Friday, December 11, 2020
Highlighting articles and insights that we have found interesting for the period ending December 10, 2020

Michael J. Keegan

Navy moves to eliminate duplicative systems. The Navy's CIO wants to accelerate the shutdown of duplicative IT systems, networks and applications, according to a recent memo. "The Department of the Navy maintains an excessive number of information technology systems, networks, and applications in an overly complex architecture, which affects the Department's ability to transform operations and remain agile in responding to and gaining a competitive edge over our adversaries," the Navy said in the Dec. 2 memo's opening line. "This situation is unacceptable and must not continue."

NDAA includes new acquisition pilot for consumption-based solutions. Acquisition reform appears to be losing some momentum to go by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, but Congress is urging the Pentagon to pilot consumption-based buying and cloud, according to language in the conference report. Congress later took it up in the 2020 defense authorization bill, asking for a study of the contracting approach, but it was unclear whether anything was done. This year, Congress called for a pilot. The consumption-based pilot program involves an agency getting billed for how much it uses, would help DOD evaluate how such contracts address software-intensive warfighting capability. The pilot would also include "military applications beyond software."

Pandemic spotlights the promise and weakness of government tech. Although many federal, state and local government agencies were able to use technology to continue and adapt their operations and service delivery during the pandemic, experts are saying that more action is needed to maintain current activities and prepare for future crises. Innovations might have come "out of necessity," said Katie Malague, the vice president of government effectiveness at the Partnership for Public Service. "But now we can take those lessons and apply them to a new normal."

Ask this question to put 2020 into perspective. Take time to grieve the lost opportunities from 2020, but also reflect on the possibilities revealed by the pandemic, writes Jon Lokhorst. "What has 2020 made possible?" can "help you find significance, meaning, and purpose in this season, even if your circumstances don't change," he writes. Lead Change

Planning isn't optional. The best plans take into account all the obstacles while laying out daily activities that move the project forward, writes Scott Young. "If anything, planning is what's being procrastinated on -- you avoid figuring out what the real thing you need to do is, because it's safer to daydream about it instead," he writes. Scott H. Young

Why silence is part of good communication. Pauses are good because they help everyone to listen better and absorb information, and allowing for silence is also more considerate, writes Lisa Kohn. "We cut others off mid-thought, mid-sentence, and even mid-word sometimes, and somehow think it's okay," she writes.

John Kamensky

USDA Dashboards. Federal News Network reports: “The past two years the Agriculture Department spent making some major investments in its data infrastructure have paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. . . . As part of this enterprise analytics modernization, USDA stood up more than 500 dashboards that cut across mission areas and C-suite offices.”

Abolished.  Federal News Network reports: “Considering that last year’s Defense authorization bill explicitly said Congress intended to do away with the position of DoD chief management officer in this year’s bill, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the final legislation unveiled last week would do just that. What’s maybe more surprising is what lawmakers decided to replace the CMO’s office with: absolutely nothing.”

Codes Matter.  RouteFifty reports: “Constructing homes and other structures to meet modern building codes has saved  billions of dollars in losses from natural disasters like flooding and hurricanes over the past two decades, according to new estimates. But many local governments are behind getting these standards in place. . . . 65% of counties, cities and towns across the country have not yet adopted modern building codes.”

Making a Statement. Government Executive reports: “The signers of this statement include both former senior career executives and presidential appointees of both parties, all of whom cherished the opportunity to serve the presidency. We oppose the misconceived effort to change the status of OMB career staff and thereby cause long-term damage to one of the key institutions of our government.”

Seven Steps. Don Kettl writes a commentary column in Governing: “We've struggled for months to get a COVID-19 testing regime in place. To immunize the population, we need to ramp up an effort seven times larger and do it in half the time. To accomplish this — and the rest of what it seeks to accomplish — Biden's administration needs to pursue a seven-part intergovernmental plan.”

Kind Words. Government Executive reports: “President-elect Biden has consistently offered kind words to career federal employees, promising as a candidate and during the transition to rely on their expertise and rebuild agencies he says Trump has hollowed out. . . . So far, the nominees Biden has announced to lead those agencies are striking a similar tone.”

Chief Customer Officer.  NextGov reports: “President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration should work with Congress to create a federal chief customer officer to oversee the government’s customer experience efforts, according to a report by Forrester.”

Reforms to Presidential Transition Process. Federal Times reports: “The complexity of the 2020 presidential transition — due to legally contested results and an ongoing pandemic that has already forced many federal agencies to rework their operations — has caused many members of Congress and good government groups to rethink how transitions should be executed in the future.”

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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Lt. General Ronald Place.  What are the Defense Health Agency’s strategies priorities? What is the Defense Health Agency doing to change the way DoD delivers healthcare? How is DHA responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Lt General Ronald Place, Director, Defense Health Agency that is next week The Business of Government. Next week on The Business of Government Hour.

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