On today’s program
- Earlier this week, we asked if Twitter and Facebook spelled the end of emergency management. Well, emergency managers are actually learning to use those tools to broaden their eyes and ears about what is going on in an emergency. They are called Virtual Operations Support Teams. And we’ll talk to an emergency manager who has been at the forefront of VOSTs. Click here for the full recap.
- What is the real VALUE of openness and transparency — is there any? We get insights from the Sunlight Foundation’s John Wonderlich. Click here for the full recap.
Everybody expects a Republican VP selection any time now. There has been some suggestion that one simply needs to watch edits on Wikipedia entries to tell who it might be. Earlier this week, Stephen Colbert mentioned a report noting the jump in last-minute edits to Sarah Palin’s page four years ago — and it suggested that we might be able to predict the VP based on edits this year. So Colbert suggested — of course — that people start making changes to the Wikipedia page of their favorite potential VP. (See it for yourself here. It is about 8:30 into the program.)
For those of you keeping track, as TechPresident has Rob Portman’s page has had 112 edits since Sunday, against 52 for Marco Rubio and just 18 for Pawlenty. Some of the pages had been totally locked down; others semi-locked down. So… I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. But as of last night, the Pawlenty page was locked to protect it from vandalism. In addition, the Portman and Rubio pages have been “semi-protected” by site administrators, which means they can only be edited by registered users. The same thing has been done to the pages for Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and David Petraeus (who got a burst of attention yesterday because of an item on the Drudge Report). That means that only people who have already been on Wikipedia for at least four days and previously made ten edits to other unprotected pages can edit these pages.
The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 9th of August, 2012
- The Justice Department has appointed a former prosecutor to focus on whistleblower complaints. Robert Storch will work in the inspector general’s office. Storch will educate employees about the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering waste, fraud and abuse. The Wall Street Journal says Storch became counselor to IG Michael Horowitz in July. He’s been a federal prosecutor for 25 years.
- Philadelphia has named long-time civic hacker Mark Headd as the city’s first Chief Data Officer. The city hired Headd from Code for America, where his was the director of government relations.TechPresident reports Headd is a vocal proponent of civic hackathons and using technology to open up government systems and information to the public, and helping citizens to get more involved. He’s argued that governments can stimulate local economies by opening up their stores of data and by encouraging app development.
- A new report from IDC Government Insights found that state and federal governments are making progress on implementing cloud solutions. ButWashington Technology says the process is slow and unsteady. Most of the 400 government workers surveyed recognize the importance of cloud, with 90 percent saying they believe cloud will have an impact on their agency’s information technology operations. But the reports says feds are less certain how that use will be budgeted and how migration will actually happen.
- Pensions could be coming to an end at large defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The Washington Business Journal says a report from Moody’s Investment Services saysbecause the companies have large pension obligations relative to their market capitalization, they’re good candidates for selling their pension plans to annuity firms.That would primarily affect current employees who were grandfathered into their pension plans before the companies switched to alternative retirement programs. Those employees would no longer accrue benefits — though they would receive all benefits owed up until the point of termination, as required by federal law. Presumably they would be eligible to participate in the companies’ alternative retirement plans, like a 401(k) plan. Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin deny the claims.
- Help is now available for agencies to make sure their PDF documents can be read by people with disabilities. The Veterans Health Administration is providing online training to explain portable document format, known as PDFs, accessibility barriers and ways to fix them. The step-by-step directions and instructional videos helps agencies improve the real-world accessibility of PDF documents, how to ensure PDF documents comply with the Section 508 standards and make their content available to their entire audience. Among the 14 training courses, agencies can better understand how to use color in an accessible way and how to hide non-meaningful content from accessibility readers.
- Defense contractor CSC saw earnings fall by more than 75% last quarter. The Washington Business Journal says the company blamed restructuring and expired Defense Department contracts for the loss. But the company’s new CEO reaffirmed the company is on track to save about $1 billion over the next 18 months as it restructures. Sales at its North American Public Sector division fell 8 percent from a year ago, while managed services and business solutions and services revenue rose.
- And on GovLoop, we’ve just launched our latest guide this one focuses on Navigating the Digital Government Roadmap. The guide focuses on the technology that has enabled government to increase productivity, improve performance and innovate proactively. Throughout this report, we highlight the top trends for technology and government, and how new tools are radically changing the government technology landscape.
Your Watercooler Fodder
Iran off-line — Iran plans to move several of its ministries and state agencies offline as a way of protecting them behind a secure computer wall from what it sees as online threats, the Telegraph reported. Reza Taghipour, the country’s telecommunications minister, announced the step at a conference at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University on Sunday. He said that sensitive intelligence was vulnerable online because the world wide web is untrustworthy due to being controlled by “one or two countries” hostile to Iran, the Telegraph reported. “The establishment of the national intelligence network will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won’t be accessible to these powers,” he said, according to the Telegraph. Iranian governmental entities, of course, have recently been the target of the Stuxnet and Flame computer viruses that have been attributed to the U.S. and Israel. Taghipour also said the measure is the first step in the launch of a long-rumored domestic intranet system set to start in 18 months.
Humans or machines? When it comes to documenting proceedings in courts, technology seems to be winning out.
The Wall Street Journal reports that three Indiana courts are among the latest to go digital, using video recordings to create official court transcripts for a year as a part of a pilot project.
In New Jersey, court reporters were almost entirely supplanted by digital recorders in New Jersey, part of a growing trend of state courts utilizing digital technology to replace salaried stenographers.
The shift has been accelerated both by improving technology and squeezed state budgets. Most U.S. bankruptcy courts, federal magistrate courts and at least five states now solely use digital recording systems while 18 other states are increasingly making it common practice
It’s not just love seekers who worry about what the lack of a Facebook account means. Anecdotally, I’ve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t have a Facebook account. Does it mean they deactivated it because it was full of red flags? Are they hiding something?