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Do government workers need “resilience training” to be able to do their jobs? – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • By now we have all seen the advertisements for Google Glass, Fitbitand the Galaxy Gear. These futuristic technologies are making a name for themselves in the marketplace. You can track your calories, make calls and search google all from tech attached to your wrist or glasses. But can these techs make an impact in the enterprise? Can government embrace wearable technologies? Insights from CTO Vision’s Bob Gourley.

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But up front: Do government workers need “resilience training” to be able to do their jobs?

That is the idea being proposed in the United Kingdom, The Financial Times reports.

FT: UK civil servants offered ‘resilience training’ to toughen up

The newspaper reported that top employees are being offered “resilience training” within leadership programs as they cope with steep job losses and increasing government criticism of the civil service.

Ursula Brennan, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice and one of the most senior women in Whitehall, said staff were being offered the training, in part, to help them cope with the tougher climate.

Men, too, looked at “senior people being criticised in a way that they think is sometimes unfair and they say to themselves: ‘this is not an attractive environment to work in’,” she added. “And so some people at lower levels in the organisation are deterred by that.”

Focus groups conducted with women in Whitehall have shown that women “don’t find it attractive to work in an environment where there’s a lot of criticism . . . unattributable briefings and that kind of thing”, Ms Brennan said.Experts who have worked with public and private sector clients say that the training engenders mental toughness – including the capacity to resist unreasonable demands – by means such as cognitive behavioural exercises, which can help to strengthen what are termed “work boundaries”.

Under the coalition, criticism of the civil service has reached an unusually high pitch. Francis Maude, cabinet office minister, has attacked “obstructionism” by officials. Sir Jeremy Heywood, cabinet secretary and a close adviser to David Cameron, is understood to have complained personally to the prime minister in November about a spate of unattributable briefings aimed at Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the department for work and pensions, over his alleged failure to get a grip on Universal Credit, the government’s troubled welfare programme.

By 2015, Whitehall will have lost almost one in four civil servants in the government’s austerity drive, which has depressed morale.

Hard to imagine how “resilience training” would go over in the U.S. — particularly in an environment where government employees are increasingly not allowed to attend conferences. That being said, would it help?

Snow decisions

And should DC federal agencies have been shut down on Tuesday? The Hill reports the Office of Personnel Management defended its decision.

The shutdown did little to dispel Washington’s national image as a city of questionable grit — a reputation that is at least somewhat backed up by federal data pointing to an increase in snow days under the current administration.

“DC Fed Gov shut down by snow,” tweeted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) early Tuesday, as a light dusting of snow covered the District. “What a bunch of wimps.”

But as the precipitation piled up, with the worst of the storm expected to hit in the early evening hours, a top federal official defended the decision, made following a 3 a.m. conference call involving hundreds of people.

“The concern at that point was, if we brought people into the city, we were going to have a very difficult time getting them out,” said Dean Hunter, director of emergency management for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). “I think it’s the right call.”

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The Washington Post: Obama signs $1.1 trillion government spending bill. “ President Barack Obama on Friday signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds the federal government through the end of September.”
  2. Wall Street Journal: U.S. to curb NSA phone data collection. “President Barack Obama said Friday the government would stop storing huge amounts of telephone data in NSA computers.”
  3. Washington Post: VA software glitch exposed veterans’ personal information. “A software glitch last week with an online Veterans Affairs benefits portal exposed private information from military veterans to virtually anyone who could log onto the system, according to VA officials.”
  4. Defense News: The Future of the Army: Less Soldiers, More Robots, More ‘Lethality’: ”In the future, an Army brigade might have 3,000 human troops instead of 4,000, but a lot more robots.”
  5. Federal Times: IRS funding now below 2009 threshold. “Despite an in-house watchdog’s warning that that the IRS “desperately” needs more money to do its job, the agency is getting less funding this year than it received in 2009, according to the House Appropriations Committee.”
  6. Federal News Radio: Facebook commenters blast Archuleta over operating status. “Facebook users were quick to criticize the Office of Personnel Management’s decision to operate federal agencies on a two-hour delay Wednesday.”
  7. Federal Computer Week: Herding the stray cats of federal IT ambitions. “Most government agencies are embracing the benefits of cloud computing, a mobile workforce and cybersecurity measures to protect critical networks and assets. But in many cases it has been a struggle just to get to that point, and hurdles remain as different approaches present a fragmented federal IT security picture.”

Before we finish up… a few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

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