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Ranking Agency Innovation and Making Open Data Work

Happy Tuesday just days away from the Next Generation of Government Training Summit. We sure hope to see you starting Thursday.

On Today’s Program

  • Government innovation — yes, I know people don’t believe those two words can go together. Insights about what YOU think about government innovation from a just released report. We’ll talk to Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service. Click here for the full story.
  • And making open data work. The Commerce Department has launched a new apps contest. We’ll talk to Brand Niemann — a former fed — about how he is using data set to make it happen. Click here for the full story.

We are still riveted by the terrible situation around the shooting in Aurora, Colorado — and the surreal actions of alleged shooter James Holmes. And yes, there were feds killed. In fact, four of the victims served in the military. Stars & Stripes writes about Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, 27, and the horrible news that has shaken his family.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced that flags at Defense installations around the world are being flown at half-staff to honor the victims of last week’s tragedy in Colorado.

Panetta said that four of the victims served in the military — including Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, Jonathan Blunk, a former Sailor, and Rebecca Wingo, a former Airman. Other DOD personnel and family members were also injured in this cruel attack.

We talk about big data — why can’t we seem to detect these killers before they go nuts? NextGov reports that, quite frankly, government officials do not have the hardware or the authority to collect and analyze the artillery receipts, health records and other data that could have signaled a threat was headed toward a Cinemark movie theater in Aurora and, quite frankly, most Americans have the stomach to grant the government such intrusive powers.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 24th of July, 2012

  1. The President’s nominee to lead the Office of Government Ethics says Congress should change a new law that aims to prevent insider trading of stocks because of potential unintended consequences affecting the privacy and safety of federal employees. We’ve been telling you about the STOCK Act — theStop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act that law also impacts feds who have to file disclousre forms by now making them public. Federal News Radio reports that Walter Shaub told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that even though the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act has good intentions, employee groups and federal workers are worried that financial disclosures required by the law could be misused. The testimony was part of his nomination hearing. The STOCK Act aims to prevent members of Congress and federal employees from trading stocks, bonds, commodities and other securities based on non-public information they receive on the job.
  2. The person who has been credited with whistleblowing on that GSA Public Building Service 2010 Western Region Conference in Las Vegas is now under the spotlight for at least attending a high priced conference. The Washington Times reports that GSA Deputy Administrator Susan Brita, who emerged as a whistleblower star this spring, praised for her role in uncovering an $800,000 taxpayer-funded Las Vegas conference with clowns, a mind reader and in-room parties that became a national symbol of egregious government waste. But video is coming out of Brita at another GSA conference. And the Times says they show Brita as “just another high-level GSA official having a good time.”
  3. The Office of Naval Research has established the Rapid Innovation Fund for technologies developed by small businesses. NextGov reports the Navy plans to spend $50 million to help small companies take ideas from lab to field in areas such as green tech and microelectronics, according to contract databases. Businesses selected for the award may receive up to $3 million in Rapid Innovation Fund money. Developmental efforts can be completed within 24 months. Preference will be shown to technologies that can be available to operational naval forces within 12 months of Rapid Innovation Fund project completion.
  4. No smart card — no classified network access. That’s the word from the Pentagon. It’s a move to try and prevent leaks.NextGov reports that agencies will be blocking access to federal classified networks to anyone who does not have a new smart card. The Pentagon will help with an ongoing distribution of the new tokens that military employees must have to enter the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which handles the military’s classified data. There have been leaks about U.S. involvement in a cyberassault on Iran, drone targeting and an airline bomb plot stopped by a covert agent.
  5. A program to help service members ease back into civilian life is getting a makeover. President Barack Obama announced a major overhaul of the transition assistance program when he spoke Monday to veterans in Nevada. He described the revamped program as a “reverse boot camp.” Now called Transition GPS, the program offers departing service members more personal help as they apply for jobs or schools or start businesses. Seven agencies contributed to the program’s first major overhaul in nearly 20 years. Every service member has to go through it when they leave the military.
  6. The U.S. Agency for International Development is planning to test medical smart ID cards that would tie into a patient’s electronic health records in Haiti. According to a request for information, U.S. AID is looking for contractors to carry out the work. The agency says it wants to see if the cards would reduce duplication of patient records and help doctors make more accurate referrals for patients who carry the cards. Cards would include the name, date of birth, address, patient identification number, photo and fingerprints. (U.S. AID)
  7. And on GovLoop, you are probably tired of us talking about ourNext Generation of Government Training Summit coming up this Thursday. You’ll be able to hear the brand new administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy… and hear how you can be an organizational rebel with a cause.

A Few Closing Items:

Two amazing women… one… the first American woman to go into space… she died Monday at her home in San Diego at the age of 61. The New York Times obituary says she shattered the space ceiling. Godspeed Sally Ride.

Then former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords… she was the victim of that shooting. Well, she and her husband, Mark Kelly, just made it to the top of the French Alps, CBS This Morning reports. We have a link to the photo online…
From @CBSThisMorning: Former Rep. Giffords and husband Kelly climb to the top of the French Alps
And more budget… Politico’s Morning Defense reports that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with defense industry leaders to discuss sequestration. He emphasized the impossibility of planning for a sequester in a way that avoids its harmful impacts. There was agreement between the secretary and the CEOs that sequestration will do tremendous harm to domestic and national security programs across the board.

And finally, two cyber-attacks that may warrant some attention.

Business Insider reports that for years now Iran’s nuclear program has been subjected to persistent cyber attacks, code designed to interfere with the hardware at work in that country’s centrifuges and reactor centers. While the total impact of these online incursions remains somewhat unclear, it now appears that a bizarre form of hacker humor has been introduced in the form of heavy metal. Information provided by F-Secure Security Labs today reveal that an Iranian scientist working for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) reported that a cyber worm affected two facilities with “some music playing randomly” at high volumes on workstations during the night: “I believe it was playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC,” reports the scientist. The full text of the alleged email is available here.

And the BBC reports that thousands of Australians have received a “death threat” text, demanding they pay 5,000 Australian dollars ($5,140) or face being murdered.

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