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Wading through the sequestration back and forth - Plus the DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Sequestration is a monumental loss of government productivity and further erodes what the government is supposed to be doing," said UMD Public Policy Dean, Don Kettl. Do you agree?

The DorobekINSIDER Sequestration reader: Day 6 -- There are talks

The headlines: There are talks going on. Last night, President Obama met with a number of Republican lawmakers.... and Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection will issue official notice on Thursday of plans to furlough employees for up to 14 days

And then there is snowquestration, which ended up being much ado about not much in Washington.

Snowquester bust: Decision to close schools and offices made before flakes fell:

The pressure was enormous: Whether they called it Snowquester or Winter Storm Saturn, the nonstop media storm-mongering had raised expectations to supermarket-shelf-clearing levels...  But by that time, every major school system in the region had shut down, as had the federal and most local governments and courts. Did they pull the plug too early? Did they listen to the wrong experts? Did they act out of a surplus of bureaucratic caution, eager to avoid blame if they sent workers and schoolchildren into a hellacious storm? All they knew for certain was that no matter what they did, the potential for outrage was rich: Taxpayers might be miffed that governments closed and lost a day of productivity for a storm that fizzled. Conversely, parents and commuters might be equally outraged if schools had opened only to shut down early or if governments had made workers come in and then sent them home into a traffic mess of majestic proportions.

“Snowquester” was all hype and no bite: With yesterday's storm crisis averted - and federal workers back on the job today - the obvious question is whether the underwhelming 'Snowquester' was an omen for the effects of the real-life sequester. Perhaps, according to Rep. Sander Levin. "At times," he said on MSNBC, "there's been an overstatement" of the coming impacts of the across-the-board cuts. "But," the Michigan Democrat added, "the basic fact remains: Sequestration is a harmful idea. It's going to hurt in many, many respects." -- Huffington Post

Back to sequestration
The Washington Post:With passage of continuing resolution, Obama’s push for grand bargain gains steam
“The House took its first step to avert a government shutdown as President Obama began a series of rare meetings with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, reviving chances for a long-term deal to reduce the federal deficit…With a government shutdown now unlikely, Obama is focusing on a new round of talks that the White House hopes could break the fiscal impasse…There appears to be a growing desire among leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to reach an accord that has eluded them. At the dinner, Obama and the Republicans spoke about the opportunity to work together through the budget and debt ceiling debates over the next four to five months, according to attendees.”

The Washington Post: House votes to avert shutdown as Obama looks for big deal
The House took its first step to avert a government shutdown as President Obama began a series of rare meetings with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, reviving chances for a long-term deal to reduce the federal deficit. In hopes of avoiding a crisis this month, the House approved a six-month spending bill that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The measure passed 267 to 151, with most Republicans supporting it and most Democrats voting against it, reports Rosalind S. Helderman and Philip Rucker.

The Washington Post: Customs and Border Protection to be one of the first issuing furlough notices. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection will issue official notice on Thursday of plans to furlough employees for up to 14 days, according to internal communications from the agency…Other cost-saving measures for Customs and Border Protection will include reducing overtime and implementing a hiring freeze.”

The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson:  Fed managers tell Congress budget cuts will hurt DOD’s mission, federal workers  

The New York Times columnist Charles Blow: The real sequester danger. “The lesson, as applied to our present dilemma, is that alarmism erodes credibility, but real danger can still lurk. The pain of the sequester is that kind that lurks: a slow, creeping disaster mainly affecting those Americans on the fringes who are barely inching their way back into a still-bleak job market -- or hopelessly locked out of it -- and poor Americans too old or too young to participate in it. That is how the effects should always have been framed: not as a danger to air travelers and contractors, but as a prowling danger to the most vulnerable in our flock.”  

Bloomberg View: Evan Soltas: Why the sequestration hype was wrong. “It was hard, in the week before the sequestration took effect, to avoid the ceaseless warnings and doom-filled prophecies coming from the White House. Well, they were wrong. The sequestration won’t be devastating. It will be slow, boring, and local. That’s the message sent by the flurry of reports from federal agencies as they detail their plans to cope with their budget cuts under sequestration. One reason the effects won’t be sudden is the labor rules in the Code of Federal Regulations.”

