Tech talk: Implementing the new Digital Gov’t Strategy and renewed interest in Shared Services

On Today’s Edition of the DorobekINSIDER

  • We’ve spent some time talking about the Obama administration’s Digital Government Strategy. Today, we’re going to talk about how that strategy can get implemented — and I know a lot of agencies are saying they have no money. GSA is hoping to help, and we’ll talk to the person who is at the forefront of figuring that out. Check out the full post here.
  • The Obama administration’s shared services strategy has received less attention than the Digital Government Strategy. Very few organizations see every part of government the way Microsoft does. We’ll talk to them about what shared services might mean. Check out the full post here.

Many eyes on Wisconsin yesterday. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won a vote to keep his job, surviving a recall effort that turned the Republican into a conservative icon and his state into the first battleground in a bitter, expensive election year, the Washington Post reports.

It’s unclear what the implications of the election will be — it often isn’t clear for months or years after — but the Wisconsin battle started as a fight about government worker pay and benefits, so… I’m guessing that there will be impacts that will impact you… and how you do your job. NPR says that one of the potential implications: Walker’s win may change the way states — and even feds — bargain with employees and may change labor politics. But it could also impact budget priorities. NPR says that Walker resisted taxes and pushed for austerity. We’ve heard that debate before — and Walker’s win could boost pro-austerity conservatives.

Meanwhile, is Congress done for the year? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is saying that serious legislating is all but done until after the election. Politico reports Cantor all but predicted 2012 substantively over. The Senate isn’t passing spending bills and is not talking about working to blunt the automatic defense cuts. The two sides remain too far apart on taxes and entitlements. The rest of the year, Cantor said, will likely be about sending “signal[s] that we’ve actually gotten with the reality here, that we have huge problems to deal with,” he said. House Republicans are left to do little more than position thenselves on the so-called fiscal abyss of expiring tax rates, government funding, and the borrowing limit.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. A bill to strengthen Whistleblower Protections has advanced in the House.Secrecy News says the Whistleblower Protection Act would require intelligence agency heads to advise employees on how to make lawful disclosures without retribution. The bill would bolster the comparatively flimsy provisions of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.
  2. Judicial vacancies are on the rise. Secrecy News says there are more vacant circuit and district court judgeships than when he took office four years ago. TheCongressional Research Services says the growing number of vacancies impede the successful nomination and confirmation of new judges.
  3. John Gage, the president of the largest federal-employee union, is retiring. He has been at the helm of the American Federal Government Employees union since 2003. In a letter to union members, he called his tenure “challenging but invigorating years.” Federal News Radio says Gage plans to stay for about 10 more weeks, while the AFGE finishes its first contract with the Transportation Safety Administration.
  4. The Office of Management and Budget is slowly chipping away at their retirement backlog.Government Executive says the backlog of federal retirement claims is down 19 percent since January. The agency processed 9,066 total claims in May, exceeding its target of 8,500 claims. OPM administers benefits for 2.5 million federal retirees and processes about 100,000 new claims annually.
  5. The General Service Administration’s long-awaited cloud computing certification office is open for business. It received the green light from the Office of Management and Budget yesterday. It’s job is to make sure cloud computing vendors have good cybersecurity. Federal News Radio reports actually certifying vendors would take another six months. GSA, Homeland Security and the Defense Department form the board that examines and approves cloud providers.
  6. How did GSA employees who telework full time cost the government $750,000 in travel expenses? Next Gov says that’s the questions Congressman Darrell Issa wants to know. E-mails from GSA’s Public Buildings Service show that a total of 95 employees, including 12 supervisors, billed the agency for the travel from October 2010 to June 2011. Next Gov says the messages suggest that regional commissioners were alarmed at the expenses.
  7. And over on GovLoop, have you signed up for our Next Generation of Government Training Summit? Time is running out for the early bird discounts. And when you are over signing up you can also vote on our speaker conference.

A few closing items

  • Inside Defense is reporting that the Pentagon is exempted from an OMB budget cuts for fiscal 2014. That being said, The Wall Street Journal reports that defense companies are preparing for layoffs. If Congress doesn’t reach a deficit-reduction deal by the beginning of next year, more than $50 billion in new defense cuts could take effect. And that means that companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman could idle thousands of workers. Lockheed Chairman Robert Stevens tells the Journal, “It is quite possible that we will need to notify employees in the September and October time frame that they may or may not have a job in January, depending upon whether sequestration does or doesn’t take effect.”
  • On the FCC’s blog, Michael Byrne, the FCC’s Geographic Information Officer — love that title — writes about what a data-centric approach means. He writes, “the value in this data-centric approach means individuals can read directly into data across government and access only what they need, without the overhead of often expensive, bulky software. And he quotes Bert Granberg, who is the Manager in the State Geographic Information Database Group for the State of Utah… that by making this data easily available, the state can find what it needs — and quickly… Broadband Map data, for example… and the USDA Community Connect data… Utah was able to overlay that data and make, we hope, better decisions. Without that direct access to data, Granberg said, they would have spent several days or even weeks downloading, post processing and integrating data.”

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