrats on Monday urged a government watchdog agency to keep them in the loop on the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to strip civil service protections from potentially hundreds of thousands of federal employees in the waning days before President-elect Biden takes office.”

Transition Underway. Government Executive reports: “After the Trump administration greenlit the final stage of the transition process earlier this week, federal employees are now engaging directly with President-elect Biden’s team on issues related to the federal workforce specifically and agency management generally.”

Journey Maps. Federal News Network reports: “More agencies are relying on customer journey maps as a way to track and measure how their constituents are using their services. . . .Now, some agencies are even applying the concept to their own employees. . . . The Department of Veterans Affairs piloted the trend when it first created a journey map for veterans back in 2015, and since then other agencies have taken notice.”

Short Cuts. Jay Maddock, in an op-ed for Government Executive, observes thatCognitive shortcuts help you efficiently move through a complicated world. But they come with an unwelcome side effect: Facts aren't necessarily enough to change your mind.”

Flaws for Algorithm. Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene write in RouteFifty: “The power of data to help states and localities make decisions more effectively has long been a given. But the use of complex algorithms in government complicates that picture, raising essential questions about whether the data being used is free from the biases and inequities so often present in our communities.”

AI You Can Trust. FedScoop reports: “Civilian agencies for the first time have White House guidance on how to use trustworthy artificial intelligence technologies in a way that protects privacy and civil rights. . . . .President Trump signed an executive order Thursday offering nine principles and a policy process for implementing AI the public can trust.

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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Bob Westbrooks, Executive Director, Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).What is the mission of the PRAC? What is the PRAC doing to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of COVID-19 relief funds? How is the PRAC promoting transparency and a coordinated, comprehensive oversight? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Bob Westbrooks, Executive Director, Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Next week on The Business of Government Hour. 

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