Weekly Round-up: June 21, 2013

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Dan Chenok

John Kamensky

  • House Moves to Centralize IT in Agencies. According to a story by Jason Miller, Federal News Radio, the House version of the Defense Authorization bill includes provisions to designate but one Chief Information Officer in each major department and agency, and give that person budget authority over IT investments. Miller writes that the provisions: “also would codify many of the Obama administration's initiatives, such as data center consolidation, spending transparency through the IT dashboard and the elimination of duplicative hardware and software investments.”
  • Mandating Strategic Sourcing – Don’’t! A proposal to mandate agencies to purchase common items from a central source is being knocked by industry and Congress, according to a story by Jason Miller, Federal News Radio. Miller writes: “OFPP has come out several times over the last year or so saying the contracts under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative [FSSI] are not mandatory. But then agencies issue memos telling contracting officers they must justify why they wouldn't use the FSSI contract, which makes it mandatory without using the word.”
  • TechStat is Great. Do More. A recent GAO report reviews the use of TechStat by federal agencies as a way to hold agencies and program managers more accountable for progress in implementing large technology projects. While GAO was not able to verify claims of $4 billion in savings as a result of such reviews, it recommends improving the processes used and that more of them be held.
  • Data De-Mystification Center Created for Congress. Colby Hochmuth, who writes for FedScoop, reports that the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has created a Center to help politicians understand big data, open data, analytics, and visualization. She quotes Daniel Castro, senior policy analyst at ITIF: “Our goal is to help people understand data, give people up-to-date news on how data is being used, and connect it to policy.”
  • Furloughs? Employee Job Satisfaction Drops by One-Third. How have sequestration and furloughs affected employee morale? A survey of Defense financial managers found a 33 percent drop in employee satisfaction with their jobs over the past year: According to Jared Serbu of Federal News Radio: “86 percent of respondents said they enjoyed their jobs "a lot" in last year's survey. By this year, the figure had plummeted to 53 percent.” . . . And Defense employees have not yet experienced furloughs, like many civilian agencies have so far!
  • Can Government Play Moneyball? An excellent article in The Atlantic magazine by John Bridgeland and Peter Orszag decries how less than one percent of federal spending is backed up by evidence that the money is being spent wisely. They recommend studying what works – such as in health care procedures --and increasing it, while cutting what does not work. However, they do admit that “Getting the right information is less than half the battle. Acting on it, once it’s in hand, is harder still.”

Michael Keegan

Sequestration, budget cuts taking its toll on DoD financial managers
DoD's senior executives with responsibility for budget matters report a sudden decline in job satisfaction. No surprise: sequestration's mostly to blame.

VA identifying project managers, then improving their skills
The Veterans Affairs Department is creating an acquisition cadre to work on complex projects. Glenn Haggstrom, VA's principal executive director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction, said the goal is to match experts with the needs across the department

GAO warns CMS exchanges behind schedule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is overseeing the development of health insurance exchanges—online marketplaces for comparing and selecting insurance plans -- mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, a new Government Accountability Office report found, many of the steps required to hit a key October deadline are either incomplete or behind schedule.

GSA trying innovative approaches to disposing of real property
GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said the agency wants to work with Congress to offer creative ways for agencies to maximize their assets. In its own headquarters, the GSA is using modern techniques to save space.

DARPA contest seeks better use of crowded spectrum
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is hoping conflict and cooperation among the contestants in its Spectrum Challenge smart radio competition will produce better ways to share increasingly congested spectrum resources. The aim of the contest, which kicked off early in 2013, is to find ways to develop radio technology that allows the largest number of users in a busy, cramped spectrum environment, but allow priority traffic to flow without disruption. DARPA announced 15 of the 18 semifinalist teams on June 18, drawing from a pool of 90 registered teams. It will fill three wildcard slots in August.

Former GAO head seeks congressional OK for cost-cutting commission
A group seeking to trim government waste is asking Congress to give an expert commission the authority to suggest cuts to government programs. Former Comptroller General David Walker is leading the group, called the Government Transformation Initiative. The group wants to establish a seven-member commission, authorized by Congress, along the lines of Defense Base Realignment and Closure commissions.

The Business of Government Radio Show: Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations.

Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan is the 37th surgeon general of the Navy and chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Wednesday at noon, on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED

If you can't wait, though, you can listen to (or download) this week's program and all our previous interviews at businessofgovernment.org and by searching our audio archives.

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