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How one fed created a free tax service and a step by step guide to agency innovation

On today’s DorobekINSIDER

  • How one feds helped millions of low income residents get their tax returns completed. The amazing work has made him a Service to America Award Medal Finalist. The Sammies — the oscars for feds. you’ll meet him. Click here for the full story.
  • A step by step guide to making your agency more innovative — with the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program. Click here for the full story.

Happy 237th birthday to the U.S. Army! The Army traces it’s history back to the Continental Army, which was created on 14 June 1775 by the Continental Congress as a unified army for the states to fight Great Britain, with George Washington appointed as its commander.

It is also Flag Day Back on this date in 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag.

It was on this date in 1996 that one federal agency provided all employees access to e-mail and the Internet right from their desktop. And yes, it was a big deal. The General Services Administration made a goal of providing each and every employee e-mail. We have a link to the press release that came out on June 14, 1996. And it was actually controversial — people saying why do we need to provide employees with this technology. And the release actually goes on to define the Internet — yes, really. The GSA administrator at the time, David Barram, provided this quote:

“Using this tool called Internet, companies, governments and individuals around the world are inventing exciting new ways to do their work, improve service to their customers, and communicate with each other,” Barram said today. “I believe that use of the Internet will be a key competitiveness factor for GSA in the coming years and that GSA employees must begin to learn how this new resource can change the way we do business.”

It was the first step toward Gov 1.0 — but a big step. GSA has gone on to be the first agency to put e-mail in the cloud and the GSA CIO Casey Coleman told me this week that they are finding that people are collaborating in new ways all the time. With all the bad news for GSA, there is remarkable stuff going on. Keep it up.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 14th of June, 2012

  1. Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins are warning against cutting the acquisition workforce. Collins told Federal News Radio, “If we don’t have a highly trained and experienced workforce we will lose some value in the negotiations on federal contracts.” Lieberman added that too many members of Congress do not pay enough attention to workforce issues.” Both Lieberman and Collins are members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
  2. The chief Financial Officer at the General Services Administration is taking a six month leave of absence to work at the Partnership for Public Service. Federal Computer Week reports, Alison Doone, will be working on financial management and budget issues across the federal government. In her absence, Gary Grippo will be acting CFO for GSA.
  3. Meanwhile, GSA is considering changing the numbering system used by the federal government to identify contractors — the DUNS number system. The Washington Business Journal reports, GSA plans to assess alternatives and push Dun & Bradstreet to reduce restrictions on how the company’s unique identifiers are used. The agency’s annual costs have increased from about $1 million in 2002 to about $19 million under the current sole-source contract.
  4. A cybersecurity bill has stalled in the Senate. Politico reports the window for legislative action this year is rapidly closing. Democrats, faced with the real possibility that the Senate won’t be able to pass a bill, are openly blaming Republicans. Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP lawmakers of failing to work with Democrats on critical infrastructure provisions in a bill by Senator Joe Lieberman. Reid warns if the impasse drags on until August, it’s unlikely the Senate will act on the issue this year.
  5. Senators Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb have reintroduced wartime contracting legislation to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in overseas contingency operations. This time, they’ve got bipartisan support. Congressional Quarterly says Senator Susan Collins pointed to a $900 bill that a contractor sent the Defense Department for a $7 control switch. She says peace depends on well-executed wartime contracting. The legislation builds on recommendations by the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would require a contractor accused of wrongdoing to be referred to a suspension and debarment official, but it would not require an automatic suspension.
  6. President Obama plans to sign an executive order to cut the costs of building broadband by up to 90 percent. The White House said agencies would have to adopt a uniform approach for letting broadband carriers build networks on or through their properties. It singled out seven large departments, including Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Postal Service.Federal News Radio reports, they would have to post leasing information on their websites, and Performance.gov will track the progress of regional broadband projects. The cost savings would come when carriers time their construction activities to coincide with periods when streets are already under construction.
  7. And on GovLoop, you only have two days left to vote on your favorite Lightning speaker for the Next Generation of Government Training Summit. The 12 finalist cover a wide variety of topics from using nature to connect to government to being a blind federal employee. Pick your favorite. And you can hear the top three speakers at the NextGen conference this summer on July 28th and 29th.

A few closing items

  • Yesterday we told you about the Mayor’s Challenge. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity — Bloomberg Philanthropies — is offering $9 million in prizes to U.S. cities through his charitable foundation in a competition for ideas that local governments can use to solve problems. And one city is already said they are going to try to get a piece of that. Lexington, KY Mayor Jim Gray actually put out a request to Lexington citizens asking for ideas. Submissions are due in September.
  • The State department is looking to buy Kindles — yes, the Amazon e-book. NextGov reports that The State Department is considering a $16.5 million, 5-year no-bid contract with Amazon that could include as many as 35,000 Kindle e-Readers and content. The Kindles would be used to stock designated libraries and U.S.-friendly educational centers around the world, aiding those who want to study English and learn about America.

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