Remembering 9/11 and how it changed gov – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Cracking the digital divide is no easy task. The barriers for success are high. But a team from the University of Wisconsin was able to make major inroads by using social media to educate and inform community organizers. Click here for the recap.

But up front: Two significant stories today.

First, the the Obama administration today is expected to announce its intent to nominate Beth F. Cobert to be the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget -- essentially the “M” of OMB.

The short bio: Beth F. Cobert is a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where she has worked since 1984.  She is the firm’s Global Leader for Functional Capability Building, responsible for developing skills among over 9,000 consulting staff at the firm.  Ms. Cobert is also a Global Leader of McKinsey's Marketing and Sales practice, and chairs the firm’s pension fund.  She served as the head of McKinsey’s San Francisco office from 2005 to 2008.  Prior to working at McKinsey & Company, from 1980 to 1982, she worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.  Ms. Cobert received her B.A. from Princeton and her M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Of course, the big challenge for Cobert may actually be getting confirmed with Syria and budget battles looming.

The other big story is, of course, the anniversary of 9/11.

Some 12 years after that horrific day, the events seem to have far less weight than they did. They say time heals all wounds, but how many of us believed that would ever be the case. USAToday asked the question: Is interest in 9/11 waning or changing course?: The 2001 attacks left scars that will be acknowledged at Ground Zero in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. But there are signs of a gradual desensitization to the tragedy's wounds.

That being said, 9/11 still is a day that changed everything for government.

Today, of course, we are still searching for a balance between security and individual privacy. And polling by Pew shows broad support for anti-terror military action, yet most people oppose government monitoring of e-mail and phone calls.

Other 9/11 items of note:

  • Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, members of a task force on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, were co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, write an op-ed for The New York Times: Homeland Confusion

    • “Nine years after the 9/11 Commission made its case, our country is still not as safe as it could and should be. Though the vast majority of our recommendations have been followed, at least in part, Congress has not acted on one of our major proposals: to streamline the way it oversees homeland security.”

    • And if you haven’t read the 9/11 Commission report, it reads like a novel - yet it is true.

  • See New York’s changing skyline

  • Slate: The First Victim of Sept. 11: He was likely the first person killed, but his influence was felt that entire terrible day—online.

  • TheAtlanticWire: On 9/11 anniversary, Twitter proves it can be serious #wherewereyou

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. President Obama announced today that he is nominating Beth Cobert as the new deputy director for management at the OMB. Cobert will be replacing Jeff Zients if confirmed by the Senate. Federal News Radio reports that currently Cobert is a senior partner at McKinsey and Company.

  2. A significant barrier to agencies moving to a cloud-based system is not so much security concerns as it is culture. The Federal Times reports that many agency managers believe that their servers are only secure “if they can see and touch them.” This belief stands in opposition to the reality that multiple contractors have proven through the FedRAMP process that their cloud systems can meet the government’s strict security standards.  

  3. The federal workforce has decreased by about 67,700 employees in the past year. This figure does not include losses among US postal workers, whose ranks fell from 609,000 to 590,000 during the same period. The Federal Times reports that due to budget cuts government agencies have not been able to replace this loss in personnel with new hires.

  4. The Department of Homeland Security will be conducting a presentation tomorrow at 9:30 AM  before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that reviews the agency’s activities and accomplishments over the past 10 years. The presentation will also include an overview of the agency’s future objectives. According to the Committee’s webpage, the presentation will take place at SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building, and will be available online for live viewing.  

  5. Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced today a continuing resolution to prevent government shutdown at the end of this month. The legislation continues funding for government programs and services at current, post sequestration levels. A press release from the House Appropriations Committee states that the legislation will provide funding until December 15, 2013 or until Congress approves the annual appropriations bill for the 2014 fiscal year.

  6. Experts are debating whether or not the US should engage in cyber warfare with Syria. The FCW presents their arguments, one of which is that in using cyber technology the US may be taking the risk of giving away that capability to others. Another major part of their arguments is the idea that the US has given too much control over cyber policy to the Pentagon, divesting the State Department, DHS, and the White House of their major influence in this area.

  7. The NIST reopened today the opportunity for public comment on their already approved encryption standards due to accusations from leaked documents that these standards were deliberately weakened by the NSA. The FCW reports that multiple news sources obtained leaked documents from former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, demonstrating that NIST encryption standards contain an algorithm known by the NSA to contain weaknesses. The NIST has released statements saying that they were unaware of this situation and worked with the NSA because of legal reasons and the organization’s recognized expertise.  

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • Government funded project predicted recent Brazilian riots. The head of a university research project, funded by federal intelligence agencies, says that an experimental predictive analytics system flagged signs of unrest leading up to last weekend’s Independence Day riots in Brazil. “Our model did forecast several protests in Brazil for last week,” Virginia Tech professor Naren Ramakrishnan said in an email. The project, which reviews a range of publicly available sources to gauge the likelihood of certain “significant societal events,” is another example of how powerful algorithms can yield new insights into how people are likely to behave. CIO Journal earlier this year reported on Open Source Indicators and other VC-type investments by what one expert calls the “DARPA… for the military.”  

  • CBSNews: Hiring managers reveal the biggest resume mistakes

    • Resume was written entirely in the Star Trek language of Klingon

    • Resume used text-speak -- the letter "u" instead of the word "you"

    • Under objective the candidate wrote "To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI's like my current employer"

    • Candidate neglected to include his/her name in the resume

    • Resume included baby pictures of the candidate

    • Resume included jail term served for assaulting former boss
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