Friday, May 14, 2021
Highlighting articles and insights that we have found interesting for the week ending May 10, 2021

Federal CIO Martorana: $1B TMF lets agencies ‘apply for projects that previously were out of their reach’. With the release of the new guidance last week for agencies to submit proposals to receive some of the $1 billion in the Technology Modernization Fund, Federal Chief Information Officer Clare Martorana issued her first major policy decision that her fellow CIOs, industry and especially Congress will be watching the implementation of closely. Martorana offered some insights through email responses to Federal News Network questions about the TMF guidance, the board’s plans and why agencies should apply for the additional money.

White House launches artificial intelligence information portal. Last week, the White House launched, an information hub for the federal government’s artificial intelligence activities. The website collects the laws, regulations, plans and reports that guide federal AI work; news about AI’s use in the public and private sectors; and information on government’s AI committees and task forces. AI promises breakthroughs in all aspects of government’s work, from predicting future events to interacting with citizens to paperwork processing. The website highlights this potential, as successive presidential administrations recognize AI’s growing importance in every aspect of our professional and personal lives.

Biden signs much-anticipated cybersecurity executive order. President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed his long-awaited executive order designed to confront the myriad of cybersecurity challenges facing the country -- ranging from the supply chain attack that compromised nine federal agencies to ransomware that ultimately shut down a natural gas pipeline last week. “This Executive Order makes a significant contribution toward modernizing cybersecurity defenses by protecting federal networks, improving information-sharing between the U.S. government and the private sector on cyber issues, and strengthening the United States’ ability to respond to incidents when they occur,” according to a White House statement on the EO.

TSA's role in pipeline security looks like a weak link to some in government and industrial. Lawmakers and government officials are re-examining the Transportation Security Administration's place in regulating the cybersecurity of the country's natural gas pipelines in the wake of the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline's business systems. The office responsible for those policies is historically short staffed and the agency has yet to address several issues brought up by government auditors in December 2018.

CISA chief says cyber order is doable but will 'stretch the system'. The executive order, which was published Wednesday night, contains deadlines for CISA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies to begin reworking the government's cybersecurity with some timelines as short as 30 days from its signing.

Highlight benefits to bring private sector finance talent to government, advises management expert. Agencies will soon feel budget pressure from the Biden administration’s new budget request and the cash agencies will have to spend from stimulus bills. Federal chief financial officers have a secret weapon to keep their organizations fresh during the crush.  Mallory Barg Bulman, Research Director of Finance Process Excellence at Gartner, said up to 6% of private sector workers would prefer to work in the government, according to new research.

Lessons from the Pandemic for Government Leaders at Every Level: COVID-19 laid bare both the shortcomings and virtues of federalism. Government’s responses to the pandemic’s challenges also have revealed profound challenges of governance. The battle against COVID-19 won’t be the last against a pandemic. Nor is it the last multi-faceted crises that will demand concerted and coordinated action. It’s time to assess lessons learned. 

Treasury to Begin Distribution of $350 Billion for State, Local Governments. The Treasury Department will begin to distribute $350 billion in federal aid to state and local governments in the coming days, officials announced Monday as they issued long-awaited guidance on how the funds can be spent. From covering payroll and benefits for public health workers primarily deployed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic to replenishing unemployment insurance trust funds, the guidance provides state and local governments specifics on a broad range of spending options eligible under the American Rescue Plan. 

Gray rhinos in government. Nick Wakeman, the editor of Washington Technology, spoke with Steve Kelman to learn more about black swans and gray rhinos. In his podcast, he explored my views, which I blogged about in January. Though the phrase "black swan" is better known, I think gray rhinos -- the problems everyone knows are there but we refuse to deal with -- are much more of a problem in government. You can listen to the full podcast below.


Act now, or expect to replace a lot of employees. The pandemic clarified for many workers that they need more than what their current employers are offering, but smart leadership can help these people grow in place and avoid a costly talent exodus, writes Julie Winkle Giulioni. "Learning, growth and development are at the top of the list of things that keep people where they are or inspire them to look elsewhere," she writes. SmartBrief/Leadership

Employees don't want to return to bad office cultures. The reopening of offices needs to be accompanied by a restoration of work culture and subcultures that engage employees and offer meaning, belonging and autonomy, writes Michael Lee Stallard. He offers a list of questions for leaders to ask themselves about current cultural, engagement and retention practices. SmartBrief/Leadership

Which strategy tactic is right for you? Forecasting models are good for organizations seeking to make near-term decisions with the assumption that little will change, while scenario planning is best for creating strategies that anticipate disruptions and uncover opportunities, writes Lance Mortlock of Ernst & Young. He offers six questions leaders should ask to ensure they're choosing the right model. Leadership Now

8 steps to make task delegation easier. Ease into delegation by giving small projects to trusted team members, training them, being clear about results and giving them decision-making power, writes Naphtali Hoff, who also explains John C. Maxwell's 10-80-10 formula. "Over time, you'll receive great dividends while also alleviating some of the crushing burdens that often sit on a leader's shoulders," Hoff writes. SmartBrief/Leadership

Why it's time to stop "innovation theater" Economic, societal and consumer shifts have created a situation where truly unorthodox thinking is required, not just to find different solutions but to rethink the questions themselves, writes Jeffrey Phillips. "Very few people or businesses think the unthinkable about themselves until they are left with no other options," he writes. Innovate on Purpose

Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: A Conversation with Dr. Ron Jarmin, Acting Director, U.S. Census Bureau. What are the strategic priorities of the U.S. Census Bureau? How is Census improving its data collection and data products? What is the Census Bureau doing to innovate and make a difference? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with  Dr. Ron Jarmin, Acting director at the U.S. Census Bureau next week on The Business of Government Hour.

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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