Current State of Sequestration – Plus the DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • What is the high risk list? What makes a program high risk? How did you get off it? Insights from the Government Accountability Office. Click here for the full recap.

Coming up Wednesday – the DorobekINSIDER LIVE… and we focus on BYOD — bring your own device. Register now for the free virtual panel at noon EDT right here on GovLoop.

Sequestration reader

  • Washington Post: Obama to press for sequester fix– President Obama will seek to inject fresh urgency on Tuesday morning into discussions over how to avoid deep, automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending that are set to take effect in 10 days. The White House statement said the jobs of emergency personnel who would appear at Tuesday’s event could be in jeopardy if the sequester takes effect. The appearance in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, scheduled for 10:45 a.m., will come as Washington appears increasingly resigned to allowing the sequester to go ahead. The White House statement said the jobs of emergency personnel who would appear at Tuesday’s event could be in jeopardy if the sequester takes effect.
  • Business Journal: With two weeks to go before sequestration hits, Congress is taking a week off, and President Barack Obama is making campaign-style trips to tout his State of the Union proposals. So much for a sense of urgency when it comes to avoiding the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to federal spending that are scheduled to kick in March 1. There’s always a chance there’ll be a breakthrough the week of Feb. 25 to avoid sequestration, but check out three why sequestration will occur, according to The Business Journal’s Kent Hoover.
  • The Hill: GOP lawmakers don’t fear political impact of sequester taking effect. House GOP lawmakers say they do not fear political blowback if Congress fails to prevent $85 billion in automatic spending cuts from triggering in two weeks.
  • The Wall Street Journal: Simpson and Bowles to offer up deficit fix: Deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on Tuesday will propose a detailed plan for rewriting the tax code and implementing deep new spending cuts, hoping to offer a path to compromise for Democrats and Republicans, according to an outline of the plan.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Reported on DorobekINSIDER first, Roger Baker, the Veterans Affairs assistant secretary in the Office of Information and Technology and chief information officer, resigned on Friday. VA confirmed that Baker, who has been assistant secretary and CIO since May 2009, will step down. Baker led VA’s efforts to use mobile devices, implement the technology behind the Post-9/11 GI Bill and improve the department’s claims-processing system.
  2. A Chinese Army unit has been tied to hacking against the US. The New York Times reports, a growing body of digital forensic evidence — confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years — leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower.
  3. NASA lost communication with the international space station. NextGov reports, at 9:45 this morning, during a software update to the International Space Station’s flight computers, one system malfunctioned causing a loss in communication between NASA on the ground and NASA in space. According to Expedition 34 commander Kevin Ford, “the station’s status was fine and that the crew was doing well,” NASA was able to learn as the ISS flew over Russian ground stations a bit before 11 am. By noon today the communication was restored.
  4. GovExec: former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and retired Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., on Tuesday released a condensed version of their plan that would reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion over 10 years, a number somewhere between the amounts sought by the White House and congressional Republicans. The revised plan calls for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid of $600 billion as well as elimination of tax breaks to produce another $600 billion in revenue over 10 years. Yet another $1.2 trillion would be cut from discretionary spending and through changes in the cost-of-living calculations for major programs such as Social Security, agriculture subsidies and civilian and defense retirement programs.
  5. Federal Times reports, Federal agencies will play a larger role in ensuring the nation’s most critical assets are secure from cyber intrusions, under a White House executive order released last week. The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department are among the agencies that will decide which critical infrastructures — such as electric grid and water treatment operations — are most at risk of cyber attacks. They will work with industry to develop voluntary security standards for those companies and ensure companies get more useful and timely information about cyber threats.
  6. Federal News Radio reports, younger veterans are struggling to find employment after their military career ends. The unemployment rate for veterans between 18 and 24 was more than 20 percent last year. And in double digits for those 25-34. Both rates are higher than their non-veteran job seekers, despite a wide range of private and public efforts to help veterans find work. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes program, two things younger veterans can do to help themselves is do a better job explaining to employers how the skills they learned in the military translate to the private sector and move to where the jobs are.
  7. And on GovLoop, don’t miss the DorobekINSIDER Live: BYOD Lessons Learned tomorrow at noon EDT right here on GovLoop. You can register here.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • Govtechnews: Do Governments Need Personal Social Media Policies?
  • New York Times’ David Brooks: What data can’t do. “Big data has trouble with big problems. If you are trying to figure out which e-mail produces the most campaign contributions, you can do a randomized control experiment. But let’s say you are trying to stimulate an economy in a recession. You don’t have an alternate society to use as a control group. For example, we’ve had huge debates over the best economic stimulus, with mountains of data, and as far as I know not a single major player in this debate has been persuaded by data to switch sides.”
  • 5 Evidence-Based Ways to Optimize Your Teamwork: Tip #1: Make everyone write down their ideas before they share them. Studies have shown that while groups do make better decisions than individuals, the reason is that you’re getting a diversity of approaches and opinions. But once discussion begins, the more vocal members of the group drown out the shy violets, and everyone starts revising their good ideas towards a mushy middle.
  • Could Biking to Work Improve Your Focus? According to a recent study out of Denmark, children who bike to school concentrate better in the classroom. Writing in Atlantic Cities, Sarah Goodyear reports that kids who biked or walked to school, rather than taking public transit or riding in cars, performed better on tasks that required focus — and that the effects lasted up to four hours. In fact, the effect of the exercise was greater than the impact of eating well. “As a third-grade pupil, if you exercise and bike to school, your ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies,” said researcher Niels Egelund. Of course, this is all well and good for the kiddos, but it selfishly has me wondering what adults could learn from this. Maybe I really am more productive on those days I sneak out for a jog at lunch.

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