Hey there. I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — and welcome GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER… where we focus on six words: Helping government do its job better.
On GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER:
- A Bright Future for Open Data: As more industries are joining the fight for open data, governmental organizations at the local, state and federal levels have become more interested in utilizing open data. Not only does open data benefit citizens, but it also benefits government workers dealing with intra and interagency communication. “It’s more than just about transparency,” said Gyrth. “We are looking at a particular change in how big data will affect how government interacts with private industry. There needs to be a bridge between citizens and the government.”
- Note: Other posts based on GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER LIVE – open data:
But up front: An Ebola casualty: Trust in gov
It is almost impossible to escape Ebola coverage these days.
Number of Ebola Wire Stories (By Region Tagged) pic.twitter.com/044GZAfqXw
— Michael McDonough (@M_McDonough) October 16, 2014
As The Hill notes, the disease has wreaked havoc on the Obama presidency… but it is more than just politics. Fairly or unfairly, the handling of the Ebola situation doesn’t help the public’s already dismal view of government.
…to the list of institutions once held in high regard but which have lately come up short — the Veterans Administration, the IRS, yes, even the Secret Service— we now must add the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s been an all-too-familiar story: first, the calm assurances that all is well; then the impenetrable press releases saying nothing; finally the grudging admission, “Mistakes were made.”
And there is data supporting Schieffer’s statements. A poll by CBS News shows plummeting confidence in the Centers for Disease Control. As the poll analysis says, “Positive assessment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s public health institute, has declined dramatically. Only 37% think the CDC is doing an excellent or good job, down from 60% in a May 2013 Gallup poll.”
Unfortunately the CDC is not alone. The numbers are fairly dismal for just about every government organization — the IRS, the VA, the FDA… even the FBI, which had 55 percent saying they did a excellent or good job, that has now dropped to 51 percent.
And the numbers are bleak for most institutions — Churches and organized religions, the medical system, public schools, the Supreme Court, the presidency — none of them break 50 percent. Congress wallows at just 9 percent. The public has gained confidence over the long run in the military — 73 percent say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military.
There are many factors in these dismal numbers, of course, many of them are complex. But there have been visible government failures, as Scheiffer noted. The failure of HealthCare.gov… the seemingly endless drip of revelations coming from the Secret Service… the IRS having to assess political groups… and now, the public’s initial assessment that the CDC — and government generally — failed in dealing with Ebola.
Just focusing on the Ebola situation, I’m not exactly sure what CDC officials could have — or should have — done differently. The only critique I would make is to taper down on the very strong assurances that Ebola would not flourish here in the U.S. CDC officials set a high bar offering bold assurances in an area where they didn’t have full control and, as New York magazine put it, Ebola has proven to be a disease that punishes false confidence.
With that, some additional reading on this subject:
- The Virus of Cynicism [The New York Times oped By Frank Bruni] Ebola is Obama’s presidency – and the efficacy of government – in a petri dish
- President Obama’s Ebola problem [The Hill, 10.16.2014] The Ebola crisis in the United States has become an anchor threatening to sink the Obama presidency. Already under fire from critics who saw the federal response to the outbreak as disorganized and timid, things went from bad to worse on Wednesday, when it was revealed a second nurse had contracted the disease while treating a Liberian man at a Dallas-area hospital.
- The Ebola Conspiracy Theories [The New York Times] Some say it’s a military bioweapon, others a ploy by Big Pharma.
- CDC Reversal on Ebola Fuels Calls for Director to Quit [Bloomberg Politics, 10.16.2014]
- McConnell Says CDC Should Get Money Needed to Battle Ebola [Roll Call, 10.xx.2014]
- Reuters: White House shifts into crisis mode on Ebola response [Reuters, 10.16.2014] Rising public anxiety about the Ebola virus has forced the White House to shift into crisis mode and cancel two days of planned political events as President Barack Obama strives to show he has control over stopping the spread of the deadly disease.
- How Presidents Handle Pandemics [The Daily Beast, 10.16.2014] Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak will affect his legacy. But he’s far from the first president to deal with such a crisis.
Photo: (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) President Barack Obama convenes a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014.
The DorobekINSIDER #GovMustRead list:
- Federal workers facing tougher time if GOP wins Senate [The Washington Post]
- McAuliffe announces cuts, layoffs to address shortfall [The Washington Post]
- Is America’s Military Too Small For Obama’s New War On Terror? [Politico] Although the massive automatic defense cuts known as the sequester were relaxed in last year’s budget deal, they are set to return in 2016. That doesn’t bode well for the major international challenge the United States now faces in the Islamic State.
- Morale drops among Defense Department’s civilian workers http://wapo.st/1w5x2PJ via @washingtonpost
- Pentagon Warns Climate Change Will Intensify Conflict [Bloomberg Politics]
- VA exec at center of FedBid procurement scandal retires [Federal News Radio]
DorobekINSIDER water cooler fodder
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…
- The Best Regulator? That’s Easy. It’s the Market [The Daily Beast] As the Goldman Sachs tapes show, regulators almost always fail. In other cases, they cheat consumers out of choices. Leave it to the market.
- The TSA really doesn’t like it when you take your Nobel Prize in your carry on [Vox]
- These Are the Emails Snowden Sent to First Introduce His Epic NSA Leaks [Wired] Since Edward Snowden came forward in the summer of 2013 to tell the world about the ever-increasing size and scope of the American government’s surveillance activities, we’ve learned a lot about privacy and security on the Internet, but not that much about how Snowden came to tell his story. In Wired, you can now read the encrypted emails he sent to reach out to filmmaker Laura Poitras, which set in motion one of the biggest government scandals of this generation. The emails themselves are prescient, seemingly self-aware of just how much everything was about to change once the story went public. HT Re/Code
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