Posts Tagged ‘Federal News Radio’

Recovery Act: Six Months Old

August 18, 2009

recovery1Yesterday’s USA Today cover story was bannered: “Poll: 57%  Don’t See Stimulus Working.”  People are so impatient! Today, it’s the Recovery Act’s 6-month birthday. And yesterday, Recovery Act recipients could start signing up so they can report their progress starting October 1st.  Maybe then, people will see what is really going on with their money!

According to, as of today there are 25,897 ongoing Recovery Act projects worth a total of $91.1 billion – out of a total of $787 billion authorized to be spent over the next year or so.

In an interview with Barry Bosworth of the Brookings Institution, Federal News Radio’s Suzanne Kubota writes that that the transfer payment (e.g., unemployment insurance extension) and tax reduction elements of the bill got up and running quickly and the direct spending programs in the bill are taking a longer time to get monies out.  This is no real surprise to government watchers – transfer payments and tax rebates don’t require much in the way of program guidance and are largely check-writing operations!

As for the direct payment programs, though, there’s more guidance and reporting.  And there are many more players involved.  Much of the media has focused on transparency of the funding.  This is provided via sites from non-profits, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, individual federal agencies, and individual states.

However, how about information for those who have to implement the direct spending programs in federal agencies, states, and localities?  Interestingly, many helpful sites are springing up to aid those in government trying to get it right:

The Council of State Governments has created a Recovery Act website – — that aggregates useful information for state officials.

The National League of Cities has dedicated a webpage to Recovery Act news, organized by policy areas where dollars are available (e.g., public safety).

The Association for Government Accountants has created a Recovery Act webpage for its members who have to administer the funds.

Government Executive magazine has created a “Stimulus Checklist” to help feds keep up with what’s going on, along with a series of webinars and forums.

And of course, the Office of Management and Budget has a list of its guidance.

Do you have a favorite resource?  Feel free to add via the “comment” box!


Presidential Appointee Orientation

June 11, 2009

The Presidential Transition Act sets aside funds so the incoming Administration can conduct orientation training for incoming appointees.  According to Federal News Radio, the General Services Administration announced that they have chosen the Hay Group to be the deliverer of the training for the Obama Administration.  In 2000, and before, the Council for Excellence in Government had been the organizer of these orientation sessions, and with its demise earlier this year many thought it would be run by one of the other good government non-profits, so some saw the selection of a for-profit company as surprise.

Related, but not directly, the Office of Personnel Management is conducting an orientation session for new career and non-career senior executives from June 24-25.  Its website notes that this will be an opportunity to “learn about the President’s agenda, his vision and values, and to discuss the unique challenges you face with your new responsibilities.”  There is also a swearing-in ceremony scheduled, as well.

Obama Tech Agenda

June 9, 2009

computer-chipThe 2008 Obama presidential campaign laid out a series of exciting ideas for the use of technology in government and proposed the creation of both a Chief Technology Officer and a cybersecurity czar.  This was accompanied by the campaign’s own successful use of technology.  During the Transition, the “Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform” working group had its own video.

The opening months of the new Administration has seen top talent being recruited to help lead these initiatives, including Vivek Kundra as the government’s chief information officer (CIO) and Aneesh Chopra as its chief technology officer (CTO).  Via the fiscal year 2010 budget and a series of speeches and initiatives, they’ve begun to lay out their priorities.  Here’s what I’ve gathered so far.  If there is more, feel free to add in the comment section:

FY 2010 Budget.  According to the NextGov blog, the budget proposes increases in the federal government’s technology investment by 7 percent, to nearly $76 billion.

CTO Chopra.  CTO Chopra laid out his priorities at last week’s Management of Change conference in Virginia Beach.  Here’s Federal News Radio and Federal Computer Week’s snapshots of Chopra four priorities:

  • Invest in technology-based innovation to transform the nation’s economy. This includes relooking at the federal research and development agenda and figuring out how to drive innovation through policy.
  • Use “innovation platforms” to bring game-changing ways to address the President’s priorities such as health care, climate change, energy, economic improvement and education. These include:  (1) creating a culture of open standards that can be shared and easily replicated so as to accelerate innovation; (2)  re-directing federal R&D investments to be more applied, and more toward the middle ground “south of procurement and north of R&D;” and (3) expand the use of “crowdsourcing” to gather new ideas and fuel innovation.
  • Deliver a reliable, resilient and trustworthy infrastructure. Chopra will focus on helping to develop a broadband plan by February 2010 and act on a cybersecurity initiative that will emphasize “game changing research and development, and collaboration with the private sector” to improve critical infrastructure and create bug-free software.
  • Create a culture of open and innovative government. Chopra says he will continue to work with federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra, the General Services Administration and others to “build capacity in the federal government for a culture of openness transparency,” to help advance the executive order Obama issued Jan. 21 that “commits the government to greater transparency, citizen participation and collaboration.”

Government Computer News also noted that Chopra “suggested one possibility of working with the General Services Administration to develop an ‘innovation sandbox’ where project ideas could be tested and shared across the government.”

CIO Kundra.  Vivek Kundra, in his maiden speech in March before the FOSE 2009 conference described the Administration’s “four pillars:” transparency via Web 2.0 tools; engaging citizens more effectively in their government; lowering the cost of government operations; and finding and exploiting innovations.

