What the Jobs Report Means for Feds – DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Say goodbye to government press releases. We take a look at the government communication revolution with GovDelivery’s CEO Scott Burns.
  • What do you think of when you hear “telework”? You might be thinking pajamas, your favorite seat on your sofa, time near your cat, and homemade lunches, but as Christina Morrison points out, the benefits of teleworking go well beyond that list.

The jobs numbers came out on Friday — numbers that have become very political for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately those behind the number have come under attack, most pointedly by former GE CEO Jack Welch, who accused the Obama administration of trumping up the numbers.

(See Welch on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews:

Thankfully, there are people who are — to use a football metaphone — throwing a flag on that talk. USAToday spoke to economists who questioned Welch’s claims, but Slate’s MoneyBox heaped praise on the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A relatively small number of conspiracy theorists claiming the Obama administration somehow “cooked the books” on jobs data are getting a fair amount of attention today, but the fact that people indulge some loopy notions at the height of campaign season isn’t a big deal. The real story about BLS data is how enormously credible it is.

And over the weekend, on NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd had, what the Huffington Post called, “a brief but emotional reaction” to the claims:

This is really making me crazy,” Todd said, according to NBC’s transcirpt. “The Federal Reserve gets questioned now for politics these days, the Supreme Court, John Roberts. We have corroded… What we’re doing, we’re corroding trust in our government in a way, and one time responsible people are doing to control it. And the idea that Donald Trump and Jack Welch, rich people with crazy conspiracy, can get traction on this, is a bad trend.

Bravo, Chuck Todd.

In a discussion with a friend of mine, who is a keen political journalist, I lamented the state of this campaign. These are serious times — and, to quote one of my favorite movies, The American President, they demand serious discussions… about the economy… about jobs… about debt… and yes, about the role of government. But it is time to stop throwing government workers under the bus for doing their jobs.

Yes — we all can make a difference. We should demand answers. We can demand that people figure out how to solve issues without vilifying those who may not agree with our point of view. Each of us can learn to appreciate those differences with the understanding that those differences actually make us stronger and are at the heard of any healthy democracy.

With that… a brief reminder… the one and only vice presidential debate is coming up on Thursday. As with the presidential debate, we will be discussing any government issues that come up as we live tweet the debate using the hashtag #DebateGov.

We hope you’ll join us.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 9th of October 2012

  1. A bipartisan group of Senators are working together in an effort to avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff. The four Republicans and four Democrats will meet in Mount Vernon, Virginia for the 3-day long talks. CBS News reports, the meetings are an opportunity for the senators to dig deep into the issues at hand while the Senate is out of session. In the past, the group’s meetings have lasted for only an hour or 90 minutes before lawmakers had to break for votes or other obligations. These meetings are designed to allow for more time for discussion. The senators do not expect to emerge from this week’s extended meetings with a proposal, but they hope to create a framework for the exceedingly difficult task of getting a deal through a polarized and contentious Congress after the November elections.
  2. More feds are retiring. Government Executive says federal retirements spiked in September to nearly 12,000 — the highest amount since January. The steadily increasing numbers of retirement claims suggests the long-predicted retirement wave arrived in 2011 and is continuing. During the first three quarters of 2011, retirements were up nearly 22 percent over 2010 levels. Retirements for all of 2011 were up 24 percent over 2010 levels.
  3. The Washington Post reports, the Secret Service has formally adopted new policies on the use of alcohol and social media, banning excessive drinking and the sharing of work-related information on sites including Facebook five months after more than a dozen employees were accused of drunken partying with prostitutes in Colombia.
  4. There could be a new campus for intelligence just outside of Washington, DC. The Washington Business Journal reports the National Capital Planning Commission has approved final details of the first phase of a $300 million intelligence campus being developed at the former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters in Bethesda, MD though additional details and plans still need to be worked out there.
  5. The CIA’s venture capital wing, In-Q-Tel, has continued its aggressive drive to deploy cloud tools for the intelligence community through a partnership with Cloudant. Nextgov reports the cloud-hosted database provider is the third cloud-oriented company to be openly selected in the past three months by In-Q-Tel. Cloudant will tailor cloud database technology for intelligence agencies, allowing them to store, analyze and distribute data in more customized and interactive ways.The Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on Cyberskills has recommended that Homeland Security Department hire about 600 superbly skilled cyber experts. Federal News Radio reports, Secretary Janet Napolitano endorsed the recommendation and said DHS would start implementing it. The DHS task force said the agency must develop and maintain an authoritative list of mission-critical cyber tasks. It offered 10 job titles as a starting point, including system and network penetration tester, threat and counter intelligence analysts and security engineers.
  6. And on GovLoop, we’ve just launched the GovLoop Guide: Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government. This report focuses on best practices, case studies and identifies innovative uses of geographic information system (GIS) technology in government. Across government GIS technology has fueled innovation.

A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • From GSA to Gay Lit: Martha Johnson’s Next Act Her book:Stanton, Indiana, in 1990, is a town in which people love their kids, joke with their mayor, attend church, and support the Wood Carving Festival. But, one boy is growing up with a secret that he unknowingly shares with another son of the community, a soldier in the Korean War who died the day he came home.”In Our Midst” is general interest fiction that exposes the raw vein of homophobia in our society. The book involves an ensemble cast of sympathetic characters who are recognizable to all of us. The nuanced writing, staccato events, and multi-layer plot keep the reader fending off interruptions and turning the pages. The LGBT community, the faith community, parents, mentors, teachers, and teens will find “In Our Midst” of particular value but it is the general public that will find satisfaction in a good yarn that suddenly means so much more.”
  • Best-practice security process sinks Tulsa’s CIO. Tulsa, Okla., CIO Tom Golliver was placed on administrative leave following a series of snafus resulting from his decision to hire a third party company to perform penetration testing of the city’s networks. CIO Journal reports the trouble isn’t that he orchestrated the pen-testing, but that he seems to have forgotten that he did so; the city government reacted to what it thought was a concerted cyber attack, at a cost of at least $20,000. “Our first instinct or interpretation was ‘ah we have been attacked,’’’ city manager Jim Twombly told CIO Journal. Over a week passed before someone noticed an earlier email sent by SecurityMetrics. “After they run scans we get automated email that says how many servers pass/fail. Sure enough we had email on Sunday,” said Twombly. “It was, ‘oh my gosh, this was a scan we wanted done.’”

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Tim J. Clark

Jack Welch wrote a follow-up article in the Wall Street Journal regarding the jobs numbers – “Jack Welch: I was Right About That Strange Jobs Reports.”

He identifed three “outliers” that should be questioned in order to validate and explain the anomalies. To quote Welch:

“These three statistics—the labor-force participation rate, the growth in government workers, and overall job growth, all multidecade records achieved over the past two months—have to raise some eyebrows. There were no economists, liberal or conservative, predicting that unemployment in September would drop below 8%.”