Friday, October 6, 2017
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the weeks of September 25 – October 6, 2017.

John Kamensky

Cold War Moment.  NextGov reports: “The federal government’s reliance on outdated technology and need to modernize systems is one problem Republicans, Democrats and most everyone else can agree on, according to Matt Lira, special assistant to the president for innovation, policy and initiatives,” much like there was bipartisan agreement during the Cold War.

Restore Trust. Government Executive reports from the same event: “The time is “ripe” for agencies to deliver dramatic change in how they satisfy customers through the efficiency vehicle of shared services, Matt Lira, special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives, said on Tuesday.”

Blended Workforce.  Federal News Radio reports on a study by New York University Professor Paul Light: “About 2 million federal employees, 3.7 million contractors, nearly 1.6 million grant employees, 1.3 million active-duty military members and 492,000 postal workers all make up the “blended federal workforce,” Light said in his latest report on the topic.”

IT Relay Race.  FedScoop reports from the same event: “From issues like IT modernization to stronger cybersecurity, Lira said he sees the Trump administration and OAI in a kind of relay race where the baton has been passed from the previous administration as a way to continue improving the government and how it serves its citizens, regardless of party stripe.”

Evidence Commission Hearing on Hill. Government Executive reports: “Four members of the recent congressionally chartered Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking on Tuesday faced skepticism from lawmakers about their proposals to add new agency implementation staff. They also glimpsed some political fireworks that could threaten what has been a bipartisan project.”

Gov Reorg: State Department.  Government Executive reports: “The State Department insisted on Tuesday it is not aiming to shrink the influence of its workforce or the role of U.S. diplomacy in the world, saying during a congressional hearing the cost cutting it achieves through its redesign would instead free its employees from burdensome bureaucratic hurdles.” Separately, Federal News Radio reports: “The State Department is shuffling its decks in a reorganization that’s leaving employees feeling uncertain, but State officials say the changes could save $5 billion to $10 billion.”

Gov Reorg:  More Flex Needed? Federal Computer Week reports: “Expansion of shared services and reductions in workforce are expected to feature prominently in the White House's plan to reorganize the federal government, but agencies may need some legislative help to fully implement their proposals.”

A Toe-Dipping Gentle Transition. Federal News Radio reports: “The DATA Act’s May implementation deadline was “just the beginning” for federal agencies standardizing their spending reports, but for the Homeland Security Department, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act was more of a springboard than a starting line.”

SES Survey. Federal News Radio reports: “A new survey from Deloitte and the Senior Executives Association found senior executives are feeling rather pessimistic and jaded about their agencies’ propensity to make deep, meaningful change. . . . Though 61 percent of surveyed executives said they feel empowered to drive major changes, a slim majority — 52 percent — agreed they can restructure their job responsibilities to readily respond to new ideas.”

Trio of GAO Reports.  GAO released a trio of noteworthy reports last week that deserve more attention than they received in the media:


Michael Keegan

IRS IT leaders didn't know about $7M Equifax award. IRS CIO Gina Garza told Congress that she and other tech officials at the tax agency did not sign off on a $7 million contract awarded to Equifax a month after the credit monitoring firm disclosed a massive data breach.

Are USDS and 18F becoming part of the govtech ecosystem? Steve Kelman talks to both digital recruits and longtime feds about the benefits -- and lingering tensions -- that come from digital service teams.

How big is the federal workforce, really? According to New York University Professor Paul Light’s calculations measuring the exact size of the federal workforce over time may not tell the full story.

US Air Force secretary: JSTARS recap decision coming this month . By the end of the month, the Air Force will have completed a “rapid assessment”to determine whether the service can use existing platforms to accomplish the JSTARS mission.

Mattis' call for closer ties welcomed by industry. The DoD and the aerospace and defense industry share a common goal of maintaining, building and enhancing our war fighters’technological advantage. We never want to be in the position of sending our troops into a fight without a decisive edge.

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This Week’s The Business of Government Radio Show. 

Bob Rosen
Author of Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED.

If you can't wait, though, you can listen to (or download) this week's program and all our previous interviews at


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