Top 5 Forums of 2011

When the government first threatened to shut down in February, many govies were confused about what exactly this meant to them – what were the consequences? What would change? Would their agency close it’s doors, or remain open? Will they get paid? All of these questions, which remain extremely relevant as we enter into 2012, were addressed in this top thread. Sterling Bobbitt shared a quote from David Gergen, which accurately portrayed the feeling surrounding this post: “All of this has lent enormous uncertainty — and a high degree of drama — to the unfolding tale of a possible government shutdown. But here’s the sad part: in the end, the amount of money being fought over is only a tiny fraction of the nation’s budget deficit. In effect, this episode is a smokescreen, making it seem that lawmakers are really struggling over the deficits when, in truth, they are still dodging debates over the big five in government spending: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and taxes. When they do — if they ever do — those will be fights worth having.”

The next most viewed forum was a spinoff of the first one, asking if government employees were planning on applying for unemployment in the event of a shutdown. Lisa did some research and found out that after seven days of shutdown she would be eligible to collect unemployment; if the government were to decide to reimburse employees, she would just need to reimburse the state for her unemployment checks. She also asked the community what would happen to their insurance if the government were to shut down. It appeared that for most govies health benefits would continue, but everything else would come to a halt. Everyone who commented on the post were in agreement that they would definitely be applying for unemployment in the event of a shutdown. GovLooper Benjamin Strong went a step further, explaining “I will freelance, day labor, apply at McDonald’s if I have to. The most important thing I’ll do? Remember what happened and vote. Bye bye incumbents!”

When USAJOBS reconstructed their website this fall, people were initially excited for all the positive changes that would come along with it, making it “easier” to apply for government jobs. However, when the site was launched in October, it seemed as if the new website caused more problems than solutions. On this thread GovLoopers discussed the new aspects of the new USAJOBS site, sharing what they liked, and what they didn’t like. Susan Thomas encompassed the feelings well in her comment: “OPM should ask for its money back from the contractor who did this. [It’s] not good and I am sure many complaints will be forthcoming.”

Even though LinkedIn is perceived as a professional network, this past spring the website was blocked on many agency computers. GovLoopers addressed both whether or not their agency blocked the site, and also what value they were getting from it in terms of networking and professional connections. As Sam Snead pointed out, there are easy ways to get around this ban: “If my agency were to ban it I would just use it on my cell phone rather than through an agency computer.” Reasons for using LinkedIn varied, from simply as a way to connect with other professionals, to sharing and receiving professional advice. For example, Debbie DeHart said “I agree [LinkedIn] is useful as a Rolodex. But so much more. I connect with other users to interact via User groups for SharePoint and such. It’s a huge advantage to be able to go and find a vendor or another user of a product to find the best solution to a problem, as well as connect with colleagues from long ago who might have the expertise I need. I think it’s great!”

Terri noticed that many businesses started using iPads as they have started to go mobile, so she wanted to know what the government was doing with this technology. The responses seemed that if their agency wasn’t using iPads already, they were trying to find ways to incorporate them. However, since the last response on this thread was in May, it is possible that a lot has changed since then. Are iPads now fully integrated at your agency?

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Scott Collins

To answer your question about Ipads, our city (Santa Cruz, CA) has gone paperless for city council meeting agendas. As a result, all city council members, department heads and city manager staff have iPads. We’ve worked through some implementation kinks this year (file sharing, best apps, proper use, etc.) but overall iPads have been useful – increasing productivity while limiting our carbon footprint.