Weekly Round-up: October 11, 2013

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Dan Chenok

John Kamensky

  • Lights out? Andy Medici, Federal Times, writes that the General Services Administration “will not pay any utility bills dated Oct. 1 or later until the shutdown ends.”
  • Number of Furloughed Workers Varies. Federal Times reports that the number of workers furloughed during the ongoing shutdown had decreased, largely due to Defense workers returning to work at the order of the Secretary. Other agencies vary widely in the percent of workers who are at work, ranging from 97 percent at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to 10 percent at the Department of the Treasury.
  • NRC Shuts Down. According to Shefali Kapadia, Federal News Radio, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was running on carry-over funds since the government shutdown began on October 1st, but it has run out of funds and is now furloughing its safety inspectors and regulators.

Michael Keegan

CFOs at tipping point due to fewer resources, more requirements
Federal chief financial officers say fewer resources, more mandates and a shrinking workforce is a recipe for disaster. A new survey by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and Grant Thornton finds federal CFOs and their staffs have only enough time, money and know-how to do the basics around financial management. And because of a lack of resources and increasing requirements, CFOs are not taking advantage on a wide scale the potential of data to impact program and mission performance. Relmond Van Daniker, the executive director of AGA, said it's depressing to talk to agency CFOs because they are under such pressure. Van Daniker said CFOs are reaching a breaking point.

NSA's $1.5 billion data center delayed
'The opening of the National Security Agency's $1.5 billion Utah Data Center has been delayed for a year, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing project documents and current and former officials. The 1 million square foot data center, rumored to be the largest on Earth -- though its exact storage capacity is classified -- was most recently scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. Instead, a series of 10 electrical surges over the past 13 months has curtailed the NSA's computing effort at the Bluffdale, Utah, facility south of Salt Lake City. The cause of the meltdowns remains unclear, and none of the proposed fixes are guaranteed to solve it, an unnamed Utah official told the Wall Street Journal.

Biometrics go mobile
Using biometric identifiers for secure access to mobile devices is not new, but in most organizations it has been relegated to a marginal role at best. The technology's status could be set for a fundamental change, however. Apple's new iPhone 5S, released in late September, comes with a built-in Touch ID fingerprint sensor. When the device's owner touches the smartphone's home button, the sensor reads the fingerprint and unlocks the phone. The feature can also be used to authorize iTunes store purchases. Technology watchers contend that Apple's fingerprint foray, if successful, could take biometrics into the mainstream. "That is a huge catalyst for the biometrics industry — as long as it works well and usability is good," said Jeff Scott, vice president of sales for North and South America at security solutions provider Precise Biometrics. "The expectation is clear that biometrics will be getting a more prominent role in authentication in that [mobile] market," said Bojan Cukic, a professor in the computer science and electrical engineering department and co-director of the Center for Identification Technology Research at West Virginia University.

The Business of Government Radio Show: Jane Fountain

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government.

What two dimensions are necessary for effective collaboration? How can agency leaders and OMB foster cross-agency collaboration as a way of doing business? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Dr. Jane Fountain author of the IBM Center report, Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers.

Professor Jane E. Fountain has been the Chair and Vice Chair and is currently a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government. She serves on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Innovation, served on the American Bar Association blue ribbon Commission on the Future of e-Rulemaking and has been a member of several advisory bodies for organizations including the Social Science Research Council, the Internet Policy Institute, and the National Science Foundation.

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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