Fixing USAJobs, Comments Abound

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Are you looking out your window and witnessing a government stampede out the doors? Is your office looking empty? Probably. The Office of Personnel Management reported that more than 114,000 people left the federal government last year – mostly through retirements. To give you a better picture, the 114,000 departures is roughly 6.2% of the federal workforce. So who left and why? We look at a new assessment from the Partnership for Public Service.

You can find all of our programs online: and GovLoop Insights at

But up front: A flood of comments, the new Digital Services guy, and fixing USAJobs

Three big items on the days agenda:

  • Agencies being flooded with comments…

Federal agencies are being flooded by comments on new rules [The Wall Street Journal] The State Department received more than 2.5 million comments on whether to permit construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. More than 1.26 million people have weighed in this summer on Federal Communications Commission rules on how broadband providers treat traffic on their networks. At the Environmental Protection Agency, officials are sorting through hundreds of thousands of comments on new emissions rules for power plants. Record numbers of online comments are flooding agencies at a time when Congress is stuck in gridlock and the Obama administration has turned to executive actions to achieve its policy objectives. The millions of public comments, many of them posted to government websites, come from groups with a stake in the outcome, organizations that rally similar-minded people to their cause and individuals who simply want to weigh in.

  • Mikey speaks…

The first new comments from Mikey Dickerson, the Obama administration’s new administrator of the Digital Services team at OMB:

Hello, from the Digital Service [The White House]

It’s been nearly three weeks since I started my job as the Administrator of the new Digital Service team at OMB, and it’s been an exciting few weeks. For those who don’t know, the Digital Service is a unit comprised of some of the country’s best and brightest tech talent that was launched with one core mission in mind – to improve and simplify the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.

I had my first adventure in public service last fall, when I came on as part of the team to fix The experience was life-changing. I’ve worked on a variety of major projects in my life, but nothing compares to having a direct, positive impact on countless lives. And when I got the call to be part of a team that would scale government-wide the same proven approach that ultimately enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance, I couldn’t resist.

The amount of enthusiasm and support we’ve received – from our partners at the agencies, members of the tech community, and the American people (including a colleague’s grandmother and many others who advised me to iron my shirts) – is truly inspiring. Over the last few weeks we’ve been able to bring onboard great talent to help drive this work. Like Jennifer Anastasoff, who founded a social-sector startup that provided a pathway for some of the nation’s top minds in business and entrepreneurship to join state and local governments; Erie Meyer, who served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s technology team, and was named to Forbes 2014 “30 under 30” list for technology; Brian Lefler, a software engineer with years of experience working in large and complex server-oriented architecture; Vivian Graubard, who led tech efforts on a Presidential Task Force that resulted in the launch of, and was named one of Time’s 30 People under 30 Who Are Changing the World; and Haley Van Dyck, who, as a technology advisor to the U.S. Chief Information Officer, was a driving force behind key Administration initiatives such as the Digital Government Strategy, U.S. Open Data Policy, and the President’s Open Data Executive Order.

This is an exceptionally talented bunch, and we are fortunate to be joining an equally talented team already in place in OMB’s E-government office (or “E-gov” as it’s known). The strong foundation that E-gov has built has allowed the Digital Service team to get off to a great start. Their expertise and knowledge about IT delivery within Government has really helped us hit the ground running, and we’re excited to continue to work closely together as we stand up the Digital Service. We are continuing to build a team of tech experts that have mastered a variety of disciplines, including design, procurement, human resources, and finance. The Digital Service team and OMB will work in collaboration with agencies to improve and simplify government digital services.

The first step in making these fixes has just been taken; on my first day, we released for public comment the Digital Services Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook. These are two crucial components in our growing IT toolkit that will enable agencies to do their best work. We’ve been getting great feedback on everything from typos to major substantive edits, but we can always use more; we encourage you to take a look and we welcome the input.

Our work is driven by a fundamental belief in the skill and dedication of public servants. Government is filled with talented individuals who are uniformly dedicated to improving the lives of Americans. That’s why the Digital Service is not about doing IT work for agencies, but rather making sure that everyone is in a position to do their best possible work. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to helping Government Information Technology evolve into the kind of force for good governance I know it can be.

  • OPM seeks help for fixing USAJobs

OPM Director Katherine Archuletta publicly asked for help to fix USAJobs, the government’s job search Web site.



Via the OPM blog:

One request I get each time I talk with students, teachers, Federal employees and community leaders is: Please make USAJOBS easier to use.

I’ve heard you. OPM wants to make USAJOBS the best possible tool for people searching for a job in the Federal government. And to do that we need your help.

I’m happy to announce that our USAJOBS team is beginning a program to ask people who use USAJOBS to help us identify the issues they encounter when they access the site. Our team is looking for volunteers, and we need your feedback.

Read the full post.

More from The Washington Post: USAJobs site still leaves something to be desired for users

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. DefenseNews: “DoD To Expand Use of Prototyping as Acquisition Budget Tightens”— According to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon will expand its utilization of prototyping in reaction to Department of Defense’s reduced budget. Increased prototyping is directed in the Pentagon’s most recent update to its acquisition improvement strategies, Better Buying Power 3.0. Hagel stated that BBP 3.0 will hasten innovation and technological flow. Other procurement improvement efforts include advancing our outreach and technology search in global markets as well as removing any impediments to commercial-product acquisition.

