On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous, "We Go to the Moon," speech at Rice University. At the time a rocket to the moon seemed inconceivable. But the common goal, the collective support, showcased what we can accomplish when we all get on the same page. In part two of our series is former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson talks about why having big - Blockbuster - goals is a good idea for agencies.
But up front: The HealthCare.gov fix-it man: Jeffrey Zients
Federal Times: White House taps Zients, fellows for tech help
The House Government Reform Committee, in a sternly worded letter, “invites” federal CIO Steve VanRoekel to speak about HealthCare.gov via NextGov
CNN: Sebelius: Obamacare website problems blindsided the President
Washington Business Journal: HealthCare.gov: Just the latest epic failure by federal contractors
The Wall Street Journal: A pricing glitch is afflicting the rollout of online health-care exchanges. Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government's software can't reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program. Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly, according to the people, to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumer
The New York Times oped: Ezekiel J. Emanuel: How to Fix the HealthCare.gov Glitches "What went wrong? My diagnosis is that there were three big mistakes. First, the Obama administration acted too slowly. It waited too long to release specific regulations and guidance on how the exchange would work. It also waited too long to begin building the physical Web site...The president should create a new position: an independent chief executive of the federal exchange."
Meanwhile, many of us are watching the seemingly ongoing budget talks.
The Washington Post: In wake of shutdown, wary feds look to congressional budget talks with caution
Bloomberg News: Shutdown Costs and Benefits: Finger-Pointing Festival
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Jofi Joseph, a White House National Security official, was fired last week after administration officials discovered that he had been using a covert twitter account to publish internal White House information and debase legislative and executive officials through taunts and name-calling online. The Daily Beast notes that Joseph had been tweeting under the covert account @natsecwonk since 2011 and that the revelation that he was the one responsible for the defaming tweets came as a surprise to many, who knew him as a well-respected foreign policy official.
IRS officials state that because of the shutdown, the organization will have to delay the start of the tax-filing season next year by a couple of weeks. Officials expect that with the delay, the agency will begin accepting tax returns between January 28 and February 4. The New York Times observes, however, that the due date for tax returns, April 15, will remain the same.
Federal employees are wary of supporting Republican or Democratic policy solutions to the 2014 budget deal. The Washington Post notes that government workers are against the GOP’s plan to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent and to end the student loan reimbursement program for federal employees. They also oppose Obama’s plan to change the inflation formula for Social Security benefits. Collectively, federal workers disagree with the attempts of Republicans and Democrats in Congress to raise employee contributions toward pension benefits and are for the preservation of the one percent increase in federal salaries, which will go into effect in January 2014.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released the latest draft of its cybersecurity framework. The new framework is designed to give industry and government leaders a common understanding of cybersecurity goals and opportunities for improvement. FCW reports that the guide also includes information on implementation logistics, the protection of privacy and civil liberties, and the importance of a cybersecurity workforce.
DOD officials are stating that the government’s continuing resolution and the fiscal unpredictability that it brings are having a detrimental effect on the agency’s civilian workforce. Civilian staff members have already endured six to twelve days of mandated furloughs this year, plus those of the government shutdown, and are expecting more furlough days if a budget deal is not reached by Congress early next year. Federal News Radio notes that the lack of fiscal certainty is undermining the ability of employees to ensure that the U.S. military is ready and able to modernize its defense capabilities.
The Merit Systems Protection Board has been further delayed in its processing of furlough appeals by the recent government shutdown, which furloughed the majority of the organization’s workforce. The Government Executive states that before the shutdown, the MSPB had issued decisions on slightly more than 40 appeals---a mere fraction of its caseload, which equals approximately 32,000 for the 2013 fiscal year. None of the cases handled before the shutdown were from DOD employees, whose furlough appeals constitute 99 percent of the MSPB’s caseload.
The Veterans Benefits Administration, despite receiving sufficient congressional funding, is still dealing with a backlog in the processing of its disability and compensation claims. NextGov reports that thus far in 2013, the organization has fallen close to 100,000 claims short of its processing goal for the year. In an attempt to address the continuing backlog, the VBA has instituted mandatory overtime for its employees.
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NPR News: West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling? Since 1980, the percentage of women at the U.S. Military Academy has stayed largely the same, leading some to conclude that the school has set an artificial cap on the number of female cadets that it accepts. Now, West Point has been told it must raise those numbers to meet the demand for more female leaders.
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