The dotgovBuzz: A monthly Newsletter for e-gov Movers and Shakers


Volume 4 Issue 9: September 22, 2009

  • DotGov Spotlight: Corinne Charette, CIO, Government of Canada


  • Cloud Computing: White House launches Apps.gov cloud storefront


  • Recovery Act: Reports are due October 10; publication date pushed to October 30


  • Pew: Well-off and well-educated are more likely to engage


  • Contracting: GSA SmartBuy tops contract vehicle survey


  • OMB: Guidance released for reviewing contracts and acquisition practices


  • GAO: IT investment challenges plague DHS


  • Social Media: Top 10 agencies using Facebook and Twitter


  • Social Media: FCC embraces blogging, crowd-sourcing, and social networks


  • Buzz: SAVE Award invites feds to submit cost-cutting ideas


  • Kudos: GCN Executives of the Year; Apps for America 2 Winners; Digital Government Achievement Awards; Web Marketing Association's WebAwards


  • Awards Nominations: Deadlines for e-gov community awards applications


  • Transitions: Changes in the IT Community


  • Upcoming Events Calendar


  • Comments: We welcome your feedback at dotgovbuzz@gsa.gov.



DotGov Spotlight: Corinne Charette, CIO, Government of Canada

Corinne Charette, CIO, Government of Canada

When approached by a headhunter seeking a new CIO for Canada, Corinne Charette wasn't enthusiastic about the position. "I didn't think that I would find the role of the federal CIO to be personally satisfying. I wouldn't have my hands on the steering wheel because it wasn't an operational role." But Charette quickly became attracted by the scope of the challenge and its contribution to the public good. "The opportunity to move the ball down the field is significant," she says.

The challenges she faces certainly are significant, and her portfolio is broad. She describes four chief priorities—none of which will be easy scores:

  • Efficiency and transparency in government spending. "The government is asking us to be more cost-effective," she says. "We have to do more with less." She emphasizes the need to find new methods—like cloud computing and clustering—that reduce costs by transforming the way the government does business.
  • Improved project management to "build our credibility with our stakeholders."
  • IT security "on all fronts", protecting privacy while giving the public consistent and transparent access to information.
  • Public service renewal and attracting new people to work in government IT. She describes a potential crisis when the "huge wave of retirement hits" and knowledgeable IT workers, who understand the government's legacy systems, - such as the payroll system - start to leave government. "All civil servants are paid from our payroll system which is being supported by a dedicated, senior team, many of whom are nearing retirement age," she points out, describing the scope of the problem.

"Use of IM/IT in Canada is very broad and Government relies on the gamut of technologies and approaches used by the private sector." she said. "A lot of work is being done in a decentralized form in each government department with little horizontal integration of systems. Compared to big business however, public service is behind in an overall cost-effectiveness perspective because of the decentralization that exists. Sometimes it is required - due to program differences - but redundant solutions exist across departments - particularly regarding back office systems. We have an opportunity to consolidate some of these redundant platforms in order to free up capacity for newer initiatives."

Twenty years ago, Canada "came out of the gate strong with huge investments in IM/IT," she said. Twenty years later, despite a growing demand by agencies to integrate e-services into their business models, much of her budget is devoted to maintaining and upgrading those expensive legacy systems. "I'm investigating how I can meet huge systems rust-out and replacement requirements with constrained investment ability because of the economy, especially considering a lot of systems in government can't be shared nor are readily available off the shelf."

A few years ago, Canada embarked on a very ambitious shared services initiative which, Charette says, ground to a halt due to its sheer size. So she is now working on smaller-scale horizontal initiatives that provide shared services on a clustered basis. "My first step is to center my attention on HR and eventually finance back office systems. We must scale down from each department operating their own back-office systems to clusters of similar departments which are able to work on a shared system. In this way we hope to progressively reduce the number of individual instances to a manageable number of clusters, while remaining flexible in our approach because it represents a huge change," she says. "The biggest challenge is change management," but she hopes to make shared services top-of-mind for back-office investments.

Poised and articulate, Corinne Charette is the mother of two young men and is obviously comfortable using sports metaphors. She holds a bachelor's degree in science and engineering from Loyola College in Montreal, a former men's school that had only begun to admit women about a dozen years before she started there. Loyola, which is now part of Concordia University, served her well as the launchpad to a long and successful career in technology, and she remains a member of the Alumni Association's Board of Directors.

