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Govexec: Excellence in Government
15 minutes | Apr 8, 2014
Episode 29: Sharing Digital Data
Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy were only seven years apart, but the emergency response made it seem like the storms were centuries apart. The response to Katrina became somewhere between a mess and a punchline, while images of Sandy’s response were seen as far more positive. As Joseph Marks writes in the most recent Government Executive magazine, an increased emphasis on the sharing of data and responsibilities is the reason the Sandy response was so much more effective than that of Katrina. In the story, Marks paraphrases FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner in saying that that data sharing makes such a recovery “look less like individual efforts from an alphabet soup of agencies and more like a unified response.” Marks told host Ross Gianfortune that hurdles to sharing still remain, but groups and agencies are pushing for more data sharing to help citizens and make government more effective.
22 minutes | Mar 18, 2014
Episode 28: Millenials in Government
The specter of the impending retirement wave has loomed over the federal government for years now. As the baby boom generation ages, the fear of a federal personnel shortage has been examined on this podcast and in the culture, at large. At the same time, technology marches on and the millennial generation has bloomed into a cultural force. How do these factors contribute to the new workforce in the federal government? Young Government Leaders is a DC-based organization with local chapters nationwide. YGL acts as a voice for aspiring government leaders. The organization puts on networking events, gives out scholarships and generally serves as a community for young public servants interested in the business of government. Two TGL board members -- Lynnie Martin and Tyler Robinson -- spoke to host Ross Gianfortune about these changes in the workforce. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
19 minutes | Mar 4, 2014
Episode 27: Character
In his book, Character, the Ultimate Success Factor, Dr. J. Phillip London says that character is “a complex aggregate of mental and ethical traits that form the nature of a person” and that character is the most important determinant for an individual’s success. Dr. London is the executive chairman and chairman of the board of CACI International, an information solutions and services firm. GovExec readers will recognize CACI from the government contracts it holds. Dr. London is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. He also hold a doctorate from the George Washington University. Character, the Ultimate Success Factor is Dr. London’s third book. In it, he discusses the concept of character-based leadership, how to identify character as an important factor of success and the ways to live and lead more effectively through one’s character. London joined host Ross Gianfortune to talk about the book and his ideas about character.
16 minutes | Feb 18, 2014
Episode 26: The Modern Federal Manager
Being in government in the early part of this decade has proven arduous for federal employees. The recent government shutdown, sequestration and an uncooperative congress controlling budgets make for uncertainty and frustration, especially for those in management, with employees asking questions. But, a new style of manager is emerging in government. This modern manager, as Government Executive's Kellie Lunney writes in the latest issue of the magazine, is adaptable, open and able to work within the confines of the changing world of government management. Lunney uses examples from the FBI and Treasury to illustrate the changing nature of the federal manager. Lunney spoke with host Ross Gianfortune about her Government Executive cover story and the nature of management in the modern federal government. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
6 minutes | Feb 4, 2014
Episode 25: VA's Nerd-In-Residence
Because of the nature of privacy rights, getting even one’s own medical records can sometimes be a chore. The Veterans Affairs department is looking to change that. In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs created a blue button to let veterans download parts of their medical records from a secure web site. The Blue Button program helps patient engagement and supports more patient-centered care. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” at the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation. Newmark’s job at VA includes blogging, recognizing and consulting on issues surrounding health records for veterans. Newmark was a speaker at Nextgov Prime 2013 in November. At the event, Nextgov correspondent Joseph Marks spoke to Newmark about his work at the VA, lessons learned in serving veterans and the HealthCare.gov situation.
16 minutes | Jan 7, 2014
Episode 23: Making Government Easier to Understand
Memos, press releases and general correspondence from government agencies are not always easy to read. Often, they’re full of dense wording and confusing constructions. Trying to read them will make your head throb. While this may seem immaterial to some, this confusion discourages citizens from dealing with government. It means small businesses might ignore correspondence, veterans may not get benefits and it can make tax forms an unreadable mess. 2010’s plain writing act was signed into law with the goal of making government communication more readable. Dr. Annetta Cheek is the chair of the Center for Plain Language, an organization that was instrumental in passing the act. The center is working to make business and government documents more readable by education, training and advocacy. She spoke with host Ross Gianfortune about making government comply more with the Plain Language Act and how to do away with jargon. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
9 minutes | Dec 17, 2013
Episode 22: Saving the Whales With an App
The majestic North Atlantic right whale can grow up to 59 feet long and weigh up to 91 tons. The migratory whales tend to stay close to peninsulas and near continental shelves to feed. Currently, the number one mortality factor among the endangered whales is ship strikes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has created a ship strike rule, to make ships slow down in particular areas of the ocean to help the whale coexist with the ships, but the whale remains in trouble. David Wiley, a NOAA researcher, sat down with Nextgov senior correspondent Aliya Sternstein during Nextgov Prime to discuss his latest project, a new app that will help save the lives of the North-Atlantic Right whale. Wiley's app makes it easier to see and understand the ship strike rule, including spatial and visual representations of where ships should go.
