Weekly Round-up: March 29, 2013

This post has been updated to include Dan Chenok’s contribution.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Bright new ideas edition!

Dan Chenok

The OMB edition:

John Kamensky

  • OMB Revamps IT Review Process. According to Joseph Marks at NextGov, “The White House is revamping its initiative to streamline how federal agencies buy information technology. The PortfolioStat program so far has saved the government roughly $300 million” over the past year. “During its first year, PortfolioStat focused primarily on changing how federal agencies purchase IT commodities such as Internet and mobile phone service. During its second year, the program will expand to focus on streamlining technology operations and ensuring agency-level CIOs have sufficient authority.”
  • House Committee Passed 12 Bills on Government Management. Federal News Radio lists a dozen bills the House Oversight and Government Reform recently discharged, touching on management issues ranging from property disposal, to information security, to firing federal employees with delinquent taxes.
  • Employee Engagement vs. Employee Satisfaction. Clement Christiansen writes in Government Executive that the distinction between these two terms is critical for leaders and how they lead and communicate. Which does the governmentwide survey measure? Can you guess which is where executives need to focus?
  • OMB to Agencies: Invest in Shared Financial Services. Government Executive’s Eric Katz reports that OMB has sent guidance to federal agencies that “directs all executive agencies to use, with limited exceptions, a shared service solution for future modernizations of core accounting or mixed systems.”

Michael Keegan

VA pushes DoD to adopt VistA as starting point for electronic health record
Ever since the Defense Department and the Veterans Affairs Department decided to step back from their approach to building a joint electronic health record earlier this year, DoD has been searching for a new electronic records system. As DoD nears a decision point, VA is making the case that its own system, VistA, would make a great fit for both departments.

OMB mandates use of shared-service providers for agency financial systems
The Office of Management and Budget is telling agencies to stop building costly, agency-specific systems when they modernize their financial management systems. Instead, going forward, agencies must use a federal shared-services provider when updating their accounting systems, according to a new memo from OMB Controller Danny Werfel. “The traditional approach to agency-specific, large-scale financial systems modernization projects in the federal government has often led to poor results in terms of cost, quality, performance, and reporting,” Werfel wrote in the memo, dated March 25. “In many cases, these projects — designed to meet agency-specific business processes and system requirements — have resulted in substantial cost overruns, systems that are so large and complex that they cannot be easily updated and lengthy delays in planned deployments or needed improvements.”

4 agencies get new rules on China IT sourcing
A new IT security measure included in the continuing resolution signed into law on March 26 requires several government departments to take China sourcing into account when procuring computer systems. Under the new legislation, the Commerce Department, Justice Department, NASA and the National Science Foundation must consider “any risk associated with such system being produced, manufactured or assembled by one or more entities that are owned, directed or subsidized by the People’s Republic of China.”

How agencies can improve cybersecurity — without waiting for Congress
White House efforts to better protect the networks of government agencies and critical infrastructure operators have been described as a down payment on federal cybersecurity, but with fast-moving threats and continued intrusions, officials are looking for ways to get more secure more quickly. SafeGov issued the report, titled “Measuring What Matters: Reducing Risk by Rethinking How We Evaluate Cybersecurity,” in conjunction with the National Academy of Public Administration at an event March 26. The document states that “despite the guidance of experts and millions of taxpayer dollars, federal information systems remain critically vulnerable to breaches and cyberattacks. This approach will strengthen the security of government information systems and improve the overall management of government resources by focusing scarce resources on the areas that pose the highest risks to agencies’ missions.”

The Business of Government Radio Show: Avi Bender

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.

Avi Bender is currently the Chief Technology Officer for the US Census Bureau, in charge of Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance. He is leading the optimization of Census’ IT through standards, shared services, and innovation. Prior to the Census, Avi was the Director of EA at the Internal Revenue Service. Prior to joining the IRS, Avi held executive level positions at IBM, Price Waterhouse LLP, GTE (Verizon), and he was the cofounder of a software company.

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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