The Secret sauce to program management success and the Facebook effect on the election

On today’s program

  • Do vague requirements cause programs to fail? Click here for the full recap.
  • And in the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder: What does a VP nomination do to your number of Facebook followers.

Sequestration — yes, again

A trade association representing major defense contractors is projecting mass layoffs of air traffic controllers and closings of control towers if sequestration takes effect.

The Aerospace Industries Association has released a study predicting closure of 240 airport control towers as well as layoffs of 1,500 air traffic controllers, close to 10 percent of the total air traffic control workforce.

Federal Times says that as many as 12,000 customs inspectors and Transportation Security Administration screeners could also lose their jobs. That is about a 5 percent to 10 percent drop in passenger and freight traffic and losses of between 11,000 and 22,000 jobs in the aircraft manufacturing workforce.

The AIA predicts more than 109,000 jobs may be lost next year if sequestration occurs, with the FAA poised to receive a $1 billion funding cut.

Overcoming risk. It is often said that the government is risk averse and we all know why. But that can be true in the private sector as well. The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal has a synopsis of research from McKinsey explaining how you get managers to overcome their bias against risk and explore innovative ideas.

They say that many mid-level managers would rather play it safe, opting for goals that are reachable. But McKinsey says that senior executives need to ask for project ideas that are risky, but also have a potential of a high reward. And one needs to assess how well people do into the evaluation criteria — and be careful not to merely punish if and when somebody takes on that risky project. But McKinsey also says it needs to be a broad effort to change how an organization looks at risk.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 14th of August, 2012

  1. A tentative deal for a six-month continuing resolution would, if approved, avert a government shutdown until March. BUT, it also would set back plans for new and expanded programs.Federal Times reports the IRS would be unable to add more tax collectors and the Coast Guard could not buy another ice breaker. Federal Times says under a continuing resolution, new programs are generally taboo. Hiring and procurement are also restricted and agencies may even be stuck with funding programs at levels they think are unnecessarily high.
  2. An ethics audit at the General Services Administration failed to stop the lavish Las Vegas Western Regions Conference. Federal Times says in 2010 the Office of Government Ethics overlooked GSA’s shopping spree and failed to address known risk factors that could have prevented the scandal. At the time there was no designated agency ethics officer at GSA.
  3. Brigadier General Tammy Smith is thefirst openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States army.The New York Times says Smith, a 26-year veteran of the Army, was promoted in a ceremony at the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony her wife was able to pin her star on her uniform. The couple married in March 2011 in the District of Columbia.
  4. Internal auditors at the Defense Information Systems Agency need more training. Federal News Radio says the Pentagon inspector general gave them a failing grade. The IG looked at several internal audits done by DISA staff. It found auditors weren’t complying with their own manual, and they weren’t following Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards. The IG recommended more education and more frequent reviews. DISA’s director, Army Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, has accepted the recommendations.
  5. President Barack Obama signed a bill to reduce the number of jobs requiring Senate confirmation. The law spares 166 executive branch positions from the process. Federal News Radio says it also eliminates Senate approval for members of the Public Health Service and NOAA. Critics of the nominations process have said it was too cumbersome. To put it in perspective, President John F. Kennedy had just 286 Senate confirmed executive branch jobs. The Obama White House had more than 1,200.
  6. Veterans Affairs is reporting success on an agencywide cybersecurity initiative. Starting in April, VA required all of its notebook computers to have hard disk encryption. That’s a technology making it impossible for information to escape if a machine is lost or stolen. Federal New Radio says like other large organizations, VA loses a few computers every month. Thirteen notebooks disappeared in June. CIO Roger Baker said all of them were encrypted. He added VA also installed software that lets the tech staff tell remotely whether a computer is properly secured.
  7. And on GovLoop, have you check out our new inforgraphic that looks at the Digital Government Strategy. We’re coming up on 3 months since the original announcement of Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel’s Digital Government Strategy. Do you know what you’re agency is supposed to be working on? No matter if you need some direction, or just curious about the trends that led up to the creation of the strategy overhaul, we hope our new infographic can help you get up to speed.

A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

With the elections just months away, Maryland is now the 10th state to provide online voter registration

Yesterday we spoke about the new Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. And a party generally gets a bump with the VP announcement. What does that bump look like online?

CNN’s Gut Check has numbers.

According to the exclusive Facebook-CNN Election Talk Meter, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, in the 54 hours since being announced as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, sucked up the political oxygen in the social media landscape — particularly in Washington, DC, but with Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin close behind. And CNN notes that the swing states of Virginia (where Ryan was announced) and New Hampshire were also high up the list. The numbers look at a jump in buzz, therefore Ryan’s relative anonymity helped him jump up the talk meter scale. For perspective, on July 31st, when Michael Phelps became the most-decorated Olympian in history, he registered a 6.51 on the same scale.

Facebook-CNN talk meter scores
1) Rep. Paul Ryan 5.21
2) President Barack Obama 4.84
3) Vice President Joe Biden 4.01
4) Gov. Mitt Romney 3.74

And CNN also looked at numbers of Facebook fans. President Barack Obama has nearly 28 million… that number hasn’t changed much… Vice President Joe Biden: 355K fans currently; again, very little change.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: 4.1M fans, up about 28% since Aug. 1… and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan: 501K fans, up 107% since the announcement Aug. 11.

CNN adds that we will have to watch what this means in terms of votes. And they say it is staggering when you put it in historical perspective – today there are 160 million monthly active users in the United States on Facebook — more than half the U.S. population. In 2008, there were 35 million monthly active users.

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