Weekly Roundup: January 29 – February 2, 2018
Citizen Satisfaction Rises. NextGov reports: “Citizen satisfaction reached an 11-year high last year, rising 2.5 percent to 69.7 according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which rates federal agencies annually on a 0 to 100 scale.”
Reorg: SWAMP Act. Government Executive reports: “Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., recently introduced the Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies from Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act, which would encourage federal agencies to relocate their headquarters to areas outside of Washington, D.C. The bill (H.R. 4863) would repeal a requirement in place since the country’s infancy that requires federal agency headquarters to be located in the capital, while creating a bidding process for states or municipalities to entice agency heads to move offices inside their borders.
Reorg: DOD takes first step. Federal News Radio reports: “A Jan. 31 memo obtained by Federal News Radio and signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan outlines just how the Pentagon will split its acquisition office into an office of research and engineering and an office of acquisition and sustainment. Congress mandated the split in the 2017 defense authorization act.”
Reorg: Energy Department. Federal News Radio reports: “In December 2017, [Secretary Rick] Perry reversed an Obama-era decision to merge the positions of undersecretary of science and undersecretary of energy. . . . “This new structure will support American energy dominance, enhance our energy and national security, and improve outcomes in environmental management while ensuring DOE remains the leader in scientific innovation,” Perry said.”
Eliminating Layers. In a commentary column in Government Executive, Howard Risher notes that the government reorganization memo signed by President Trump back in April may have far-reaching implications: “One recommended change—the elimination of a layer or more of management—will have far-reaching implications. Such a move would reduce the workforce and expand the supervisory responsibilities of executives and managers, making continued micromanagement impractical.”
Streamlining Federal Firing. Federal News Radio sums up five bills to improve federal worker accountability by making them easier to remove. However: “If history has taught us anything, passing a new, governmentwide accountability legislation that mirrors the VA Accountability Act won’t be a smooth ride for lawmakers.”
You Can’t Fire Your Way to Success. In a commentary column in Government Executive, Don Kettl writes: “we simply can’t fire our way to success. The federal government unquestionably needs to perform better. There’s no excuse for vets who have to wait for good health care or for poor performance anywhere in government. But if we’re going to improve the way the federal government works, we need to give managers the flexibility they need to get the right people, in the right places with the right skills at the right times, to do what we want the government to do.”
Can You Buy Innovation? Federal Computer Week writes: “Barry West, senior accountable officer for risk management at DHS, cited events like the reverse industry day and the Procurement Innovation Lab, which is designed to lower barriers of entry and create an experimental environment for non-traditional contractors, as examples of the ways DHS has attempted to embrace and foster innovation in recent years.”
Shared Services at USDA. Federal Computer Week reports: “The Department of Agriculture is looking to consolidate internal operations and get help from outside the department to carry out its modernization plans.”
Acquisition Reform: Volume I. Federal News Radio reports: “The advisory panel Congress established to help streamline the Defense Department’s acquisition system said Wednesday that DoD should be allowed to eliminate more than a dozen different legally-mandated offices and positions within its bureaucracy, cease the annual publication of at least 20 reports to Congress that are of questionable value, and repeal 165 government-unique contract requirements as some of the first steps toward bringing more agility to the department’s procurement of goods and services.”
President Trump looks to expand VA's firing authority governmentwide. In his first State of the Union, President Donald Trump touted the Department of Veterans Affairs' use of new power to terminate low-performing employees, and wants Congress to expand the measure to cover all agencies. Trump praised the VA Accountability Act, passed by Congress last June, which gives expedited firing authority to the VA chief.
USDA plans to centralize CIO role. The Department of Agriculture is looking to consolidate internal operations and get help from outside the department to carry out its modernization plans. As part of its reorganization efforts, USDA wants to combine the mission-support operations of the Risk Management Agency, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, RMA CIO Chad Sheridan said at GovExec's Citizen Digital Summit Jan. 31.
Will the Coast Guard go commercial on health records? After spending seven years and almost $60 million on a failed electronic health records system, the Coast Guard is back to using paper. Many lawmakers are urging a commercial solution.
DHS secretary: Focus on the systemic cyber risks. Block-and-tackle cybersecurity tactics are no longer effective, Kirstjen Nielsen said, so DHS and its partners must act together to address the evolving threats.
Announcing the 2018 Fed 100. Congratulations to all the men and women being honored for their outstanding contributions to federal IT.
* * * * * * *Dave Grant, Former Associate Administrator of FEMA’s Mission Support Bureau to reflect on his public service career and his leadership roles.
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If you can't wait, though, you can listen to (or download) this week's program and all our previous interviews at businessofgovernment.org.