Weekly Round-up: September 20, 2013

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

This week, it's all about opening government.

  • Like a Vienna Game (that is: Knight Opening): TechPresident reports that "For the first time, the Knight Foundation is giving special priority to projects focusing on open government by awarding funds to ten local information projects as part of the Knight Community Information Challenge."
  • Opening the Digital Gates. In Austrailia, reports The Age, Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull predicts that "as far as possible virtually all government interactions with the public are able to be conducted digitally by 2017, using video conference, using the web, using apps, using smartphones… being agnostic about devices, but ensuring Australians can engage with government as efficiently as possible". Related: On Slate, Farhad Majoo opines that email is "ubiquitous, meritocratic, and forgiving" and thus will never die.
  • Inspiring Openness, and Keeping it Safe. Over on FedTech, Jimmy Daly has collected six videos of new-to-OSTP Code for America Founder Jennifer Pahlka explaining the whys and hows of open government. Related: On State Tech, Sandra Gittlin lists "5 Best Practices for Protecting Your Endpoints," because open is great, but secure is imperative.

John Kamensky

  • OMB Issues Government Shutdown Memo. Andy Medici, Federal Times, reports that OMB has issued a contingency memo for agencies to begin planning for the possibility of a shutdown if a budget agreement is not reached by October 1st. The memo provides FAQs for agencies on technical issues.
  • Senate Hearing on Spending Transparency. Sen. Mark Warner’s Government Performance Taskforce held a hearing on increasing transparency of federal spending data, in support of a bi-partisan House bill on the issue. GAO testified and released a report supporting the move.
  • Federal Hiring Drops to 6-Year Low. Lisa Rein,The Washington Post, reports a 37-percent drop in federal hiring since 2009, and that it is the lowest it has been in six years. She writes: “The drop in hiring comes as agencies face a wave of retirements by baby-boomers, who are calling it quits amid budget cuts, furloughs and poor morale caused by a negative public view of federal service.”
  • New Report: Inspectors General Fret About Tight Budgets. Charles Clark, Government Executive, writes that the Association for Government Accountants has released a new survey of agency inspectors general which “found that more than two-thirds of inspectors general view limited resources as their top challenge, particularly when they feel pressure to hire specialized talent to confront a changing technological landscape.”
  • New Report: Performance Improvement Improves. The Partnership for Public Service released a report on the evolving role of agency performance improvement officers and agency culture regarding performance, and concludes: “In the past three years, the trajectory has shifted.” However, the report also reflects more needs done, that only half of agency leaders use performance information when making decisions.
  • USAF CIO Asserts Authority. Jaren Surbu, Federal News Radio, reports that, on the heels of the DOD chief information officer asserting authority to require a single Defense-wide email system, the Air Force plans to “boost the oversight role of its chief information officer, giving the position a bigger say in decisions about IT acquisition, planning and funding, a move the service says will cut down on duplicative spending and pave the way for more commoditization.”
  • OMB Revises Guidance for Internal Controls. Jason Miller, Federal News Radio, writes that OMB “is updating its Circular A-123 guidance to be more like the future vision of cybersecurity — based on risk and data, and done more than every three years.” The idea is to use analytics to reduce compliance burden, and to rescind OMB Circular A-127 in the process.

Michael Keegan

GSA encourages mobility to reduce real estate needs
The Total Workplace program will modernize the federal workforce while reducing costs for office space and energy, GSA argues. The General Services Administration wants to reduce office space and increase energy efficiency across the federal government by encouraging agencies to embrace a more mobile workforce.
OMB tells agencies to prepare for possible shutdown
In the unlikely event that any agency leaders had forgotten that funding runs out on Sept. 30, a new memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell offers a reminder -- and urges them to update their contingency plans.

GAO critiques NOAA satellite programs
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in the midst of developing two major satellite systems worth more than a combined $22 billion. The programs are vital to the future of the country's weather prediction efforts, but the Government Accountability Office has issues with both.

Gold in the data, but a shortage of miners
Demand for analysts able to mine the mountains of data generated by federal agencies, including intelligence and homeland security, continues to soar as the government competes with the private sector for promising prospects and universities struggle to fill the need.

The Business of Government Radio Show: Dr. Robert Childs

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

For the past decade, Chancellor Robert D. Childs has led NDU's iCollege. Under his visionary leadership, the college has become the international leader in providing graduate-level certificates, educational services, and learning experiences in Information Assurance, Chief Information Officer, eGovernment, Chief Financial Officer, IT Project Management, and strategic leader competencies to government employees; and was designated as a "National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance Education."

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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