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RNC kicks off – tips for feds to stay out of the fray and can open data really help you do your job better?

On today’s program

  • The Republican National Convention kicks off tonight — so what should feds be doing to stay out of the election crosshairs? Click here for the full recap.
  • When we talk about open data we often talk about transparency. But the makers of OpenPlans says open government can also help you do your job better.Click here for the full recap.
  • And in the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… Telework in government with GSA in the spotlight again…

Yesterday, we talked about the implications of storms on government — and on a president. And we continue to watch Isaac as it develops and approaches the Gulf Coast. Politico notes that Hurricane Katrina in some ways was what they call a “Category 5 metaphor for what happens when a Republican administration is so hostile to a functional federal government that it leaves regular people unprotected and alone.” And that is why you see President Obama paying close attention to the Isaac.

Politico has spent some time focusing soon-to-be GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romeny and how he would actually govern if he is elected.
In an interview with Politico, Romney suggested that the lessons learned in the corporate world would be applied to the presidency. He said that Bill Bain, the founder of Bain Capital, and J.W. “Bill” Marriott, the CEO of the hotel chain carrying his name, are the most effective leaders he has ever been around: “I learned leadership by watching people.” He noted that biographies, not business books, inspire his thinking, saying “tears welled up” when he finished reading David McCullough’s work on John Adams. His Cabinet would be dominated by people from the private sector, citing Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard as a model for female leaders he would like to surround himself with. And he said that he rarely spends time thinking through past decisions or missteps made, which is one reason he has no regrets about the “birth certificate” joke: “I don’t look back. I don’t look back.”

Politico suggests that one of people likely to be in a senior position in a potential Romney administration would be somebody who has been in government before — Mike Leavitt, who served as the head of the EPA and HHS during the Bush 43 administration. And, in fact, Politico notes that Leavitt is creating a government-in-waiting plan for Romney. Politico notes that Leavitt is the prototypical Romney Cabinet pick — loyal, low-key and diligent, just the kind of person Romney likes to surround himself with. And that he is a lock for one of the most important jobs if he wants it — White House chief of staff or Treasury secretary, the advisers said.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Prosecutors in Georgia say four soldiers plotted to kill President Obama. The Atlantic says the anarchist group stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks. The four soldiers are also accused of killing a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect the anarcharist group they formed.
  2. Top California lawmakers might reach a pension reform deal today. Pension costs have become a major concern for voters in California and across the nation. Rueters says the bill would cap salaries used to determine pension payments.
  3. Last week we told you about the Department of Veterans Affairs Conference scandal. Now the Federal Times says the VA has turned over to Congress 54 DVDs showing every moment, including some embarrassing ones. VA officials say they are not trying to downplay the potential waste of taxpayer money.
  4. The Obama Administration is ordering a shift from paper to electronic records by 2019. The 5 page memo from the Office of Management and Budget also called for agencies to consider using cloud computing services for data storage and to explore the use of automated technologies to make record keeping easier.
  5. The Thrift Savings Plan says roughly 20,000 participants have opened Roth IRA accounts since the program launched back in May. Federal Times says that amounts to about $13 million being deposited in TSP Roth accounts, or roughly $650 per participant on average.
  6. Cloud computing software provider Adaptive Computing Inc. inked a partnership with the CIA’s venture capital wing, In-Q-Tel.NextGov says Adaptive Computing will develop a cloud operating system tailored to the intelligence community that integrates Moab Cloud Suite.
  7. 12 Mexican police officers are in custody after supposedly shooting two US government workers. The Washington Postsays the Mexican police officers have not been formally charged, but may be held for 40 days for questioning about possible crimes that include attempted murder, aggravated assault, damage to property and abuse of authority. A pair of U.S. government employees, traveling in an armored U.S. Embassy sport-utility vehicle with diplomatic license plates, were pursued in a high-speed chase and shot at by Mexican federal police officers in the mountains south of Mexico City on Friday morning.

A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder
Telework: CNN last week featured an investigation that found that the General Services Administration, which, as we know, is already under the spotlight for that Public Building Service 2010 Western Region Conference… well, GSA apparently allowed an employee to telecommute — I’d say telework — from Hawaii even though he is based at the GSA’s Kansas City, Missouri. CNN says that it cost more than $24,000 for the business development specialist to travel to and from the mainland United States over the past year. And that he is among several hundred GSA “virtual” workers who also travel to various conferences and their home offices, costing the agency millions of dollars over the past three years.

Interestingly, we often hear of the slow evolution of telework. Yet BusinessWeek reports that telework is more popular in government than in the private sector, although the numbers BusinessWeek uses are not totally clear.

The DorobekINSIDER found a press release issued by GSA today to be one of the most embarrassing we’ve seen in some time. The headline: GSA Saves More Than $11 Million in Initial Travel and Conference Reforms.

It says that GSA “is projected to save” more than $11 million through GSA acting administrator Dan Tangherlini’s travel and conference reforms. So far, GSA has cancelled 47 conferences, the release says. In the end, So what is the point of such a release? Do these measures help GSA accomplish its mission more effectively? Is GSA doing a better job today than it was before? Everything we do needs to help us accomplish the mission better and more effectively.

How many U.S. Supreme Court justices can you name? According to a recent survey, 63 percent couldn’t name a single justice. To put it in some context, this was a survey of 100 people, but how many justices can you name?

How many SCOTUS justices can YOU name? Most adults can’t name a Supreme Court justice
Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court.

Quick Picks:

  • Slate questions whether the Supreme Court really needs — or deserves — to take the full summer off?
  • Are the political conventions covered with Twitter hash-tags?

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