Happy Monday! Welcome back to everybody after the Fourth of July break when just about everybody was away — including the DorobekINSIDER!
On Today’s Program
- How to make good decisions — and the challenges with making good decisions these days. Insights from an executive at ATF. Click here for the full story.
- And red tape — I contend that government itself is strangled by red tape even more than a purveyor of it. How to get away from those ties. Insights from Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service. Click here for the full story.
There was much news while we were away. But the biggest story might be he Supreme Court giving tacit approval for the health care law.
Any idea how much the federal government spends to protect its secrets? Anyone? The New York Times reports that last year, the federal government spent more than $11 billion protecting secrets — that is double the cost of classification a decade ago. Secrecy News notes that the spending comes at a time when “leaks” are said to be running rampant, creating the ironic twist: The government is spending more money than ever before to protect classified information.
The estimated cost of securing classified information in government increased last year by at least 12% to a record high level of $11.36 billion, to be precise. An additional $1.2 billion was spent to protect classified information held by industry contractors. And The New York Times notes that isn’t the total figure. That number does not include the costs incurred by the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other spy agencies, whose spending is — wait for it — classified. Secrecy News says that one factor in the rising costs may be the continued growth of the secrecy system.
Typically, we’d have the seven stories that impact your life, but… today, given many people weren’t really paying attention during the holiday week, I’ve pulled together the SEVEN stories that impact your life for the past week!
- A virus could knock thousands of internet users offline today. TheDaily Beast reports, the FBI has lifted a stopgap measure it implemented against the nasty DNSChanger virus back in November. Now that the stopgap has been eliminated infected computers may be unable to get online. The move is an important test-case in one of the primary safeguards against this sorts of attacks: the public-private partnership between the FCC and Internet service providers, many of whom have adopted voluntary countermeasures against this attack. Several Estonian citizens connected to the virus were arrested in November after a two-year investigation.
- More feds are teleworking. The Office of Personnel Management says 25 percent of eligible federal employees report working outside the office at least once a week. That means on a given day, more than 40,000 are teleworking. Federal News Radio says in 2009, only 10 percent of eligible employees teleworked. OPM Director John Berry said key to boosting telework was making sure eligible employees were aware they had the option to stay out of the office.
- Last week’s terrible storms are raising some serious questions about the safety of cloud computing. The Washington Post reports, Storm-related outages at an Amazon data center in Ashburn prompted some congressional officials to question whether the federal government is moving too swiftly to put important data on private-sector cloud computing servers. The outages affected companies such as Netflix and Pinterest, not the government. But several federal agencies have moved e-mail and other services to cloud servers, which are housed at remote data centers and typically managed by technology companies such as Amazon or Google.
- The Government Accountability Office has turned back a protest over a multibillion dollar TRICARE contract. Federal News Radio says TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees and their families worldwide. TriWest HealthCare Alliance lost a bid in March to United Health Military and Veterans Services. TriWest protested, and said it would consider its options now that GAO has rejected its claim. The six-year contract was worth more than $20 billion and covered service members and families in the western region. TriWest still has the option to appeal to the court of federal claims.
- Small businesses are losing out on billions of dollars in federal contracts because the government continues to miss procurement goals established by Congress. The Washington Business Journal says just last year, the federal government awarded 21.7 percent of its federal contracting dollars to small businesses, once again falling short of its 23 percent goal for small business procurement. That’s according to a report issued today by the Small Business Administration. In fact, the government’s performance was worse in fiscal 2011 than it was in 2010, when federal agencies awarded 22.7 percent of their contracting dollars to small businesses. The government also missed its 5 percent goal for women-owned small business.
- The White House is treatening to veto a key house spending bill.Government Executive says the bill would make major cuts to some agencies and would not include a pay raise for federal employees. OMB also said the bill “fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut and paying for it through deep cuts, including to discretionary programs.”
- And on GovLoop, we’re talking about using big data and analytics to actually make a difference. They are using big data in the Memphis police department to help predict crime hot spots. Learn about the technologies in our webinar on July 12th at 2pm.
A Few Closing Items:
- Speaking of red tape: A few months ago, the DorobekINSIDER Book Clubfeatured the book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims. It’s a great book about the small things you can do that have a big impact. Definitely worth a listen to the book club… and to read the book. The idea for the book came from the chief technology officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Peter Levin, who discussed the book — and the concept.
- GovLoop founder Steve Ressler got a note from somebody who attempted a little bet. He told Steve that there was initial excitement… then things slowed down… a lot… but now there is movement. And he said that the book Little Bets kept him motivated. And that thrills me.
- The Little Bet that Peter Levin was talking about at the time was VA’s Blue Button — a simple yet ingenious idea to give veterans control of their health records. Despite the success of the Blue Button, it is under-appreciated. So I was thrilled when Ken Congdon, editor in chief, Healthcare Technology Online, wrote a lovely ode about the Blue Button, and specifically a case study about Craig Luigart You may know Luigart is the CIO for health with the Veterans Health Administration, but he is also an injured veteran.