Lost IRS e-mails — do they signify that gov IT totally sucks? + 7 stories that matter

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But up front: Lost IRS e-mails — do they signify that government sucks?

Government technology has long been derided — and then there is an incident that seems to further galvanize that opinion. The IRS loss of e-mails seems to have done that.

From The New York Times: The Lost Emails of the I.R.S. Point to a Wider Problem

During last Monday’s congressional hearing into the Internal Revenue Service’s loss of emails, Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, offered what on first glance seemed a simple solution to archiving agency email: “I went on Amazon and found you could buy a terabyte hard drive for $59. Buy two of them, so $120.”

If only it were that easy. Two large-capacity hard drives would indeed have provided the storage the I.R.S. office needed, but Mr. Farenthold’s proposal obscures the other obstacles the I.R.S. and other government agencies face. Federal agencies are hampered both by outdated and expensive computing infrastructure and by regulations that won’t require modern storage and retrieval techniques until the end of 2016 at the earliest.

These kinds of situations are difficult. They are difficult to understand. (I find the criticisms about electronic archiving specious — it has been one of the most challenging issues: True archiving of electronic documents.)

But is this kind of criticism fair?

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. NextGov: Why the Government Is Probably About to Go on a Spending Spree- “Agencies didn’t always save the bulk of their spending for September, but that’s how it has worked out recently – and this year, the pattern is especially pronounced, according to an analysis by Deltek.”

  2. Federal Times: GSA, FCC team up to reduce tech prices for schools- “The General Services Administration and the Federal Communications Commission are making it easier for schools to get wireless internet and better technology. The two agencies are working to establish purchasing agreements so schools and libraries can use GSA’s reverse-auction platform to receive bids for wireless routers and other types of IT equipment,according to an announcement.”

  3. Government Executive: Lawmakers Pressure OPM to Begin Phased Retirement- “A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers is ramping up pressure on the Office of Personnel Management to put out final guidance that would allow federal employees to partially retire while training their successors.”

  4. FCW: GitHub: A Swiss Army knife for open government- “Every morning, the first waking task most humans perform is checking email or the latest updates on their social media accounts. For developers, that initial daily fix is GitHub, the social coding platform that has captured the hearts of millions of hackers and tech enthusiasts around the world.”

  5. Defense One: EUCOM Chief: Time To Stop the Drawdown in Europe- “The top US commander in Europe said he will probably need more troops to counter the renewed military threat from Russia that is roiling the far eastern region of Europe. But first he has to persuade the Pentagon to officially halt the US military drawdown that has been underway in his command since the Cold War ended.”

  6. Federal News Radio: Race to finish fiscal 2015 agency budgets hits snag- “The budget process on Capitol Hill appears to have hit a summer slump. Congress needs to pass 12 annual spending bills, which set agency funding levels, before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. So far, the House has only passed five of those bills and the Senate hasn’t passed any.”

  7. Federal Times: Federal fund goes broke, forcing states to hit brakes on road projects- “Instead of shifting into high gear during what is normally the peak of construction season, state transportation departments around the country are easing off the gas pedal as the federal Highway Trust Fund barrels toward insolvency sometime next month.”

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