9 minutes | Dec 3, 2013
Episode 21: The Intersections Between Identity and Privacy
With the news of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs taking center stage over the summer of 2013, privacy in personal communication came to the forefront of the national conversation. as Technology’s role in our lives has become more ubiquitous, personal privacy may come to be more scarce. Nextgov Prime 2013 explored this and other government technology topics in Washington DC on Nov. 20th and 21st. Prime speaker Mike Janke is a former navy seal who created Silent Circle in 2012. A global communications firm, Silent Circle provides encrypted communications through its Silent Phone and slent text services. At Nextgov Prime, Nextgov senior correspondent Aliya Sternstein spoke to Janke about how he balances loyalties to the government, private individuals and intellectual property owners like himself. In their conversation, Janke also touched on the intersections between identity and privacy in a world of technology. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
17 minutes | Nov 19, 2013
Episode 20: Fixing HealthCare.gov
It's been almost three weeks since the major issues that stemmed from the launch of HealthCare.gov and the site's problems remain in headlines. The website of the president's signature policy initiative was bloated, bringing tech contractors and government workers under fire for the site's problems. Noble Ackerson has worked on both sides of that divide. As a former official at the Virginia Governor's office, he worked on technology policy. And in private industry, he's worked as a consultant and, most recently, founded Byte an Atom Research. Ackerson explained to host Mark Micheli best practices for testing of web applications like HealthCare.gov, the problems with such a project and the issues inherent in government contracting. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
17 minutes | Oct 15, 2013
Episode 18: Social Media at NASA
With social media a driving force on the Internet, sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are becoming important tools for government agencies to speak directly to citizens. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is one of those agencies, with an ample social media presence highlighting the work the space agency does. Veronica McGregor works in the news and social media office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is responsible for the Mars Curiosity Rover's Twitter feed, as well as the Asteroid Watch feed. She tells host Mark Micheli that Twitter is a way to get JPL information "directly to the public" in a way that wasn't possible before 2008. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
15 minutes | Oct 8, 2013
Episode 17: The Coming Retirement Wave
Many government employees are quickly approaching retirement and with those retirements will come a large loss of a knowledge base in agencies. The coming retirement issue has been sometimes described as a "wave" or "tsunami," evoking a natural disaster. Adam Cole, senior director at The Corporate Executive Board Company, joined host Mark Micheli to explain the consequences of such a wave. Cole's recent Excellence in Government piece examined the importance of succession planning at agencies in light of the retirement wave. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
12 minutes | Sep 17, 2013
Episode 16: The Postal Service of the Present... and Future
The United States Postal Service’s modern story begins in the 18th century with the establishment of the Post Office Department in 1792. With the USPS losing billions of dollars annually, we may be watching the end of the Postal Service story. Congress has been working on an overhaul to the Postal Service for years, though compromise doesn’t seem to be in the immediate future. This week, USPS began sending early retirement offers to more than 15,000 employees. The move is part of a plan by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to reduce the postal workforces without layoffs. Government Executive correspondent Eric Katz says this is one of the ways Donahoe is trying to stop the proverbial bleeding from the agency that lost nearly $16.9 billion in 2012. Katz spoke with guest host Ross Gianfortune to talk about the mail agency's future on the Excellence in Government podcast. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
19 minutes | Sep 3, 2013
Episode 15: Collaborating Between Unions and Management
In the 2009 Best Places to Work in the Government list, the Federal Aviation Administration was ranked 214th of 216 agencies, a mere three spots from the bottom. It was also in 2009 that the FAA began working with the Overland Resource Group. Overland worked with the FAA, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to create a better working relationship between labor and management. It’s been more than three years and Overland has helped the FAA make great strides. The agency most recently placed 114th of 292 on the best places to work list and its index score on the list gained 13 points. While federal sector employee happiness has dropped nearly across the board, the FAA continues to buck the trend, increasing its employee satisfaction, all since it began working with Overland. Overland Resource Group Vice President and Consultant Cathy Wright has been involved with this project since its inception. A veteran of 20 years in the field, she has worked major corporations and the federal government on creating more collaborative partnerships to benefit stakeholders in and around organizations. Wright talked with guest host Ross Gianfortune about collaboration, the state of union/management relations in government and Interest-Based Leadership Training on the Excellence in Government podcast. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
