Wednesday, January 15, 2014
A recent news story of how the on-line shoe company Zappos has eliminated the position of manager has raised again the question of whether management matters. A new Harvard Business Review article says “yes,” and they have the data to prove it.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Slow reading, deep thinking.

I'm sharing only two links today.  The first is to a trend piece from Fast CoDesign on trends for 2014.  Some of the more salient ones:

  • Anonymity will go mainstream
  • Quanitified Self at the Office
  • Consumers Will Own Their Data
  • The Internet of Things Goes to Art School

The second is this story from NPR, with accompanying infographic, on all the jobs in America.  An amazing data-driven story with all sorts of implications for government, the private sector, and a case study in how to tell a visual story based on its underlying numbers.


John Kamensky

  • Tracking Administrative Costs at DHS.  Government Executive’s Charles Clark writes “The Homeland Security Department could help Congress better evaluate its nearly $60 billion annual budget if it separated spending on management and administrative functions from spending on fulfilling its mission, an audit found.”  A recently-released GAO report, auditors concluded:   “Because components define M&A [management and administrative expenses] differently, have different methods for identifying spending, and limitations exist in obtaining data, it is not possible to compare components’ M&A spending data from fiscal years 1999 through 2013.”
  • Will Tech Succeed in the Census 2020?  Reid Davenport, Federal Computer Week, writes that many agencies are beginning to rethink massive IT projects in the wake of the startup problems encountered by  However, he writes,  “The Census Bureau's goal is to have at least 60 percent of responses for the 2020 census submitted electronically, driving down the cost for postage, paper and employees' time.”
  • What Would You Do with Transparency in Federal Spending?  According to Sean Reilly, Federal Times, the advisory Government Accountability Transparency Board will hold a public meeting on January 22nd to ask members of the public questions such as:  “What questions are you trying to answer with federal spending information?” 
  • Do We Need Managers?  Jena McGregor, Washington Post, wrote an article about how the on-line shoe company Zappos has decided to eliminate the role of traditional managers in favor of a flat organization structure.  Interestingly, a recent Harvard Business Review article on Google’s management reflects a different perspective.  There, line staff decided, based on data and analytics, that having managers made sense (it’s a pay-walled article, but I’ll write a blog post about it in the near future).
  • OMB Banks on Value Engineering.  Andy Medici, Federal Times, writes that OMB is directing agencies to consider “using value engineering – a process used to make better decisions at lower costs –in most new projects. . . . Agencies must consider using value engineering on any project that would cost more than $5 million, and are required to identify a senior official responsible for ensuring the use of value engineering at the agency.”


Michael Keegan

OMB revising data breach reporting requirements
The Government Accountability Office in a recent report found the requirement for agencies to report data breaches to the Homeland Security Department within one hour of discovering the incident is of little value. DHS' U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team told GAO that the one-hour time frame doesn't give a clear picture of the reported incident and the information isn't used to help remediate incidents or provide technical support to agencies. 

GSA losing four key senior executives
Four high-ranking officials are leaving the General Services Administration. They are Deputy Administrator Susan Brita; CIO Casey Coleman; Kelly Olson, director of Strategic Initiatives; and Sheila Campbell, director of the Center for Excellence in the Digital Government Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies

Defense Health Agency comes into shape through IT shared services 
The new Defense Health Agency's ability to merge several different technology platforms is as much an anthropological effort as it is a technology puzzle. DHA's IT staff eventually will be more than 8,000 strong and will rely heavily on shared services to meet its mission. 

Interview: Frank Kendall, U.S. defense acquisition chief
Frank Kendall, U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in procurement programs. But that has not stopped him from taking on some side projects. 


The Business of Government Radio Show: Dr. Anthony Fauci

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government.

What are the strategic priorities of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases? What has been learned about emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases? What’s on the horizon for the NIAID? Join host Michael Keegan as he explore these questions and more with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director, NIAID.

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Wednesday at noon, 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 and by searching our audio archives.