Highlights of recent, relevant news and events about our government


Grant Thornton Featured
Don’t forget to check out Carlos Otal on a Government Executive Viewcast featuring the government’s top management challenges!
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To check the status of your agency’s appropriations, check here.

Financial Management    

Prepare for financial shared services outage in February
Aaron Boyd, Federal Times
The web portal for one of the four shared service providers available to federal agencies will be shut down temporarily in February and user agencies need to be prepared.
The Agriculture Department’s Pegasys Financial Services apps will be offline from Feb. 10 through Feb. 16 while the agency completes the final phase of its Billing and Accounts Receivable (BAAR) project.
Read more here.
Performance Management
Customer satisfaction with feds drops in 2015
Carten Cordell, Federal Times
Citizens still aren’t in love with their experience with the federal government, but they might be ready to turn the corner. The American Customer Satisfaction Index’s Federal Government Report for 2015 showed that citizen expectations with government services dropped for the third consecutive year for 63.9 points, out of 100, but the rate of decline gives the survey’s authors hope that the government is improving.
Read more here.

Information Technology    
Here’s How the Pentagon Plans to Protect Security Clearance Data
Jack Moore, NextGov
The new IT systems storing background investigation forms on millions of federal employees and contractors will use encryption to camouflage sensitive data. Parts of the system may be disconnected from the Internet. And Defense Department software engineers will follow a modular approach to designing the new systems to make them more adaptable as cyberthreats evolve. That’s according to DOD and other administration officials, who discussed the new efforts to protect security clearance data during a Jan. 22 call with reporters.
Read more here.
Human Capital    
Interior Department Tops Satisfaction Survey
Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
The public’s approval of agency services declined for the third year running in the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index released on Tuesday, with some bright spots in timelier service and clearer communications. Overall federal customer satisfaction in the 2015 survey fell 0.8 percent to an overall score of 63.9 based on interviews with 2,079 citizens in November and December.  “Deteriorating customer satisfaction was widespread in 2015, and the slump in citizen satisfaction is similar to what we observe in the private sector or among voters in the political arena,” said survey founder and chairman Claes Fornell, in a release. “But if the small gains in the drivers of citizen satisfaction take hold or continue to rise, we might finally see a bit of a turnaround.”
Read more here.
OMB to ban most new contracts for mobile devices, services
Jason Miller, Federal News Radio
The Office of Management and Budget is planning to turn up the heat once again on agency commodity IT spending. First it was on desktops and laptops, and now it will be on mobile devices. In last week’s notebook, I told you about a new mobile IT services policy in the works. Now I have a copy  of the draft policy, and OMB wants to apply the same level of oversight and structure to how agencies buy mobile devices and services as they did for desktops and laptops.
Read more here.

State and Local    
Check Out Route Fifty’s State and Local Government Management Challenges Survey Results
Route Fifty Staff
State and local government employees say addressing workforce needs is the most pressing concern for their organization, according to a nationwide study conducted by Route Fifty and Government Business Council (GBC) released Wednesday. Ninety percent of respondents consider human capital issues to be a challenge for their organization, and only 41 percent believe their organization is prepared for the coming retirement wave of Baby Boomers.
Read more here.

Boston, Inspired By the ‘Green Monster,’ Looks to Score Beantown’s Municipal Performance
Bill Lucia, Route 50
Providing one-number scores that show how well the city of Boston is doing delivering basic municipal services, like policing, trash collection and pothole repairs, is the thrust behind a new data-driven initiative that Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office unveiled there last Friday.
Dubbed CityScore, the initiative features metrics meant to offer both residents and public officials in Boston an easy-to-interpret snapshot of the city's performance across departments and overall. The scores, said to be inspired by the analysis of baseball statistics, are displayed in an online “dashboard,” which is styled to look like the fabled “Green Monster” scoreboard at Fenway Park—home of the Boston Red Sox.
Read more here.

Executive Branch Actions    
U.S. Office of Management and Budget
The Way Forward for Federal Background Investigations Blogpost
The Government has a responsibility to determine the fitness of Federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, and contractors for the jobs they are hired into and for the sensitive work they do on behalf of the American people each and every day. At the same time, we as leaders in Government must work diligently to protect the information these individuals give us when verifying their readiness.
Read more here.

Fact Sheet: Modernizing and Strengthening the Security and Effectiveness of Federal Background Investigations
The Administration is announcing a series of changes to modernize and strengthen how the Federal Government performs and safeguards background investigations for its employees and contractors. The Federal Government is responsible for issuing, handling and storing much of America’s most important data.
Read more here.
Executive Branch Actions    
Ex-Defense Chief to Presidential Candidates: Running Government Is Tougher Than It Looks
Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday took an implied swipe at some presidential candidates, saying, “People who have never run a governmental organization often have no idea how complicated it is and how difficult. For example, if you're a CEO, you don't have 535 members on your board of directors.” Speaking on “Meet the Press” to promote his new book “A Passion for Leadership,” Gates—who has served under eight presidents and was also CIA director—said voters should consider the “question of who can actually lead the country, and equally, who can run the government?”
Read more here.

U.S. Government Accountability Reports.
Latest reports here.

Inspector General Reports
Too many to list, but visit this site for links to IGs and reports that may be of interest to you.