Friday, October 23, 2020
Highlighting articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending October 23, 2020

Michael J. Keegan

Trump order creates Schedule F, to speed hiring and firing in key positions. The Oct. 21 executive order looks to reshape the competitive service by allowing agencies to reclassify policy jobs under a new schedule and give senior managers greater flexibility in hiring candidates and firing employees.

GSA unveils first NewPay service. The General Services Administration released the first minimal viable product for payroll under its NewPay project in late September.  Launched in 2018, NewPay is GSA's software-as-a-service program intended to provide the entire government with commercial, cloud-based payroll, scheduling and leave management functions to replace again legacy systems that are expensive to maintain GSA said it is also identifying the most likely federal agencies to try it out and further hone its capabilities.

USPS looks to monetize its mapping data. The U.S. Postal Service wants to use its thousands of mail delivery vehicles that traverse the country every day to collect geospatial data it could provide to other agencies on an as-a-service basis. Lauren Lee, the Postal Service's director of digital business services, said USPS is looking to leverage its vast mail delivery infrastructure for additional revenue streams. Geospatial address location data currently collected by its more than 220,000 mail vehicles is a significant part of that infrastructure, and a valuable resource that other agencies could use.

Ethics vs. compliance in AI. The Defense Department is focused on implementing its ethics principles for artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to health-related data. But tech experts warn against conflating ethics as just another compliance checklist. Jane Pinelis, who leads test, evaluation, and assessment for the DOD's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said preserving personal health information is one of the JAIC's biggest priorities. The JAIC announced progress with its Predictive Health effort on Oct. 21, which aims to reduce the time it takes to diagnose cancer. The project produced an augmented reality microscope supported by AI algorithms to help detect metastatic breast cancer cells on digital images.

Why optimism is key to developing your strategy. Leaders with a strategic mindset use data and study their industry's environment to spot unique opportunities they can optimistically pursue to benefit their company in the long run, writes Doug Randall of The Trium Group and a former CEO. "Leaders with a strategy mindset believe they have agency over the future despite, or maybe even because of, all of the ambiguity they face," he writes. Real Leaders

Give your team freedom to find success. Latitude to act in pursuit of goals is what experienced team members want and need from managers, writes Dan Rockwell. "Courageously give talented people freedom to design strategies, plans, and accountabilities," he writes. Leadership Freak

4 factors that make or break innovation. Modern innovation involves four factors, including the product's environmental and society impact, according to this guide. Kevin Shahbazi walks through those factors using examples such as bottled water and at-home pregnancy tests. Board of Innovation

See strategy as a system of events to map the future. See your business as part of a system of possible events instead of using a linear strategy model to better identify unforeseen consequences of decisions, writes Barry O'Reilly. "You can forecast what might happen by looking at alternative scenarios or actually show the interrelationship between challenges and problems," O'Reilly writes. Barry O’Reilly

Less is more: Communication tips for maximum impact. All of us have sat through face-to-face meetings, presentations and in this era of ubiquitous virtual meetings, communications that drag on, miss the point (what was it anyway?) and result in disengaged listening and hearing. This can be frustrating under all situations; however, when it’s work-related, it can lead to loss of productivity, motivation, and, failing to deliver what was desired. Thus, in order to have the impact or sought, following the adage “less is more,” is the trick, but how to do it?

Countering the tyranny of the clock. “In the ‘putting out’ system that prevailed before the factory era, merchants would deliver cloth to be woven, spun, stitched or cut to a worker’s home. Each worker would then be paid for the items they produced. That gave the weavers and spinners freedom to work when it was convenient. At the factory, in contrast, workers were required by the owner to turn up for a set shift.”

John Kamensky

Stunning Executive Order. Government Executive reports: “President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order creating a new classification of “policy-making” federal employees that could strip swaths of the federal workforce of civil service protections just before the next president is sworn into office. . . . The order would create a new Schedule F within the excepted service of the federal government, to be composed of “employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions,” and instructs agency heads to determine which current employees fit this definition and move them—whether they are members of the competitive service or other schedules within the excepted service—into this new classification.”

Retiring 59-Year-Old Code.  Federal News Network reports: “Modernizing the IRS, or any agency’s IT infrastructure, is a little like [the game of] Labyrinth. One hole IRS hasn’t gotten around is the Individual Master File (IMF). Coded in assembly language 59 years ago, the IMF seems small, at 200,000 lines of code. But the nature of assembler is that each line does a lot. Somehow replicating the logic in a more contemporary language has resisted efforts dating back a couple of decades.” . . . but they have a plan – targeting 2023 for completion if all goes well.

Rethink, Innovate.  Federal News Network reports: “ . . . early successes during the pandemic emergency now are leading to long-term changes in technology, business process and, of course, people.” See article for examples!

Federal Agency CX Scores Rise. Federal News Network reports: “Customer experience from government agencies has a long way to go. That’s the principal finding in the latest survey by Forrester Research. It found CX has improved slightly, but it still lags behind the best of the private sector.”

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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Bob Costello, Executive Director, Enterprise Networks and Technology Support, Office of Information and Technology, U.S. Customs and Border Protections. How is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) enhancing its enterprise networks? What is the CBP's “mission first” approach to network and technology solutions? How is CBP working to built a resilient enterprise systems network?  Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Bob Costello, Executive Director, Enterprise Networks and Technology Support, Office of Information and Technology, U.S. Customs and Border Protections. That's next week on The Business of Government Hour. 

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