Friday, May 16, 2014
Articles from across the Web that we found interesting, the week of May 12, 2014

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

  • Those Kids Today! A few things: First, Lindsay Pollack deconstructs some myths about Millenials, an important read for people trying to manage them.  Also, the Washington Post has a chart showing which college majors students chose now, vs. 40 years ago.  The prevalence of texting has yielded another positive result: people can now text 911 - an important evolution of the service, as some people can't communicate effectively through speech, and even for those who can, sometimes they don't want to be heard dialing 911.  You can learn from the kids, too: here are five sound rules for "social media success" (whatever that means, exactly).
  • FCC FAQ on "NN" & NPRM.  If you understood all that, you probably already read Alex Howard's e-Pluribus Unum. If not, it's a great place to start when you're looking for information about gov+tech, and this week he has a round-up of resources to understand the FCC's current position on Net Neutrality.
  • This is important, because Zombies.  Without comment: "Exclusive: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously."  Everything you need to know about the U.S. military’s defense strategy to protect humanity from the walking dead.

John Kamensky

  • Power to the CIO.  Adam Mazmanian, Federal Computer Week, writes: “Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the federal CIO's office, is continuing to fine-tune legislation to ‘empower federal agency CIOs to drive more effective IT investments,’ he said at a May 7 Senate hearing.”
  • Intelligence Community Sponsors “Project Interoperability.”  Brian Robinson, Government Computer News, reports:  “An information-sharing project recently launched by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence aims to develop a set of tools that would make it easier for government agencies at all levels, as well as private sector organizations, to move data between existing networks and systems.
  • Air Force to Cut HQ by 20 Percent in One Year.  Steve Watkins, Federal Times, reports: “The Air Force intends to cut more than 20 percent of its headquarters staffs within a year as part of an overall downsizing effort, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. James said the move responds to a directive issued last summer by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that all military services trim their headquarters staffs by 20 percent over five years by 2019.”  The Air Force plans to do it in one, rather than five, years.
  • Presidential Rank Awards Are Back. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, writes: “After a year-long nap, an awards program for senior level federal executives is stirring again. T he Presidential Rank Awards fell victim to last year’s sequestration budget cuts and were suspended even though finalists had been selected. The Obama administration is bringing back the awards.
  • Cutting HR Red Tape.  Kellie Lunney, Government Executive, reports that OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said: “We are drilling down in agencies to find the knots in the hiring process, and to untie them,” . . .  during a speech to federal workers at Government Executive’s annual Excellence in Government conference in Washington. Archuleta said she has been meeting with Cabinet secretaries and other agency leaders to help them develop ‘individualized, personalized toolkits’ to tackle their HR problems and needs.”
  • No More Big Ideas, Please! Professor Don Kettl, writing in Government Executive magazine, observes the federal government has a healthy management framework, but that President Obama has been a “reluctant executive.” Kettl offers advice on five steps he could take to be more in command.  Kettl also cautions federal executives to not spend energy on coming up with “big ideas” to reform government but:  “Instead, federal executives should come up with key indicators that create presentable information to lawmakers and the president.”
  • Building Out the OMB IT Shop.  Adam Mazz, Federal Computer Week, writes: “The Office of Management and Budget is looking for funds to operate a 25-person technology shop inside the office of Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, with an eye to developing common platforms, moving agency development and acquisition to the agile model, and overseeing critical, public-facing IT projects.”
  • OMB Outlines New IT Buying Reforms.  Jason Miller, Federal News Radio, writes that Steve VanRoekel, the federal government’s chief information officer, has outlined his “Smarter IT Delivery Agenda” during testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this past week.  The agenda “will focus on people, contractors and processes.”

Michael Keegan

Does the Government Need More Big Ideas? 
Federal managers should move away from promoting performance reforms as cost-saving initiatives and instead focus on indicators that can draw the excitement of Congress and the White House, a public-sector management expert said on Tuesday. The federal government has reached a point in which it does not want or need any more “big ideas,” Donald Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland said at Government Executive’s Excellence in Government conference in Washington. Instead, federal executives should come up with key indicators that create presentable information to lawmakers and the president.  

Commerce Secretary Pritzker addresses people, customer service in strategic goals 
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said she's trying to make sure employees feel connected to the vision and mission of the agency. 

IGs 'straddle fence' between contractors, agencies 
Former Inspector General of the General Services Administration Brian Miller says IGs are in the spotlight more these days. He shares advice and best practices for contractors being audited by IGs. 

OPM Wants to Untie Agencies' HR Knots 
The Office of Personnel Management is pursuing various strategies that focus on the individual needs of agencies, as well as human resources challenges common across government, to improve federal hiring and employee retention, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said on Monday.“We are drilling down in agencies to find the knots in the hiring process, and to untie them,” Archuleta said during a speech to federal workers at Government Executive’s annual Excellence in Government conference in Washington. 

OPM's crackdown on background check fraud leads to jail time -- for some 
Since 2008, the Office of Personnel Management has been on a crusade to root out falsification in background investigations. Nearly two dozen investigators for OPM or one of its contractors have been criminally prosecuted for misconduct, from outright falsifying reports to performing sloppy checks. This is Part of the Federal News Radio series Questioning Clearances. 

Bad News for Agency Budgets 
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, as part of its ongoing public education efforts, just published a simplified summary of the outlook for federal spending that does not bode well for most agencies. The matter-of-fact slide show delivered to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research by CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf May 13 reiterates some familiar grim news. For example, federal debt as percentage of gross domestic product is now at its highest since 1950, while budget deficits, while declining now, are set to rise beginning in 2016. 

 

 

The Business of Government Radio Show: David M. Robinson

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government.

Mr. David M. Robinson is the Associate Administrator, Mission Support Bureau (MSB) for FEMA, responsible for improving support by collaborating across Agency programs and offices to deliver competence in technology, human capital, security, procurement, and administrative processes.  In addition to ensuring efficiencies, he is also charged with ensuring an improved internal review of Agency business processes.

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 businessofgovernment.org and by searching our audio archives.

 

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