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The federal CIO billed as a narcoleptic – Plus Dorobek’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Healthcare.gov has been a massive contracting challenge from the onset. What went wrong? And can we learn from past contracting blunders? We talk to the professors who wrote the book on government contracting Trevor Brown and David Van Slyke.

You can find all of our programs online: DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

But up front: The federal CIO billed as a narcoleptic

In what will be one of the big discussion topics in federal It corners will be a fairly harsh assessment of federal CIO Steven VanRoekel by Steve O’Keefe, the head of PR firm O’Keefe & Company among other properties including MeriTalk.

His headline: RIP VanRoekel

“Is Steven VanRoekel asleep at the switch – or did he expire already? GAO puts this question to us with its latest report on the IT Dashboard. Dave Powner paints the Federal CIO as narcoleptic.”

O’Keefe’s take is definitely harsh, but there has been an undercurrent of concern about how active the government’s lead IT executive has been. Former OMBers express concern about a seeming rudderless direction for government technology and at least one was cheering. That being said, there is always a fairly harsh assessment of the person who holds the federal CIO seat.

That being said, there is certain consternation about a lack of a federal IT agenda.

Read O’Keefe’s full piece here.

2014 State of the Union address

The annual State of the Union address comes up on Tuesday. The New York Times says President Obama is pursuing what they bill as a “modest agenda.

His ambitions in check and his eye on the calendar, President Obama intends to use his State of the Union address to put a difficult year behind him and reassert command before the capital is consumed with election-year politics.

After five years in office, Mr. Obama has, by his own account, come to feel acutely the limits on his power and the shrinking horizons before him — all of which make his nationally televised speech to Congress on Tuesday a critical opportunity to drive an agenda that may yet shape his legacy.

But perhaps more so than in any of his previous congressional addresses, Mr. Obama realizes that he has little chance of major legislative victories this year, with the possible exception of an overhaul of immigration law that Republicans are also making a priority. As a result, aides said, he will present a blueprint for “a year of action” on issues like income inequality and the environment that bypasses Congress and exercises his authority to the maximum extent.

Feds aren’t expecting much from the address either.

The Washington Post: Feds have high hopes, low expectations for Obama’s State of the Union address

When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, many federal employees will be listening to what the boss-in-chief has to say about them.

They shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

Obama has given scant attention to federal employees in his previous State of the Union speeches. Don’t expect this year to be different. One mention was in 2011, when he said: “We’ve frozen the salaries of hard-working federal employees for the next two years.”

Two years became three.

Of course, everyone with a just cause or a pet project wants a mention in the State of the Union. It is a high-profile address before a joint session of Congress broadcast live around the world. People take notice and want to be noticed by the president, whomever is in the White House. Everyone wants to be on the president’s agenda.

Federal employees are no different.

That’s particularly true now, because of what they’ve gone through in recent years, because their morale is so low. They would like a nod, a thank you, maybe even one of them seated with the first lady. But people informed about a draft of the speech don’t expect any of that.

The Washington Post’s WonkBlog says the two key words for the 2014 State of the Union: executive action.

The Washington Post: Obama team follows a new blueprint after failures:

An internal White House assessment concludes that President Obama must distance himself from a recalcitrant Congress after being badly damaged last year by legislative failures, a government shutdown and his own missteps. But for the first time, following what many allies view as a lost year, the White House is reorganizing itself to support a more executive-focused presidency and inviting the rest of the government to help…Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer outlined the lessons learned in a three-page memo that Obama discussed with his Cabinet in recent weeks, according to several administration officials who have read the document.

What should the President (or the GOP) say in the State of the Union?

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Federal News Radio: GSA axes 2014 expo for second year. “Last year, GSA canceled the expo, which was planned for Orlando, citing concerns about budget pressures and the onset of across- the-board sequestration budget cuts.”

  2. Washington Post: Postal rates to rise Monday; court challenges ahead. “Postage rates on first-class letters and most other mail will rise Monday by 3 cents to help the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service recoup millions of dollars it lost during the economic downturn.”

  3. Federal News Radio: OMB: White House budget proposal coming March 4. “The White House says it will submit its annual budget request late, but not as late as last year. The 2015 request will come out March 4, about a month after the traditional first Monday in February.”

  4. ars Technica: Surveillance watchdog concludes metadata program is illegal, “should end.” “According to leaked copies of a forthcoming report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board(PCLOB), the government’s metadata collection program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value… As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

  5. Federal News Radio: Budget constraints force Army to make tough choices about modernization. “The Army’s top officer said affording all the pieces and parts of the service he is currently charged with manning, training and equipping can no longer be done over the long term. “

  6. Federal Times: Werfel resigns from OMB. “Danny Werfel, an influential player in efforts to improve federal financial management, and who also ran the IRS for much of last year, has resigned from his post as Office of Management and Budget controller and left federal service.”

  7. Washington Post: American Legion warns military may lose most commissaries. “One of the nation’s largest veterans organizations is trying to block a potential mass closing of the military grocery stores known as commissaries, where troops can buy goods at near wholesale prices with American taxpayers picking up the tab for operational costs.”

Before we finish up… a few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

  • Government Technology: Google Services Down, Government Offices ‘Hectic’:

  • The Atlantic: Lessons from the World’s Most Tech-Savvy Government: For governmental offices that rely on Google’s office apps, Friday’s service shutdown meant a “slight pain in the you-know-what.”

    • Estonia may not show up on Americans’ radar too often. It is a tiny country in northeastern Europe, just next to Finland. It has the territory of the Netherlands, but 13 times less people—its 1.3 million inhabitants is comparable to Hawaii’s population. As a friend from India recently quipped, “What is there to govern?”

    • What makes this tiny country interesting in terms of governance is not just that the people can elect their parliament online or get tax overpayments back within two days of filing their returns. It is also that this level of service for citizens is not the result of the government building a few websites. Instead, Estonians started by redesigning their entire information infrastructure from the ground up with openness, privacy, security, and ‘future-proofing’ in mind.

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DorobekINSIDER: Federal CIO VanRoekel exits • GovLoop

[…] The assessments on VanRoekel’s tenure will be fleshed out in the days ahead but the general take has been… ‘whatever.’ There have been many in government IT who wondered if VanRoekel even wanted this job — a post that many dream of having. And, of course, we all remember the somewhat harsh assessment by PR maven Steve O’Keefe, who branded VanRoekel as a narcoleptic. […]