My Share of the Task: Stanley McCrystal. Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • For federal leaders sometimes it’s hard to focus on what they can actually control. They get bogged down in abstracts and politics. Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service says that should top this list for New Years Resolutions for leaders. Click here for the full recap.

But up front: A look at the latest nominee Jack Lew

The former Tip O’Neill aide has earned the president’s trust. As Treasury secretary he is expected to bring a tough stance to budget battles. Nancy Cook explains how Jack Lew could help cement the way the first African-American president is remembered. – National Journal

What Zero Dark Thirty Says About How Washington WorksI

It’s about the brilliant, crazy-making figures like Jessica Chastain’s character who drive Washington. Folks buzzed about the torture sequences. After all, Sens. John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, and Carl Levinwrote to the head of Sony Pictures to decry the film for suggesting that enhanced interrogation techniques, as they’re known, led to the location of Osama bin Laden. But for her part, director Kathryn Bigelow told the Newseum audience, “we had no agenda in making this film and were not trying to generate controversy,” which seems at best naive. Can you make a movie with this much waterboarding and not think it’ll be controversial? – National Journal

And if you have time, I would highly recommend spending some time watching Charlie Rose’s interview with Gen. Stanley McCrystal. The General has just pushed his memoir, My Share of the Task.

If you don’t have time for the full hour, my cliff notes:

  • Time 32:40: Rose asks McCrystal about Iraq, but he talks about information sharing. In Iraq, he said that the military learned it had to become an intelligence agency that also did operations. “Not only did you have to use all that (information) but you had to fuse it together,” he says. “You had to enable a force that it wasn’t centralized decision making… The whole purpose was to get more intelligence.” And everybody is invested — in part because of technology.
  • “We’re digesting all this info. Suddenly people in all parts of it are watching it… Suddenly you don’t have a few people doing something… you have this big network that is living and breathing almost as one. Information flows almost like blood through arteries in your body. It empowers. It energizes. Suddley this this becomes a coiled spring that is ready to move better and faster.”
  • Right after that…36:20: Rose asks about incorporating new members of the team — those who have not been traditional warriors

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Federal Times says the Pentagon would need to furlough “virtually all” of its nearly 800,000 civilian employees for one month between March and September if mandatory federal spending cuts go into effect in March, according to a prominent defense budget analyst. The analysis by Todd Harrison, a defense spending expert with the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is the latest chapter in the ongoing fiscal spending saga that has stymied Washington for more than a year.
  2. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has resign. Federal News Radio reports Solis wants to return to California and run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. A White House official named three cabinet secretaries who will stay: Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services, Eric Shinseki of VA and Attorney General Eric Holder at Justice. Some Democratic women voiced concerns that the big three cabinet jobs of State, Defense and Treasury will be taken by white men. The president has nominated Senator John Kerry, former Sen. Chuck Hagel and White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew to those slots.
  3. Federal Times says the Army is on track to meet its share of a governmentwide goal to award $2 billion in energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) by the end of the year. Under an ESPC project, the vendor pays the upfront investment for building renovations and retrofits in exchange for payments from the government’s energy savings over time.
  4. Federal Times reports more than 26,000 postal clerks and drivers have taken the buyout offered to members of the American Postal Workers Union. That’s about a sixth of the employees eligible and more than the Postal Service had hoped for. The workers are retiring early with $15,000 as a bonus. Most of them were already eligible to retire. The Postal Service says it’s losing $25 million a day and labor is its biggest cost.
  5. Federal News Radio reports, the Office of Management and Budget said Congress requires too many reports from agencies. OMB wants to cut or consolidate them or have agencies do them less often. It’s got a list of 376 altogether. There are reports on reports. There are reports on programs that were never funded. And there are others that restate information already available on agencies’ websites or in other reports. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is on board. He says he’ll work with his colleagues on Capitol Hill to get rid of those he says are sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
  6. NextGov reports, he Veterans Affairs Department has fixed a problem that caused its half-billion dollar disability claims system to slow to a crawl. NextGov reports, VA had new hardware installed to boost the system’s capacity. Eighteen of 57 regional offices use the Veterans Benefits Management System. VA plans to roll it out nationwide this year. But last month, according to emails NextGov obtained, the system experienced extreme slow-downs. Only 5 percent of examiners were using it. CIO Roger Baker says the system is running normally again.
  7. And on GovLoop, the next DorobekINSIDER Live presentation is next Wednesday at noon. We will be talking transition. We’re asking our panel of experts:
    1. What policies can the Obama administration put forward that will help government operate better?
    2. The transition process… what folks need to know and think about
    3. Nominations… what SHOULD be done about the nomination process?
    4. What to agencies do in the meantime?

DorobekINSIDER Watercooler Fodder

  • @nytimesbits Daily Report: Bank Hackers Used Data Centers to Supercharge Attacks
  • WSJ: Businesses call for help to fight cyber attacks. U.S. businesses want more help from government officials in fighting cyber attacks, although they continue to oppose government-prescribed safeguards, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga said. Mr. Banga is head of the information and technology committee at the Business Roundtable, a trade group that is set to start a push Wednesday for closer cooperation with Washington on computer security, the WSJ’s Danny Yadron reports. The effort is, in part, intended to head off a push by some policy makers for more regulation of private sector computer security.
  • CRS: Homeland Security Has Too Many Definitions

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