On today’s program for Monday May 14th, 2012:
- Follow the money — federal government style. We’ll take a look at the new Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. We’ll talk to the executive director of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board, Michael Wood, about how you bring lessons learned from Recovery.gov to federal spending.
- Salary, benefits, mission — they’re all important qualities you should look for when picking your next career. But one expert says don’t forget to check out community culture. He tells us why?
- The key to technological innovation might just be connections. Find out why? From author Tom Koulopoulos.
Gizmodo reports that the hacker group, Anonymous, is claiming that they have “access to every classified database in the U.S. government.” Canada’s National Post newspaper got an interview with Christopher “Commander X” Doyon, whose name is public because he’s been busted for hacking a California government website. Commander X said that it is a matter of when Anonymous decides to leak them. And he says this — quote — “You know how we got access? We didn’t hack them. The access was given to us by the people who run the systems.” Ah, the insider threat. As data becomes more available and shareable, its going to be more difficult to keep secrets. And that is particularly true because we do a very bad job classifying things that are really secrets as secrets.
- The Office of Management and Budget has directed agencies to cut travel spending by 30 percent. It’s part of the White House’s mission to crack down on government waste. The director of the Office of Management and Budget — Jeffrey Zients — has issued new guidance that asks agencies to increase efficiency and strengthen accountability in the areas of travel, conferences, real estate, and fleet management. Zients says earlier measures to reduce costs are already working. He says so far, these efforts have produced more than $280 million in reduced costs in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2010.
- Amid the budget battles on Capitol Hill, Pentagon officials are again asking lawmakers not to insert spending into its budget that they haven’t requested. The House is considering two bills that would have increased Defense Department budget by more than 4 billion dollars, Federal Times reports. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the increases recommended by House lawmakers “reverse many of the tough decisions that we reached” through a sweeping military strategy review. There is an ongoing debate about whether defense spending will be subjected to sequestration cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
- The Office of Personnel Management is changing the way it hires young people. The Federal Times says starting in July the three-tiered Pathways Programs will get a makeover. The new program will consist of an Internship Program for current students, a Recent Graduates Program for people who have received a degree in the last two years or veterans who got a degree in the last six years, and the existing Presidential Management Fellows Program.
- The Secret Service is headed to Capitol Hill. A Senate committee has set the date for a public airing of the Secret Service prostitution scandal. Agency Director Mark Sullivan is expected to testify on May 23. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee sent Sullivan a letter asking him to clarify the agency’s rules on drinking alcohol, both on- and off-duty. The AP says the committee also wanted to know the agency’s policies on paying for sex in countries where prostitution is legal. Since the scandal last month, Secret Service investigators have interviewed the prostitutes and other witnesses at the Colombian hotel.
- The Marine Corps has awarded 10 companies slots on a contract to buy 400,000 computers. The Common Hardware Suite program has an estimated value of $775 million. NextGov says the contract covers everything from servers to tablets. The Marine Corps wants its members to have standardized devices to connect to an enterprise network the Navy plans to build. The 10 companies would compete for task orders. They include CDWG, Dell, GTSI and several small companies.
- A new bill could automatically increase the amount that agencies contribute to your Thrift Savings Plan. Government Executive says the Save More Tomorrow Act, a bill that has been circulating throughout Capitol Hill will be officially introduced today.. The measure would automatically increase the amount some civilian employees contribute to their TSP accounts gradually over several years. Under the new legislation an individual’s contribution rate would increase by 1 percent annually until the full employer match takes effect — usually at 5 percent — two years after the initial contribution.
- And on GovLoop, we’re talking about an organization’s culture. How big of an impact does that have on you — would you switch jobs for a different environment? GovLoop member Nicholas Charney says in a hyper connected world where the expectations of entrants to the labour market are set by market makers your work culture will be the single most important determining factor when considering how to attract top talent. Do you agree? Chime in?
A few closing items:
- Minority contracts fell last year for the first time in a decade. The Washington Post reports that government contracts to black-and Hispanic-owned small businesses fell last year for the first time in a decade, declining at a sharper rate than awards to all companies. Contracts to the black-owned firms dropped 8 percent to $7.12 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared with fiscal 2010. Awards to Hispanic-owned businesses decreased 7 percent to $7.89 billion, according to federal procurement data. Contracts to the two minority groups fell at a faster pace than all contracts, which dipped 1 percent as the U.S. government slowed spending to help reduce the federal deficit. The gap may reflect stiffer competition over a shrinking pool of revenue and the recession’s greater impact on black and Hispanic firms… And James McCullough, who leads the government contracts practice at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson in Washington, tells the Post that the absence of set-aside programs may help explain the dip in awards for some minority groups.The Pentagon predicts that as many as 1,000 defense contractors may join a voluntary effort to share classified information on cyber threats under an expansion of a first-ever initiative to protect computer networks. BusinessWeek reports that the program comes after a pilot program that involved 36 contractors and three of the biggest U.S. Internet providers. The Obama administration approved a rule letting the Pentagon enlist all contractors and Internet providers with security clearances in the information exchange.