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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Migrating to the Cloud in Six Easy Steps

Migrating IT infrastructure to cloud-based services provides innumerable benefits once accomplished, but it remains one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today.

Even when all the advantages are known, the question remains how to actually move your resources to the cloud computing model. The best way to develop your migration strategy is to use an iterative approach that reduces the complexity of a comprehensive plan. The general steps involved for most organization are:

1. Obtain a clear picture of your IT infrastructure. What are you currently using? Are all your current needs being met? Do you have any gaps in your infrastructure?

2. Determine which portions of your infrastructure would benefit from a migration. It may not make sense to move your entire infrastructure to cloud-based services. You may want to keep certain portions on site or in-house. