Meet the fed sorting through black boxes and discover the app that helps predict wildfires — could it help you too?

On today’s program

  • Meet the fed who is working to investigate traffic accidents — and make sure they don’t happen again. His work has made him a finalist for the Service to America Medals. Click here for the full story.
  • Predicting wildfires — there’s an app for that. You’ll meet the Code for America Fellow that making a big difference out west. Click here for the full story.
  • And in the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder: Remembering one of the most famous feds

If you ever need a reminder about the difference that government can actually make, Katrina is an amazing case study. And historian Douglas Brinkley details many of those issues in his 2006 book The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In fact, Vanity Fair has an excerpt of the book.

It is chilling. As Hurricane Katrina bore down and weather experts sounded the alarm, every hour counted. Yet New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin waited to order a mandatory evacuation, FEMA director Michael Brown held off on readying adequate relief, and Governor Kathleen Blanco and President Bush exchanged form letters instead of urgent phone calls.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but Brinkley’s assessment is both difficult to read but also a reminder about how important government work is — yes, it matters. Our thoughts are with those who are in harms way — and all the public officials who are gearing up.

Meanwhile it is convention season — the Republican National Convention starts this week. It is always a challenging time for those who focus on the business of government because the work you do will be debated and discussed. But it is also a good time to remember about the boundaries that divide politics and governing. It is difficult, but important. For feds, most are covered by the Hatch Act, which essentially prohibits feds from using their position to influence elections.

And it’s GovLoop: Help others keep clear of problems. GovLoop’s Pat Fiorenza has a primer on the Hatch Act — and what it means for those Facebook posts… and you are sharing lessons about what to do and what not to do.

Finally, with all the politics going on, it is important to remember that sequestration is still looming. The Hill says the chances of averting sequestration are becoming more difficult as time marches on.

There is also more assessing of the impact of sequestration. Todd Harrison, senior fellow in defense budget studies at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a new report, says defense spending would be hit with an immediate 10.3 percent reduction that threatens the jobs of 108,000 civilian employees. CSBA notes that not all those cuts would take effect on Jan. 2, 2013 because some funds have already been obligated. outlays of already obligated funds would continue. But CSBA culled through budget data and Harrison’s assessment: The Pentagon could face a cut of more than $56 billion in January.

And, unfortunately, common sense seems to evaporate amid all the politics. Bloomberg Government’s Christopher Payne says that the finger pointing misses the real issues: The largest driver of the increasing deficit was the economy itself. The drop in economic output during the recession made all areas of the budget look larger compared with GDP. Falling tax revenue and spending increases tied to the economic downturn constituted 4.5 percentage points, or 61 percent, of the 7.4 point increase in the deficit, the Bloomberg analysis reveals.
The stories that impact your life for Monday the 27th of August, 2012

  1. Defense Department civilians, and not contractors, would get hit first under sequestration. That’s the main finding of a study from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis. Federal News Radio says if the budget sequester happens on Jan.2 , 108,000 DoD civilians would lose their jobs immediately. The study said that because contractor funds might already be obligated, sequestration would take longer to hit companies doing business with the Pentagon. In 2013, most contractors will be working on projects whose funding was obligated months or years earlier.
  2. In contracting news — private equity firm Thoma Bravo has acquired government contractor Deltek for $1.1 billion all-cash transaction. Deltek leadership will remain in place at the Herndon, Va.-based company. Deltek’s stockholders will receive $13 in cash for each share of Deltek stock. In 2010, Deltek acquired Input, a market research firm, for $60 million, and a year later acquired Input’s main competitor, Fedsources and the Washington Management Group.
  3. The Justice Department is teaming up in a lawsuit against the polling site Gallup. The Washington Post reports, the lawsuitalleges the polling company inflated prices for contracts with theU.S. Mint, the State Department and other federal agencies. Gallup general counsel Steve O’Brien, who is named in the lawsuit, told the Associated Press that the government work involved contracts that were fixed price, competitively bid and paid for as agreed.
  4. Nine service members will be disciplined after two incidents sparked widespread outrage in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal says the two incidents including the burning of copies of the Quran at one of the country’s largest military bases. The punishment doesn’t include criminal charges or jail time, falls far short of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s calls for a public trial, and it remains unclear how Afghan officials and the broader public will respond to decisions that could be viewed as relatively lenient.
  5. The First Lady was on hand to announce the more than 125,000 Veterans and Military Spouses hired through the Joining Forces program. The program and new legislation has helped reduce Veteran unemployement by 20%. Companies like Orion are among more than 2,000 in America who have made commitments on veteran and military spouse hiring through Joining Forces.

Finally, we have to note that you can have the audio — yes, the one small step for man — you can have it as your ring-tone. NASA has a number of sounds that they offer.

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