Two other items:

  1. The New York Times: House Tells Postal Service to Keep Six-Day Delivery 
  2. WSJ: You're being watched -- at work; Tracking sensors invade the workplace. Tracking sensors move into workplace. As Big Data becomes a fixture of office life, companies are turning to tracking devices to gather real-time information on how teams of employees work and interact, the Journal’s Rachel Emma Silverman writes. Businesses say the data offer otherwise hard-to-glean insights about how workers do their jobs, and are using the information to make changes, ranging from the timing of coffee breaks to how work groups are composed, to spur collaboration and productivity. But there’s a fine line between Big Data and Big Brother – especially when it comes to tracking the movements of individual employees.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. More than 20,000 federal employees filed retirement claims in February, which is nearly four times what the Office of Personnel Management projected, according to Federal News Radio. The 20,374 retirement claims filed by federal employees in February is more than the number of claims filed in October, November and December of last year combined. OPM expected to receive 5,600 claims last month. In February 2012, just 6,415 feds filed for retirement.
  2. The Government Services Administration will not recruit any additional testers for its program for certifying the safety of browser-based software until the fall, Nextgov reports. Currently, there are 16 government-approved independent testing firms assessing the security of dozens of cloud provider data centers to make sure they are up to standard. These auditors are part of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which was launched in June to provide agencies one list of preapproved cloudware with all the product certification paperwork completed.
  3. GitHub has hired former Presidential Innovation Fellow Ben Balter as the first ever Government Bureaucat, helping government to do all sorts of governmenty things well, more awesomely. GitHub is a web-based hosting service for software development projects that use the Git revision control system.
  4. The Washington Post reports, the FBI says it needs a new home and there are a lot of firms that would like to build it for them. Under acting administrator Dan M. Tangherlini, the General Services Administration proposed swapping the FBI’s dated headquarters downtown for a new campus in the area and says it received 35 proposals by Monday’s deadline. The GSA has not released details of the responses, but they include proposals from landowners, developers and local governments to either build a new headquarters for the FBI, buy the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, or a combination of both.
  5. The government's new program for certifying the safety of browser-based software will not be able to recruit additional testers until the fall, federal officials told Nextgov. Currently, there are 16 government-approved independent testing firms assessing the security of dozens of cloud provider data centers to make sure they are up to standard. These auditors are part of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which was launched in June to provide agencies one list of preapproved cloudware with all the product certification paperwork completed.
  6. Federal News Radio reports, it's now the Senate's turn to tackle the federal budget. The House has passed a measure to fund the government through September. It would prevent a shutdown at the end of this month, when the current continuing resolution runs out. But it would freeze federal pay for a third year in a row. It would give the Defense Department more flexibility to manage its finances, but it does not undo sequestration or give other agencies the same powers. Senate Democrats plan to modify it. 
  7. And on GovLoop, have you registered for the March DorobekINSIDER live? The hour long discussion on March 20th will focus on Gov 2.0, where is it now?

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • The Centers for Disease Controladds gamification to its mission. CDC app lets you solve disease outbreaks at home. The app: Solve the OutbreakGet clues, analyze data, solve the case, and save lives! In this fun app, you get to be the Disease Detective.  Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick? Ask for more lab results? The better your answers, the higher your score - and the more quickly you’ll save lives. You’ll start out as a Trainee and can earn badges by solving cases, with the goal of earning the top rank: Disease Detective. New outbreaks happen every day, and CDC's Disease Detectives are on the front lines, working 24/7 to save lives and protect people. When a new outbreak happens, Disease Detectives are sent in to figure out how the outbreak started before it can spread further.
  • WSJ App Economics: The Evolving Economics of the App. Free remains king, though users on iPhones and iPads generally have a greater tolerance to pay the price to download apps and shut off advertising than those on Android devices. Users of apps in Amazon's app store, meanwhile, tend to make more purchases within the apps. But overall, the economics of the apps business remains in flux as people upgrade smartphones and manufacturers introduce higher-end devices.

 

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Tags: 7, DorobekINSIDER, Stories, budget, communication, leadership, sequestration

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