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IT is more than just technology, says one agency CIO

On Flag Day in 1996 General Services Administration officials gave each employee access to the Internet at their desk in the office, one of the first federal agencies to meet the milestone. The Internet was a new thing for many employees. Now people live by the Internet, Casey Coleman, GSA's CIO, writes in her Around the Corner blog.

Since then, GSA has been moving forward continually with IT advances, she writes in a June 20 blog post.

GSA has deployed agency-wide Voice over Internet Protocol telecommunications, including softphones on GSA’s laptops. Networks have been upgraded and remote access lets employees work anywhere. People are working outside the office, teleworking and having meetings through videoconferencing. Their computers soon may become hand-held tablets, a big change from old-time computers where the monitors alone were almost too heavy to move a few inches.

Coleman writes, however, that there’s something more important to GSA than getting the hottest stuff and continuing to put more and more of IT into action.

“We view IT as an investment in the productivity, morale, and success of our employees, rather than an end unto itself,” she writes.

Read the rest of her blog post.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:55 PM1 comments


Kundra's leaving evokes some congrats, some good riddances

The government IT and social media communities must have positive attitudes or the never-extinguished entrepreneurial spirit, even as one of their leaders heads off to Harvard University. Or it's something else.

Vivek Kundra, the first-ever federal CIO who on June 16 announced his departure from the position in August, received numerous congratulations and a “way to go” on Facebook. Most of the tweets on his announcement were simple links to the available news stories. But those Twitterers who added their thoughts had upbeat comments. There was really no wailing or gnashing of teeth. They weren’t fearful of a sinking ship once Kundra’s gone.

“Sad to hear, but best of luck!” tweeted @Agent11.

Tweeters also acknowledged Kundra’s work.

“CIO Vivek Kundra leaving WH...bummer. He has been a huge advocate for cloud computing in the federal space,” tweeted @BeckyMaeW.

On the other hand, the flavor of comments on FCW was quite different.

Readers are glad he's gone. Many said good riddance -- don't let the door hit you on the way out.

"No pay freeze at Harvard and not sticking around to see if any of the 25 mandates really take...no surprise here. The Fed CIO was just a good step for climbing the personal success ladder," one reader wrote.

Another reader described Kundra.

"He was just like a seagull," wrote M from Reston. "He came in squawked a lot, messed all over the place and now he is flying away."

In Washington, D.C., the communities may have some deeper issues they never talk about. They live in a world where they know someone of such high position in an administration is destined to leave. It's a matter of when. The communities have learned to not get attached for fear of that broken heart. Some people however, may not have dealt with those feelings of heartache.

"First rat off the ship," one FCW reader wrote.

Other Twitterers looked past even the congratulations, or the good riddances, to bring up the next important part of the story.

“The choice of his replacement is a critical one,” @MAlexJohnson tweeted.

“Happy trails Vivek, who will take his place??” @peterk12 tweeted too.

@jakebrewer had a different thought though. Convince Kundra to forget Harvard and stay in Washington.

“Chant anyone? ‘Don’t. go. C.I.O.,” he tweeted.

I’m not sure I’ve heard any chanting, especially among some FCW readers.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM4 comments


10 lessons to pull back the veil on government spending

Early Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, has 10 lessons for lawmakers to piggyback off the work of his board and expand it to a governmentwide and continuous operation toward transparency in government.

That board oversaw the spending and tracking of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it impressed many people inside government and outside. Now, the White House is attempting a strategy to make government more open about spending based on the board model, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced a bill on June 13 to do much of the same things as that board .

Devaney is scheduled to testify before Issa and his Oversight and Government Reform Committee on transparency in government.

Directly from written testimony for the June 14 hearing, Devaney lays out lessons that could lead to a successful bill and more transparency.

1. Nothing motivates bureaucrats to act faster than a law with concrete deadlines.

2. Spending data can be collected directly from recipients with a high degree of accuracy.

3. This spending data can be quickly quality controlled, displayed, and uniquely arrayed to achieve unprecedented levels of transparency.

4. The federal government desperately needs a uniform, governmentwide alphanumeric numbering system for all awards.

5. New technology, particularly cloud computing and geospatial Web services, play a critical role in the delivery and effectiveness of transparency and accountability.

6. Transparency can cause embarrassment, which in turn causes self-correcting behavior.

7. Transparency is the force-multiplier that drives accountability.

8. When the goal is prevention, instead of merely detection, agencies and [inspectors general] both have a high degree of incentive to collaborate with each other.

9. The most valuable accountability module is one which provides equal access to both agencies and enforcers.

10. Finally, articulating success for prevention is harder to do than for detection.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM0 comments


Obama appoints 'Sheriff Joe' to oversee new accountability plan

Nobody messes with Sheriff Joe Biden.

President Barack Obama launched his “Campaign to Cut Waste” June 13 and appointed Biden to lead it because, as Obama said in a video message posted on WhiteHouse.gov,  “no one messes with Joe.”

Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president and deputy senior adviser, echoed that sentiment during a call with reporters the same day when she referred to Biden as “Sheriff Joe.”

Cutter said the president chose Biden to head the campaign because of the role the vice president played in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Posted by Alyah Khan on Jun 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM2 comments


White House officials miss the order of leadership

Walking onto the platform for an event at the White House on cutting waste, three Obama administration officials came out in the wrong order.

On June 13, the announcer first introduced Jacob Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget; then Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board; and finally Vice President Joe Biden.

The three men walked out in a different order. Biden led the way, then Lew, and Devaney.

As Lew began his speech, he joked to Biden, “For a minute I thought it was a promotion.”

Biden responded: “I thought I’d have to work.”

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM0 comments


How to help DOD with couples therapy

Weapons testers and program managers in the Defense Department need couples therapy, according to the Project on Government Oversight.

POGO found an internal defense memo recently that insinuates the testing, requirements, and program management communities in DOD need better relationships and interaction with each other. But it is not enough for POGO to simply say these defense communities need couples therapy. DOD needs more concrete takeaways for repairing their relationships and helping the therapy along.

Therefore, each recommendation from the memo has some insights for couples:

1."Stronger mechanisms for rapid adaptation to emerging facts by the requirements, acquisition, and test communities and less resistance to change."

Translation: If you've agreed on a movie and she changes her mind at the last minute, go with it. 

2. "A requirements process that produces well-defined, and therefore, testable requirements."

Translation: Consider the true character of the man if he stops opening doors and paying for dates.

3. "An executable plan to use developmental and operational testing together as a means to achieve and demonstrate success."

Translation: Set your vacation itinerary ahead of time to be sure both of you agree on where to go and what to do on the trip.

4. "To ensure that expected and healthy tension between the program and test community doesn’t turn to animosity by having early and objective communication of concerns and issues."

Translation: Apologize early and often. Alternately: Accept that you have a choice to be happy or to be right, but not necessarily both. 

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 09, 2011 at 12:55 PM1 comments


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