Weekly Round-up: July 27, 2012
A Boyle's Law for Data? The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a report titled "The Future of Big Data" that begins with the line "We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly." What pressure does all that data exert on us? Or on Twitter? As we cram more data into its 140-character envelope, what are the costs? Some in Silicon Valley are putting their devices aside to release some pressure, and legislators are beginning to ask what social media beakers a proespecitve employer may reasonably ask to inspect. Of course, law enforcement is also checking the social media sea levels in search of something fishy.
Dr. John Bordeaux
- Our path to smarter energy needs to be accelerated - and needs to consider the multiple systems upon which we depend. The interconnectedness of disparate systems means that the generational drought now spreading across the midwest that is creating water scarcity - affects our energy supply. About half our water usage each day are used for cooling power plants. So while we talk of energy self-sufficiency, the inputs that lead to power distribution are threatened on fronts more than just those associated with fossil fuels.
- A personal note - my wife worked with several giants during her time at Georgetown University. One of them was Dr. Bob Ledley, DDS. Among other achievements, he happened to invent the whole-body CT scanner - which explains why his Christmas cards included a cross-sectional image of the human body. The story of how a dentist went on to become a biomedical researcher with a keen interest in computers invented one of the most important diagnostic machines known to man - is worth reading.
- How speciality contractors can thwart the health of an enterprise. A tale about the hazards of outsourcing at your community pool.
- Key tech advisor Danny Weitzner to leave OSTP after a significant and successful tenure:
- Contracting rules may incentivize prompt subcontractor payments:
- The future of the GSA Networx contract begins to take shape?
- Satisfaction with e-gov sites hits record high.
- Feds Lag in Innovation. Government Executive reports that a recently-released study by the Partnership for Public Service concludes “Federal agencies continue to trail the private sector in fostering innovation and creativity.” NASA, however, received the top score in the government (and is probably a good place for creativity to happen!). . . 91 percent of government employees responded “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better,” but only 39 percent said “creativity and innovation are rewarded.”
- A Plain Writing Report Card. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Center for Plain Language issued a report card on how well agencies are implementing the requirements of the Plain Writing Act passed last year. It found a wide range of behavior, with the Department of Agriculture receiving an “A” while the Department of Veterans Affairs, an “F.” Center director, Annetta Cheek, observed that membership in a cross-agency community of practice has doubled in the past year.
- The Bill That Cannot Be Vetoed. Congress passed a veto-proof bill (unanimous in Senate; 414 to 2 vote in the House) requiring the President to detail the agency-by-agency application of the across-the-board sequestration of about $120 billion in spending starting January 2, 2013 (about 12 percent of agency spending; half in Defense and half in the rest of the government).
- Chief Acquisition Officers – What Do They Do? A new GAO report assesses the implementation of a law requiring agencies to designate chief acquisitions officers and found that agencies have not done a good job in defining their roles and responsibilities. . . . .It recommends more OMB guidance on the topic.
- Are You a Meta-Leader? - Meta-leadership calls for a thoughtful integration of five elements when developing a leadership plan of action.
- General who criticized wartime intelligence gathering now leads DIA - Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who took the "unheard-of" step of going public with his concerns about ineffective wartime intelligence in Afghanistan two years ago, is the new director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
- Lack of encouragement causes agency innovation to fizzle - The federal government is saddled with the reputation of a stodgy, stunted work environment where the status quo rules the day. But the problem isn't that federal employees don't have bright ideas for doing business differently.
- Report: Federal furloughs, downsizing if sequestration cuts happens - The Social Security Administration would have to furlough its entire 65,000-strong workforce for about six weeks next year if across-the-board budget cuts take effect as scheduled in January, a congressional forecast has found.
The Business of Government Radio Show: Seth Diamond
Federal News Radio 1500-AM
Mondays at 11 a.m., Wednesdays at 12 p.m.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations.
Seth Diamond, Commissioner of New York City Department of Homeless Services, directs the City's efforts to prevent homelessness and provide short-term emergency shelter and re-housing support for New Yorkers who need it. His agency also enhances support systems for shelter clients who are working, and assist them in making the transition out of shelter to self sufficiency.
Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday, July 30, at 11 a.m., and Wednesday, August 01, at noon, 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 and by searching our audio archives.