Weekly Round-up: August 30, 2013
This week: Pushing boundaries
- Better living through hacks. The LA Times has a profile of Code for America (CFA). Says reporter Evan Halper, "The nonprofit Code for America, whose tech wizards call themselves the Peace Corps for Geeks, uses technology to make government work better. Related: This CFA app lets citizens "hack the streets" Also: the Marine Corps would like to develop some apps.
- Maps as apps? NTEN serves up "6 Ways to Tell Your Story With Interactive Maps," but should come with this warning from Fast CoExist: "GPS comes with a price: the human brain's natural ability to navigate."
- Hacking Town Halls. Gov Tech ran an Op-Ed last week arguing "Why Mobile Devices Should Replace the Town Hall." I disagree, and that publication's "Building the Social Town Hall" is a much better blueprint for building social into democracy. Bonus: Here is the list of all the social media tools EPA is using. Prepare to be inspired/jealous!
- But is hacking even worth it? Evgeny Morozov challenges the idea that hacking (specifically life hacking, but really his arguemtns extend to every kind of hacking) is worth it. LifeHacker asks its readers to respond.
- What are the professional and off-work legal lines for government employees?
- Looking beyond the sequester -- planning for the 2015 Budget.
- Saving government emails becomes easier, thanks to NARA's "Capstone."
- Sequester Impact: Travel cuts. Andy Medici, Federal Times, reports that travel costs have dropped 17 percent so far in 2013 – after a 6 percent drop in 2012. The data are based on GSA’s SmartPay travel card program. OMB’s goal is to cut travel costs by 30 percent, through 2016.
- Sequester Impact: Retirements Jump. Lisa Rein, Washington Post, writes: “The number of executive branch employees retiring this fiscal year, which ends next month, is on track to be nearly twice the total who retired in 2009, according to government figures. And the rate looks certain to accelerate.” She notes that the impact on talent varies across agencies, for example 44 percent of staff at the Small Business Administration will be eligible for retirement by 2016.
- Sequester Impact: Army Medical Staff Drain. Greg Zoroya, Federal Times, reports “Nearly 3,400 military medical workers quit this year in the months when furloughs were threatened or being carried out because of spending cuts known as sequestration. The vast majority of those losses were with Army medical facilities.” He reports that most went to VA hospitals; VA is exempt from the sequester.
- OMB Progress on Open Data. Following the presidential directive this past May to agencies to expand their efforts to make their data more publicly available, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has posted a blog with links to a number of valuable resources to help agencies. Project Open Data, on GitHUB, seems particularly helpful. Certainly not the typical OMB memo that offers implementation guidance!
- EPA Social Media Infographic for Employees. The Environmental Protection Agency has added an interesting infographic to its webpage that provides the traditional, dry agency guidance on the use of social media by employees.
- Agencies' FY 2015 budget planning 'tied up in knots' by uncertainty
With the budget situation for fiscal 2014 still murky, how can agencies already be planning for the following year? Former OMB Official Robert Shea says agencies have become accustomed to widespread budget uncertainty. They will submit preliminary plans to the Office of Management and Budget next month.
- CMS clears data-sharing hurdles for health insurance hub
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reached agreements with key government agencies to assess information to confirm applicants' eligibility for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The agreements, required under the Privacy Act of 1974, give CMS access to information from a range of sources that will run on the Data Services Hub – the routing system that transfers information between state and federal insurance marketplaces (formerly known as exchanges) and federal agencies. The Hub is designed to quickly provide information about insurance coverage to applicants by aggregating information on income, citizenship, military service and more.
- DLA director calls for $13B in budget cuts
The Defense Logistics Agency plans to slash $13.1 billion in operating and material costs over the next six years. DLA Director Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek announced his 13-in-6 strategy his month. The strategy builds on last year’s efficiency efforts but extends cost-cutting measures an additional year through 2019.
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