3 things the President should say in the SOTU – Plus Dorobek’s 7 Stories

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  • Hiring is one of the biggest challenges in government. Getting the right people in the right position is key for an effective government. Just as hiring the right NIH scientist is key to curing disease so too is hiring the right procurement official. However, well-trained procurement officials are hard to find and the lack of skilled personnel leads to contracting failures like healthcare.gov and the Coast Guard's Deepwater contract. We take a look at the issue. 

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But up front: 3 things the President should say in the State of the Union

Tonight is the 2014 State of the Union address -- an annual Washington tradition where the President gets a national audience to make his case for his agenda. And Politico notes that there are big parts of the evening that we can predict:

Obama’s SOTU Déjà vu: Long before the final draft is loaded into the teleprompter, we already know that Obama will almost certainly speak for a little less than an hour, and be interrupted for applause between 80 and 90 times. We know that some point, he’ll tell a corny joke and give a single shout-out to Biden. 

And there are many competing agenda items for a State of the Union speech. And The Washington Post has noted that government workers aren’t expecting much.

Our agenda is simple -- helping government do its job better. With that in mind, here are three things we hope the President will say tonight:

  1. We need to support our federal employees: Recent years have been some of the most challenging times for public servants -- pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestion, shutdowns, a reduced workforce… am I missing anything? Locusts? On top of all that, there is the normal bludgeoning of public servants that goes on by both sides. This is no way to run any organization, let alone what should be the most respected organization in the world -- the government of the United States of America. We need to stop screeds against public servants who are just working to make the world a better place. And we agree with Scott Gould, the former deputy secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs: It is time to respect and support public service. In a recent interview, Gould said these times remind him of the treatment of government workers today with the way Vietnam veterans were treated. you have all seen the military from time to time suffer from a separation from the people they serve. Well motivated, mission oriented people can be pushed away by the people they serve. I would ask you to reach out and take the time to talk to that person that thinks you have two horns and a tail. Reach out to them and communicate. Make the case for why government matters, because we here in government, we already know that the mission matters. We know the work you do on a day to day basis matters. But they don't and they are acting like it. If we want to move forward that has to change,"  Gould said.
  2. Government needs a 21st century HR system: We all know it -- the general schedule system is antiquated and out of touch for the challenges government faces today. We need the best and the brightest in government, and we need a modern HR system if that is going to happen. It is time to start that discussion.
  3. We are ending ‘do more with less’; From now on it is doing differently: My mother always warned me to be careful what you get good at because you’ll be asked to do that task over and over again. And the government has been shockingly good at doing more with less. But it is time to end that madness. It is time to decide what matters and fund those projects, to put the right people on the right jobs. It is time to decide what really needs to be done instead of trying to do everything. It is time to pass budgets by the start of the fiscal year so agencies don’t have to scramble.

Those are three thoughts off the top of my head. Yours?

And tonight, we will be live tweeting the State of the Union address using #SOTUgov. We hope you will join the conversation.

Other State of the Union stories:

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Washington Post: Obama to hike minimum wage for federal contract workers. “President Obama will announce in the State of the Union address Tuesday that he will use his executive power to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers on new government contracts, fulfilling a top demand by liberal lawmakers and groups, according to a White House document.”
  2. Federal Times: Reports: Rogers to be NSA nominee. “Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers will be the White House nominee to replace Gen. Keith Alexander as the head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, according to published reports.”
  3. Federal Times: Agencies get mediocre public satisfaction scores. “Frustration with balky websites helped drive down public satisfaction with federal agencies’ services last year, leaving the government trailing even the airline industry and subscription TV in user esteem, newly released survey findings indicate.”
  4. Government Executive: OPM: Hire Us to Improve Your Agency. “In a memorandum to all federal offices, OPM offered to help agencies use the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to improve morale and workplace conditions. OPM said its Human Resources Solutions office “has the expertise to help your agency achieve measureable improvement on important metrics.”
  5. NextGov: Proposed Law would give US CTO oversight of major IT projects. “Two members of Congress are floating legislation that would give the U.S. government’s chief technology officer the power to review and in some cases take charge of major information technology projects throughout the government.”
  6. Federal News Radio: White House calls for major changes to DATA Act. “The White House wants major revisions to the Senate's version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014.”
  7. Washington Post: Allegations of widespread overtime abuse at Dept. of Homeland Security. “About 95 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees at facilities in Northern Virginia allegedly increased their pay by 25 percent through overtime abuse, according to the Office of Special Counsel.”

Before we finish up... a few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder... yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too... 

  • Generate a random State of the Union based on language modeling of the speeches from previous presidents. Learn more about the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation: http://sotu.sunlightfoundation.com/
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