GSA’s Dave McClure and the VA ‘off with their head’ bill – Plus 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • NASA has eyes in the skies, helping to monitor and protect us. Each day, NASA satellites collect and transmit valuable data about environmental conditions on earth, including climate change and the impact of natural disasters. Meet the Sammies finalist who is making it happen.

 

You can find all of our programs online: DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

 

But up front: Honoring GSA’s Dave McClure… and the VA ‘off with their head’ bill

Dave McClure, the Associate Administrator for GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, completes his most recent government tour on Friday. He is retiring after nearly five years at GSA.

 

McClure is exceptional at whatever job he has. He previously worked for the Government Accountability Office and in the private sector Gartner and in the non-profit for the Council for Excellence in Government.

 

But in an exceptional career, he was… well, exceptionally exceptional at GSA. Not only has McClure been a steadfast leader -- he just spurs innovation. One of the key skills of the exceptional government leaders I’ve seen are those who enable the good people to try… and even to fail. To coin a phrase from FCC CIO David Bray… to act as a flack jacket when the organization decides to try something new and it doesn’t necessarily work the way that it was planned. McClure has done that repeatedly… and it shows with wins like Challenge.gov, creating a platform to highlight government challenges… and the renovated USA.gov... and many others.

 

But many of McClure’s successes are true “Little Bets” to use Peter Simms term. They aren’t huge items that look to change the world, but they are steps that lead to more change. And, in fact, McClure joined Peter Simms and myself for the DorobekINSIDER Book Club talking about Little Bets.

 

McClure’s last day at GSA is Friday as he goes into the private sector. We know he will still be involved and yet missed as a fed.

 

The VA ‘off with their head’ bill

 

The Washington Post reports this morning on legislations that will make it easier for VA executives’ heads to roll.

 

Congress is considering legislation that would treat them like second-class federal employees by stripping them of certain civil service protections or weakening those protections almost to the point of meaninglessness.

 

The House and a Senate panel have approved legislation that would allow the secretary to fire or demote the department’s SES staffers, who would have no appeal rights. On Thursday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on somewhat more reasonable legislation that would provide for appeals, albeit significantly truncated.

 

This episode is a lesson in how civil service reform should not be done.

 

While all of us share the concern about reports that people may have changed reports in order to get bonuses -- and it creates an interesting case study for HR practices that have unintended consequences -- this misguided notion is the latest version of the crude saying: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

 

Yes we need to be able to reward feds who are doing great work -- and, frankly, get rid of those who are not.

 

But does anybody this this is the right way to do it?

 

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The Washington Post: Federal employees striking out in furlough appeals: Federal employees are batting .000 in their appeals of last year’s sequestration-triggered furloughs, reflecting that legally speaking, they are stepping up to the plate with two strikes already against them.

  2. Government Technology: Federal CTO Todd Park Announces FDA Open Data Portal: Park hailed the advent of the portal as the next of many open data innovations to come in health care… The first phase of openFDA will publish data sets highlighting public drug adverse events and medication error reports submitted to the FDA since 2004.

  3. FCW: NSA director: Detection trumps prevention- “Cybersecurity professionals in government and the private sector would do well to shift their focus from trying to prevent cyberattacks to detecting and assessing them, National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers said June 3.”

  4. Defense News: Obama Unveils $1B Security Plan Aimed at Russia-”Just as it served as a crossroads of the old Cold War, Poland gave President Obama a chance Tuesday to intensify a new-style standoff with Russia over Ukraine. In meetings with Polish and Eastern European leaders, Obama unveiled a $1 billion plan to bolster security for NATO allies and warned Russia that further aggression in Ukraine will bring more sanctions.”

  5. NPR: Can Civilian Health Care Help Fix The VA? Congress Weighs In- “Veterans across the country are still waiting too long for medical care, a situation that drove the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week. Now Republicans and Democrats in Congress are competing to pass laws they think will fix the problem of medical wait times and other problems at the VA. The discussion over how to reform veterans' health care is starting to sound familiar.

  6. FCW: Federal inmates to get more advanced electronic health records- “The Bureau of Prisons is starting to shop around for a new electronic health record system for federal inmates. The federal prison system already has a basic EHR -- the Bureau Electronic Medical Record, which has been in place in 2006, handles inmate data, prescription drug information, and supports some more advanced functions, including telemedicine for X-rays.”

  7. Federal Times: AF Space Command CTO: Safeguarding integrity of data is vital- “As the Pentagon looks toward the future of cyber warfare, it needs to ensure its data remains protected from outside sources during military operations, according to a top US Air Force official. “Fundamentally, if we don’t trust our data, that is the worst thing that can occur,” William Marion, chief technology officer for Air Force Space Command, said May 19, during a panel kicking off the cyber 1.4 portion of the 30th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.”

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder... yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too...

  • White House experiments with GitHub [Wired]: A member of the Office of Management and Budget used GitHub, a developer’s website, to request a change to Project Open Data, a document detailing the government’s efforts to open up data to third parties. GitHub is used primarily for sharing and discussing code changes, but it’s also “a good tool for tracking changes to complex legal documents, even government regulations,” Wired writes. “By opening up the revisions and the discussions behind them, the White House is making its thinking clear, and there’s an added bonus: The changes are easier to read and understand.”

  • The Secret Service wants software that detects social media sarcasm. Yeah, sure it will work [The Washington Post]: The Secret Software wants to buy software that can analyze social networks and detect sarcasm, The Washington Post reports. Ed Donovan, a spokesman, says that the Secret Service is currently using FEMA Twitter analytics, but it wants its own.

  • A U.S. ambassador was just sworn in on a Kindle [The Washington Post]: A U.S. ambassador was just sworn on a Kindle.  The Washington Post reports that Suzi LeVine became the first U.S. ambassador to be sworn on an e-reader. No, our representative to Switzerland did not take the oath on a digital copy of Harry Potter fan fic, but a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

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