Weekly Roundup: November 16-20, 2020
Contactless Government. Governing reports: “The term “contactless” has become increasingly popular in recent months, thanks to the resilience of COVID-19. Demand for digital and no-touch services has grown by 20 percent in the U.S., according to the consulting firm McKinsey, and governments have responded, ramping up online portals and services, rolling out contactless transit systems, enabling remote visits by social workers, and enlisting chatbots to support surging demand in call centers.”
Resilience Matters. DefenseOne reports: “The pandemic has taught us that today, a country’s best offense is a good defense. One of its lessons is that national clout and advantage, and thus international power dynamics, will be rooted in resilient power amid the types of mass traumas that look set to dominate this century—not just pandemics, but also climate change, cyberattacks, financial crises, and disinformation campaigns. And right now, it’s a measure of power where the United States is clearly falling short.”
Agile Rules! Federal News Network reports: “The State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management, under the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the way it fields applications that support the agency’s mission. . . . The agency embraced an agile methodology for app development out of necessity in the early months of the pandemic, when the agency brought more than 100,000 overseas Americans back into the United States. In the aftermath of that effort, the State Department’s top IT officials say agile is here to stay.”
Deep Experience. Government Executive reports: “While the Trump administration continues to withhold executive branch materials and access normally afforded to presidential election winners, President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team are pushing forward with the process they say is only partially encumbered due to their deep familiarity with the inner-workings of government.”
Failed, but Progress: Government Executive reports: “The Pentagon expects to fail its third attempt at a clean financial audit, but officials say the progress made could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. . . . Thomas Harker, who is the Navy’s top budget official but is also performing the duties of Defense Department comptroller . . . doesn’t expect the Pentagon to achieve a clean audit until 2027.”
An Experience Cookbook. NextGov reports: “For the last two years, Veterans Affairs Department Chief Veterans Experience Officer Lynda Davis and Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer Barbara Morton stewarded the customer experience cross-agency priority goal outlined in the President’s Management Agenda. . . . [They] opted to leave federal agencies with a Customer Experience Cookbook chock full of key ingredients and recipes for embedding customer experience into countless federal services.”
Telework May Be Permanent for Many. Government Executive reports: “Federal agency leaders told lawmakers on Wednesday they have seen no dip in productivity as tens of thousands of workers have performed their duties remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, they are looking to allow some employees to permanently work from home even after it is safe to return to offices.”
GS Barriers. Howard Risher writes in Government Executive: “The GS System Is a barrier to effective governance. The rigidity of the General Schedule, the political pressure to control payroll costs, the importance of tenure and the restricted authority of managers all impede effective workforce management.”
DOD fails third audit, but sees progress with cost-savings. The Defense Department completed its third audit of its nearly $3 trillion enterprise, but it still has a ways to go before it passes one. Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said the audit covering fiscal year 2020 has yielded "returns that significantly outweigh its cost by improving business operations" as DOD looks to continue reforms "for greater affordability."
DOD is expecting seven clean or unmodified opinions. Results from four audits are expected to be completed by Dec. 15 and March 25, 2021, including one for the Defense Information Systems Agency, two Navy funds, and one for DOD's inspector general office.
DOD, Coast Guard resume MHS Genesis deployment. The U.S. Coast Guard has deployed the military’s new commercial electronic health record system to four new pilot sites after the Defense Department suspended the effort so health care providers could focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response.
The Coast Guard went live in August with MHS Genesis, a version of Cerner's health record system, at four pilot sites in the San Francisco Bay Area to aid in adjustments to DOD workflows, training, and equipment setups. The Defense Department suspended activities in March. DOD also went live with two wave deployments: Nellis in September, which included 10 sites in California and Nevada, and Pendleton in October with four sites in California and Alaska. Both waves include military bases, camps, posts, stations.
CBP wants to expand facial recognition. Customs and Border Protection is on track to move out of its test phase and expand use of facial recognition systems at airports and land border crossings.
How COVID-19 can change leadership for the better. The pandemic has forced leaders to be more accessible, bureaucracies to become more flexible and decisions to be made - and reversed - more quickly, write medical professionals who oversaw COVID-19 field hospitals in the UK and US. Even after the pandemic, leaders should recognize how much knowledge is untapped among junior staff, especially if there's structure and clear goals. Harvard Business Review online (tiered subscription model)
7 practices for becoming a collaborative leader. "Leading from your heart" is described by Anne Taylor as the people skills, communication and behavior that, along with business acumen, can improve relationships and organizational outcomes. She offers seven steps for implementing such leadership for yourself and for others. Business Matters (UK)
Strategies to create corporate agility during a crisis. Companies can remain agile in a time of crisis by using cross-functional squads to identify new short-term opportunities that can lead to long-term stability, according to this McKinsey analysis. Examples are provided of four companies that successfully became agile since the pandemic began. McKinsey
This form of writing will make your writing clear, concise. Executives can improve their communication by learning the art of academic writing, which involves rigor, research and clarity, writes Amanda Dudley. "Academic writing teaches you to go for facts, eschewing all words that are immaterial to the subject matter of time," she writes. CSM
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