Weekly Round-up: June 28, 2013

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

With a hack hack here and a hack hack there.

John Kamensky

  • Presidential Innovation Fellows Named. Kathryn Sadasivan, with FedScoop, reports that a second class of 43 Presidential Innovation Fellows has been appointed to government service. These fellows “are drawn from private sector and academia to work alongside government during six- to 11-month tours of duty, developing innovative solutions to the most pressing federal problems.” The inaugural class last year had 18 individuals who worked on a range of challenging projects, such as Open Data initiatives and the VA’s Blue Button electronic medical record.
  • Sequester’s Bite Grounds Air Force. According to David Ignatius, in the Washington Post, the sequester is beginning to have consequences other than just furloughs and slower services. He reports: “The Air Force has grounded 13 fighter squadrons, or about one-third of its total. That amounts to about 250 planes. The danger isn’t that we’ll be defenseless to a foreign attack but that pilots who don’t fly and mechanics who don’t fix engines will lose their edge.” He notes that while this is relatively visible, the impact of $700 million in cuts from aid to low-income school districts is harder to quantify, but has an effect.
  • VA Has an A-Team. Jason Miller of Federal News Radio reports that “The Veterans Affairs Department is borrowing a Defense Department concept and creating a cadre of program and project-management experts. . . .VA would call upon these experts for help when complex projects are in need of some extra care. . . . the experts would have advanced certifications and an array of experience in everything from technology and pharmaceuticals to medical/surgical programs.”
  • Sen. Coburn Calls Out Low Priority Programs. In a Federal News Radio interview, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) highlighted a number of programs that he felt would rate as “low priority” that did not appear on the Administration’s listing of low priority programs. For example, he points to USDA’s rural housing loans on Martha’s Vineyard and marketing programs for pizza, ice cream and pickles.
  • GAO Reports on Performance Law Implementation. By law, the Government Accountability Office was required to report on the status of implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act by June 30, 2013. It beat its deadline by a few days! The report concludes: “GAO recommends OMB improve implementation of the act and help address challenges by ensuring that the contributions of tax expenditures to crosscutting and agency goals are identified and assessed, and developing a detailed approach for addressing long-standing performance measurement issues.”

Michael Keegan

NASA taps long-time employee to be new CIO
NASA tapped long-time employee, Larry Sweet, to become its new chief information officer. Sweet comes to headquarters from Johnson Space Center and will replace Linda Cureton, who retired in April.

VA 'surge' closes out 97 percent of oldest disability claims
The Veterans Affairs Department made it a top priority earlier this year to handle all disability claims from veterans who've been waiting two years or longer. The department mostly succeeded in its two-month surge operation, but serious questions linger about the sustainability of the backlog elimination effort.

Agencies preparing for next evolution in telecom services
The General Services Administration is preparing the Network Services 2020 program that would move the government to a standardized telecommunications network infrastructure. Other agencies, such as VA and ATF, are building on their experiences with the cloud to create an agile network infrastructure.

What's wrong with cybersecurity training?
Are we training our cybersecurity professionals in all the wrong ways? Agencies have been ramping up efforts in training, education, recruiting and hiring, and still the government faces a shortage of skilled cyber professionals. According to some, the problem is rooted in a wrongheaded approach – and as a result, the United States is losing its competition.

Healthcare.gov relaunches, prepares for ACA open enrollment
The Department of Health and Human Services re-launched its site aimed at providing customized insurance policy information to the public, some three months before the open enrollment period mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Currently, HealthCare.gov contains answers to frequently asked policy questions and a 24-hour call center. Users will be able to apply and browse specific coverage plans based on factors – such as age and family status – starting when open enrollment begins Oct. 1. The site covers policy information for small business owners, people who are self-employed and families, among others.

The Business of Government Radio Show: Chuck Prow and Dave Walker

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.

A Conversation with Chuck Prow, editor and Dave Walker, contributor, Governing to Win: Enhancing National Competitiveness through New Policy and Operating Approaches

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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