Friday, June 23, 2017
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the week of June 19-23.

John Kamensky

OMB Asks for Budget Increase. Government Executive reports: “Democratic lawmakers grilled the head of the Office of Management and Budget at a hearing Wednesday for boosting his own agency’s budget while slashing spending levels for most of the rest of government. . . . OMB Director Mick Mulvaney defended the proposed 5 percent bump for fiscal 2018, saying the agency was undertaking two of President Trump’s “highest priorities” and therefore needed to up its spending.”

Customer Experience LegislationGovMatters highlights Martha Dorris, former GSA executive, “who discusses the customer experience legislation introduced by two members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that would make it easier to collect information on customer experience with the federal government.”

Decisiveness at VAFederal News Radio reports: “Within the first few months of David Shulkin’s tenure as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, he’s made several big plays: the plan to redesign the Veterans Choice Program, the decision to abandon VistA and adopt the same commercial, off-the-shelf electronic health record as the Defense Department and a promise to close underutilized or vacant VA buildings. . . . Those quick and decisive actions are part of the management style Shulkin said he’s purposefully bringing to the department.”

Beyond IT Modernization. Government Executive reports: “On June 19 and June 22, C-suite executives will gather under the aegis of a new White House division, the Office of American Innovation, which is led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner . . . and charged with “implementing policies and scaling proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation.” Story includes the 10-part agenda.

MORALE Act for DHS. Government Executive reports: “The House on Tuesday approved by voice vote a bill aimed at boosting sagging morale at the Homeland Security Department, which would create an engagement steering committee and a program for non-monetary employee awards. . . . The 2017 DHS Morale, Recognition, Learning and Engagement (MORALE) Act would seek to reverse a job satisfaction problem that has plagued the department for years.”

Reorg Update: Agencies Prep for June 30. Federal News Radio reports on a congressional hearing with four agencies regarding their approach to developing agency reform plans: “Agency leaders said they didn’t see the government reform initiative as an imperative — but more of an opportunity under tight budgetary constraints.”

Reorg Update: EPA Downsizing. Government Executive reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency will attempt to persuade more than 1,200 employees to leave their jobs through separation incentives, according to an internal memorandum.”

Reorg Update: Interior DownsizingGovernment Executive reports: “Interior will rely on attrition, reassignments and separation incentives to reduce the size of its workforce, Secretary Ryan Zinke told a panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday. Zinke noted the cuts may not go forward as requested but the department is planning to begin slashing its rolls regardless. Interior requested a 12 percent cut to its budget and a reduction of 4,100 employees. Government Executive first reported Interior’s workforce plans last month.”

Reorg Update: SBA Ensures A Place for EverybodyFederal News Radio reports:““We are hiring people,” said Elias Hernandez, SBA’s chief human capital officer. “We probably are one of the few organizations that still can hire new people.”

House Creates Intergovernmental Panel. Twenty years after abolishing the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, and after Congress eliminated its own intergovernmental oversight committees, the House has created a Task Force on Intergovernmental affairs, according to Route50.

Michael Keegan

DOD releases electronic warfare strategy to stakeholders. While cyber's star has been on the rise in national security circles, the Pentagon's electronic warfare capabilities have languished. That must change, said one senior official.

Trump budget includes OMB bump, but cuts IT policy spend. The White House's budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 cuts civilian spending to offset proposed defense increases, but it also includes a slight uptick in funding for the Office of Management and Budget.

VA misses goal of removing cyber as a material weakness. In the two years since the Veterans Affairs Department announced its goal of closing all cybersecurity material weaknesses, the efforts detailed in the latest audit report from the agency’s inspector general seem to be making a difference. While VA fell short of its ultimate objective of cybersecurity not being a material weakness in 2017—the 18th year in a row auditors rated it that way — the Office of Information and Technology (OI&T) said in its response to the IG’s Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) report to Congressthat it has made significant progress across all 33 recommendations, and is asking the IG to close 18 of them.

What to look for in leadership and organizational performance. Steve Kelman reports that better data is producing a mini-revolution in scholarship about public-sector management.

Former DHS boss says 'no evidence' of tampering in 2016 vote count. At a House hearing, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified that Russian interference in U.S. elections did not extend to manipulating vote counts, as far as he knows.

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Bridget GauerThis Week’s The Business of Government Radio Show. What are the key priorities for the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, NITAAC (NY-TACK)? How does NITAAC assist federal agencies to accomplish their mission? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions with Bridget Gauer, Acting Director of NITAAC (NY-TACK).

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. 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