  2. FederalTimes: “GSA greenlights spending on OASIS contract”— On September 3, the General Services Administration’s OASIS released a notice stating that the agency is now open for business operations. OASIS is a government-wide acquisition contract, and it offers professional assistance such as logistics and scientific services as well as engineering and financial management. It also provides separate contracts for larger firms and small businesses. According to the research firm Deltek, GSA has the potential to earn up to $6 billion a year and capture anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of the market.

  3. FCW: “GSA details schedule consolidation”— As part of the General Services Administration’s efforts to shorten its extensive list of acquisition schedules and professional services, the agency’s Federal Acquisition Service is consolidating its Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) offered services. The consolidation is one of several endeavors to develop FAS’s professional services list, which is one of the 17 utilized by the agency’s clientele.

  4. Nextgov: “Wanted: Twitter-Savvy Feds to Help OPM Get This Whole Social Media Thing”— The Office of Personnel Management urges federal employees across all agencies to use social media to recruit new employees and recognize current ones. As part of efforts to move toward greater social media use, the OPM is creating two working teams for the task. One is aimed at hiring, and the other group is aimed at recognition by building off of efforts from the #SocialGov community. Any federal employees interested in volunteering, click here and sign up by Friday.

  5. Government Executive: “Massachusetts Puts Out Welcome Mat for Startups”— Massachusetts State officials want to strengthen relationships between private and public sectors, and they are willing to use cash incentives to generate new interest. According to MassIT’s blog post regarding the MassIT Government Innovation Competition, the state launched a competition to locate entrepreneurs whose interests are centered on improving constituent-government relationships. MassIT partnered with the MassChallenge startup accelerator, which provides over $1 million in funding each year to support Massachusetts’ startup industries. The winning project will receive $50,000.

  6. FederalTimes: “EA strategy demands strong but flexible access control”— As part of a strategy to enable military personnel to connect into and retrieve data from a network at any location in the world, the Department of Defense is developing an enterprise architecture that incorporates assigning users individual IP addresses. To ensure a secure and effective work environment, technology for identity and access management (IAM) is needed. Currently, the DoD is attempting to eliminate theft and hacking vulnerabilities with single sign-on passwords and IDs; ideally, a soldier would be able to access all of his or her resources by using individual Common Access Cards (CACs) and PINs.

  7. MilitaryTimes: “Some states cancel Guard training for month”— This month, training will be cancelled for thousands of Army National Guard soldiers once the branch reaches an unexpected $101 million shortfall in the last weeks of the fiscal year. According to spokesman for the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, Air Force Capt. John Fesler, the Army National Guard of Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Delaware and Guam are informing reservists of the September drill cancellations. In response, the National Guard Bureau is submitting a request to Congress soliciting permission to move funds from one account to another, which could potentially reinstate some training drills.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

  • Government vs. Private-Sector Procurement: An Unfair Comparison [Government Technology oped by Jack Miles is the former secretary for the Department of Management Services for the state of Florida] The travails of threw the spotlight once again on government procurement, providing the public and pundits alike plenty of fodder for criticism. But let’s put things in perspective. The high cost and lack of performance of the website is not the sole responsibility of the current administration. It’s just the latest installment in an ongoing series that has brought us the $600 toilet seat, the $100 hammer and the $900 control switch. Before we jump to conclusions about government ineptitude and corruption, we must realize that the bigger problem is the system itself. Comparing public and private procurement is not fair, as they are two different processes — and we get the outcomes our process drives. What drives these kinds of outcomes? Having been in both corporate and government procurement, I chalk it up to four things: budgets, management, RFPs and the protest process.

  • The Politico 50 Survey – what do the most interesting political thinkers think? [Politico] How much confidence do they have in Congress? 76 percent say little or none.

  • The Cardinal Sins of Innovation Policy [Harvard Business Review] It happens every time there’s a big announcement about a national or regional innovation policy that will lead us into the future: We are presented with schemes to strengthen intellectual property rights, enlarge the pool of risk financing, and upgrade the universities while pushing them to collaborate more with industry. If we are truly lucky, we are told about a new science park to be built just around the corner. There is only one question that is never asked or answered: Why? Why should a specific place — a region, a city, or even a country — want to have an innovation policy?

  • Here are three ways to satisfy your curiosity without the help of Google [FastCompany] Admit it. In our instant gratification society, it’s very tempting to just Google the answer to a question rather than research it or let our curiosity grow. So says British author Ian Leslie in his new book Curious: The Desire to Know And Why Your Future Depends On It. “Highly curious people are in greater demand than ever before in modern economies, and they’re pulling away from everyone else,” Leslie says. At a recent lecture sponsored by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in London, Leslie discussed his book, as well as two types of curiosity: diversive and epistemic. Diversive curiosity is a hunger for new information, Leslie says. It’s impulsive– like scratching an itch–and takes you in new directions. The second type, epistemic curiosity, is a lifelong quest for knowledge, characterized by building one’s knowledge base and exploring questions.

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