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


Volume 4 Issue 10: October 27, 2009


The Dave McClure Minute

Dave McClure is the new Associate Administrator for the GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications, home to USA.gov, Intergovernmental Solutions and federal consumer publications. The office uses innovative technologies to connect citizens to government and to connect senior government officials at all levels. As GSA's Public Affairs office, it also keeps employees and the public informed through news releases, websites, internal communications and blogs. Dave's column will appear monthly in The DotGov Buzz to keep the IT community informed of developments in the implementation of open government and innovation.

The Obama Administration's transparency agenda is game-changing, bringing collaboration, participation and transparency to government in a big way. As more information makes its way onto the Internet, an increased level of focus and flexibility is required to balance the privacy and security concerns with the desire to make information more readily accessible. For many, the movement towards more open, transparent and collaborative government is equivalent to conducting change management on steroids. As a result, focused leadership from government executives and managers is paramount.

Before my appointment to GSA in August, I served on the Obama-Biden Transformation, Innovation and Government Reform Transition Team, which examined federal agencies' IT plans and offered recommendations for the incoming administration. Now that I'm in a position to influence the implementation of these recommendations, I can see several challenges ahead:

  • Disclosure management. Government databases often intertwine non-sensitive publicly available data with PII and other protected data (e.g., financial, contracting, proprietary, etc.). The time periods for releasing and sharing more government information are shortening and as this information is mashed-up with other information, there is an increasing need to review information more thoroughly before posting. As a result, "disclosure management" is becoming a new capability that falls somewhere between Web content and vulnerability management (largely focused on policy compliance), and traditional security and access controls.
  • Data sharing. Data sharing in the Gov2.0 world is accelerating both the push for raw or machine-readable data (e.g., www.data.gov), which is then consumed by third parties or directly by citizens themselves for their own purposes. However, there is also a call for government to effectively package and synthesize this new tsunami of data and deliver it in formats and views easily digestible by diverse audience needs. This creates challenging questions about the boundaries for government information, ownership and control as well as starting and ending points for government accountability.
  • Data quality. The accuracy, integrity, timeliness and reliability of government data and information is a recurring problem in government, but it takes on even greater priority as the amount of government information being pushed onto the Web grows at a heightened pace. We're defeating the purpose of transparency if we're pushing out not only bad data but also irrelevant data.
  • Multichannel information, interaction and service delivery. Not only do we have challenges in getting information and services to the public via multiple delivery channels (e.g., Internet, contact centers, face-to-face, printed materials, etc.), agencies must also realize that they are interacting with citizens in a 3-screen environment - allowing users to view, download and re-use content on mobile devices, personal computers and large video screens. We must be able to engage and connect with citizens in each of these environments.
  • Data analysis. Because of the volume of data we are beginning to encounter and the push to use it for sharpened performance and operational management in government, I believe we will witness the re-emergence of knowledge management (KM 2.0?) and direct attention to overall INFORMATION management. This will also include search and query tools which are an important method of citizen interaction and engagement with government. At GSA, we are investigating new search and query capabilities to get the right information to citizens faster, improving information services and understanding emerging and priority policy needs.
  • Disruption. Cool, innovative technologies often are very disruptive to the status quo ways of doing business. In government, a "circle the wagons" mentality can root, but the new social media tools provide some interesting insights into how markets, applications and providers will indeed undergo significant changes. In such an environment, flexibility and agility are important foundational elements to embrace.
  • Defining and Measuring impact. While the early focus has been on technologies, it is critical for us to understand whether openness, transparency and collaboration are helping us achieve better government performance results and increasing citizen trust. For example, are our policy-making processes getter better, faster, more agile and encountering more success in achieving intended results?

We're all going to experience some surprising twists and turns on this roller-coaster ride and you can be sure that citizens will have greater access to, and influence on, their government as a result. Hold on to your hats and check this space in months to come to learn the latest.



DotGov Spotlight: Dave McClure, Associate Administrator, GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications

Dave McClure, Associate Administrator, GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications

"The term 'e-government' is over," said Dave McClure, the new associate administrator in the GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications. That's a pretty bold statement from someone who helped create the E-Government Act of 2002. But, McClure says government has moved to the next stage of interacting with citizens: harnessing the power of the Internet to improve government.

"We have to get away from the sole fixation on technology itself and focus on how it improves government operations and impacts service to citizens," McClure said. "At the end of the day, what are you doing to better serve the citizen? That's the fundamental question to answer. Technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself," he explains. "It's time to innovate."

