MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Steve O'Keeffe


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Posted: 11/22/2010 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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As Uncle Sam burns rubber out of Detroit - cutting his stake in GM from 61 percent to 33 percent and recouping $11.7 billion for taxpayers - the administration signaled a significant lane change on green, employee empowerment, innovation, and common-sense priorities. Last week, the House passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 - now it's off to the Pres for signature, and an assured checkered flag.

Telework at last - this one's been stuck in traffic for too long. What does it mean? Well, the act will make telework a standard work practice for about 1.2 million Feds. Within 180 days of enacting the legislation, agencies must notify personnel of their telework eligibility. And agencies will rev up their training engines - Feds will need to go through telework training before signing up to work from home. Managers will have training, too. And, who's going to manage as agencies "pimp their telework rides?" The act requires agencies to appoint new telework managing officers - with more horsepower to get these programs into high gear.

Okay, so what does it really mean? Thousands of new Feds working from home in the next year. Enhanced productivity, less pollution, reduced dependence on foreign oil - cheaper, smarter government. And, for all D.C. area residents, less time jammed up on the Beltway and tax savings as we reduce wear and tear on the roadways. As we divest our GM stock, is the telework bill bad news for the auto industry? Perhaps GM's 2011 model should be a laptop?
 
Posted: 11/16/2010 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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Hastings. Agincourt. Trafalgar. Waterloo. And who can forget the proxy scuffle - otherwise known as the American Revolution? The Brits and Frenchies grew up at one another's throats. The acrimony defines their respective national characters - there's even a song titled "That's Why I Hate the French." So neither Napoleon nor Nelson would have believed their "oreilles" last week when Cameron and Sarkozy announced that the two fading military powers plan to shack up. How? The Limeys have empty tubs and the Frogs have birds without nests - seems they're finally in the same boat. It's time for the antagonists to turn the other cheek and get in bed together - no reference to "don't ask, don't tell" intended. After centuries of fighting, we're going to see a "Fretish" military - doesn't that sound vaguely kinky?

So, how did this come about - and what does it mean for America? Voila, as the global recession has picked pensioners' pockets, it has done more to accelerate worldwide disarmament than all the time that John and Yoko spent in bed in Montreal.

So perhaps the WTO protesters should lionize, rather than vilify the world's bankers? Will Bernie Madoff get the next Nobel? And, as the Tea Party stirs it up in D.C., there could be a huge opportunity here. While Sarah Palin may never have actually said, "I can see Russia from my house," perhaps this is the time to take a leaf out of the "Fretish" book - to reach across the Bering Strait and huddle up with the Ruskies? What are you smoking you may ask? No medical marijuana in Virginia yet. Hillary Clinton is meeting with Medvedev at the NATO synod in Lisbon this week. Wouldn't it be strange to see Moscow work with NATO - an alliance built specifically to keep the bear in his cage? You figure if nothing else, the Afghanistan vets can trade battle stories over vodka and hot dogs.

What other virtuous knock-on impact of the recession? Will America's cash flow problems force the Israelis to break bread with the Palestinians? Is the drop off in the tourist trade finally convincing Castro to consider cutting communism in Cuba? Can the Chinese foreign currency reserve scare the Indians and Pakistanis to dance the Bhangra together in Kashmir?

To be sure, the global recession is hurting all of us, but every cloud has a silver lining - please note the tenuous IT reference. Myth tells us that at Agincourt, confident of victory, the French boasted they would cut off the English archers' bow fingers. The Fleur de Lis wilted on the field of battle - and the English archers showed the vanquished their bow fingers - so goes the tale of the origin of the infamous British two-finger salute. If the recession forces us to confront yesterday's arcane positions, the upside may be our opportunity to flip old bigotry the bird and unleash new innovation.

Posted: 11/8/2010 - 3 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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In Rome. Extra bag. $45. In Colorado Springs. No bags to check - but no discount. How does this work? If airlines charge us for checking an extra bag, should we get money back if we don't check a bag? Is it time to set up a cap-and-trade-bag-check system that would allow us to sell our checked-bag surplus to customers with a checked-bag deficit? There's the tenuous IT plug.

Should we be able to charge the airlines for losing our bags - or levy an hourly fee when our stuff goes missing?

Why should we pay the same price for a center seat as an aisle seat?

Rumor has it that airlines plan to start charging passengers to use the bathroom in flight. Visit number one free. But you’ll have to pay for visit number two.

Posted: 11/1/2010 - 3 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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It seems amnesia is in fashion in D.C. OMB's data center consolidation admission that it stumbled across an additional 1,000 data centers was greeted by more smirks than surprise. Now that gives a whole new meaning to "government oversight." But, it seems that server farms aren't the only thing the Federal government's mislaying. According to a new MeriTalk study, "Uncle Sam's Lost & Found - $15.4B," Federal agencies are challenged to lay hand on information in their own databases and servers.

So, let's look at the numbers from the study. Feds note that one quarter of the time they cannot find the information they need within the four walls of their agencies. 44 percent of Feds say that they don't have visibility into their agencies' data assets. The average Fed searches blindly for files five times each day. Further, navigating to what you need can be worse from home - 42 percent of Federal teleworkers tell us it's harder to locate Federal files from their remote offices. So, why's it such a mess? Half of the Feds point the finger at sloppy colleagues - who don't file things properly. 46 percent of Feds point to a search-and-information-location training deficit.

So, things are a little untidy. Whose desk is perfect? The study calculates that Feds spend some $15.4 billion each year hunting for needles in their agencies' haystacks - this puts a whole new complexion on our FOIA and open government challenges. Don't forget to mark your calendar for the upcoming study Webinar on Thursday, December 9 at 2 p.m. EST. And, no need to Google the study - you can find it right here.