Friday, November 7, 2014
The IBM Center's Weekly Round Up highlights articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending November 7

John Kamensky Procurement Reform Redux. Ann Rung, the new chief of procurement policy for the federal government, laid out her vision for reforming the government’s buying practices at a recent conference. According to Charlie Clark, Government Executive, her office “is focusing on ‘simplifying the contractor space to emphasize performance’ in achieving “world-class customer service and cost savings,’ Rung said. ‘The key to simplicity is greater collaboration and cooperation’ within agencies and between the acquisition workforce and industry,” Dan Tangerlini Speaks. Adam Mazmanian Reports. "There's no better problem solver in the world than the U.S. government," General Services Administration head Tangherlini said in an onstage interview at the ACT-IAC Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va., on Oct. 28. But the U.S. leverages this power only in times of emergency or concerted demand, whether it's fighting World War II or sending astronauts to the moon. . . . The challenge government faces is bottling that kind of urgency on a day-to-day basis.” Usefulness of Agencies’ Program Inventory Thwarted. Charlie Clark, Government Executive, reports: “One of the Holy Grails of performance-based government has been assembling a reliable list of all federal programs to help Congress spot duplication and overlap. . . . But that longtime quest is being thwarted because of inconsistencies in how agencies define programs, making it impossible to compare information, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Friday.” Governing Through Tax Breaks. Derek Thompson, with The Atlantic magazine, writing in Government Executive: “When the government writes a law that takes your money, that's a tax. When it creates an exception to that law, it's a tax expenditure. . . . When you stack up all the exceptions carved into our tax structure—the health care exclusion, the mortgage interest deduction, the lower rate on capital-gains income, and more—you have a pile of money taller than any other program in the government budget.” His insight: it is easier to grant tax breaks than to create government programs to achieve the same purposes. Steve Watkins, Federal Times, reports: “Beth Cobert, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said the President’s Management Council, which consists of deputy secretaries across government, is creating the multi-agency workshop to bring more focus on employee engagement and apply data-driven approaches.” He also notes that the Office of Personnel Management has created a website to help managers: (but you have to be a registered user to unlock it). Michael J. Keegan A Small Step Backward for Mankind. Why America needs to embrace a culture of risk in order to build the next-generation space program. McDonald says 'biggest reorganization of VA' to rebuild trust is underway. VA Secretary Bob McDonald said the new "Road to Veterans Day Action Review" released Thursday will help change the culture of the agency. The three-pronged strategy is part of McDonald's efforts during his first 100 days in office. Since he was confirmed as secretary, McDonald has visited 41 VA facilities in 21 cities, met with every Veteran Service Organization (VSO) and with 67 senators all designed to gather information about how to change VA. IT acquisition reform bill inches closer to passage. The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is closer than ever to becoming law as key Senate and House lawmakers have reached agreement on the bill. But for FITARA to get to the President for his signature, Senate and House armed services committees still must sign off. The likely way FITARA will become law is as an attachment to the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization bill. CDC seeks new data toolkit. Agency wants a "single electronic platform" to visualize epidemiology data. CDC's data isn't standardized across existing IT systems, visualization is handled differently in different business units, many data collection and aggregation practices rely on manual input and quality control checking, and there are acute limits to the agency's ability to reuse data across programs. A new project called Data Collation and Integration for Public Health Event Responses (DCIPHER) is looking to change all that. The Business of Government Radio Show: Conversations with Authors Series with Prof. Sandford Borins on The Persistence of Innovation in Government. What does the landscape of public sector innovation look like and what does this mean for innovators and those who study their efforts? How do awards programs promote innovation efforts? How can a climate for innovation be created in public organizations? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions with Prof. Sandford Borins, author of the IBM Center report, The Persistence of Innovation in Government. 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.