Citizen Services and Communications has been leading the way. The office manages the government portals, USA.gov and its Spanish-language site, GobiernoUSA.gov, and in May moved server management of the sites to a private "cloud," which at last count had saved taxpayers more than $1.7 million.

McClure, whose long career most recently featured a stint at Gartner, Inc., the IT research and consulting company, will bring his prodigious experience to bear on the challenges of helping citizens get the services they want "as fast as possible."

He subscribes to the 'three click strategy,' which assumes that if it takes longer than three clicks for people to get to information they are seeking, they will generally give up. "We need to get citizens to essential services and the right information faster," McClure says. He also wants to expand the search capabilities of USA.gov to include the data-rich sites Data.gov, Recovery.gov, USASpending.gov and even commercial sites. Although USA.gov is focused primarily on agency sites, "There is so much information out there and we want USA.gov to be as expansive as it needs to be to provide the most relevant information possible."

He also wants to help incorporate these ideas into GSA's own web site, GSA.gov, to provide effective two-way communications with citizens and industry groups in the agency's line of business areas. "We're turning the mirror on ourselves to make sure our sites are performing as well as what is expected of other government sites," he said.

Soon after McClure came on board, GSA and OMB launched Apps.gov, an online store for government cloud IT services and business, productivity and social media applications. McClure recently spoke about Apps.gov at a Canadian government summit on cloud computing. "I talked about our evolutionary steps into the cloud and how we're going to expand the site to include infrastructure pilots." He noted the Canadians' amazement at how quickly the U.S. was able to move on this initiative, and explained with a shrug and a smile, "its innovation time."

McClure also wants to create a Center for IT Innovation at GSA that would function as a neutral space where government and industry can work collaboratively on applications and solutions focused on high priority and big impact areas, he said. "The idea is to ensure we can move new technology into government as fast as we feasibly can," even though government is known for being 'pretty risk averse', he added.

But McClure says citizen service has changed. Anymore "it's not just about dissemination and access, it's about engagement."

Dave McClure has been engaged with the federal IT community for more than two decades. He spent 18 years at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) where he reviewed major systems development and IT management capabilities across the federal government.

GAO is one of the most unique places to work in government, he says. "The strength I gained from my GAO experience is an incredible knowledge of agencies and their missions," he says. "I have a very broad view of government and can make cross-government connections pretty fast as a result."

Nearing 20 years of service at GAO, McClure decided he had two choices: either finish out his career at the agency or try something different. So he went into the private sector to work for the Council for Excellence in Government, the good-government organization that closed its doors in February. McClure was the Vice President for e-government and technology there until 2005 when he joined Gartner, Inc.

As the managing Vice President for its government research team, McClure led Gartner's global government research agenda and analyst support, and he was the lead researcher on government IT management practices.

At Gartner, McClure worked with clients around the world and saw similarities. Countries are facing the same issues, but the different forms of government approach the issues differently. "We want to build on and adopt the best practices from other countries that will add value for our citizens," he said.

McClure came to Washington, D.C., from Texas. He grew up in Corsicana, a city 55 miles south of Dallas that at the last census, had nearly 25,000 residents.

Before heading north, McClure received his Bachelor of Arts and master's degrees in political science from the University of Texas in Austin; he received a doctorate in public policy from the University of North Texas.

After he graduated, McClure was considering the teaching profession. But his interest in computers and political science led him to apply for the Presidential Management Fellows program. As McClure says, he came to D.C. and "never left."

During his time in the program, which allows Fellows to rotate and work on a few projects or at a few agencies, he worked at OMB, the Senate Budget Committee and at GAO. The PMF experience convinced McClure to pursue a career in government. "I found it was pretty cool to be on the inside of government instead of just teaching it or writing about it," he said.

A three-time Fed 100 winner, McClure was recently elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a non-profit, independent coalition of public leaders that offers solutions for government challenges. Government work is still pretty cool for Dave McClure.



White House: Executive Order requires energy, water and waste reduction; GreenGov Challenge launched and SAVE Award competition closed

President Obama signed an Executive Order on October 5 that will leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies, among other things. The Executive Order sets sustainability goals for federal agencies and requires:

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020
  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020
  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015
  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements
  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement
  • Implementation of the stormwater provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438
  • Development of guidance for sustainable federal building locations in alignment with the livability principles put forward by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Agencies must develop integrated strategic sustainability performance plans that prioritize agencies' actions towards the goals in the Executive Order, based on lifecycle return on investment.

