Sequestration talks escalate – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • What are the key critical issues facing state CIOs? The National Association of State Chief Information Officers have unveiled their survey of state and local government CIO’s. They asked them one simple question – what is your biggest challenge? Click here for the full recap.

Your Sequestration update
Politico: Fiscal cliff talks still in dark: President Barack Obama called closed-door negotiations a “mistake” after backroom wheeling and dealing almost sunk his health care bill. But the fiscal cliff talks are playing out much the same way.

Washington Post reports the fiscal cliff or not, defense spending is going down, and fast. ” The Defense Department faces steep cuts in the next decade regardless of whether the government goes off the fiscal cliff, speakers at a defense forum in Washington said Wednesday. The main impact of automatic cuts that would be triggered by sequestration is that the cuts would be made more quickly and in a more indiscriminate fashion, several said.”

Meanwhile, Chris was moderating an event for GITEC focused on cloud computing along with Shawn Kingsberry, the chief information officer for the Recovery, Transparency and Accountability Board. We will write up some thoughts coming from that sessiion in the days ahead, but Kingsberry has co-authored an article on cloud computing for FedTech magazine: A Technology Blueprint for the Enterprise of the Future.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The White House budget office reported the federal government had reduced contract spending by 4 percent in the past fiscal year, an accomplishment that it said was the largest drop for a single cycle on record, reported the Washington Post. The Obama administration said it cut contract spending by more than $20 billion during fiscal 2012, largely by increasing coordination between agencies — buying together instead of independently.
  2. Soon government secrecy agencies could become more transparent. Federal Times reports a federal advisory board wants to winnow the national security classification system from three tiers of secrecy to two as a way to reduce unneeded secrecy. The new approach recommended by an advisory board created by the White House would divvy up classified information into two categories: top secret and “lower level.”
  3. Federal News Radio reports, agency use of polygraphs on employees is on the rise. An investigation by McClatchy Newspapers found that last year, more than 73,000 Americans had to take lie-detector tests to get or keep a federal job. The report said polygraph screening was mostly banned in the private sector. But federal lie-detector use is expanding to contractor employees, the report said. Studies disagreed over whether polygraphs are accurate. In 2003, the National Academies recommended the government stop using them. Since then, 15 agencies have continued or expanded use of polygraphs as a screening device for national security jobs.
  4. The National Guard will continue manning the U.S-Mexico border for another year. The Pentagon has agreed to supply up to 300 guardsmen to the Department of Homeland Security. Federal News Radio says the Guard has helped Customs and Border Patrol agents arrest nearly 20,000 illegal immigrants and seize more than 100,000 pounds of marijuana over the past nine months. President Barack Obama authorized the Guard’s deployment along the border in 2010. Four times as many guardsmen manned the border at that time. Since then, Homeland Security has ramped up its presence there to more than 18,000 agents. The Guard supports their work mainly through intelligence activities, including air missions.
  5. GCN reports, the National Nuclear Security Administration has launched a project management mobile app for its Global Threat Reduction Initiative that runs on both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms. According to the agency’s blog, the app hooks mobile users into G2, GTRI’s project management system, to help GTRI project managers in their mission to secure nuclear and radiological materials around the world. The app allows mobile users to quickly filter and analyze all the real-time information about locations and coordinate that with schedules and infrastructure.
  6. Two federal groups are uniting against the Senate’s Defense cuts. The Washington Post reports, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the Professional Services Council (PSC) have objected to Section 341 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013. The Senate approved it Tuesday. The measure that would require the Pentagon to cut more than $5 billion in planned spending for its civilian and contractor workforces through fiscal 2017. The White House and the Pentagon also say it’s a bad idea.
  7. And on GovLoop, have you seen our new Tech Guide. It highlights the top technology trends in government and previews 2013. Cloud computing and agile top the list. Find out what else made the cut.

The DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder
WhiteHouse_Blog: Open Source and the Power of Community: On open source projects, programmers build tools to solve specific problems, then make those tools freely available so others can use them and contribute their own improvements. The communities of programmers that grow up around successful open source projects often produce tools that are more secure, flexible, and cost-effective than those produced by a team working in isolation.

And, because sequestion isn’t very funny at all, Alan Simpson Goes ‘Gangnam Style

Satellite images of Earth at night:

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