On Today’s Edition of the DorobekINSIDER
- The future of the desktop: what the changes will mean for how you work. Insights from Cisco, Citrix and NetApp. Click here for the full story.
- Feds go to the movies — how you can learn leadership techniques from the summer blockbusters with Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service. Click here for the full story.
We talk a lot about doing more with less. An interesting story in The New York Times about how different states are working to find the right balance between taxes and spending. State governments are really starting to come out of their very long downturn, but the Times says that many are grappling with a difficult choice: should they restore some of the services and jobs they were forced to eliminate in the recession or cut taxes in the hopes of bolstering their local economies? And the story looks at Maryland and Kansas, both of which have addressed the issue in starkly different ways.
Maryland, a state controlled by Democrats that has a pristine credit rating, raised income taxes on its top earners this year to preserve services and spending on its well-regarded schools — leading some business groups to warn that the state might become less competitive. Kansas, controlled by Republicans, decided to try to spur its economy with an income tax cut. No easy answers these days.
The 2012 SAVE Awards are open. The Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Awards — these were set up as a way of tapping front line feds to save the government money. It is a competition for federal employees to submit ideas about how to cut waste, save taxpayer dollars, and make government more effective and efficient. And it’s great — the winner gets to meet the president.
This will be the third year. To be very honest, I have found the finalists somewhat disappointing — things that should have been done anyway. For 2010, for example, the winning idea was to stop sending out the Federal Register in paper to federal agencies. Yes, the Federal Register was mailed to some 8,000 Federal employees every workday. And, of course, as you may know, it is available online. The idea was to stop that — make the online delivery the default. GREAT idea — awesome. And I’m thrilled that Trudy Givens, of the Bureau of Prisons Wisconsin brought it up, but, that kind of idea just seems to me like low hanging fruit. That is something that we should have been doing for a long time. I hope this year, the judges will find items that push the envelope — find some savings that actually reach… and maybe even get folks to think about doing things differently.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it’s unlikely that any of the 2012 appropriations bills will get passed before the November elections. The National Journal says Reid blames House Republicans for drafting appropriations bills under the overall spending cap agreed during last year’s Budget Control Act. The Democratic Senators are expected to hammer out a continuing resolution when they return in September.
- San Bernardino is the third California city in the past month to seek bankruptcy protection. City officials say the financial situation had become so dire that it could not cover payroll through the summer. The Los Angeles Times reports the city faces a $46-million deficit and depleted coffers. And California isn’t the only state facing these problems. The Fiscal Times says in Scranton Pennsylvania the city’s mayor, Chris Doherty, a Democrat, slashed wages for nearly 400 public employees to $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage, because there’s not enough money in city coffers to pay those workers their usual salaries.
- The Justice Department and the FBI are teaming up to review forensic evidence in thousands of cases. The Washington Posts reports, the reviews will be the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available. The review comes afterThe Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases.
- The Pentagon is considering a public database that would list people’s military honors. The Wall Street Journal says last month the Supreme Court struck down a 2006 law that made it a federal crime to lie about receiving military medals. But they did says adding a database would be a better way to head off false claims. But the Pentagon says a database wouldn’t be practical because privacy concerns would prohibit the Defense Department from using Social Security numbers or birth dates. Pentagon press secretary George Little says the court’s decision has prompted the Defense Department to re-examine the idea.
- Lockheed Martin is cutting 740 positions in a Washington, D.C.-based unit. The cuts are spread nationwide. More than half of the workers have left voluntarily. But, Federal News Radio says, the rest, about 300 people, are getting pink slips. The Mission Systems and Sensors unit counts the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines and Army among its customers. It focuses on systems engineering, software development and program management. The cuts represent 5 percent of the unit’s workforce. Lockheed Martin held nearly $43 billion in federal contracts last year, but it said it was examining every aspect of its business given the budget pressures facing its customers.
- A new hands-on training program is helping the Veterans Affairs Department get a handle on its mountain of disability claims. Federal News Radio says employees were completing 150 percent more claims daily and they were improving accuracy too. So far, the department has trained more than 1,300 staff members. Nearly a 1 million people — or 45 percent of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan — have filed claims. Secretary Eric Shinseki has pledged to cut their wait time down to four months.
- And on GovLoop, have you signed up for our webinar on harnessing the power of big data? They are using big data analytics in the Memphis Police Department to create a predictive analytics system called Blue CRUSH (Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History). To find out how it works and for more information head over to our homepage to sign up. The webinar kicks off tomorrow at 2pm EST.
A few closing items
- Apple computers may not be welcome in San Francisco. That is after Apple recently decided to removed a green electronics certification from its products. The Wall Street Journal says that officials with the San Francisco Department of Environment said they would send out letters over the next two weeks, informing all 50 of the city’s agencies that Apple laptops and desktops “will no longer qualify” for purchase with city funds. The move comes after the Journal reported that Apple had removed its laptops and notebooks from a voluntary registry of green electronics, called EPEAT. The standard, created jointly by manufacturers, including Apple, government agencies, and activist groups, requires that electronics products be designed for ease in recycling and higher energy efficiency. Apple requested that all 39 of its certified MacBooks and desktops be removed from the registry late last month, according to EPEAT staffers. Apple says that all of its products actually beat the EPEAT standards.
- Telework: The Office of Personnel Management has just released its annual report to Congress on telework. The findings: 25 percent of the eligible federal workforce are working outside the office at least one day a week — that is up 10 percent from 2009. Agencies say a total of 684,589 employees are eligible to telework, or 32 percent of federal workers.