After signing the order, the President launched the online GreenGOV Challenge, which allows federal employees to submit and vote on clean energy ideas that will help their agencies reach the goals outlined in the Executive Order. The Challenge runs from October 19-31, and so far nearly 6,000 ideas have been submitted. The best ideas will be presented to the Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability.

The GreenGOV Challenge is similar to the SAVE Award competition the OMB launched for federal employees to electronically submit cost-saving ideas for the FY 2011 Budget. Federal employees submitted 38,484 ideas to SAVE Award before the competition closed October 14, according to FederalTimes.com. The SAVE Award winner will be announced in November.



Recovery Act: Recovery.gov goes live with first stimulus spending data

Contracts data from 9,000 recipients is now live on Recovery.gov. Data from recipients of grants and loans will be made public on October 30. More than 112,000 recipients submitted reports on their use of Recovery Act funds, according to the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board. The data, submitted to FederalReporting.gov, is displayed on the new Recovery.gov website.

As of October 10, the contracts data shows that 30,383 jobs have been created or saved.



Web 2.0: GSA develops Terms of Service template for federal agencies

The GSA Office of Citizen Services developed a template for federal agencies to use when crafting their own Amended Terms of Service agreements with social media providers. The model agreement incorporates ideas and material from more than twenty previous negotiations between federal agencies and social media providers.

Federal agencies need to amend the standard Terms of Service agreements in order to legally use free social media like Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook to do government business. GSA has negotiated specific agreements with some 24 providers and offers them in its Social Media Apps storefront on Apps.gov.

Apps.gov homepage

While other agencies may have different requirements, they can use these agreements as a starting-point for their own Terms of Service negotiations. Availability of a standard template allows agencies to initiate negotiations with any free social media provider. Frequently asked questions about the process are posted under Vendor FAQs.

Agencies should include their attorneys in negotiations with social media providers so they can independently review the agreement for legal sufficiency as well as consistency with their agency's requirements and practices.



CIO Council: Guidelines issued to minimize risks of social media

The federal government should create a government-wide social media policy that addresses user behavior, rather than specific technology, a new guidance document from the Federal CIO Council recommends. Wikis, blogs and social networks leave federal networks vulnerable to spear phishing, social engineering and web application attacks, and guidelines that minimize these risks should be followed.

Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies offers recommendations for controls over policy, acquisition, training, networks and hosting. The decision to use social media at an agency should come from input from many people who understand the threats, risks and mission needs.



OMB: Agencies must submit TIC self-assessments by December

Federal agencies must work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to complete Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) self-assessments by December 31, according to a September 17 memo from the OMB. Trusted Internet Connections Access Providers (TICAPs) had until September 25 to schedule initial on-site assessments with DHS.

Agencies were also required to submit formal Plans of Action and Milestones to DHS by September 25, and will have to update the plans every six months.

Each agency is in charge of maintaining a current, detailed inventory of network connections, which includes: service provider, cost, capacity and traffic volumes for each connection, the memo explains.

OMB's objective in reducing the number of TICs in government is to optimize and standardize external network connections to the Internet, to improve the federal government's security posture and incident response capability.



Intergovernmental Solutions: Newsletter highlights Citizen Engagement worldwide

The GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications released its latest newsletter called Engaging Citizens in Government. This edition presents the views of 24 trendsetting IT leaders of nations, states, federal agencies, and municipalities and thought leaders who are working to ensure openness in government.

It includes contributions from Katie Stanton, Director of Citizen Participation at the White House; Andrew Stott, Director of Digital Engagement of the United Kingdom; and Carolyn Lukensmeyer, President and Founder of AmericaSpeaks.



State & Local: Web 2.0 tools' use is on the rise in local government, PTI study finds

All the respondents to the Public Technology Institute's survey of local government said they use wikis internally for project management, information sharing and collaboration. The survey was sent to 350 city and county government IT executives, e-government directors and web managers. Fifteen percent of those officials responded to the survey.

RSS, Twitter and Facebook were the three most popular tools:

  • 75% use RSS feeds to send news and updates to citizens
  • 72% use Twitter for emergency and public safety alerts
  • 72% use Facebook to reach youth, seniors, visitors, library patrons and neighborhood groups.

Local governments also use YouTube, blogs and mashups. Fifty-seven percent of respondents use YouTube to promote events and programs to citizens and visitors. Blogs are used by 43% of respondents, to communicate internally and with citizens. Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Google maps, Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIn, Nixle and CoverltLive are used to create mashups. However, only 2% of respondents use SecondLife.