Her career after college marked a steady progression of executive level positions, at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce running the Retail Bank's Internet Channel, as a Partner at KPMG Consulting, IBM Global Services and VIA Rail Canada. From May 2006 until her appointment as federal CIO in May 2009, she served as Vice-President and CIO of Transat A.T. Inc., which is the fifth largest tourism and vacation agency in the world.

Prior to joining Transat, Charette held her first government position, as Deputy Director for Information Technology and CIO of FINTRAC, a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Finance that analyzes and assesses financial intelligence on suspected money laundering and terrorist financing.

One of the lessons she learned during more than three decades in the workplace is that "a great boss and sponsor is worth their weight in gold," she says. In her current job, she was happy to find that her chain of command includes two individuals who are amongst the most senior leaders in the Canadian Public Service. Michelle d'Auray, who was the federal CIO in 2003, when Charette became CIO of FINTRAC, is now the Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada, parent organization of the CIO Branch. Wayne Wouters, who, as the former Treasury Board Secretary, hired Charette to be CIO, has now moved up to be Clerk of the Privy Council, the most senior public servant in Canada. "They both are keenly supportive of IM/IT," she said. "They provide a springboard for me to drive shared services, efficiency and collaboration."

Although she has moved back and forth between Ottawa and Montreal in the course of her career, she has settled on an arrangement that works for her now. "I've decided Montreal will be my country home. I bought my pied-a-terre in Ottawa. This two-city thing is manageable."

Balancing her two homes has enriched her lifestyle and taught her to appreciate the cultural nuances she encounters daily. A native French speaker of Greek-Italian lineage, Corinne Charette grew up mostly in Montreal, in the French-Canadian province of Quebec. "The French-Canadian culture is unique. We're more outgoing, more spontaneous, than our English-Canadian counterparts."

Her U.S. counterpart, CIO Vivek Kundra, seems to agree. "She is a lot of fun," he said after their first meeting at North American Day talks in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.



Cloud Computing: White House launches Apps.gov cloud storefront

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced the launch of Apps.gov, an online storefront for cloud IT services and business, productivity, and social media applications. In a September 15 press conference at NASA's Ames Research Center and a concurrent post on the White House blog, Kundra framed the site's launch in the context of President Obama's push for better government at lower cost. "With more rapid access to innovative IT solutions, agencies can spend less time and taxpayer dollars on procedural items and focus more on using technology to achieve their missions," he said.

The site, designed and implemented by GSA on behalf of the White House, features more than 50 categories of cloud-based IT services including everything from financial, geographic, and publishing software to scalable storage, virtual machines, and web hosting. The social media section provides an easy way for agencies to contact the many social media providers with which GSA and the White House have negotiated amended terms of service agreements.



Recovery Act: Reports are due October 10; publication date pushed to October 30

The Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board has pushed back to October 30 the publication date for spending reports from hundreds of thousands of recipients of federal stimulus funds. The delay will ensure that needed corrections are made before the stimulus spending data are made public. State and local governments, academic institutions, and other recipients of grants, loans and other funding under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are required by law to post quarterly reports of their spending on www.federalreporting.gov.

The data submitted will be made public on www.recovery.gov. Reports for the period from the initial receipt of funds through September 30 are due by October 10. Initially, the Board planned to make these reports public beginning October 11. However, that date has been moved to October 30 to allow for correcting errors in the data. The new release schedule "mitigates the Board's concern that large amounts of uncorrected data could actually harm transparency rather than enhance it," said Board Chairman Earl E. Devaney.



Pew: Well-off and well-educated are more likely to engage

Just as in offline politics, the well-off and well-educated are especially likely to participate in online activities that mirror offline forms of engagement, according to a study conducted in August 2008 and published in September 2009 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Pew's report, The Internet and Civic Engagement, concluded:

  • Whether they take place on the internet or off, traditional political activities remain the domain of those with high levels of income and education.
  • There are hints that forms of civic engagement anchored in blogs and social networking sites could alter long-standing patterns that are based on socioeconomic status.
  • The internet is now part of the fabric of everyday civic life. Half of those who are involved in a political or community group communicate with other group members using digital tools such as email or group websites.
  • Respondents report that public officials are no less responsive to email than to snail mail. Online communications to government officials are just as likely to draw a response as contacts in person, over the phone, or by letter.
  • Those who make political donations are more likely to use the internet to make their contributions than are those who make charitable donations; however, large political donations are much less likely to be made online than are large charitable donations.