In addition, he has launched several initiatives:

  •  Kundra quickly moved to replicate an initiative he sponsored in the DC Government, which he has called “”  This entails posting raw government data on the internet and allowing it to be downloaded and used by citizens and businesses.  When it was launched on May 21st, there were under 100 data sets.  Kundra hopes to have 100,000 up by the end of this week.
  • IT Project Dashboards.  Another DC Government innovation was the monitoring of individual IT projects to ensure they were on track.  He says he will replicate that effort across the federal government and release a beta version of the dashboard by the end of June for the 25 largest federal agencies.
  • Cloud Computing.  The FY 2010 budget includes an ode to cloud computing (see section 9 of OMB’s Analytical Perspectives), lyrically noting:  “Cloud-computing is a convenient, on-demand model for network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Currently, the General Services Administration has a “request for information” out to industry to help define the parameters of cloud computing, hopefully in more understandable terms!

Calm Before the Storm

January 19, 2009

The concert on the Mall yesterday was a good start to the Inaugural festivities.  But today’s a bit quiet.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, though, in preparation for tomorrow.

Here are a few stories that begin to tee things up:


No Place to Go.  A Washington Post story this morning,“All That Experience and No Place to Go,” paints a picture of how many long-time Bush aides are just now deluging Washington headhunters with pleas for jobs . . . and the well is dry. They’ll soon find their calls aren’t being returned, as well:  “The traditional avenues of employment for outgoing officials – corporations, nonprofit foundations or think tanks – are clogged because of hiring freezes.”


Escort Services.  Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas reports in “Archives ‘ escorts this President into history,’” that the National Archives Presidential Libraries staff, headed by Sharon Fawcett, is already working overtime “right up to 12 Noon on Inauguration Day, trying to make sure that the paper trail of the Bush Administration’s eight years in office is preserved for history.”   Her efforts started back in October, with more than 400 support personnel involved.


Choreographed Move.  Newsweek’s “Powering Up” Blogger Daniel Stone reports in “A Carefully Choreographed Move,” that the White House staff will have exacting five hours to transform the three-story, 132-room structure from one family’s house into a home for another.”  Similarly, the General Services Administration will have to clear out the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the other associated offices with the Executive Office of the President to be ready for the new team.

Transition: Pulse Check

December 24, 2008
John Kamensky, Senior Fellow

John Kamensky, Senior Fellow

An article in yesterday’s Government Executive by Alyssa Rosenberg, “High-Stakes Transition Could Serve as a Model,” provides a good overview of what’s gone on so far and why doing thing right are so important: “The challenges of homeland security, the economic crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are so great that the Bush administration ramped up early for the transition, with more aggressive and comprehensive planning than ever before. And good government groups have worked to avoid overlap and to maximize their impact by uniting around a common agenda and coordinating their push for the swift confirmation and education of new political appointees.”

The next big hurdle will be the confirmation process.  A piece  by Federal News Radio,Faster, Faster: Speeding the Confirmation Process,” by Max Cacas, explores some of the hurdles with past appointees and Senators involved in the confirmation process. The finger-pointing in the delays go both ways.  However, according to Cacas, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “feels that a standard form for nominees personal information that could be shared between the executive branch, the FBI and the Senate could also help speed the confirmation process.”

. . . .I’ll be taking a few days off, so have a happy transition to the holiday season!

Some New Transition Resources

June 6, 2008

I’ve attended a couple conferences in the past week that focused on Web 2.0 possibilities for the next Administration. The
Government Leadership Summit
showcased several disruptive technologies that will likely be in place in the course of the next Administration. Chris Dorobek with Federal Computer Week did a great summary of its highlights on his blog.

The “Future of Collaborative Government,” co-sponsored by the National Academy for Public Administration and Deloitte Research, showcased cutting edge practitioners in Web 2.0 technologies in government and how they could be leveraged in the next Administration. The participants (and you) have been invited to participate in ”The Collaboration Project.”

In addition, Federal News Radio has launched a “Tracking the Transition” webpage. This might be worth bookmarking.

Also, Government Executive has created a “Presidential Transition” webpage as well. Again, worth bookmarking. This site links to a December 2007 Congressional Research Service report on presidential transition that provides useful background.

The IBM Center also has a Presidential Transition webpage that will be expanded over time. In addition to this blog, it has a page devoted to potential policy/management issues the next Administration may face. These include issue papers and reports on using open source intelligence, using Lean Six Sigma, reforming the budget process for Homeland Security, and others. Down the road, the site will include guides for operating agencies and advice from practitioners on getting things done in government.

Are there other resources you’d recommend adding to this list?

Corporate View of Presidential Transition

May 27, 2008

INPUT, a research company that tracks government business, released a special report in April: “Industry Leaders’ Guide to the 2008 Administration Transition” that does a pretty good job of summarizing how a transition works and what the landscape of business opportunities will look like during the transition period.


While the report is written from the perspective of potential contractor opportunities and what private industry leaders should be aware of, it does a good job of describing the dynamics of a transition.  Even government insiders would find useful insights in the report:


It describes a number of factors that will set the stage for the next administration, such as the rising deficit, security challenges, and healthcare costs.  According to Government Executive, it summarizes the impact of a transition on agency and program leadership, budgets, programs, and procurement.  And it identifies a series of opportunities for contractors, such as continuing needs to improve government performance in government operations, healthcare, security, and citizen services.


The report details a series of opportunities where technology will likely be the enabler.  It details candidate positions in areas such as Gov 2.0, telework, health technology, and green technology. The report also includes a prognosis of the future for a series of ongoing initiatives supported by the current Administration, such as elements of the President’s Management Agenda, the Administration’s e-gov initiatives, and the various lines of business initiatives.


 In summary, Federal News Radio notes that the report is an interesting set of predictions for both government and business readers regarding the federal management landscape in 2009.