How one feds is making inroads on nuclear proliferation and is big data a fad or something more?

On today’s DorobekINSIDER
  • We often talk about the challenges of government work -- and one of the real challenges is measuring results. Today, we’re going to introduce you to somebody who works on one of the most challenging issues -- nuclear proliferation. That work has made her a finalist for the Service to America Medals -- the SAMMIES. You’ll meet her. Click here for the full story.
  • And big data -- fad or something more... and what do you need to do to make big data work for you rather then the other way around. Insights from Paul Wohlleben, who has been a government and industry executive. Click here for the full story.
There has been much talk about the U-S government using cyber-warfare against Iran, and specifically the Stuxnet worm, much of it coming from David Sanger’s new book, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. The Financial Times today has an op-ed by Misha Glenny, author of the book DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia. She argues that we will regret an almost cavalier deployment of these tools as weapons. She says an arms race in cyberspace is suddenly a distinct reality. "Before it is too late, cyberspace needs to be integrated into agreed principles about warfare in the other domains. The starting point should be to outlaw the release on to the internet of malware like Flame or Stuxnet, which is as likely to affect civilian networks as any presumed targets. Playing military games with powerful viruses is not merely an assault on our civil liberties as internet users. In the long run it will prove a threat to all of our security," said Glenny. Much has been discussed of Congress -- most of it not good these days. But NPR actually charted how much congress has done. NPR says there has been much drama, but little to show for that dram. There were at least three countdowns to shutdown, there was the debt-limit fight, plus the will-they-or-won't-they drama earlier in December over the payroll tax holiday. Looking at how few bills were actually signed into law this year, one might conclude this session was mostly sizzle and not much steak.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. A House spending panel has approved a bill that would freeze pay for another year. The Federal Times says the financial services and general government appropriations bill is now headed to the full House Appropriations Committee, where it is expected to pass. The bill also includes major cuts for some federal agencies and stronger oversight of the General Services Administration.
  2. A Senate Defense bill has taken the first steps to undo sequestration. The Washington Business Journal says the National Defense Authorization Act orders Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to produce a detailed report examining the impact of sequestration on DOD.  Panetta has said in the past that sequestration would create a doomsday scenario for the Pentagon. If Congress doesn’t act Sequestration would take effect on Jan. 2, 2013.
  3. The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a cap on contractor pay. The Federal Times says under the bill defense contractors could charge the government no more than $230,700 annually— to pay most of their employees' salaries. That’s the same amount the vice president currently makes. The new limit would reverse and 8 year spike contractor pay. The cap has increased by more than 75 percent since 2004.
  4. The heads of two major government contractors are retiring. The Washington Post reports that Jay Johnson the chairman and chief executive at General Dynamics plans to retire at the end of the year. Meanwhile Paul Cofoni the president and chief executive at CACI International will retire Dec. 1st. Johnson and Cofoni are just the latest in string of high profile contractors retiring. There have also been changes to Lockheed Martin and SAIC.
  5. House leaders are backing a new bill to make Congressional information more accessible by the public. House Speaker John Boehner says it’s time to embrace a more open, more transparent, and more effective way of doing the people’s business. Boehner says the goal is to provide bulk access to legislative information to the American people without further delay. He has created a taskforce to get the process started immediately.
  6. A new smartphone app will help visitors to Arlington National Cemetery pinpoint grave sites. USA Today says the app will use the power of GPS technology to help visitors navigate through the more than 250,000 graves at Arlington. And if the app due out this fall is success, the Department of Veterans Affairs is considering expanding it to other veteran cemeteries across the country.
  7. And, our mission here at GovLoop is simple, help you do your job better. One of the ways to do that is with better and more efficient communication. We’ve created a guide to help. Our State of Communications Guide highlights the ten hottest trends in government. We tackle the digital divide, culture change and social media. It’s a power packed guide. To check it out for yourself head over to our homepage and search state of communication guide.
A Few Closing Items: 
  • Any idea how much the Defense Department spend on fuel? Last year, DOD spent $17 billion -- that according to the Congressional Research Service. A new report on Defense energy initiations says that DOD’s reliance on fuel can lead to financial, operational and strategic challenges and risks.
  • We mentioned leadership changes at SAIC. Well, the company is saying that federal spending cuts could result in... layoffs. SAIC CFO Mark Sopp that is really the only way that the company could deal with the cuts brought about by sequestration. And they mirror similar comments from Defense contractors that we told you about yesterday.
  • Chris Dorobek moderated about re-imagining customer service -- and there are a LOT of changing going on there right now. GovLoop has just published a research report on re-imagining customer service in government. I’m reading it today. Love to get your thoughts. We have the link online...
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