Debate 1 Done, What Did We Learn? – Plus DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:
  • De-mystifying big data. We got myth-busting with a state and local government guru. Click here for the full recap. http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/de-mystifying-big-data
  • Did you know that the federal government funds more than 80 programs that gives transportation assistance to low income families, seniors, children and people with disabilities? That's a lot of programs for the public to navigate and the government to keep track of. So they came up with an inter-agency solution. Click here for the full recap.
The day after the great debate, or at least the first of the four debates. For those of us who may have been looking for some direction for the next four years about what it will mean for government, well, there wasn’t much there. The event was much discussed, however. Twitter reported that the debate was the most tweeted about event in US political history, topping the numbers from Republican and Democratic conventions this summer.  And yes -- the peak came for at the Big Bird moment -- to which Big Bird had a humorous response: “Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?” Over all, The debate spurred more than 10 million tweets. NOTE: PHOTO: And there were a number of people discussing the government implications on Twitter using the hashtag #DebateGov. GovLoop’s Andrew Krzmarzick @krazykriz was a bit frustrated: “Looking for a smart comment to RT that is non-partisan. Hard to find. But there was this: Bruce Waltuck (@complexified) posed what I thought was one of the better questions about the  role of government: Why can't we have national debate on RIGHT-SIZING gov? What citizens need, want, will pay for? No more or less The New York Times billed it the debate a Clash Over Government’s Role -
Behind it all, a true debate about the role of government. “Somewhere in the wonky blizzard of facts, statistics and studies thrown out on stage here on Wednesday night was a fundamental philosophical choice about the future of America, quite possibly the starkest in nearly three decades. As President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off for the first time, their largely zinger-free styles may have disguised a fierce clash of views not only over taxes, spending and health care, but over the very role of government in American society in a time of wrenching problems. On one side was an incumbent who, while recognizing that government is not the solution to all problems, argued that it plays an essential part in promoting economic growth and ensuring fairness for various segments of the population. On the other was a challenger who, while recognizing the basic value of government, argued that its greatest goal was to get out of the way of a free people and unleash the American entrepreneurial spirit.” Peter Baker in The New York Times.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, writing in BloombergView, had a very different take: Real October Surprise Is Obama and Romney Agree.
The policy distinctions between Obama and Romney are overplayed. “In heated elections like this one, there is a tendency in the U.S. to characterize the arguments between the two candidates as much more momentous — world- historical, even — than they actually are…Conversely, it's kind of boring to think of yourself as having a set of technocratic disagreements with the opposition. Yet, for the most part, that's what this U.S. presidential election is about…A similar dynamic is evident on taxes. Obama's budget proposes raising taxes to equal 19.8 percent of gross domestic product by 2022…Romney, by contrast, says he wants taxes at 18.75 percent of GDP by 2022…I don't mean to play down the very real differences between the two campaigns. How much we spend, what we spend it on and who pays for it are all very consequential. But American politics operate atop a fairly firm and broad understanding about the proper scope of the state. Partisanship often obscures that fact, in part because the party out of power has reason to exaggerate disagreements with the governing party. Yet behind the boisterous partisan stage is a quieter arena where broad consensus reigns.”
That being said, there is a VP debate coming up next week, and two more presidential debates. The election is 33 days away. The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 4th of October 2012
  1. The Congressional Research Service says sequestration cuts could result in the loss of over 1.4 million jobs in 2013”  TPM reports the $48 billion in defense spending cuts are projected to result in 907,000 fewer direct, indirect and induced jobs in government and the private sector next year. The $10.7 billion in Medicare reimbursement cuts to providers are projected to cost 500,000 jobs, less than half of which are direct losses, in 2013.”
  2. Two federal workforce bills were approved in the House. The Washington Post reports,  the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and a measure delaying the online posting of personal financial information of certain federal employees (The STOCK Act)  were up for consideration. Both had been controversial in their own way, and both had been the subject of strong lobbying by employee interest groups. Both bills were approved without so much as a yea or nay. That’s possible with a legislative procedure known as unanimous consent.
  3. The agencies who spend the most on service contracts are benefiting the least from strategic sourcing. That's the gist of a Government Accountability Office report coming out today. GAO said the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy and Veterans Affairs are missing out on billions of dollars in potential savings. Federal News Radio reports under the Strategic Sourcing initiative, agency needs are pooled to get the best prices from contractors. The four departments spent nearly $400 billion with contractors last year. GAO said, only small percentages of those dollars went through strategic sourcing contracts.
  4. Big data experts could soon be life-long feds. The TechAmerica Foundation’s Big Data Commission says the government should create a formal career track for the employees who manage its increasingly large volumes of complex and variable data known as “big data.” Government Executive says the report also calls for a new federal academy to train and certify employees to capture, store, share, manage and analyze vast volumes of data.
  5. Budget constraints are forcing the Social Security Administration to shorten its hours of operations. Government Executive reports starting Nov. 19, all 1,233 offices will close to customers 30 minutes earlier, Mary Glenn-Croft, deputy SSA commissioner for operations, said in the email. As of Jan. 2, the offices will close to the public at noon on Wednesdays.
  6. Three agencies are offering prizes to anyone who can come up with great ways to use data. NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department have launched what they call the Big Data Challenge. Federal News Radio says their goal is to combine the large amounts of data they collect and see if it can be used in a way that benefits them all. The challenge is about data glory, not money. The top prize is only $1,000. The agencies issued the challenge in connection with a new report on big data from the industry-backed TechAmerica Foundation.
  7. FedScoop reports, a group of Senate Republicans wrote a letter to President Obama urging him not to issue an executive order on cybersecurity, but to instead wait for Congress to come up with its own solution. The White House has been working on the Executive Order since August after the Cybersecurity Act authored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman and a group of Democratic leaders failed to make it through the Senate.
A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder
  • Former Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass R. Sunstein asks: Why Should Regulators Have to Listen to You? “In light of the defining importance of the due process clause, many people are stunned to learn a remarkable fact: When the government issues regulations, the Constitution doesn't require officials to listen to you, even if your liberty and your property are at stake…’Regulatory due process’ has been like a unicorn or a time-travel machine or a bipartisan Congress. It doesn't exist…[I]n the past two decades, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have quietly given birth to regulatory due process…A well-functioning regulatory system creates a right to appeal, making structures available to fix such problems. Though it isn't yet widely known, Obama has put those structures in place.” in Bloomberg.
  • Lost clips of ‘The Tonight Show’ found in military facility
  • 10-8 is the last day to see Dorothys's Ruby Slippers @amhistorymuseum before they head out on loan to @V_and_A for 6 wks.
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