On today’s edition of the DorobekINSIDER
- Government and innovation and an example of how other governments try to make it work. Specifically, we’re going to talk to one of the officials involved with Denmark’s MindLab — a fascinating public-private partnership. What is is and how does it work? We’ll find out. Click here for the full story.
- And are we on the brink of a digital government revolution? maybe so says one industry expert. Click here for the full story.
Have you heard of the movie Invisible War? It’s a documentary — and apparently very powerful — movie looking at military rape and what the military has done to address the issue. The filmmakers have collected the stories of dozens of rape and assault victims, most but not all of them women, who were attacked by fellow servicemen while on duty. And the stories tell of a military bureaucracy that protected the perpetrators and often ostracized or ignored the victims. It was a Sundance Film Festival winner this year and The Wrap notes that it is already leading to policy changes, even before it officially opens on Friday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a crucial change in the way in which reported rapes will be investigated in the military – and he told one of the film’s executive producers that the screening was partly responsible for his decision. Last week, a major general who appears in the film as a defender of the way the military has handled the cases – and who in the process appeared to be a rather clueless apologist for a badly broken system – was replaced. And attention to the issue has continued to grow both in the media and in Congress, where a number of bills have been introduced to deal with the issue. The writer-director of The Invisible War, Kirby Dick said that they made the film to change policy, but that they didn’t think it would happen so fast.
Which nation is most likely to ask Google to take down user content or hand over user data? The U.S. — and increasingly so. AllThingsD reports that the U.S. government asked Google to hand over user data 6,321 times in the second half of 2011 — that is an increase of 37 percent from the same period in 2010. With 12,243 users and accounts specified, the U.S. had far more requests than any other country.
- The federal workforce is shrinking. Federal Times says for the first time in five years the workforce declined by .5 percent. The Social Security Administration and IRS — which saw its staffs shrink 6 percent last year — warned Congress last month it cannot keep up with swelling workloads as baby boomers retire and more Americans file for benefits.
- Lawmakers are trying to save the stalled transportation bill. But with a June 30 deadline and just days away there’s still no agreement on Capitol Hill. NPR says one point of disagreement is whether to include a one-year extension to the federal pay freeze. The leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner will meet later today to try for a last minute resolution. A 47-member House and Senate committee has been negotiating for more than a month.
- The federal pay freeze may go into a third year. Federal Times says democrats in the Senate made no attempt to include a pay raise in a key 2013 spending bill, dimming hopes that an end is in sight for the current two-year federal pay freeze. Senate Democrats are pinning their hopes on a rare scenario in which President Obama could unilaterally impose a pay raise for next year. Obama has proposed a 0.5 percent raise for federal employees.
- Meanwhile, top performers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are likely to see smaller bonuses this year.Government Executive reports that is thanks to cost-saving changes in the agency’s personnel system. NIST eliminated mandatory minimum bonuses for superior and exceptional employees at the top of their pay band. The change affects employees in NIST’s alternative personnel management system. Those employees had been guaranteed bonuses equal to the increases they would have received if not for the governmentwide pay freeze. NIST imposed a similar bonus cap last year.
- The President is hoping to reinvigorate his plan to consolidate duplicative agencies and programs. Government Executive reports, in order for that to happen President Obama would need legislative authority from Congress, which isn’t likely to happen. In his 2011 State of the Union address Obama proposed consolidating commerce and trade-related agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank, expecting to eliminate 1,000-2,000 federal jobs through attrition and save $3 billion over 10 years.
- Federal IT spending will dip by 9% by 2017. Market researcher Deltek says the dip is due to fewer investments in hardware and information technology services. Federal Times says the federal IT market is projected to slump from $120.8 billion this year to $110.5 billion in 2017.
- And on GovLoop, we’re asking you to take five minutes and take our Bring Your Own Device Survey. And if you’re asking what’s in it for me? For your participation, you will receive exclusive first access to the GovLoop BYOD report, and a big “Hi-5” from the GovLoop team.
A Few Closing Items
- Today in History: June 19: The Statue of Liberty arrived at its permanent home at Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885, aboard the French frigate Isere. A gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, the 151-foot-tall statue was created to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. For the journey from France to New York, Lady Liberty was broken down into 350 separate pieces and packed in 214 crates.
- In the age of gridlock, some communities are outsourcing big decisions. Joe Nocera, the op-ed columnist for The New York Times, writes today about Woonsocket, RI, which is unable to pay its bills. Nocera writes that the state may have to appoint a receiver, or, as Nocera notes, “a person not beholden to the voters, who would nonetheless have the power to abrogate union contracts and do whatever else he or she deems necessary to erase the deficit. Incredibly, the two Woonsocket legislators have pushed for a receiver, despite the pain that it would likely bring their city. Or maybe it’s not so incredible. It turns out that one of them, Jon Brien, is also on the national board of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Although ALEC is probably best known for its support of the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, the conservative group has a very clear agenda for dealing with state budgets. It wants to shrink them. Although Brien has denied that he is applying the ALEC philosophy to his small city, it looks, in fact, as if that’s exactly what he is doing. It’s not pretty.
- A new addition to the tablet market. Microsoft has introduced the Surface — it’s pretty cool looking with its integrated keyboard, which some are saying is innovative. Microsoft Dives Head-First Into Mobile Hardware With a Pair of 10.6-Inch Tablets – The Apple iPad has a keypad on the screen. The Surface will use Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform, due out later this year. New York Times notes that Microsoft is late to the tablet market, but this device is getting some love. These days, nobody can take anything for granted, right?