Friday, August 9, 2019
Articles from across the Web that we at the IBM Center for The Business of Government found interesting for the week of August 5-9, 2019.

John Kamensky

Customer Experience Legislation. NextGov reports: “the Federal Agency Customer Experience, or FACE Act, cleared the Senate on July 25. The bill was introduced in May by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H, and James Lankford, R-Okla., and shared key tenets of previous legislation that passed the Senate in 2017 and House in 2018. . . . The revised bill would simplify and expedite how federal agencies gather public feedback regarding customer experience and service delivery.”

CDOs: The List. FedScoop reports: “As of July 13, all CFO Act agencies were to have appointed a nonpolitical chief data officer. This requirement of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act included a little wiggle room, however — the law set a separate deadline of Aug. 2 for agencies to post the name of this official publicly  . . . So now that the second deadline has come and gone — where do we stand? Agency response to the new requirement, it turns out, is a bit of a mixed bag. Here’s an overview of the current status quo.”

Reskilling Training. Federal News Network reports: “When it comes to reskilling and training their employees for future IT opportunities, agencies are beginning to learn one size truly does not fit all. . . . It’s why the Trump administration is engaged in several pilots designed to provide new career opportunities in IT for federal employees at all levels.”

Progress on Joint VA-DOD Electronic Health Records? Federal Times reports: “The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are eyeing the end of the summer for significant advances in their efforts for a new, joint electronic health record, a move that both bureaucracies have made the long-term centerpiece of medical reforms for their patients. . . . In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the move a key initial step in getting his department on the same records system as the military, a goal of both departments for decades that has remained frustratingly incomplete.”

Trusting Tech? Government Computer News reports: “The role of algorithms in our lives is growing rapidly, from simply suggesting online search results or content in our social media feed, to more critical matters like helping doctors determine our cancer risk. . . . But how do we know we can trust an algorithm’s decision?”

Reorg: State Department. Federal News Network reports on a new GAO report: “State Department leadership changes have stalled some of the agency’s reorganization efforts. . . . . The agency has told GAO it’ll review its list of reorganization efforts and will let the Office of Management and Budget know which projects it’ll try and move forward on.

Improving Labor. Federal News Network reports: “The Labor Department has quietly turned the corner on a host of management priorities. . . . And while it’s far from perfect, many of Labor’s achievements can be attributed to familiarity. . . . But maybe the most important reason for Labor’s progress is it’s the second tour of duty for Patrick Pizzella, the acting secretary.”

Lasting Effects of Shutdown. USA Today reports: “Six months after the government reopened, the effects of the partial shutdown that ended Jan. 25 are still being felt – in airports and national parks, by international travelers, by government agencies who have seen an exodus of employees, and by government contractors who say missed paychecks meant personal sacrifices like skipping mortgage payments and forgoing needed medicine.”

Four Reasons to be Data Skeptical. In an FCW commentary column, Steve Kelman highlights an article he read who started by saying: ““I’m a data scientist who is skeptical about data,” written by the NYU data science professor Andrea Jones-Rooy. Her article is worth reading. . . . There are four kinds of reasons, Jones-Rooy says, why the data being thrown at us may not be accurate and hence believable.”

AI Is More Than a Tool. In commentary for Federal News Network, Jeff Neal writes: ““This post is the first of a series that will look at the impact of AI. Rather than addressing it in broad terms, future posts will take a look at one type of federal job and examine how the work is performed today and what we can expect as technology develops. I will also make some recommendations on how that transition can come about and what will happen to the employees.”

Fiscal Impact of Climate Change. Governing reports: “As extreme weather increasingly wreaks havoc, credit rating agencies want more information about how vulnerable each state and local government's economy is to climate change.. . . . Moody's Corporation, which owns one of the largest U.S. credit rating agencies, recently purchased a major stake in Four Twenty Seven, a company that analyzes climate risks, such as sea level rise, heat stress and storms, to companies and governments.”