Weekly Roundup: April 16 - 20, 2018
New Workforce Reform Goals. Federal News Radio reports: “The Trump administration is beginning to outline its plan to modernize the federal workforce in more detail. . . . The Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, and Defense Department will specifically lead the charge to improve employees’ performance management and engagement, re-skill and re-deploy human capital resources and develop a simple and strategic hiring plan, according to the most recent update on Performance.gov.
USDA Reorg and Cuts Proposal. Federal News Radio reports: [USDA Secretary] “Perdue said during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies that the cuts are part of an agencywide reorganization which began in 2017. From that came the new Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which consolidates the FSA, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).”
VA Reorg Plan. Federal News Radio reports: “The Veterans Affairs Department says it’s cut positions at its central office in Washington, D.C. by 10 percent, while also consolidating mental health, primary care and geriatrics policy, and operations functions. . . . It’s part of the department’s efforts to eliminate bureaucracy and streamline decision-making.”
DOD Reorg Proposal. The Washington Post reports: “An influential member of Congress will propose legislation this week that would compel the Pentagon to slash spending on its back-office operations by around $25 billion a year as part of a major bureaucratic shake-up. . . . Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, wants to force the Pentagon to eliminate several defense agencies and tens of thousands of administrative jobs by 2021, according to committee staffers. . . . Legislative aides said the purpose is to streamline the Pentagon’s bureaucracy, which has grown bigger than any other in the federal government, with vast armies of civilian employees and contractors assigned to process payrolls, handle logistics and maintain data.
IRS Reorg Legislation. Government Executive reports: “The day after Tax Day 2018, as the Internal Revenue Service struggled to restore a balky website, the House on Wednesday nearly unanimously approved a package of nine bills touted as the first reforms to the tax agency in 20 years. . . . With titles such as “21st-Century IRS Act” and the “Taxpayer First Act,” the bills would redesign the tax agency to stress customer service, new taxpayer appeal rights, improved responsiveness to victims of identity theft and modernization of technology.”
9 agencies seek TMF funds . Nine agencies have submitted plans to tap the first $100 million available via the Technology Modernization Fund, but no decisions have been made yet. The 2018 omnibus spending package backed the Modernizing Government Technology Act with a $100 million appropriation. The money is housed at the General Services Administration, which has requested another $210 million for the fund in its fiscal 2019 budget.
GSA chief says citizen services will be a focal point in FY2019. Citizen-facing services, IT modernization investments and workforce development are all important budget priories for the General Services Administration, agency chief Emily Murphy said at an April 17 House appropriations hearing.
The upcoming White House national cybersecurity strategy will empower the Department of Homeland Security to more forcefully respond to cyber threats directed at the private sector and critical infrastructure entities, according to agency chief Kirstjen Nielsen. Nielsen said that DHS was set to adopt "a more forward-leaning posture" when it comes to defending U.S. cyberspace assets from nation-states, arguing that a more forceful response is needed to deter nation-state adversaries.
Striking a blow for agile with DOD weapons systems. In a recent report, called Design and Acquisition of Software for Defense Systems, the Defense Science Board (DSB) has raised its influential voice on behalf of a move by the Department of Defense towards greater use of agile development approaches for software being developed for weapons systems. Steve Kelman argues that the government needs to adapt its contract management processes to an agile world. The limited experience so far suggests that agile requires more, or at least different, contract management resources to allow frequent communication between customers and developers.
Thornberry looks to shut down DISA. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) is looking to eliminate the Defense Information Systems Agency as part of his latest Department of Defense reform push. "Did you know that in the Department of Defense there are 60 chief information officers at the SES level?" Thornberry told reporters April 17. "Is it any wonder that we have a challenge in getting our IT act together?" . . . Thornberry released text for the Comprehensive Pentagon Bureaucracy Reform and Reduction Act to trim DOD’s supporting agencies, often referred to as the "fourth estate." The plan, he said, is to roll the bill into the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
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New Week on The Business of Government Radio Show: Conversations with Authors: Jean Liedtka on the Uses of Design Thinking in Public Service. What is design thinking? How is design thinking being used to tackle public management challenges? Join host Michael Keegan next week as he explores these questions and more with Prof. Jeanne Liedtka, author of DESIGN THINKING FOR THE GREATER GOOD: Innovation in the Social Sector. That’s next week on The Business of Government Hour.
Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED.
If you can't wait, though, you can listen to (or download) this week's program and all our previous interviews at businessofgovernment.org.