On today’s program
- Todd Park — he is the federal CTO – and might very well be the energizer bunny. The man has a lot of passion and excitement for the federal government. And he’ll tell us his three part plan to creating innovation. Click here for the full story.
- It’s summer and that means many of you will be taking a vacation. But how do you disconnect from the office? Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service has some ideas. Click here for the full story.
The Olympics are going on — we probably don’t need to tell you that. But what does it mean to government? Well, it could be slowing government networks because of all the streaming that is going on. Dan Lohrmann writes in Government Technology that the five to eight hour time difference between the US and the UK may be just the right combination — orperfect storm — to bust your work networks.
NBC is be airing over 3500 hours of live Olympic coverage. And there will also be plenty of next-day highlight videos to watch as well. This means that all those badminton-lovers out there will be able to get their fill of the sport via the Internet. And he says that this can be a real threat to the survival of some company and government networks over the next few weeks.
- Congressional leaders are nearing a deal to avoid an October government shutdown. The Washington Post reports that House and Senate leaders are nearing a temporary spending deal that would keep the federal government running for the first half of the next fiscal year, starting October 1. Under the deal, agency spending for the first half of the year would rise at a pace that would not exceed a $1.047 trillion limit that both parties agreed to in last summer’s debt deal. But the Hill reports that Congress won’t vote on the measure until after the summer recess.
- The Postal Service says it will default on a payment due tomorrow. The Associated Press reports Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says cash is so low, USPS won’t make a $5.5 billion payment to its retirees’ health benefits account. The default would be the first ever for the Postal Service. Postal officials say it will not impact mail delivery and that payroll obligations to current workers won’t stop. But the long term fiscal situation for USPS is deteriorating. Congress has been debating what to do for months, but has yet to agree on a plan.
- U.S. construction projects in Afghanistan are being challenged by the inspector general’s report. The Washington Post says the US launched an initiative to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan. But those projects are running far behind schedule and over cost. The construction projects were originally pitched as a vital tool in the military campaign against the Taliban. The inspector general also concluded the Afghan government will not have the money or skill to maintain many of the projects.
- A new Center for Immigration Studies report finds that many inconsistencies in how State’s implement E-Verify policies. The National Journal reports, more than a dozen states use E-Verify to check the immigration status of new hires or government contractors, but many state officials have not been implementing the policy uniformly. Some states use E-Verify to run new hires Social Security number and date of birth through millions of government records to verify the status of all employees, while other states use it for government employees only. A 2010 Government Accountability Office report also found that persistent errors can surface from misspellings or slight mismatches of names on E-Verify documents and in its database, creating problems for thousands of workers.
- A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discriminated against her because of her disabilities. The Wall Street Journal reports, Mary Bullock, who has multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus, was an administrative law judge for the EEOC. She accused the agency of retaliating against her for seeking the accommodations. Back in 2010 a federal district judge in San Diego spiked the lawsuit ruling that Ms. Bullock hadn’t jumped through all the necessary administrative hoops before taking her case to court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ms. Bullock didn’t need to wait to file her lawsuit, because an administrative law judge had already ruled on her complaint.
- Agencies’ concentrated efforts to hire and retain Hispanics are working. The Office of Personnel Management says Hispanics make up 8.1 percent of the federal workforce. That’s a 0.1 percent increase over a year earlier. President Barack Obama has directed agencies to improve diversity and inclusion. Federal News Radio says Hispanics remain the most under-represented segment of the workforce. Progress may be slow, but the numbers are encouraging. The percentage of Hispanic senior- executive-service members went from less than 3 percent in 2010 to more than 5 percent in fiscal 2011. (Translated into actual numbers, that means the government hired nine more Hispanic Senior Executive Service members than it did in 2010.
- And on GovLoop, we want to know, how do you create and office culture when people are teleworking? It’s one of the big worries — what happen if there is no water cooler talk? Chime in on GovLoop.
Before we finish up, a few items in for your watercooler fodder
We mentioned the Postal Service and that it is likely to default on a $5.5 billion payment for retiree benefits. Joe Nocera, the columnist for The New York Times, calls this D-Day for the Postal Service. He said
“On the one hand, there is no doubt that part of the reason the post office is struggling is that its world has changed mightily … On the other hand, that prefunding requirement is an absolute killer … Not since the debt crisis has there been such an avoidable fiscal mess.” Unlike most organizations, the Postal Service has to pre-fund its pension funds. And he explains the evolution of the prefunding requirement, placing blame for its continued existence on an intransigent Congress.
He says that several postal experts suggested that the way things are going things are going, the Postal Service could be out of money sometime next year. He suggests that maybe then Congress will start taking seriously the crisis it created.