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

Volume 4 Issue 11: November 24, 2009

The Dave McClure Minute

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

The Obama Administration has made it a high priority to get feedback from citizens. One of the first things they did was to host ‘Open for Questions,’ an online forum where the public could ask questions about the economy and vote on others’ questions leading to a live town hall meeting a few days later when the President answered some of the questions. Other high-profile public dialogues have addressed transparency in government, health IT, the site and the Department of Homeland Security’s policies.

These and other successful public dialogs continue to teach us valuable lessons. Engaging citizens online involves more than finding a web-based software application or tool, either free or for-a-fee. Effective engagement requires agency managers and leaders to understand what they are trying to accomplish-- problem-solving, collecting service feedback, deriving alternative solutions, or weighing in on public policy options under consideration.

Public confidence in government-sponsored/led engagements can erode quickly if the sessions are administered poorly, if they limit effective participation, or if the participants feel nothing was done with their suggestions.

Before launching a new initiative, you should take a quick minute to assess your readiness in the following areas:

  • Do you have executive support and participation?
    Explain the significance of this information gathering to your leadership and persuade them to be visible participants.
  • Is the purpose of the engagement and the intended outcomes/results clear?
    How are you going to use this feedback to improve citizen service delivery?
  • Are you adhering to widely recognized practices for successful online engagements with the public?
    See for useful information.
  • Have you targeted the audience or public segment you want to engage, including subject matter experts or actual service recipients?
    Develop an outreach plan to ensure that the people you want to hear from are participating.
  • Have you selected a web-based application that is recognized for its ability to support the specific processes and outcomes you are attempting to achieve?Look on for “Idea Generation,” “In-depth Discussion” and other free social media tools. They all have Terms of Service agreements federal agencies can use to start negotiations with providers.
  • Does it have robust analytical, voting, ranking and similar capabilities to help cut through a high volume of comments and derive truly useful feedback?
  • Are you following-up with communication and outreach about the results and impact of the engagement?
    When people participate, they want to know what happened to their suggestions. So keep them informed and stay involved!

Dave McClure is Associate Administrator for the GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications, home to, Intergovernmental Solutions and federal consumer publications. 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.

DotGov Spotlight: Pam Walker, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of State Chief Information Officers

Pam Walker, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of State Chief Information Officers

As a teenager, Pam Walker witnessed history in November 1989, when she was living in Mannheim, Germany, when the Berlin Wall fell. Twenty years later she is again on historic ground. As NASCIO’s first-ever director of government affairs, she has been helping the states implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $787 billion economic stimulus package enacted last February.

NASCIO’s mission is “to foster government excellence through quality business practices, information management and technology policy.” Walker’s position was created in 2008 to ensure state CIOs’ views are considered in the shaping of federal legislation and policy. Working closely with other national associations that advocate for state interests, she represents the state CIOs’ views to Congress and the administration.

"My role is to help execute our advocacy agenda,” Walker says. “I keep the NASCIO membership appraised of developments with federal legislation, regulations and opportunities to collaborate."

Twenty years ago, living abroad during the end of the Cold War, was an "amazing time" she will never forget, Walker says. “It made me realize that nothing is impossible and dreams do come true.” She still has pieces of the Wall that she keeps at her parent’s house.

Working at NASCIO since November 2008, has also been exciting for Walker, "because technology plays a role or is a solution to implementing policy. It touches every congressional committee and federal agency."

At the top of President Obama’s agenda this year was passage of the Recovery Act. After the Recovery Act was signed, NASCIO partnered with other associations that represent the states’ governors, budget officers, legislatures, auditors, comptrollers and treasurers to work with representatives from the federal government -- OMB, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) -- to address challenges the ambitious new law presents.

Recovery Act funding has helped states fill in their budget gaps and avoid making further drastic cuts to programs when demand is near an all-time high for services, she says. CIOs have played a major role in implementing the recovery efforts, building or acquiring the solutions that allow states to report their data to, which funnels the contract, grant and loan data to State CIOs gave OMB feedback on’s data architecture and some states volunteered for pilot projects that tested the reporting solutions. "More importantly," Walker says, “the Recovery Act has allowed the CIOs to break down some of the silos in the states and take an enterprise approach” to fulfilling the legislation’s requirements.

States, and other recipients of the billions in stimulus funds, have faced challenges complying with the legislative requirements, ranging from reporting the recipient data to reviewing broadband applications, Walker says. "The short timeline for implementation was a major challenge." And although the majority of the funding went to preexisting state programs, new broadband, health IT and “smart grid” programs also received significant funding.

Next year, besides dealing with ongoing demands of the Recovery Act, the state CIOs will be busy with a host of other issues, that include driving IT consolidation and shared services models in the states; budget and cost controls; and cyber security and social media, Walker says. (NASCIO just released its list of state CIO priorities for 2010 that ranks the top policy and technology issues facing state governments next year.)

