Sunday, November 17, 2013
Articles from across the Web that we found interesting, the week of November

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

This week I've been reading about data and innovation.

  • Innovation in the public sector: I gave a talk this week on my chapter in the Center's "Six Trends Driving Change in Government," during which I used an eminently tweetable quote: "Innovation is figuring out how to build a bicycle while you ride it."  I could as easily have used the train metaphor employed by state CIOs at the NASCIO conference, as reported by State Tech. Related: Gavin Newsom explains why "Government [Is] Missing Out on Technology Innovation"  Also: LASERS in space = innovation + awesome.
  • Using data for better citizen services: Joseph Marks interviews Los Angeles' Eduardo Magos and Jennifer Baños, discussing how to weave data into city services.  Biggest take-away: "People want to see mashups of maps, they want to see overlays. . . People keep asking ‘why aren’t there crime maps for graffiti or for potholes?’ They say ‘I know it’s bad in my neighborhood. It should get more attention and I could prove it to you if you could just show me the data.’"


Dan Chenok


John Kamensky

  • Plain Language 2013 Scorecard.  Jared Serbu, Federal News Radio, reports that the Center for Plain Language has issued its second annual report card on how well agencies are making progress in using plain writing when communicating with the public.  Five agencies improved scores; four lost ground.
  • DATA Act Passes House.  By a lopsided bipartisan vote of 388-1, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act was passed by the House, according to NextGov.  A Senate committee passed a version of the bill last week in a bipartisan vote so there is a good chance the bill will become law.   The bill would have a significant administrative impact on federal agencies and recipients of federal grants and contracts by imposing frequent financial reporting requirements similar to the Recovery Act.
  • Debt Default, Government Shutdown Fallout.  While the media has focused attention on the impact of the government shutdown on parks, pandas, and patents, an insightful story by Reuters News tells a new story.  It turns out that private sector companies – beyond government contractors –incurred substantial costs. . . . “The planning for worst-case scenarios didn't come cheap. JPMorgan alone has spent more than $100 million on contingency planning for U.S. budget crises in recent years including this one, sources close to the bank say. It has reviewed and analyzed thousands of trading contracts, updated computer systems to handle fiscal emergencies, hired consultants, and built new models to figure out what might happen to securities prices.”
  • GEAR Not In Gear.  According to a story by Ryan McDermott in FierceGovernment, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that says a pilot performance improvement program – Goals-Engagement-Accountability-Results -- sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management is not ready for governmentwide roll-out because it  “doesn't address two key practices that it must implement before it can go governmentwide, GAO says in the report. . . The program doesn't connect performance expectations to crosscutting goals. This would place an emphasis on collaboration, interaction and teamwork across organizational boundaries, the report says. . . The programs also doesn't link pay to individual and organizational performance, GAO says.”
  • Minnesota Governor Takes on Reform.  Governor Mark Drayton convened 1,000 state managers to announce an overhaul of government processes and programs.  In an interview with the Star Tribune, he said:  “If I could wave a magic wand and eliminate all this duplication, redundancy, excessive paperwork and reporting, that would do more to restore citizens’ faith in government than just about anything else I can think of.”


Michael Keegan

Demand for data-driven models supplies agencies with decision making power 
More and better information is becoming the driving force behind spending and program decisions across the government. OMB is requiring agencies to update strategic plans and objectives based on their analysis of program and back-office data.

Commerce reaps savings through strategic sourcing
The Commerce Department has saved more than $200 million in administrative costs because of a unique collaboration. The chief financial officer and the chief information officer have teamed up to find costly inefficiencies and make advances in areas like IT and cybersecurity.

Collaboration key to DHS cyber efforts
Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to many of the Homeland Security Department's cybersecurity efforts. Doug Maughan, director of DHS' Cyber Security Division in the department's Science and Technology Directorate, discussed the department's cyber partnerships as part of the Federal News Radio special report, A New Era in Technology. Among the new partnerships underway is global collaboration to improve the security of the Internet's core protocols, he said. 

Bolden: Crew transport project will drive innovation
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says he also hopes to spur innovation through his agency's acquisition process. 

Can privacy exist in a big data world?
As agencies' ability to capture and store vast datasets grows, experts differ on the best ways to keep big data from enabling Big Brother.


The Business of Government Radio Show: Conversations with Authors: John Whitley

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

Mr. John Whitley describes the challenges of measuring unobserved events such as tax cheating, drug smuggling, or illegal immigration.  John Whitley is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). His work at IDA includes resource allocation and performance issues in national security, defense resource management analysis, and the study of immigration policy. He is also an adjunct lecturer at The George Washington University in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration where he has taught National Security Economics.

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.