Friday, April 17, 2020
Highlighting articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending April 17, 2020

Michael J. Keegan

Agencies look to digital financial outlets to disburse relief funds. As IRS and the Small Business Administration tap digital-only financial firms to assist in relief funding, concerns are emerging about cybersecurity vulnerabilities and fraud.

DOD's telework surge could be permanent. A new emphasis on telework at the Defense Department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could change work culture at the Pentagon, officials said. DOD rolled out the CVR or Commercial Virtual Remote environment to handle the deluge of teleworkers March 27. It now has 900,000 user accounts with 250,000 added in a single day, officials said at an April 13 briefing.

Navy speeds acquisition amid COVID-19 outbreak. The Navy has been awarding contracts faster since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but one of the biggest gains have been systems that can assess supply chain weaknesses, according to James Geurts, the Navy's acquisition chief. The Navy has spent the past two years building systems that can provide real-time visibility into its supply chain, where there were gaps for major programs. They've now overlapped that capability with hot-spot data, indicating where companies have shut down or there's been an influx in cases, Geurts said during a virtual fireside chat for the Navy League's Sea Air Space 2020 conference April 15.

Procurement challenges step up to the COVID-19 plate.  Long-time blog readers may remember my frequently expressed enthusiasm for contests (“challenges” in government jargon) as an innovative procurement technique for government. Research on the use of contests in the private sector by Harvard Business School professor Karim Lakhani shows that many winners are small, garage players -- often students who would never bid on conventional government procurements, and contests therefore reduce barriers to entry to government contracting. The Army has now decided to deploy a procurement contest for better and cheaper ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.

Vision and planning are how you survive a crisis. Neither hope nor pessimism will help leaders as much as declaring a vision and outlining a plan to get there, writes Michael Hyatt. He gives as an example the Apollo 13 lunar mission, in which astronauts and ground control were able to acknowledge the disaster occurring while creating a way forward. Michael Hyatt

Small, connected teams are needed during a crisis. Companies need a centralized group to manage this crisis, with that hub building a variety of teams dedicated to critical operations and quickly changing realities. This McKinsey report details what a "network of teams" means and why teams should be led by "creative problem solvers with critical thinking skills." McKinsey

9 decision-making biases you might suffer from. The coronavirus pandemic reveals at least nine common decision-making biases affecting people and companies, such as prioritizing the status quo, gravitating toward information that reinforces our beliefs and assuming the worst of those we disagree with, writes Babson College professor Thomas Davenport. "Emotion-driven beliefs and intuition are powerful at guiding people toward less-than-optimal decisions," he writes. MIT Sloan Management Review (tiered subscription model)

8 Strategies for Becoming a More Persuasive Leader. The ability to persuade and influence others is an essential trait for any innovator. A leader must be able to successfully motivate and inspire their team to rally together, implement a new idea or achieve a common goal. So how can a leader build their influence? We asked a group of successful entrepreneurs for tips on developing the power of persuasion. Here are the strategies they recommend if you want to become more influential among your colleagues.

How to Develop A Success Mindset. Ryan Gottfredson challenges leaders to develop one of four leadership success mindsets. Change your thinking, change your results.

Leadership and Management Book Talk Podcast. Books on Crisis Leadership. Wally Bock and Art Petty draw heavily from history and biography to focus on preparation, action, and resilience. 

John Kamensky

OMB on Transparency Spending for COVID. Government Executive reports: “The Office of Management and Budget published a memo with guidelines for agencies to follow as they ramp up spending through various programs under three recent coronavirus relief bills, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

OMB on Repurposing Grants for COVID. Government Executive reports: “Under an exception ordered by the Office of Management and Budget, agencies can allow grant recipients to donate medical equipment and supplies purchased with federal funds to hospitals and other local entities serving the public in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. The exception also applies to labor and contract services funded by federal agencies.”

DOD IT Upgrade for COVID. Government Executive reports: “On March 27, the Pentagon rolled out a Commercial Virtual Remote environment, or CVR — basically, a big cloud-based web service for videoconferencing, collaboration, and the like — in order to help troops, employees, and contractors get work done at home during the pandemic. The CVR now has 900,000 user accounts.”

City-State Friction on COVID. RouteFifty reports: “In the fight against the coronavirus, some city officials acted earlier, or went further, than their state leaders with public health measures meant to curb the spread of the respiratory illness. It’s a dynamic that has at times led to tensions and clashes over whether cities have the power to adopt certain policies under state law.”

Using Procurement Challenges to Fight COVID. Steve Kelman writes in FCW: “The basic idea behind a procurement challenge is that the government announces a problem it seeks to have solved. Anyone may then submit their solution, and the government chooses a winner or winners . . . The Army has now decided to deploy a procurement contest for better and cheaper ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.”

Removing Barriers for COVID. In an op-ed for Government Executive, Stan Soloway writes: “it is critically important that Congress include funding for technology modernization in the next COVID response legislation. . . . but we won’t get much value in return if we don’t also attack the underlying business processes and policies that drive sub-optimization.”

GAO’s Pandemics Page. GAO has created a one-stop landing page containing “Lessons to inform federal preparedness for and response to public health crises, including pandemics like COVID-19.”

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Next Week on A Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Authors Series with Lisa Mosley and David Ngo. What can be done to reduce administrative burden in the federal research grants process to universities? How can the regulatory burden be reduced and efficient practices promoted? How does the CARES ACT in response to the recent pandemic impact federal grant making? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Lisa Mosley and David Ngo co-authors with Jeremy Forsberg of the IBM Center report, Reducing Administrative Burden in Federal Research Grants to Universities.

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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