On Today’s Edition of the DorobekINSIDER
- Anthrax and plagues — scarry stuff. We remember the anthrax letters in 2001. We are going to talk to a public servant to works to create vaccines. His work has earned him a spot as a finalist for the Service to America Award Medal winners — the Oscars for Federal Employees.
- The West Wing, the American President, The King’s Speech… They are all versions of using stories… fables… Is there a way you can use fables to do your job better. We’ll talk to the author of the book Governing Fables — Sandford Borins.
Apple is running into problems with San Francisco, which is in the process of saying that the city and county will no longer purchase Apple laptops and desktops. That came after Apple pulled away from the EPEAT standard — the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. And yes, it could impact whether federal agencies can buy Apple hardware too. Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama in 2009, requires federal agencies to acquire EPEAT-registered electronics. The whole situation has left many asking why. Read Write Web speculates that Apple isn’t pulling away because it hates the environment — the company pays attention to green issues. They speculate that it is about the hardware — they say that Apple devices have become increasingly difficult to take apart for service and recycling. So it could be that as Apple tries to pack more and more features into each device, they just naturally get harder to take apart.
Or, they say, it may be about another kind of green: the kind on dollar bills. By preventing Apple devices from being easily disassembled for repair, the company encourages more participation in its AppleCare support program, which includes global repair coverage, and AppleCare+, which includes repair and replacement coverage.
We have been telling you about the challenges facing part-time firefighters — yes, those federal workers fighting all those fires out west… because they are considered part-time, they are not allowed access to federal health insurance. And a group of firefighters filed an online petition asking for help. Well, The Washington Post reports that Uncle Sam is finally closing a loophole that allowed him to avoid offering health insurance for some federal employees who risk their lives to save the lives and property of others. President Obama met with firefighters during his trip to a Colorado fire area last month. Now, his administration plans to issue interim regulations allowing them to buy health insurance just like other employees.
1. The White House is threatening to veto a House appropriations bill that failed to give feds a pay raise. Government Executive says the Defense Department spending bill also rejects a proposal to increase TRICARE fees. The House is expected to take up the bill next week. The Defense spending bill does include a 1.7 percent pay raise for service members, which Obama recommended in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal.
2. Investment review board meetings aimed at rooting out waste and duplication in government information technology portfolios have turned up $500 million in potential savings at just the six agencies reviewed so far, the federal chief information officer said. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel plans to hold similar PortfolioStat reviews at 20 more agencies through early August, he told members of the of the President’s Advisory Management Board. NextGov reports that agencies reviewed so far account for $6.2 billion in IT spending or about 16 percent of the government’s civilian IT budget. The savings estimate was based on reducing spending on particular line items at those agencies to governmentwide averages.
3. DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — has a new head. Wired’s Danger Room reports that Arati Prabhakar will start at the end of the month and will be the first Indian American head of DARPA. She lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the 1990s and has been a venture capitalist in the Silicon Valley — and yes, she worked for one of the organizations that backed Solyndra, the green-tech firm that has become a political football.
4. The Director of US Cyber Command — General Keith Alexander — is pushing hard for access to threat information from the private sector. Alexanders says the Defense Department needs the access in order to protect the nation’s cyberspace.
5. President Barack Obama will make federal health insurance available to about 8,000 temporary wildland firefighters. Federal News Radio says the firefighters work for the federal government on a seasonal basis. But personnel rules said because they were seasonal, the firefighters could’t buy into federal health insurance plans. A bill from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) would also provide federal health care benefits to temporary firefighters
6. After 27 months of negotiations, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have reached an agreement on a new 4 year contract. Federal News Radio says the new contract will go into effect on Monday. AFGE’s lead negotiators said there would be improvements in eye care and travel benefits
7. And on GovLoop, our Next Generation of Government Training Summit is coming up in two short weeks. But there is still plenty of time to sign up. This year’s conference will feature over 100 speakers from across government. Head over to our homepage to sign up.
A few closing items
The IRS… on the frontlines of health care? The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of President Barack Obama’s health care law will come home to roost for most taxpayers in about 2½ years, when they’ll have to start providing proof on their tax returns that they have health insurance. And that puts the Internal Revenue Service at the center of the debate. The Associate Press reports that this has renewed questions about whether the agency is capable of police the health care decisions of millions of people in the United States while also collecting the taxes needed to run the federal government. Under the law, the IRS will provide tax breaks and incentives to help pay for health insurance and impose penalties on some people who don’t buy coverage and on some businesses that don’t offer it to employees. The changes will require new regulations, forms and publications, new computer programs and a big new outreach program to explain it all to taxpayers and tax professionals. Businesses that don’t claim an exemption will have to prove they offer health insurance to employees. The Treasury Department inspector general said that the health care law “includes the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years.” And that the tax agency will have to hire thousands of workers to manage it, requiring significant budget increases… and, of course, those increases are being targeted by congressional Republicans determined to dismantle the president’s signature initiative.