Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.
This also closes out our third week that we’ve been daily show... and we had some good conversations this week...
Yesterday, in fact, was our producer Emily Jarvis’s favorite show so far... we spoke with one of the real thought leaders in the government space, Bill Eggers of Deloitte, about disruptive innovation and how you can be ready for it... even embrace it.
- Yesterday, we also spoke to the man behind the federal Web site Ethics.gov, but also behind Virginia Decoded Web site -- a site that was called the prettiest version of legal code... and who knew the laws of the land could be pretty... but we talked about how you can make all that data useful... usable...
- Warren Suss, who has been watching the government market for decades... he joined us this week to talk about how the doing more with less is actually causing fundamental changes in the government market.
And there was some lighter stuff along the way...
- This week was the sixth birthday for Twitter-- that ubiquitous social media platform. I started a discussion about how Twitter has changed government. It’s interesting because one person argued that Twitter is a waste of time and money -- his words. I’m not sure how one can make that arguement these days.
- In fact, Alec Ross, who is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tech guru, has argued that Twitter and Facebook and these other sites have created a massive shift of power. He says that social media isn’t just about personal communication. It’s a collective network of users that brings great influence -- and great power. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it...
- Is your March Madness bracket busted? Well, get back into it… government style. Federal Computer Weeknotes that the General Services Administration is having their own bracket: Vote on your favorite federal architecture. There are 16 buildings, but only one champion. Votes take place on the GSA Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/GSA. And there are some absolutely amazing federal buildings. (And, of course, there are some that aren’t great.)
Each day on the DorobekINSIDER, we bring you the news that matters to you. On Fridays, we like to take a step back and look at the stories from the week that rose to the top. So… your government world for the past seven days… in 120 seconds…
- The military is preparing to charge the soldier accused in the Afghanistan massacre with murder. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, assault and a string of other offenses in the massacre of Afghan villagers as they slept.. The Washington Posts says, the killings are the worst U.S. atrocity of the Afghan war and have hurt relations between the United States and Afghanistan. The timing is particularly bad with American commanders trying to stabilize the country in preparation for an eventual U.S. exit.
- Last year -- 2011 -- was the year of hactivists. That’s the conclusion of Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. Government Technology says hacktivists were able to compromise more than 100 million records in 2011. Verizon working with federal authorities reviewed 855 data breaches across the globe and many of those attacks can be linked to politically minded hacktivist groups. The stats are part of a Verizon study. And Verizon notes that most breaches are still caused by criminals seeking financial gain, who generally target smaller organizations for specific types of potentially lucrative information. Cyberthieves commonly access insufficiently protected information using weak, default or stolen log-in information.
- Assessing reorganization... The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on President Obama’s request for reorganization authority. Senate Hearing on Government Reorganization. According to the Washington Post: Retooling Government for the 21st Century: The President's Reorgani.... The hearing witnesses included representatives from the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Management and Budget. GAO’s Pat Dalton described its work on overlapping and fragmented programs while OMB’s Daniel Werfel described progress to date on the President’s efforts to reorganize trade and competitiveness functions in government, along with a plea for statutory reorganization authority.
- The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search through data on Americans that was gathered for purposes other than national security threats. The New York Times reports that Attorney General Eric Holder signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, which was created in 2004 to foster intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse. The guidelines will lengthen the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism... it goes to five years - from 180 days - to five years, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and "data mining them" using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.
- The Federal Trade Commission is hitting the twitter-verse and the blog-shphere. Ed Felten the Chief Technologist at the FTC has launched his blog Tech @ FTC. Felton says he wants his blog to, “talk about technology in a way that is sophisticated enough to be interesting to hard-core techies, but straightforward enough to be accessible to the broad public that knows something about technology but doesn’t qualify as expert.” You can also check out Ed Felton’s twitter handle @edfelten -- and the more official @techFTC. We’ve got both linked up on our website dorobek insider dot com.
- Would could make Friday better? How about a 45-foot paper airplane? Yes -- 45 feet... 800 pounds... it was hoisted into the air by a helicopter over the Arizona desert. And it has set a world record. Check out the video online... DorobekINSIDER.com.
But our issue of the week: There's been a lot of talk about your money this week. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, this week proposed the Republican alternative to the Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 budget. It would make cuts beyond last year’s Budget Control Act -- and re-opened the discussion on government spending. But there is a lot in there that would impact feds -- pay freezes, job cuts, retirement changes...Julie Tagen, NARFE’s Legislative Director, says the cuts could hurt the defense department more. She told Congressman Ryan’s bill is very deja vu for federal workers.
And that brings us to your weekend reads... That brings us to your weekend reads -- we know weekend time is precious, so we try to pull some stories throughout the week that are worth your time… and may just plant a seed for new ideas…
- All this talk about doing more with less...Forbes has the story about hackers who sell spies the tools to crack into your computer. Forbes calls it the “shady but legal market for security vulnerabilities,” and they say that a zero-day exploit could earn a hacker $2,000 or $3,000 from a software firm could earn 10 or even 100 times that sum from the spies and cops who aim to use it in secret. And it asks the question, Why tell Google about a security hole when you can make six figures selling it to government agencies and spies? Talk about outsourcing... or is that insourcing...
- The Financial Times this week featured a special report on what they called the “connected business” -- integrating all of those c-level folks... and what all of them should be doing to capitalize on the changes in technology. Some highlights: They say that by having close ties between CFOs -- they money folks -- and CIOs -- the tech folks -- finance is an integral part of the decision making process. They also talk about cloud computing gaining acceptance among CFOs, who, the Financial Times says, are increasingly “disillusioned with the way that software industry behemoths profit from a billing system that is two decades old.”
- This FT special report examines what CFOs should be doing to capitalize on changes in technology. Here are the highlights:
- CFO and CIO ties: ““By having a day-to-day presence in IT, finance can be part of the decision-making process, ensuring spending is planned and monitored in advance.”
- Data theft: “If you have customer information in multiple systems, that’s multiple vectors by which information can be stolen. That should be something the CFO worries about anyway.”
- Cloud computing: “The cloud appears to be gathering momentum among CFOs, who are increasingly disillusioned with the way that software industry behemoths profit from a billing system that is two decades old.”
- Outsourcing: “The question for the CFO should be: How do I drive consistency? IT vendors have really great processes, but the CFO should be saying: ‘I want to be able to have that control, the quality that delivers, and the cost reductions’.”
- Finally, the National Journal has the story about students at Harvard’s Model Congress -- a mock congress that took place over four days in Boston. The Model Congress was able to pass more legislation than Congress has this year, much of it addressing issues that have divided the U.S. government for years, such as education, immigration, and the threat of terrorism. And the National Journal asks whether there is something the The real Congress could learn a lot from them.