Friday, June 14, 2013
Articles from across the Web that we found interesting, the week of June 10, 2013.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

This week: Nationals.


Dan Chenok


John Kamensky

  • If There Is No Announcement, Is There No News?  Nobody has reported that the quarterly updates of agencies’ progress toward over 100 priority goals, and 14 cross-agency goals are now up on  These goals seem to be kept more secret than NSA records. . . .
  • Data Centers Inventory: Oops!  Agencies committed to cutting the number of data centers across the government in half, from about 3,000 to about 1,500. . . . Until a new, updated inventory, as reported by Federal Times, shows that there really were about 6,000 data centers!
  • SES Rank Awards Suspended.  Government Executive reports that the federal government has scaled back bonuses to senior executives by more than $100 million after a presidential directive in 2011  Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new White House directive suspends the Presidential Rank Award program for the coming year.  The prestigious rank award was given to only 122 career executives in 2012.
  • Conference Spending Guidance Out.  Government Executive reports that OMB has sent out an “alert” to agency chief financial officers to be on the watch for conference spending with “lavish” social components and noting that as first step in approving conference expenditures: “an agency should confirm that physical collocation of Federal employees in a conference setting is a necessary and cost-effective. . . ”  It also details the new reporting requirements for conferences that is now required by law.
  • Social Impact Bonds Being Piloted in States.  The Washington Post reports that “Six states are moving to develop so-called social impact bonds, marking a broad expansion of an experiment that taps private investors to fund capital-hungry social programs. . . . Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Colorado won a competition initiated by Harvard University and the Rockefeller Foundation


Michael Keegan

DoD assures Congress contractors will share in the pain of sequestration 
The Defense Department is examining all of its contracts as part of the reductions necessary under automatic budget cuts. Reductions to contractors, not civilians, will make up "the majority" of the cost savings. 

DoD using flawed approach to calculate $1.1B in improper payments 
The Defense Department reported making just $1.1 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2011, a small fraction of the Pentagon's total outlays of more than $1 trillion. But, in a new report, the Government Accountability Office said those estimates are neither reliable nor statistically valid because of "longstanding and pervasive" weaknesses in DoD financial-management practices as well as specific deficiencies in the department's procedures for estimating improper payments. 

Human DNA can’t be patented, Supreme Court rules 
In a decision that lays ground rules for the oncoming wave of personalized medicine, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies cannot patent naturally occurring segments of human DNA, the building blocks of life. However in a legal victory to the Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics (PDF), the high court unanimously held that companies can patent synthetically created strands of composite DNA, or cDNA, which are used in research and drug development. 

Regulatory czar nominee pledges to speed up review process 
President Barack Obama's pick to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) pledged to clear up delays in the regulatory process if confirmed by the Senate. Appearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, Howard Shelanski said improving the timeliness of OIRA's work — which has come in for criticism from Republican lawmakers and transparency groups, alike — is among his top priorities. 

Lawmakers, IG press for more oversight of OPM's $2B revolving fund 
The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general makes his case to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for why he needs more resources. 

NIST reports progress on cyber framework 
The cybersecurity executive order President Barack Obama issued in February to fortify U.S. critical infrastructure is approaching a key benchmark, and officials note that while significant progress is being made, it remains an effort that will extend far beyond traditional deadlines. 

Keeping IT leadership transitions on track 
When the performance of new IT leaders flags, the whole organization suffers. Here are some tips for successful transitions.


The Business of Government Radio Show: Conversations with Authors: Jane Fountain

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.

Jane E. Fountain is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Wednesday 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 and by searching our audio archives.