Contracting: GSA SmartBuy tops contract vehicle survey

GSA, the only civilian agency to make the top 10, claimed six spots including the top three on 1105 Government Information Group's list of the most popular federal contracting vehicles. Thirty-four percent of respondents expect to use GSA SmartBuy, putting the software-purchasing vehicle at the top of the list. The 1105 Government Information Group surveyed 100,000 readers of Washington Technology, Government Computer News, and Federal Computer Week to ask what contracting vehicles the respondents expected to use over the coming year.

Contract Vehicle%
1.GSA SmartBuy34
2.GSA Schedule 7031
3.GSA 8(a) STARS16
4.Army ITES-2S15
5.GSA Networx13
6.DISA I-Assure13
7.DOD Enterprise Software Initiatives13
8.GSA Alliant Small Business12
9.GSA Millenia/Millenia Light/Alliant12
10.Army ADMC-212


OMB: Guidance released for reviewing contracts and acquisition practices

OMB guidance on improving government acquisition, issued July 29, is the first of two steps required by President Obama's March 4 Memorandum on Government Contracting. The second step, guidance on competition, contract types, acquisition workforce, and outsourcing, is expected in the fall.

OMB's guidance calls upon federal agencies to shave 10% from awards to "high-risk" contracting authorities by 2010, to review existing contracts and acquisition practices, and to cut 7% from baseline contract spending by the end of FY 2011. The administration's goal is to use these measures to save $40 billion per year.

High risk contracts are those that pose a greater risk for overspending and include noncompetitive, cost-reimbursement, and time-and-materials/labor-hour contracts.



GAO: IT investment challenges plague DHS

In congressional testimony September 15, the Government Accountability Office identified significant challenges facing the Department of Homeland Security in managing its $6.2 billion annual investment in large-scale IT systems.

Randolph Hite, GAO IT Architecture and Systems Issues director, outlined the many IT challenges that continue to confront DHS in testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement.

Although DHS has made progress, IT failings have undermined core mission capabilities, Hite said. Specific weaknesses outlined in the testimony included a lack of improvement of the IT workforce, program risk mitigation, and contract oversight. In addition, DHS does not have complete investment and acquisition management policies and procedures and shows inconsistent effort implementing those it does have. Furthermore, the agency's cost and schedule estimates have been unreliable and management reviews have been lacking.



Social Media: Top 10 agencies using Facebook and Twitter

Federal Computer Week has compiled lists of the top 10 federal agencies using Facebook and Twitter. The statistics listed for each agency represent the number of people signed up as fans of their Facebook fan pages and followers of their Twitter accounts.

Meanwhile, Facebook recently created a new Facebook and Government page aimed at helping agencies get the most out of their efforts with the social network.



Social Media: FCC embraces blogging, crowd-sourcing, and social networks

The FCC was tasked by the Recovery Act to extend broadband coverage to all Americans and must release a National Broadband Plan by next February. The agency began using "crowd-sourcing" software September 11 to solicit public input on a plan proposal, which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had announced on the agency's first video blog post the day before.

The new tool enables users to propose new ideas and to vote on those already submitted by others. A week after the project began, about 100 proposals had been submitted and participants voted thumbs-up or thumbs-down on them 4,000 times. The leading suggestion was to "bring the US mobile broadband pricing in line with the rest of the world." The blog and ideas pages are linked from FCC's main broadband page, Broadband.gov.

In addition to its crowd-sourcing efforts, the FCC posted dozens of RSS feeds and recently joined the growing number of agencies with a presence on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.



Buzz: SAVE Award invites feds to submit cost-cutting ideas

The Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award to design a process through which government workers can submit ideas for how their agencies can save money and perform better will give federal employees a chance to take part in the budget process. The reward for the best submission will be a place in the FY 2011 Budget and a meeting with the president.

The deadline for submissions is October 14 and a winner will be announced in November. The contest criteria emphasize concrete and identifiable cost reductions, improved government operations, impact on citizens' lives, practical implementation, and immediate cost savings.



Kudos: GCN Executives of the Year; Apps for America 2 winners; Digital Government Achievement Awards; Web Marketing Association's WebAwards

GCN Executives of the Year. Government Computer News named three Executives of the Year and named Tom Davis to its a Hall of Fame on September 9. The awards recognize "technology excellence in government by individuals who have shown innovation, dedication and excellence in their achievements during the past year." The winners, who will be honored at a gala October 22, are:

Martha Dorris, deputy associate administrator, GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications, Civilian Executive of the Year.

