Friday, March 19, 2021
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the week of March 15-19, 2021.

John Kamensky

The Wrong Solution.  Government Executive reports: “. . . the National Academy of Public Administration published its study, Elevating Human Capital: Reframing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Leadership Imperative, which Congress commissioned when it formally put on hold the Trump administration’s controversial plan to abolish OPM and send the agency’s components to GSA and the Executive Office of the President. . . .  its authors concluded that the plan would not fix the federal government’s human capital challenges.”

National service.  Federal News Network reports: “With relatively few Americans interested and qualified in active-duty service, the [congressionally-mandated Commission on Military, National, and Public Service] suggested Congress and the executive branch find ways to link military, national and public service opportunities together. . . . It recommended, for example, having 1 million people participate in national service programs, such as AmeriCops, by 2031.”

State-Local COVID Relief. Steve Goldsmith and Skip Stitt write in Governing: “The new $1.9 trillion stimulus package allows state and local governments to use the funds to assist public employees, households, nonprofits, small businesses and workers harmed by COVID-19, especially in heavily impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality. . . . The best approach would be to invest in these permitted

Empty seats. Government Executive reports: “As President Biden continues to fill out key positions in his administration, there is another category of nominees experts hope the new president will soon take up: inspectors general. There are currently over a dozen IG positions with acting heads and no nominees yet. . . . one opening has remained unfilled since June 2014.”

PTO Automation. FedScoop reports: “Business units have started identifying processes they want to automate within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, now that its CIO is managing the infrastructure and licensing. . . . The Robotic Process Automation Governance Team within the Office of the CIO handles configuration management and cybersecurity vetting to standardize the credentialing of bots, while business analysts pick the automations.”

Infusion for Modernization.  FCW reports: “The Technology Modernization is poised to receive one heck of a present for its three-year anniversary – a $1 billion funding injection from Congress that would dramatically its capitalization.”

IT Loan to Labor.  Federal News Network reports: “Almost exactly two years ago, the Labor Department created its first chief data officer and data board to comply with the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, . . . Scott Gibbons, Labor’s Chief Data Office, is finally getting some extra help nearly two years to the date of the agency creating his position. . . Labor is receiving a $9.6 million loan from the Technology Modernization Fund to upgrade its enterprise data platform.”

Fastidious Oversight. Government Executive reports: “During an address on Monday, President Biden stressed the importance of oversight and accountability in spending the funds in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted last week. . . . Biden said. “We have to prove to the American people that their government can deliver for them and do it without waste or fraud.”

Grants Management. Jeff Myers writes in an oo-ed for Government Executive: “A new survey shows that administrative costs have spiked, while funding agencies struggle to measure outcomes. . . . We believe that if grant managers want to measure performance—and understand what they are getting for grant funds disbursed—they will have to look for that hard-to capture data from outside grant systems.”

Michael Keegan

Fed CISO DeRusha Calls New Funding ‘Down Payment’ on Security Improvements. Federal CISO Christopher DeRusha said today that new IT modernization and security funding streams stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act represent a “down payment” on extensive work that needs to be done to improve Federal agency network security. […]

DIU Helping Modernization Efforts Through Commercial Efforts. Over at the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the agency is working on connecting the U.S. Army with innovative commercial technology companies as part of a big push for modernization, with many defense projects dealing with large-scale data.

GAO Flags Slow Progress on Strengthening Federal S&T Workforce. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report on strengthening the Federal science and technology (S&T) workforce to compete for talent with the private sector and address factors affecting the federal work environment and found that the government has been slow in some cases to implement GAO’s previous recommendations that would help boost the S&T workforce.

Urgent attention needed to refocus OPM as federal workforce leader, NAPA says. After years of neglect, the Office of Personnel Management needs more help, attention and funding to improve, strengthen, and strategically restructure the agency as the federal government’s independent human capital leader, according to a new report from the National Academy of Public Administration. The academy on Wednesday released the results of a year-long study of OPM, as well as 23 recommendations to reposition the agency as a strategic, forward-thinking leader.

18F to help Wisconsin with UI tech. Many states have buckled under the pressure of delivering benefits to surges of claimants during the pandemic using antiquated technology. 18F is set to help Wisconsin modernize their unemployment insurance technology using agile procurement.

Automating the Plum Book and other Sunshine Week bills. Lawmakers have introduced a flurry of bills centered on transparency and accountability during Sunshine Week, an initiative highlighting open government. One bill would modernize the Plum Book, a listing of appointments in the executive and legislative branches that comes out every four years. The book offers a window into appointments and who filled them at the end of every administration, but it's often incomplete. The Periodically Listing Updates to Management Act, or PLUM Act, would make it into a continually-updated online directory of appointments maintained by the Office of Personnel Management. Agencies would be required to give data like the names of appointees, their agency, location and type of position, to OPM on a monthly basis.

Hybrid? Remote? On-site? Just be clear about it. Organizations grappling with how to return to work after the pandemic will have many choices to make, and they'll need a committed workforce. "The more clearly you can describe your plan and the answer the 'what-if' questions, the faster people will understand and be ready to move forward," Kevin Eikenberry writes. Leadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry

Companies rethink how offices fit into their plans. The pandemic has prompted companies to rethink how to use workspaces, both from a standpoint of managing physical real estate and in managers' expectations for employees. "We're going to be very cautious that managers don't shift into patterns that you have to come into the office for an important meeting, since that's not possible if people move away," says Yelp Chief People Officer Carolyn Patterson. CNBC

The 2 forces your strategy must balance. One tension inherent in strategy is balancing the desire for reliable, consistent outcomes with the desire for outcomes that align with goals, as each mindset has different variables, attention to bias and reliance on judgment calls, writes former Rotman School dean Roger Martin. He discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as how strategy planners might keep both in mind. Medium (tiered subscription model)

Do you actually know how to find causation? Data by itself doesn't tell you much, as there are three stages to finding and verifying causation, says author Judea Pearl. "Data-driven management gets a lot of lip service these days, but how well equipped is your company to practice it?" writes Theodore Kinni. Strategy+Business online

Clear, concise writing will last longer. Simple writing keeps ideas clear and easy to get across, especially in a language like English that has many non-native speakers reading your words, writes Paul Graham. "People reading your stuff in the future will be in much the same position as people from other countries reading it today," he writes. Paul Graham blog

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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Margaret Heffernan.

Has our discomfort with uncertainty given rise to forecasting industries that profit off our “prediction addiction.”? Why election predictions, polls, and surveys won't tell us who will win? To what extent are predictions really just hypothesis that need to be challenged? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Margaret Heffernan author of Uncharted: How to Navigate the Future.

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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