Weekly Round-up: July 19, 2013

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Dan Chenok

John Kamensky

  • Government Transformation Initiative. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to create a commission that would make recommendations to reform government to make it more efficient and effective. Its recommendations would be fast-tracked through Congress. The 7-member commission would be in place for a five year period. The bill is one of nine that are part of a broader reform agenda, “Make Government Work,” announced by the No Labels Problem Solvers, a new congressional caucus.
  • GSA Default on Building Rent?! Andy Medici of Federal Times reports that GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini says that the House appropriations committee’s proposed FY 2014 budget for GSA would only cover 85 percent of the existing lease costs for buildings that GSA rents. Tangherlini says that this would result in GSA having to default on a number of private sector leases. No mention was made of what would happen to employees left out on the street!
  • Strategic Sourcing: $50 Billion in Savings. Government Executive’s Charles Clark reports that a Senate hearing on the executive branch’s progress in leveraging its buying power is falling short and more could be done to save $50 - $80 billion a year, based on a recent GAO study. In response, Federal Times reports that a bipartisan group of legislators plan to introduce legislation to mandate strategic sourcing.
  • Evidence-Based Funding Rejected. Jason Miller, Federal News Radio, writes that the House appropriations committee has voted against creating a small, $5 million innovation fund in FY 2014 to support pilot projects that would test the effectiveness of different program approaches, based on their results. Instead, the committee wants to merge several e-government funds and reduce their total.
  • Obama’s Call for Volunteers. President Obama has signed a memorandum to create an interagency task force co-chaired by the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the executive director of he Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to “identify and develop opportunities for interagency agreements between CNCS and other agencies to support the expansion of national service and volunteering.” Report due in 180 days.
  • Ten Mobile Trends. A GSA blog post distills various industry sources regarding trends in the use of mobile devices and tailors them to government. Bottom line: with a billion mobile phones on the market, they should be seen as a primary way to connect with government and transact business.
  • Data.gov Revamp. Joseph Mark, with NextGov, reports that the White House is planning a revamp of its data.gov website: “The site will integrate blog and social media posts about how government data is being used and will rely more on open source tools, the office said. The presentation will also automatically adapt to smartphones and tablets.” Here’s a link to the beta version of the site.

Michael Keegan

Hagel orders 20 percent budget cuts within top DoD offices
The budget reductions for Pentagon staff and top military brass are targeted for the 2015-2019 timeframe. Pentagon spokesman George Little says personnel reductions associated with these savings will be determined during the development of detailed execution plans.

Bill turns up heat on agency use of strategic sourcing
The No Labels Caucus will introduce a bill this week to apply more pressure on agencies to use strategic sourcing. The bill is one of nine that the caucus of Democrats and Republicans is scheduled to release, in an effort to make the government more efficient and effective. The No Labels Caucus, which calls itself a problem-solver rising above the partisan fray, will hold a press conference Thursday in Washington to unveil the assorted legislative proposals. The strategic sourcing legislation is starting to gain support. At the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's hearing Monday, Cristina Chaplain, the Government Accountability Office's director of acquisition and sourcing management, said there are several things Congress could do to encourage agencies to buy more efficiently. Her suggestions mirror the No Labels bill in many ways. Chaplain said oversight and hearings may apply the most direct pressure, but legislation could have its role too.

Cyber EO successes and struggles
Deadlines for the first two sets of deliverables under Obama's cybersecurity executive order have come and gone, meaning agencies are now ready to ask: Can the government actually get this done?

NASA Glenn restructures IT delivery
Randy Humphries is far from your typical chief information officer. The NASA Glenn Research Center technology official spent most of his career working in the mission area, specifically around space flight. Humphries focused his skills around project and program management to improve mission functions. So when he was tapped to be CIO about three years ago, Humphries decided to mold his new office around what he knows best, using IT to meet mission goals. "Understanding the missions of NASA and Glenn is very important to a CIO. That's our job," he said. "Our job is not to deliver IT, it is to deliver information technology needed by the mission."

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