Hey there I’m Christopher Dorobek, the DorobekINSIDER and welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek where we attempt to find an issue, a person, an idea that helped define the past 7-days. Of course, we also work to find an issue that will 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
And unfortunately there are a lot of very bleak numbers out there. About one in four New York City households with military veterans has trouble putting food on the table, according to a poll commissioned by the nation’s largest food bank, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
And the unemployment rate for veterans is 11.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To that end, the Obama administration has made a real push to hire veterans. On Veterans Day, LinkedIN is teaming with the White House to sponsoring the first ever Veterans Hackday, where they are looking for hackers to put together projects that can improve any aspect of a veteran’s life.
And the Federal Chief Techology Officer Aneesh Chopra this week announced the creation of the Veterans Job Bank, essentially it is a search tool designed to help connect veterans with employers. Chopra said that the goal is to bring jobs listings directly to veterans instead of the other way around. This happens via a search widget that provides a single window into the myriad job boards, social media platforms, and corporate employment sites that are currently spread across the Internet.
And, of course, federal agencies give preference to veterans. But that isn’t always as easy as it seems. Why hire veterans? Do you need to do anything differently once you do hire a veteran?
Chad Storlie is a retired Army Reserve Special Forces officer with more than 20 years of military experience — and he is the author of two books — Combat Leader to Corporate Leader: 20 Lessons to Advance Your Civilian Career and Battlefield to Business Success: Applying Military Leadership Skills in Your Career.
OTHER STORIES WE’RE FOLLOWING
We start as we do so often, talking about money and the money story of the week is once again one of NO budget. In fact, Politico’s Morning Transportation notes that government funding runs out at the end of next week. And the budget supercommittee deadline is just before Thanksgiving with an agreement on cutting more than $1 trillion looking increasing difficult. And just in case you think the federal government is alone, in an ominous step, Jefferson County, AL filed for bankruptcy this week; the largest county to take such action, Reuters reports. Internationally, there have been issues with Greece and now Italy. France, the eurozone’s second biggest economy is seeking to reduce its deficit and protect its triple-A credit rating, the BBC reports.
Amid all the huffing and puffing in DC, Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson argues we are just arguing around the edges. He argues that while either side will do it, both “need to identify the most justifiable spending cuts — lots of them and the least damaging tax increases, which will still be sizable.” And the Congressional Budget Office seemed to agree this week, throwing cold water on a cuts-only approach.
Meanwhile, a survey by Government Executive found that 81 percent of the executives surveyed believe budgets will shrink in fiscal 2013, seems like a pretty good guess, and they had concerns about what that would do for programs and people. And they felt they don’t have the tools to property motivate employees. My two cents: It’s about more than money and I’d point to the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. His argument is money simply isn’t what drives most people.
And on GovLoop, we are asking, “What are you budgeting challenges?”
Amid all the talk of reduced spending, the Obama administration this week ordered steep cuts in travel, technology and even swag. The Washington Post reports that ordering steep spending cuts that will mean less travel for federal employees and strict limitations on government-issued computers, printers, vehicles and even office swag. Yes — swag. It essentially requires agencies to make 20 percent spending cuts on travel, equipment and technology. Administration officials said the initiative should save billions of dollars a year.
GovLoop also notes that voting is now underway for the third round of the SAVE awards — SAVE stands for Securing Americans Value and Efficiency awards. This is a contest to find the best way to save money. And there are four ideas. The person who recommended the winning idea gets to meet with President Obama.
Two significant cyber-security stories this week. One was a new report about the dangers out there online. Shane Harris, the author of the book The Watchers, said the report report “marks the first time the United States government has unequivocally stated, in emphatic and highly publicized fashion, that China and Russia are responsible for a pervasive electronic campaign to steal American intellectual property, trade secrets, negotiating strategies, and sensitive military technology.”
Meanwhile Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, said that the country is not agile enough in its cyber-defenses.
Some big health IT news this week and it also deals with security, specifically security of electronic health records. A report by the National Academies Institute of Medicine says that electronic health records can improve patient safety but only when the products are well-designed and correctly used. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Institute of Medicine recommends setting up an independent federal entity like the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate deaths, serious injuries or unsafe conditions associated with health IT. The organization wouldn’t regulate or approve those products, however. Nor does the report recommend immediately giving the FDA the power to do so.
Finally, a few items worth reading over the weekend.
One is from Scott Adams — yes, the Scott Adams who created Dilbert. In the Wall Street Journal this week, Adams proposed the creation of a fourth branch of government. He describes it as ‘smallish and economical, operating independently, with a mission to build and maintain a friendly user interface for citizens to manage their government.’ It’s Scott Adams, so it’s funny, but it also has some interesting ideas: internet access as a constitutional right and a constitutional ban on all election contributions for any candidate that polls above 10%. He’s primarily proposing a method of getting verifiably accurate information on various issues to aid voters in making decisions.
Another is about MoneyBall, the book and movie that are getting a lot of attention these days and we’ve discussed it here in recent weeks, right. And it’s a idea that we all love, focusing of non-traditional data to help make decisions. The Atlantic, however, has a story that suggests that the ideas behind MoneyBall may not be everything it is made out to be, essentially asking if this works.