Friday, May 17, 2019
The IBM Center's Weekly Roundup highlights articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending May 17, 2019.

Michael J. Keegan 

Weichert: Budget shortfall, legacy IT woes drive planned OPM merger. The Trump administration plans this week to propose legislation to merge the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration.

VA's Byrne hints at acceleration of health record upgrade. At his confirmation hearing to take the job of deputy secretary on a permanent basis, Jim Byrne suggested that there was a path to finishing the electronic health record modernization project ahead of schedule.

Ash Carter on tech and the public good. Steve Kelman shares the former defense secretary's take on minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits of emerging tech.

Army previews data strategy. Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford called the data strategy, expected in the next 60 days, "one of our top IT-related reform efforts."

New Rules to Increase Employee Engagement. With so much focus on engagement, you would think that the statistics would dramatically improve. Instead, most of the surveys show employees are not fully engaged. Why is this, and what can be done about it? In a her book, Employee Confidence: The New Rules of Engagement, Karen J. Hewitt, argues that employee confidence and engagement are intertwined. The difference maker in engagement is confidence. Here a recent interview with Karen about her work and new book.

John Kamensky

Insanity and Uncertainty. Federal News Network reports: “The House Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee on Monday heard stories from nearly a dozen federal contractors, who described how the 35-day government shutdown impacted their businesses and employees. Contractors largely said the most recent lapse was marked by tough decisions, confusion and a lack of communication and inconsistent guidance from the government.”

Like/Dislike. Government Executive reports: “The U.S. Postal Service is once again America’s favorite federal agency, winning the title in a Gallup survey for the third consecutive year. . . . About three-quarters of Americans said the mailing agency is doing an excellent or good job, according to the survey . . . . The Veterans Affairs Department saw the worst marks in the survey for the fourth consecutive time.

Status Quo Is Not Viable. Government Executive reports: “Nearly a year after the Trump administration announced its proposal to send the bulk of the Office of Personnel Management’s functions to the General Services Administration, acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert said Tuesday that she will be submitting proposed legislation to Congress authorizing the merger “hopefully by Friday.” . . . OPM is not currently structured or resourced sufficiently to maintain its mission in a sustainable, secure, and financially stable or sustainable way moving forward,” the document said. “In other words, the status quo is not viable.”

Greatest Risk. Federal News Network reports on the OPM reorg, noting: ““The greatest risk we have here is doing nothing,” [OPM acting director Margaret] Weichert said. “I have been very vocal in saying that while this proposal may not be perfect, it’s the one on the table.” . . . Weichert said she’s asked members of Congress and good government groups to develop alternatives to the OPM reorganization proposal and ideas to address the agency’s IT, financial and operational challenges and mission shortfalls. . . . “I’m disappointed to say I haven’t heard other ideas,”

Weeding. Government Executive reports: “A new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board offers some insight into why [a lot of government employees think they have lousy managers] and what agencies can do about it. In short, too few agencies are taking advantage of the probationary period under which new supervisors and managers serve.

Measuring Trust.  Caroline Brooks, in a column for Government Executive, writes: “For decades, political scientists have measured the public’s trust in the federal government consistently, using measures that largely haven’t changed since the 1960s—despite the momentous changes happening over the last five decades in the United States.” She write that new research develops a new definition of trust, that is based on “three assessments that lead to one trusting in the government.”

Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour - Leaders Speak on Performance Management in Government.  Performance management initiatives over the past two decades helped shift the conversation within and across U.S. government agencies—from a focus on measuring program activities and outputs to a focus on achieving mission outcomes. Join host Michael Keegan next week for a Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour exploring the evolution of Performance Management in Government.

Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Network 1500AM WFED

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