Other interesting results:

  • 44% said their public information office is primarily responsible for updating content for these tools
  • Costs for implementing these tools were minimal.

Security, bandwidth, employee productivity, coordination and Freedom of Information Act requirements were the major obstacles local governments encountered when using the social media tools.



Social Media: Fewer than half of companies surveyed allow social networking tools

In a recent survey of 1,400 corporate CIOs, 54% said their companies' policies did not allow visiting Facebook, MySpace or Twitter at work, and 19% said their companies allowed the tools for 'business purposes only.' Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm, created the survey that was administered to CIOs nationwide who worked for companies with at least 100 people.

The survey also showed:

  • 16% of companies allow social tools for 'limited personal use'
  • 10% of companies allow the tools for 'any type of personal use'
  • 1% of companies 'don't know/no answer.'

To explain the findings, Dave Wilmer of Robert Half Technology, said, "Using social networking sites may divert employees' attention away from more pressing priorities, so it's understandable that some companies limit access." "For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes," he continued.



State & Local: NASCIO calls for states to democratize data

States and local governments should increase citizens' access to raw, machine-readable data through sites similar to the federal government's Data.gov. Data democratization will lead to greater citizen engagement and government accountability, according to the National Association of State CIOs' latest brief on transparency.

In A Call to Action for State Government: Guidance for Opening the Doors to State Data, state and local CIOs are advised to populate these portals with data that is already currently available, and develop agreements with the data owners and custodians to supply ongoing data to the portal.

The Administration's view of 'Open Government' based on transparency, participation and collaboration, will only increase the demand for government data, the brief concludes.



Kudos: GCN, InformationWeek, NASCIO Awards

Martha Dorris

Martha Dorris, left, deputy associate administrator for the GSA Office of Citizen Services, was honored October 22 as the Civilian Executive of the Year by Government Computer News.

Last month's Buzz reported her award along with those of Rob Carey, CIO, Department of the Navy, and James Lewis, director and senior fellow in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Technology and Public Policy Program. Carey was named Defense Executive of the Year and Lewis was named 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.

Government Computer News recognized outstanding government IT initiatives for 2009 that were featured in its October 12 Current Issue. The winners included:

  • Rapid Reaction Technology Office, Director, Defense Research & Engineering, Defense Technical Information Center, Department of Defense CIO - Department of Defense Techipedia Team for the Department of Defense Techipedia Suite of Services
  • Interior Department, General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget - Data.gov Project Team for the Data.gov project
  • U.S. Army - U.S. Army Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care Product Management Office
  • Defense Information Systems Agency Personnel Systems Support Branch - Manpower, Personnel and Security Directorate for Open Source Corporate Management Information System
  • Defense Department Military Health System - Defense Health Systems for the Patient Movement Items Tracking System
  • Library of Congress - Office of Strategic Initiative for the Digital Preservation Project
  • United States Postal Service - Business Solutions Services for the Product Tracking System Application Modernization
  • The Department of Administrative Services - Division of finance for the Utah Public Finance Web site
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation - Criminal Justice Information Services for the National Data Exchange
  • State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairs - Consular Systems and Technology for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: Passport Card and Border Crossing Card
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Office of Information Technology for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

InformationWeek's Government CIO 50. InformationWeek published its first list of top government technology leaders, at all government levels, on September 26. Two city CIOs, five state CIOs and one former CIO share the honor with 42 federal CIOs.

NASCIO State Technology Champion Award. NASCIO honored Colorado Governor Bill Ritter as its first-ever State Technology Champion. The Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to IT in their state

NASCIO 2009 Recognition Awards. NASCIO honored 10 state IT initiatives that exemplify best practices and represent innovative uses of existing and new technology.

NASCIO Meritorious Service Award. Richard Thompson, CIO, for the State of Maine was awarded NASCIO's Meritorious Service Award for consistently championing the vision, mission and principles of the association.



Transitions: Changes in the IT Community

Changes in the IT Community

Also available in pdf 35 kb



Upcoming Events Calendar

2009 Federal IT and Privacy Summits
Washington, DC
October 28-29, 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

AFFIRM Monthly Luncheon - Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition & Beyond
Washington, DC
November 18, 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

ACT/IAC Management of Change Conference
Philadelphia, PA
May 23-25, 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
Andrea Noce Sigritz
Zach Miller
Bryant Jones.