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Eye Opener: July 27, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! Send your news tips, comments or questions to The Eye here. Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter. Now to the news:

Cabinet and Staff News: David Axelrod joins a weekend pickup basketball game with other government notables: Richard Danzig, FCC's Julius Genachowski, FTC's Jonathan Leibowitz and Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service. Hillary Clinton reassures Moscow on efforts to "reset" the U.S.-Russia relationship and she's visiting Nigeria and Kenya as a makeup for Obama's snub. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke takes questions during a PBS town hall special. The author of the Bush-era terrorism detainee memos, John Yoo, pushes back. Analysis: Robert Gates scored big last week. Jacqueline Berrien, nominee to head the EEOC, has a wide-ranging background in discrimination law.

Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned: The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens in a tornado-prone section of Kansas, according to a government report.

Amid Reviews, DynCorp Bolsters Ethics Practices: The security contractor is seeking future work in Afghanistan after questions about its performance.

At a Border Crossing, Security Trumps Openness: The design of a U.S.-Canada border crossing at Massena, N.Y. was first deemed perfect, then too bright and a possible security risk, so workers are now dismantling a large, yellow "United States" sign. (Boo.)

Suspect Named in Border Agent's Death: Authorities in Mexico on Sunday identified the man suspected of fatally shooting a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Language to Ease Rehiring of Retirees in Defense Authorization: Lawmakers withdrew several federal workforce reforms from the Senate's 2010 Defense Authorization bill last week, but a provision to make it easier to rehire annuitants survived in the budget legislation.

Postal Service Overpaying to Retiree Trust Fund: The problem, according to the IG, is that the PAEA estimates 7 percent annual inflation for health care costs; most Fortune 500 companies project 5 percent inflation.

DHS Consolidates Software Licenses: It will consolidate 487,000 licenses for Microsoft software and support under one contract, which could help the department avoid paying more than $87 million over the next six years.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 27, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

DHS Consolidates Software Licenses: ... avoid paying more than $87 million..."
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DHS is less than 10 years old. Why wasn't this done when it was created? FIRE someone! Stop hiring "IT" people who don't even have degrees as high-level managers. Stop hiring contractors! Stop outsourcing! Look at the $87M that could have been used to pay for real professionals.

Posted by: Sadler | July 27, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Sadler writes:
"DHS is less than 10 years old. Why wasn't this done when it was created? FIRE someone! Stop hiring "IT" people who don't even have degrees as high-level managers. Stop hiring contractors! Stop outsourcing! Look at the $87M that could have been used to pay for real professionals."
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As this comment illustrates, the danger of any improvement in government performance and efficiency is that it sparks a kneejerk reaction like "FIRE someone!" instead of praise for the improvement. That kind of response teaches government employees they won't be rewarded for improving, streamlining, and saving money. We want to encourage changes like the money-saving change in this article, not use them as a launching pad for angry rants.

There is nothing in the original story to say that those who failed to get a group license originally (if it was even available on the same terms to government when the agency was founded) were non-government workers. I would assume they included senior management and therefore some of them WERE government workers.

There is also nothing to say whether the decision-makers (whether government or contractors) had undergraduate degrees or even advanced degrees. People with great "on paper" credentials can make poor decisions. People who have succeeded despite the lack of a college degree are often exceptional, and can make excellent business decisions. And the opposite can occur in each case.

I agree with the use of more on-staff employees with careers in government and the associated benefits. It is fairer to them and produces more continuity and experience for us. But making up stories about this incident, and who you assume "must have been" responsible for ten-year-old decisions doesn't help.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | July 27, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

fairfaxvoter wrote: "We want to encourage changes like the money-saving change in this article..."
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Ahhh - the old "leave room to show improvement" routine. One can't get a bonus unless improvement is shown. Who is getting the bonus for the $87M in savings that should have saved all along?
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One of my first federal bosses told me he "could not" give me top performance on my first annual report as I would need to "show improvement" the next year. One of the first people I worked with in Federal service (when I was 17) chased me with a cart for moving equipment because I was repairing four items per DAY while he and his 'bud' were repairing four items per WEEK. He was concerned I was working them out of their jobs. Fortunately the shop supervisor walked by and saw him...I was assigned to another section where they had much more work to do.

More "government employees" should respond as I do vs. as you just did. I have been a government employee more of my adult years than not - civil service and military. I have also been a contractor.

As far as "making up stories"...what are you talking about?

And let me add: STOP the H1-B visa program.

Posted by: Sadler | July 27, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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