Weekly Roundup: February 8-12, 2021
Michael J. Keegan
CMMC reciprocity in sight for 2021. The Defense Department is still figuring out how to save contractors money with its unified cybersecurity standard by authorizing reciprocity for mutliple government certification programs, but an answer could come by the end of the 2021 fiscal year. One of the key pledges DOD needs to fulfill for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is building on work contractors have already done to meet security requirements for programs like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).
Solving for DOD's AI education gap. The Defense Department has an education problem when it comes to artificial intelligence, and it won't be able to widely use the decision-support tools it craves without addressing it. Jacqueline Tame, the acting deputy director for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said DOD needs "enabling services" that disseminate AI capabilities that are pursued within the military departments and other DOD components. But there's a tangle of policy and cultural norms that have to be addressed before AI is truly operational.
Senate bill proposes shared tools, services for state unemployment programs. The pandemic and accompanying surge in claims have laid bare deep problems in current benefits systems that rely on outdated technology. When unemployment rose after the pandemic hit, states struggled to effectively deliver benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act of 2021 would appropriate $500 million for the Department of Labor to create technology capacities that would “provide States with modular, open system technology capabilities and shared services to administer their unemployment compensation programs.” States would choose which pieces, ranging from those focused on claims filing to determining the eligibility of claimants, to use.
7 ways to restart innovation despite the pandemic. Innovation has suffered despite many companies' success in shifting to remote work, with patents being the most obvious sign of regress, writes Barry O'Reilly. He outlines seven ways that companies can encourage innovation, whether in terms of organizational design, technology spending or better onboarding. Barry O’Reilly
3 ways to keep flourishing despite the pandemic. The pandemic continues to be a threat to physical and mental health, but you can push ahead by focusing on a few key goals, being deliberate in connecting with people and being optimistic but grounded, writes Michael Lee Stallard. "Thrivers keep the expectation of a brighter future in front of people while not minimizing the sobering time we are in," he writes. SmartBrief/Leadership
These are the attributes of resilient companies. Company resilience today requires technology and digital capabilities that are applied to supply chains, culture and sustainability, according to this McKinsey analysis. "When you're critically dependent upon the cyber technologies, you need to up the level of resilience, and design your applications and your infrastructure in a way that never goes down," says IBM CEO Arvind Krishna. McKinsey
3 Factors Critical to Achievement. Interview with Steven K. Gold’s on his new book, How We Succeed: Making Good Things Happen Through the Power of Smart Experiments
Reforms to Transition Process. Government Executive reports: “In the wake of the tumultuous and unprecedented presidential transition, an academic research group is recommending that Congress strengthen transition laws to ensure that funding, resources and information sharing happen expeditiously after an election.
GAO on Federal COVID Response. In a scorching and long report, GAO says: “We remain deeply troubled by the lack of sufficient federal action on critical gaps identified and by the lack of clear plans to address these gaps. . . . .As of January, 27 of our 31 previous recommendations had not been implemented. This report makes 13 new recommendations to improve agencies' public health and economic recovery efforts, including the development of a national testing strategy.”
Improving Agency Performance. Howard Risher, in commentary for Government Executive, writes: “The Biden administration has an opportunity to significantly change how government works. . . . Central to these efforts is the redefinition of the role of managers based on agencies’ recent experiences with widespread telework. This is a new stage of a revolution in the way work is organized and managed that began in the private sector three decades ago. It starts with a shift in management philosophy.”
Filling Out the Ranks. Government Executive reports: “President Biden has tapped an Obama administration veteran and personnel expert to serve as czar within the White House on issues related to the federal workforce and agency performance. . . . Pam Coleman will serve as associate director for performance management within the Office of Management and Budget.”
Is Risk Management the Silver Bullet? An op-ed for Government Executive, a trio of retired federal veterans write: “A credible framework already exists for sound management, transparency, responsibility, and accountability — it just needs to be implemented effectively. . . [OMB Circular] A-123, based on common private/public sector management principles, manages risk ‘toward achieving its strategic objectives and … its activities and operations.”
Reflections on Public Service. Mark Abramson interviews former undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Paul Lawrence, for Government Executive and asked him to reflect on his experience in public service over the past few years, especially during the pandemic.
Budget Justifications. Government Executive reports: “Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and ranking member Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, re-introduced the “Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act,” which would amend a 2006 law to increase the public’s access to federal agencies’ congressional budget requests by putting them on various federal websites.
Using AI for Appropriations. Federal News Network reports: “The Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service . . . is testing out if artificial intelligence can streamline the annual appropriations process and get money to agencies sooner. . . .When Congress approves spending, the bureau pulls apart the text of the appropriations bill to figure out which agencies and accounts get money – and how much. . . . To expedite this process, the bureau is testing if an AI algorithm can read the PDFs and turn the text into structured, machine-readable data.
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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Karen Brazell, Former Principal Executive Director and Chief Acquisition Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. What has VA done to modernize its logistics, supply chain, construction, and leasing functions? What emerging technologies hold the most promise to enhancing VA’s procurement and acquisition functions? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Karen Brazell, Former Chief Acquisition Officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. next week on The Business of Government Hour.
Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Network 1500AM WFED
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