Friday, April 5, 2019
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the week of April 1-5, 2019.

John Kamensky

GAO on VA IT. The Government Accountability Office testified on the IT challenges at the Department of Veterans Affairs, noting: “Despite spending over $4 billion annually on IT . . . VA still doesn't have IT systems that fully support critical services—e.g., veterans health care, the Family Caregiver Program, and disability benefits.”

New Farmer Features. NextGov reports: “The Agriculture Department unveiled new features on today that aim to help customers better manage their farm loans and more easily navigate the application process for H-2A visas, which enable employers to bring in foreign workers for seasonal and temporary labor.”

“Progress Made, But More Work Needed.”  In recycling a classic report title, the Government Accountability Office report on the Department of Homeland Security states: “Although DHS has remained on our High Risk List since 2003, the department has made considerable progress. This testimony discusses DHS’s progress and actions still needed to strengthen and integrate its management functions.”

Questions on OPM Reorg. FederalNewsNetwork reports: “Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee . . . sent [a letter] to acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert, which invited her to testify on the reorganization proposal at subcommittee hearing scheduled for May 1. . . . To prepare for the hearing, Connolly has asked for a long list of documents related to the OPM reorganization, including plans, a timeline, proposed inter-agency agreements and a wide array of communication, meeting notes and other reports prepared by outside consultants who are working on the merger.”

NSF Awards Workforce Challenge Grants.  Federal Times reports: “The National Science Foundation awarded $5,000 each to five ideas that would use technology to promote training and development in the federal workforce, the agency announced March 29. . . . The Career Compass Challenge, which will be conducted in two parts worth a total of $100,000 in prize money, aims to help agencies address the currently rapid rate of change in workforce needs by crowdsourcing from the American public.”

Michael Keegan

How to right-size DHS cyber funding. With proposed cybersecurity funding levels flat for 2020, does the Department of Homeland Security have the resources to protect federal civilian networks?

Bureaucracies as learning organizations. Bureaucracies are not great at learning how to do things better. There is a literature among organizational scholars advocating "learning organizations" capable of figuring out over time how to do their jobs better, but the question is whether government bureaucracies can ever fit that bill.

VA tells Congress that key Mission Act IT tool will work. A U.S. Digital Services team report recommended scrapping a tool needed for the June 6 implementation of a law that pays for veterans' healthcare outside the VA system.

OPM issues final rule on direct-hire for cyber. The Office of Personnel Management has issued its final rule to give agencies the authority to more easily hire for IT and cyber positions.

Culture: How People Behave and Interact. The authors of The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work believe that everyone should be able to like where they work.  Workplace culture is really about how people behave and interact. This includes how decisions are made, how disagreements are voiced, how conflict is resolved, and how people connect when they pass in the hall. Culture is the relational environment in which we work, and it’s how we work together. The simplest way we’ve come to describe culture is, “It’s the way things work around here.”


Next Week on The Business of Government HourConversation with Robert Goldenkoff, Director, Strategic Issues, Government Accountability Office.  How does the work of the Government Accountability Office advance public service? What are some of the key leadership challenges facing U.S. federal agencies? Join host Michael Keegan from the 2019 ASPA Annual Conference as he explores these questions and more with Robert Goldenkoff, Director, Strategic Issues, Government Accountability Office.

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

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