Pam Walker has been working with state CIOs only 12 months, but has spent the past 12 years working in government affairs positions at other organizations, including nearly seven years with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists and Congressional Quarterly. Working for state CIOs is different, Walker says, because technology is used to enable almost every program in state government and IT crosses all boundaries. "The CIOs play an important role in state government that is increasing in importance."

Growing up in a military family, "I was always fascinated with government policy," says Walker, the oldest of three daughters of an Army Intelligence Officer. As an intern for the Congressional Research Service while in college, she found her passion writing foreign affairs policy reports. The range of international and national issues piqued her interest in world affairs and she went on to graduate from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a Master’s in International Transactions.

After college she took a fellowship with the Demilitarization for Democracy, a center researching arms control issues. "I thought I could save the world by getting everyone to demilitarize," Walker says.

Having developed a taste for advocacy work, she stayed on after the fellowship for two years and met some "amazing people" like Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1987 and current president of Costa Rica, and Representatives Joe Kennedy and Barney Frank.

As a mother of three toddlers Walker’s free time isn’t spent travelling the world anymore, but entertaining her twin three-year-old girls and two-year-old son. The twins, who turn four on Thanksgiving, have inherited their mother’s interest in national issues. "They keep asking me to take them to the White House to meet the President," Walker says. "They want him to come and talk to their daycare."

State & Local: NASCIO releases top state CIO priorities for 2010

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) released its list of top priorities state CIOs will be working on in 2010. The first list is the top 10 policy priorities and the second list is the top 10 technology priorities as voted on by NASCIO members.

Top 10 Final Ranking – Priority Strategies, Management Processes and Solutions:

  1. Budget and Cost Control
  2. Consolidation
  3. Shared Services
  4. Broadband and Connectivity
  5. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  6. Security
  7. Transparency
  8. Infrastructure
  9. Health Information
  10. Governance

Top 10 Final Ranking – Priority Technologies, Applications and Tools:

  1. Virtualization (storage, computing, data center, servers, applications)
  2. Networking, voice and data communications, unified communications
  3. Document/Content/Records/E-mail management (repository, archiving, digital preservation)
  4. Cloud computing, software as a service
  5. Security enhancement tools
  6. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)/Legacy application modernization-renovation
  7. Geospatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  8. Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analytics (BA) applications
  9. Identity and access management
  10. Social Media and Networking (Web 2.0 services, wikis, blogs, collaboration technologies, and social networking).

ACSI Scores: Public more satisfied with federal agency sites than ever before

Federal agency websites scored 2.2% better in the third quarter of 2009 than the previous quarter. This is the largest jump between quarters since the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Government Satisfaction Index began in 2003, according to ForeSee Results. The federal e-gov sites scored 75.2 out of 100 points. The index measures 104 federal websites, which were rated by 291,000 citizens.

Social Security’s Retirement Estimator (91), Health and Human Service’s MedlinePlus (87), the Peace Corps’ (84) and the CIA’s Recruitment Website (83) scored exceptionally high in their categories. The 29 sites with a score of 80 or better are considered the top sites.

The e-government sites had better scores than the online news and information, online brokerage and investment and online travel industries, but didn’t do as well as e-retail or private industry portals and search engines.

Gallup Study: Citizens use Internet most often to contact federal agencies

Citizens are most likely to go online to contact the federal government and they are most likely to want information about visiting national parks or monuments, according to a Gallup study conducted during summer of 2009. The Gallup Consulting survey set out to measure the public’s overall customer experience with federal agencies.

The top five reasons the public interacts with the federal government are:

  1. Visiting parks, monuments, etc. (84%)
  2. Travelling (70%)
  3. Federal benefits (34%)
  4. Health info (32%)
  5. Financial loans (28%)

During the past six months, the top five methods the public used to initiate contact with the federal government were:

  1. Websites (41%)
  2. Mail (22%)
  3. Phone (17%)
  4. Part of job (16%)
  5. In person (14%)

Overall, 61% of the 40,000 citizens who participated in the study said they were satisfied with the performance of the federal agency they most recently contacted.

Respondents named the Defense Department the most important agency to the country’s future and the most prestigious; said the Social Security Administration had the most impact on respondents’ personal lives; and identified the CIA as the most sought after federal employer.

Industry Cloud Computing Tips: Gartner’s 10 strategic technologies for 2010

Gartner identified 10 technologies that will have a significant impact on businesses in 2010 and for the next three years. These technologies are expected to impact organizations’ long-term plans, programs and initiatives. This list of technologies was presented during Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo in late October:

  1. Cloud computing – A model where providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers

  2. Advanced analytics – The new step looks into the future, predicting what will, can, or will happen.

  3. Client computing – Organizations should build a five- to eight-year client computing roadmap that outlines an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

  4. IT for green – Use e-documents and analytic tools to greatly enhance an enterprise’s green credentials.

  5. Reshaping the data center – A pod-based approach to data center construction should be adopted, in order to build only what’s needed for five to seven years to cut operating expenses.

  6. Social computing – Employers must focus on interacting with externally facing communities.

  7. Security/Activity monitoring – Employers can better detect and investigate suspicious activity by using a variety of tools that are sometimes overlapping.

