On our program today
- We’ve been talking a lot about the Obama administration’s Digital Government Strategy in part because technology is really chainging how people deal with government. But it’s also important to get insights about how feasible this strategy actually is. Will it work? Alan Balutis has been there and done it, both in government and industry. We’ll get his insights.
- And the Rise of Social Government — what does that mean? What changes will this rise bring about? We’ll talk to an academic who has been studying the issue.
A quick look at budgets: The White House is continuing to threaten vetos of GOP spending bills. The Hill reports that the White House threatened to veto a military spending bill that is slated to come to the House floor this week. The Obama administration said it is able to accept most of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, but has adopted a policy of rejecting all 12 House annual appropriations bills until Republicans abandon their budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). It has also threatened to veto a Commerce and Justice spending bill that the House passed earlier in May. The Hill notes that the House GOP budget would cut 2013 spending by an additional $19 billion compared to the caps in last August’s debt-ceiling deal, while also raising defense spending. Meanwhile, the Senate is proceeding to consider spending bills based on the August debt-ceiling deal. The competing approaches make it likely that a continuing resolution will be needed to extend current policies before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
Meanwhile Politico reports that lawmakers seem flummoxed by a number of can’t-miss bills. President Obama asked Congress to pass bills to keep student loan interest rates from doubling, prevent domestic abuse and fund the nation’s highway system. But Congress has seemed to be unable to deal with these issues, even where there is broad agreement.
Staying on Capitol Hill — make sure the desks are nailed down. Really, the Washington Post reports that the Senate is out of town this week, and somebody may want to make sure its furniture is safe and secure. An employee assigned to care for furniture used by Senate offices stole and illegally sold more than $13,700 worth of tables and chairs to a used furniture dealer in Virginia, according to a new watchdog report. The employee worked for the Architect of the Capitol, the office responsible for maintenance, landscaping and renovations at the U.S. Capitol and adjoining congressional buildings. A report released this week by the Architect’s inspector general provided limited details of the illegal sale.
- Security and Information Sharing are getting an upgrade in three new House’s bills. Federal News Radio says the Secure Borders Act gives the Homeland Security Department five years to gain what it calls operational control of the border with Mexico. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Intelligence and Information Sharing Act gives DHS a bigger role in sniffing out chemical, biological and nuclear threats. It requires coordination with state and local governments. A third bill creates interagency teams to battle cross-border crime.
- The number 2 at the Pentagon is criticizing the House’s changes to the Defense Department’s budget. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Cartersays the budget is carefully balanced and if Congress adds something in the Pentagon doesn’t want, something else gets cut. Federal news radio says both the House and Senate have passed DoD authorization bills. Budget bills are still pending. One point of disagreement is the DoD’s plan to raise some TRICARE fees. Both houses of Congress reject that idea.
- Congress is prepared to take a closer look at the cybersecurity attack on the Thrift Savings Plan that compromised the personal information of more than 120,000 participants. Government Executive says Senator Susan Collins is pressing the FBI to explain the lapse of time between when the bureau became aware of the attack and when the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board was notified. The attack was lodged against TSP contractor Serco in July 2011. The board wasn’t notified until April 2012.
- Meanwhile an Office of Personnel Management contractor accidentally exposed thousands of federal retirees’ personal information. The OPM’s inspector general said contractor Vangent mailed 3,000 postcards with retirees’ Social Security numbers printed on the covers in October during the health benefits program open enrollment season. Federal News Radio says OPM employees did not follow protocol for reporting the breach. The IG said OPM needed to improve its procedures and employee training and consider providing free credit monitoring services to all victims.
- Budget and staff pressures are coupling together to reshape agencies cybersecurity.NextGov reports, Budget uncertainties along with cybersecurity staff shortages are forcing agencies to make difficult trade-offs between securing data and maintaining full and open competition in their cybersecurity contracts with vendors. Insiders says agencies cyber forces are understaffed by between 10,000 and 30,000 cybersecurity experts. Due to the shortage some agencies are extending existing contracts or delaying new awards to avoid disrupting critical services.
- The TechAmerica Foundation has announced the leaders of a new commission to help the government deal with big data. IBM’s Steve Mills and SAP’s Steve Lucas will chair the commission. Executives from Amazon, and Wyle will also be part of the leadership. The Obama administration recently announced a $200 million Big Data Research and Development Initiative.
- Speaking of big data, you should check out GovLoop’s webinar on Big Datathis afternoon. The hour long presentation will be led by CTO Vision’s Bob Gourley. Bob will walk us through the business case of Big Data, its future in government, practical applications and solutions, as well as its definition, which as it turns out, isn’t so easy to define: The webinar kicks off at 2pm.
A Few Closing Items:
- These days, it is often easy to overlook the work — the important work — that government does. But this week, the National Security Agency recognized three people who have made a difference, adding their names to the Cryptologic Memorial Wall. The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers those who gave their lives, “serving in silence,” in the line of duty. It serves as an important reminder of the crucial role that cryptology plays in keeping the United States secure and of the courage of these individuals to carry out their mission at such a dear price. The wall, dedicated in 1996, lists 169 names of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and civilian cryptologists who have made the ultimate sacrifice. And three names have been added to the wall.
- Do you ever curse at work? The Wall Street Journal says that, generally, cursing at work can damn your career. Managers who cuss appear unprofessional and out of control, executive coaches and recruiters say. But that’s not always the case. Deployed at the right moment and in the right setting, a well-chosen curse word can motivate a team, dissolve tension or win over an audience.