Countdown: IT projects in danger, DoD flash drive breach

This week’s Federal News Countdown features: —Jon Desenberg of the Performance Institute
Tom Simmons of Citrix

And major thanks to Joyce Bosc for the birthday cupcakes!!

Desenberg: Can activists thrive in the government workforce? From The Washington Post:

“Does the federal government welcome activists? If you want to change the status quo, does it make sense to join a mammoth institution that sometimes is a protector of the way things are, rather than the way they ought to be?


“Shirley Sherrod was a longtime activist before she enlisted with the Obama administration as an appointed official in the Agriculture Department’s rural development program in Georgia…

“Secretary Tom Vilsack fired Sherrod on the basis of incomplete remarks she made about race that were taken completely out of context.”

Simmons: Observer: Managers have reason to be wary of telework

“With the passage of legislation in both the House and Senate, telework is quickly moving from concept to reality in the federal government. The challenge now becomes implementing telework policies while ensuring that agency operations and performance remain high and providing clear guidance and expectations. Federal managers and executives will be on the front lines of getting this done effectively.

“Managers and executives are often cited as a barrier to telework. It is not a dislike of the program that causes supervisors to be skeptical, but rather the difficulties in ensuring that employees follow their telework policies correctly and in assessing productivity when an employee works from home. Supervisors also have encountered employees who are inaccessible by phone to customers while working at home, and some who have resisted coming in for a necessary meeting because it was called on their scheduled telework day. It is these experiences and the sense of entitlement that seems to occur among some employees who telework that have led to supervisors’ resistance to putting a telework program in place.”

Desenberg: Pentagon Confirms Flash Drive Breached Military Network
From InformationWeek:

“The most significant breach of U.S. military computers occurred in 2008 when an infected Flash drive was inserted into a U.S. military laptop in the Middle East.

“The incident is discussed publicly for the first time by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn in an article published on Wednesday on the Foreign Affairs Web site.

“Lynn does not provide details about what information was compromised, but asserts that the breach was the most significant ever for the Department of Defense and that it served as a wake-up call.”

Simmons: OMB targets fixes for mission critical IT projects

“The Office of Management and Budget is throwing a lifeline, of sorts, to some of the most troubled and yet mission-critical federal technology projects.

“Just days after completing a review of some of the most at-risk IT projects as outlined in a July 28 memo, federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra Monday unveiled a list of 26 high priority projects, which he calls mission critical, and which will receive top-level attention at the 15 agencies in the weeks and months ahead.”

Desenberg: Why Democrats are scared of Government Reform
From The Washington Post:

“The ideas have received scant coverage, however, and are hardly the stuff of which campaign defense is made. Drafted by OMB’s talented deputy director for management Jeff Zients, the ideas make perfect sense–a faster hiring process, more competition in contracting, “cloud computing” in yet another attempt to modernize the federal information system, occasional reorganization of failed agencies such as the Minerals Mining Service, and a dogs-breakfast of other ideas such as the SAVE award.

“The proposals will no doubt improve government performance. The new OMB Director Jack Lew will no doubt continue the push. He’s deeply commitment to raising government performance, and brings the resume to fit the job. Lew has worked the reform issue for years. He was in charge of the State Department’s renewal effort, and is ready to take it to the next level once he is confirmed.”

Simmons: Air Force IT saves big bucks, 9 cents at a time
From Defense Systems:

“The Air Force has discovered it can save millions of dollars by simply turning off its computers at night.

“Although that might seem like common sense, a number of issues prevented the service from doing that for many years.

“However, recent efforts to cut costs have netted savings and energy efficiency for the Air Force. By installing a common Microsoft desktop configuration on all of its nearly 600,000 computers and instituting energy-saving technologies, the service saves 9 cents a day per machine, Nextgov reports.”