The Navy Yard assessment begins – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Some of the most innovative ideas in government aren't coming from the C-Suite, but from university students. Each year Governing Magazine hosts a competition for university students looking to change the way government works. We look at the winning projects.

But up front: The Navy Yard shooting

Chris Dorobek writes:

The country is again waking up in shock -- shock that somebody could take the lives of 12 people. (Police have identified seven of the 12; officials have said they were all civilian employees.) But this story is chilling for government workers who can imagine going into work, doing their jobs and having their lives changed forever.

And we’ve been there before… whether it be the bombing in Oklahoma City or the man who flew a plane into a Texas IRS building… We’ve been there and done this before...

The will undoubtedly be questions -- about the gunman… and security… yet again about security clearances… and yet again about guns. There will also be hindsight second guessing. Time magazine already has a story saying, “Navy Yard Dropped Its Guard, Pentagon Inspector General Says. (One of the survivors interviewed Monday was asked if he thought the Navy Yard security was strong. His very reasonable answer: Yes -- until today.)

There will also be questions about government contractors -- certainly following NSA leaker Edward Snowden and now the Navy Yard shooting suspect, it has not been a great year for the perception of government contractors.

Yet thankfully there are remarkable moments of humanity that come from incidents like this. CBS This Morning reported on the Navy Yard employee helps visually impaired co-worker escape.

Yet the most disturbing moment for me throughout the day were the odd comments that came from the White House. President Obama used a few moments before a scheduled appearance on the financial crisis and the federal budget to talk about the shootings. His comments about the financial crisis and the budget were almost completely ignored, of course -- they were not the story of the day. But when I heard them, they sounded out of place… almost hollow or rote.

Politico noted it too -- Jonathan Allen and Jennifer Epstein called it a tone challenge:

Politico, In tragedy’s wake, Obama finds tone a challenge: Once again, President Barack Obama spoke in the wake of a horrific mass shooting — this time, killings that were carried out near his home, of victims who worked in his government, with a crisis that was still ongoing when he stepped to the podium.  But the president’s handling of the massacre at the Navy Yard Monday contrasted sharply with his response to past tragedies.   

And it feeds a growing perception that President Obama just doesn’t care about the challenges facing government and government workers. More than five years into his administration, the President has yet to sit down with federal employees, something that President H.W. Bush did to much acclaim. And even the President’s Management Agenda, at least so far, has little to do with managing the government.

I hope and believe that this is an incorrect perception and that the ‘business of government’ issues just have not been a top priority. But I know many government workers are looking for some evidence. And if he wants to use GovLoop as a way of reaching out, we’ll get the word out.

I’ll conclude with some thoughts from GovDelivery’s Joseph Porcelli posted on GovLoop: 3 Self Care Tips/Resources to Deal w Stress and Trauma from #NavyYardShootings (GovDelivery is the parent of GovLoop.)

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The Washington Navy Yard will remain closed Tuesday except for mission-essential personnel. Unit commanders will determine who is mission-essential. No vehicle traffic is allowed on or off the base today. Employees are urged to telecommute.

  2. For many federal employees, the chance to take phased retirement can’t come soon enough, reports Federal Times. Agency human resources managers wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer. That’s the snapshot revealed by almost 240 comments sent to the Office of Personnel Management on its draft rules for implementing the landmark change to federal retirement regulations approved by Congress last year.

  3. The General Services Administration has added a second vendor to its $1.4 billion electronic travel services contract, following a federal judge’s ruling that GSA violated acquisition rules by selecting one vendor, reports Federal Times. In March, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Margaret Sweeney ordered GSA to re-evaluate CWT Sato Travel’s bid proposal, which GSA dismissed last year as incapable of meeting the government’s e-travel needs.

  4. The Senate is returning to normal operations today. The Sergeant at Arms says visitors will be welcomed back. It canceled activities and closed its doors to visitors yesterday out of an abundance of caution as police combed the area for suspects in the Navy Yard shooting. Only senators and staff were allowed to enter the buildings. The Senate is reopening because of evidence showing the dead suspect Aaron Alexis acted alone. Capitol Police will maintain a high level of protection. The House remained open yesterday.

  5. Sometimes, natural disasters are too much even for the National Guard. A mix of 51 Colorado Guardsmen, civilians and local responders, along with five pets, were stopped by rising waters in the town of Lyons. The waters were too deep for the Guard's Light Medium Tactical Vehicles. But the weather in Boulder County broke. That let Army aviators from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson resume flight operations. Among their priority missions was to evacuate the people stranded in Lyons. They used two helicopters, but couldn't quite rescue everyone from a high perch before the weather turned again.

  6. Plans by a financial regulator to collect information on potentially hundreds of millions of credit card and other accounts has House Republicans demanding answers and proposing new legislation that would allow consumers to refuse to share some financial data with the government, reports FCW.

  7. The Federal Communications Commission announced plans to auction 10 megahertz of spectrum for commercial use as part of a longstanding effort to raise funds for the planned nationwide broadband emergency communication system dubbed FirstNet, reports FCW. The FCC expects to raise a minimum of $1.56 billion with the auction – the first of several designed to make 65 Mhz available to commercial users and fund FirstNet activities by February 2015.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • New #mobile report from Pew Internet on cell Internet use in 2013: 63% use cell to go online

  • Lily Collins Named Most 'Dangerous' Celebrity To Search For Online, McAfee Reports

  • IRS workers turn to elite lawyers: They’ve defended the likes of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Next up for the heavy hitters of Washington’s legal community: embattled Internal Revenue Service workers.  

  • Deloitte’s William Eggers and Paul MacMillian Federal Times oped: The age of public-private collaboration http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20130915/ADOP06/309150002 based on their new book, The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises are Teaming up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems

  • Reading Federal Times oped: Federal pay consultant Howard Risher: Ignoring Private Ryan on how to deal with pay -- and bonuses -- in VA hospitals

*Image Adam Fagen

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