Rob Carey, Department of the Navy CIO, Defense Executive of the year.

James Lewis, director and senior fellow in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Technology and Public Policy Program, Industry Executive of the Year.

Tom Davis, former Republican congressman from Virginia and now director of Federal Government Relations for Deloitte, was named to the GCN Hall of Fame.

Apps for America 2 Winners. The Sunlight Foundation organized the Apps for America contest's second edition as The Data.gov Challenge, and announced winners at the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase in Washington, DC on September 8. The three finalists were chosen by a panel of judges and ranked by public voting that took place August 24-September 7.

  1. DataMasher: enables citizens to create mashups of government data that show how states compare on important issues.
  2. GovPulse: makes documents such as the Federal Register searchable, more accessible, and easier for the public to digest.
  3. ThisWeKnow: provides federal data by zip code or by city and state.

Digital Government Achievement Awards. The Center for Digital Government sponsors annual rankings and awards for official government portals at the state, city, and county level and for five other categories. A panel of experts produce the rankings based on accessibility, innovation, cost-savings, ease of use, and more.





Awards Nominations: Deadlines for e-gov community awards applications

Web Marketing Association's WebAwards. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) claimed the top government honors. DISA's BRAC Information Portal won the Best Government Website award, leading the 17 web sites including the City of Emeryville, CA, the Wyoming Secretary of State, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury Administrative Resource Center that were awarded the Government Standard of Excellence. DISA.mil won the award for Best Military Website.



Transitions: Changes in the IT Community

Changes in the IT Community

Also available in 293 pdf kb



Upcoming Events Calendar

Web Manager University: Managing Government Websites 101
Washington, DC
September 23-24

Digital Government Institute: Can the Cloud Be Secured?
Webinar
September 24, 2009

National Defense University Information Leader Symposium: Web 2.0 Solutions
Washington, DC
September 24, 2009

Web Manager University: Best Practices for Multilingual Websites
Online
September 29

NIEM National Training Event
Baltimore, MD
September 30-October 2, 2009

Web Manager University: Building Online Communities for Citizen Engagement
Online
October 1

Excellence in Government Series: Driving Federal Performance
Washington, DC
October 5, 2009

IDEAS 2009 Conference (INTERAGENCY DISABILITY EDUCATIONAL AWARENESS SHOWCASE)
Washington, DC
October 5 and 6, 2009

Web Manager University: Creating Web Metric Reports That Rock
Online
October 7, 2009

AFFIRM's monthly lunch panel: Federal Cloud - Beyond the Buzz
Washington, DC
October 13

Web Manager University: Video Boot Camp
Washington, DC
October 13-14, 2009

Lowering the Cost of Government with Technology
Washington, DC
October 14, 2009

MILCOM 2009
Boston, MA
October 18-21, 2009

Web Manager University: Hands-On Card Sorting
Washington, DC
October 20, 2009

TechAmerica Vision Conference
Springfield, VA
October 21-22, 2009

NASCIO Annual Conference
Austin, TX
October 25-28, 2009

Web Manager University: Building 508-Accessible Websites
Washington, DC
October 27-28, 2009

ACT/IAC Executive Leadership Conference
Williamsburg, VA
October 27-29, 2009

Web Manager University: Web Design Prototyping: Practical Tools & Techniques
Washington, DC
November 5, 2009

Advancing Government Accountability: Performance Management Conference
Seattle, WA
November 5-6, 2009

Web Manager University: Best Practices of Search
Online
November 10, 2009

Web Manager University: Proven Strategies for Getting Readable Content
Washington, DC
November 17, 2009

Web Manager University: Finding Your Social Media Voice
Online
December 2, 2009

International Knowledge Management Conference
Hong Kong
December 3-4, 2009

Web Manager University: Latest Usability Trends: Bringing Research into Practice
Washington, DC
December 9, 2009

Web Manager University: Introduction to Podcasting
Washington, DC
December 15, 2009

IRMCO
Cambridge, Maryland
April 11-14, 2010



Comments: We welcome your feedback.

Please send your comments, concerns, complaints and questions to dotgovbuzz@gsa.gov.

Check out our previous editions at www.usa.gov/dotgovbuzz.html.

The DotGov Buzz is produced by the following individuals in the GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications:

Darlene Meskell
Zach Miller
Marie-Alice Denis
Bryant Jones.