10 minutes | Aug 23, 2013
Episode 14: Watching Cyberthreats
Cybersecurity continues to make headlines, with breaches on sensitive information happening all the time. Nextgov's ThreatWatch tool aims to make sense of it all. ThreatWatch is regularly updated with data breaches and cyberattacks striking government and private business, as compiled by Nextgov Senior Correspondent Aliya Sternstein. Sternstein joined podcast host Mark Micheli to talk about recent cyberattacks, ThreatWatch and cybersecurity. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
26 minutes | Aug 6, 2013
Episode 13: Managing Through Change
Leadership and management consultant Gregory Shea knows that change can be difficult on managers in organizations. But, Shea explains, it's important to be clear about what a manger knows and what a manager doesn't know when dealing with staff in times of change. "Don't tell them what you don't know," Shea explained. "While it may feel good in the moment, if you prove that you're wrong about something they care about, they are left with a damaged relationship with you." The author of two books, Shea spoke with Excellence in Government host Mark Micheli about leadership in stressful and changing environments. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
11 minutes | Jul 16, 2013
Episode 12: Strategic Vision at the Defense Department
Beth McGrath, the Department of Defense Deputy Chief Management Officer and the Department’s Performance Improvement Officer, is interested in finding the right budget number for certain systems in the DEfense Department. What is that right number? "The right number is however many we need to achieve the business objectives that we're aiming at," McGrath said. McGrath joined host Mark Micheli to talk about optimizing performance within federal IT at Defense, working with other federal agencies and the strategic vision at the Defense Department within the Quadrennial Defense Review. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
9 minutes | Jul 2, 2013
Episode 11: Connecting People at Defense
As Chief of Enterprise Applications at the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency, John Hale is in charge of connecting Defense employees around the world. Hale works with enterprise tools to increase collaboration across the federal government's largest agency. DISA's enterprise email tool alone boasts over a million users. Hale tells host Mark Micheli how DISA is able to connect employees around the globe and around different parts of the Defense Department via technology systems. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
13 minutes | Jun 18, 2013
Episode 10: Measuring Government Performance
After being appointed by Barack Obama as the Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at OMB, Dr. Shelley Metzenbaum stepped down from the position recently. In this role, Metzenbaum was a main force behind implementing much of the Government Performance and Results Act. Before her role at OMB, Metzenbaum worked under Bill Clinton as the Associate Administrator for Regional Operations and State/Local Relations for Environmental Protection Agency. She joined host Mark Micheli to talk about government performance and her time as a federal manager. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
16 minutes | Jun 4, 2013
Episode 9: Enterprise Leaders
Thad Allen is the formal Admiral of the United States Coast Guard who famously led the government response to the BP Oil Spill in 2010. Ron Sanders served in the US Intelligence Community and at OPM over the course of his career. Both men currently serve as Vice Presidents at Booz Allen Hamilton and are here to talk about a new breed of government leader they’re calling “enterprise leaders.” Allen and Sanders joined host Mark Micheli to talk about the value of learning in leadership, interagency leadership and vertical structure within bureaucracy. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
10 minutes | May 28, 2013
Episode 8: Cleaning Up GSA
Dan Tangherlini became Acting Administrator of the General Services Administration after a scandal claimed top jobs and crediblity from the agency. Tangherlini has since tried to foment innovation at the agency and rebuild its reputation. Host Mark Micheli sat down with Tangherlini at Excellence in Government -- a week and a half before President Barack Obama asked him to stay on permanently -- to talk about fixing GSA and making the agency better. The music in the podcast is John Pazdan's "The Long Goodbye," used under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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