  8. Flash memory - It is faster than a rotating disk and as it becomes cheaper, will become strategic in many IT areas, including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. It also offers a new layer of storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

  9. Virtualization for availability – Live migration for availability, which is the movement of a running virtual machine, while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server is a new element of virtualization.

  10. Mobile applications – By the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry mobile devices. There is a possibility for a huge uptick in the availability of mobile applications If the operating systems’ interface and processor architecture on both full and miniature systems were identical.

GAO: More OMB oversight needed on agencies’ cyber security plans; Agencies not implementing best EVM policies

Cyber Security. In another report, OMB Leadership Needed to Strengthen Agency Planning Efforts to Protect Federal Cyber Assets, GAO found that OMB failed to monitor agencies’ cyber-protection plans submitted in response to a 2003 Presidential directive. Only four of the 18 agency plans submitted in 2004 fully addressed the 19 criteria required by OMB. In the report, GAO said if the federal government doesn’t identify, prioritize and protect its cyber assets, they will be left vulnerable to destruction, incapacitation, or exploitation.

The OMB didn’t follow-up with agencies because it became involved with other priorities. As a result of this study, GAO is recommending OMB ensure agencies update and implement their plans.

Earned Value Management (EVM). An examination of the Earned Value Management (EVM) approach to managing 16 major IT investments at eight federal agencies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found policies that weren’t consistent with best practices, which can help flag schedule delays and cost overruns. GAO compared a group of agencies’ policies with best practices, performed case studies and reviewed documentation to find out if they used EVM appropriately.

In its report, GAO found inconsistent applications of EVM at the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Veterans Affairs, Transportation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that are projected to cost $3 billion in overruns by the time the projects are completed. Most of the EVM policies don’t require training for oversight personnel and don’t adequately define criteria for revising program costs and schedule baselines.

GAO recommended the agencies ensure their EVM policies follow best practices, address identified weaknesses and manage negative earned value trends.

Social Media: GSA solicits input on acquisition process and introduces URL shortener

GSA has partnered with the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s Acquisition Management Shared Interest Group to solicit citizen ideas on how to improve the federal acquisition process.

The BetterBuy Project, allows people to submit ideas, using collaborative technology, to comment and vote on the ideas. The goal of the project is to introduce more openness, transparency and participation into the federal acquisition process. GSA will select promising ideas and use them in upcoming acquisitions, the agency says in a press release.

The GSA Office of Citizen Services has also launched, a beta URL shortening service for government websites. This product will allow government websites to maintain their brand and authenticity when using shortened URLs for social media purposes. So far, the site has shortened more than 400 links that have been clicked more than 56,000 times. Government employees need to register for an account to get started.

Kudos: Government CIO of the Year; ELC Awards; Public Sector Partner of the Year; Top Digital Cities

Government CIO of the Year. Casey Coleman, CIO of GSA, was named the CIO of the Year by the Tech Council of Maryland on November 10.

ELC Awards. Bob Woods, president, Topside Consulting, was presented with the Mendenhall "Spirit of Leadership" Award by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council (ACT/IAC) at its Executive Leadership Conference in late October. Casey Coleman, GSA, was named the Government Individual Contributor of the Year. Darren Ash, deputy executive director for corporate management at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission received ACT’s President Award and Roger Baker, assistant secretary for information and technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs received IAC’s Chair Award.

Public Sector Partner of the Year. David Drabkin, a senior procurement executive at the General Services Administration was named the Public Sector Partner of the Year at the 7th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards Gala, sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

Top Digital Cities. Corpus Christi, Texas; Norfolk, Virginia; Santa Monica, California; and Flower Mound, Texas, were named the most advanced digital cities in their population categories by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities magazine. The 9th Annual Digital Cities Survey examined how municipalities incorporated IT into operations to better serve citizens. The survey was open to cities with at least 30,000 people. The results include the top 10 cities in each population category.

Awards Nominations: Deadlines for e-gov community awards applications

Fed 100. Federal Computer Week is accepting nominations until December 11 for its Federal 100 Awards Program. Awards. The American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council (ACT/IAC) is accepting nominations until January 8, 2010 for its Awards.

Government Customer Support Excellence Awards. The Cgov Community of Practice is accepting team nominations for the 2010 Government Customer Support Excellence Awards for help desks and call centers through December 15.

Transitions: Changes in the IT Community

Changes in the IT Community

Also available in pdf 35 kb

Upcoming Events Calendar

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

Digital Government Institute’s Government Customer Service Conference & Expo
Washington, DC
December 3, 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

ACT/IAC Small Business Conference
Arlington, VA
February 10, 2010

FOSE 2010
Washington, DC
March 23-25, 2010

Cambridge, MD
April 11-14, 2010

ACT/IAC Management of Change Conference
Philadelphia, PA
May 23-25, 2010

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

Darlene Meskell
Andrea Noce Sigritz
Bryant Jones.