Hey there — I’m Christopher Dorobek, the DorobekINSIDER, and welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week for the second week of October 2011. We’re glad you’re with us.
Each week, our goal is to look at an issue, a person, an idea that helped define the past 7-days… but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.
ISSUE OF THE WEEK
Our Issue of the Week is one that has been dominant throughout 2011 — cyber-security. And it is about another book that I told you about a few weeks ago. This week I got to sit down for a conversation with Mark Bowden, the author and journalist. You may not know him by name, but you have probably heard of his most famous book, Black Hawk Down. He is just out with a new book: Worm: The First Digital World War and it is about the fight against the Confickr Internet worm and what it tells us about cyber-security. There have been many stories in recent weeks about the challenges facing government cyber-security experts with a skyrocketing number of attacks.
In our interview with Mark explains how cyber-security is such a large issue that people often get lost in it and confused so they just give up trying to understand and that’s why attacks are such a big problem currently.
Bowden explains that the internet the way it’s built is not meant to be safe and that’s why cyber-security will always face an uphill battle. People can float things in a “virtual anonymity” which it close to impossible to put a halt on original attacks. Because of that the best line of defense is clear communications between stakeholders such as private companies like Microsoft and the Federal government.
OTHER STORIES WE’RE FOLLOWING
We’re trying something new this week selecting the top stories across a number of topic areas: management, policy, technology, defense, security, and your money.
We start with the Defense story of the week where the new Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, made his first policy speech this week laying out his vision of the future of the nation’s fighting force in the age of austerity. In his speech, Panetta scaled back the amount of money that the armed services can cut to $60 billion. The Pentagon has been waging an agressive battle to reduce overhead, waste and duplication. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said those efforts could save $100 billion.
Panetta also said that military pay and benefits must be part of an over all austerity plan, but that the troops should not bear the burden for reducing the deficit.
He also said that lawmakers on Capitol Hill should keep pet projects out of the defense budget. Panetta said that Congress must be a responsible partner in creating a defense strategy that may not include specific projects or systems.
The the link to the Defense Secretary’s speech.
While the DoD’s money is important that’s not the only money that being affected in the current climate. The budget super committee continued its meetings and very little is known about what is actually going on. Politico however, spoke to insiders to get a rough a rough sketch of the priorities of the individual members. They found that some members seem intent on guarding their turf, others want to be seen as real deal makers, while others feel the need to protect their party’s base priorities. Meanwhile National Journal says that House Democrats have offered their suggestions for cuts and revenues. The House Democrats recommend the committee avoid “precipitous” cuts to defense and national security programs.
And Americans are skeptical about the federal government’s role in the economy and its ability to reach an agreement on the budget deficit according to a new poll just out from National Journal.
And your money, where will the stock market end the year with only one quarter left. That, of course, impacts your Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The New York Times find that the experts are more pessimistic.
Our procurement story of the week comes from the Government Accountability Office, which testified this week saying that most federal agencies aren’t doing enough to police unethical government contractors. GAO analyzed five years’ worth of government contracts. It found that only a handful of agencies penalized contractors. Six agencies that awarded billions of dollars to contractors never suspended nor disbarred any of them.
Our gov 2.0 story of the week comes from Fast Company, which reports that the The New York Federal Reserve Bank is going to be tracking how people feel about the economy by watching social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Federal officials wouldn’t provide many details, but they did say that the goal is to monitor these public feeds to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place and to improve the Federal Reserve’s communications and engagement with the public.
And a few tech stories, a Blackberry outage sent many Washingtonians spinning, but National Journal says that for official Washington, the Blackberry is still number one. Yet the new iPhone got it’s release and, as we said last week, while most of the changes are behind the scenes, it still seemed to thrill consumers. Record numbers signed up for pre-order. AND it is getting rave reviews. David Pogue of the New York Times calls the new iPhone conceals sheer magic.
Finally my must-read of the week and it comes the Harvard Business Review — with a hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal and the headline is How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management? Harvard professor James Heskett, who studies how culture affects management trends, asks a fascinating question about whether the “Moneyball” film (and book) will result in more Billy Beane-style managers in business. Moneyball is about Billy Beane, the baseball manager, who is credited with revolutionizing baseball by focusing not only on metrics, but on the sort of indirect metrics that others were ignoring and that are particularly key to winning games, such as performance in late-inning pressure situations. And
“In the past we’ve discussed the importance of adding nonfinancial measures to the management dashboard, “indirect goals” that help predict and explain financial performance beyond the “direct goal” of profit. VERY interesting for government. Heskett has written a new book himself: The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance. In that book, he comes up with 35 indirect measures key to future company performance. They included such things as the proportion of new business referred by existing customers and the proportion of employees leaving the organization voluntarily. My thought was what might be those non-financial metrics for government.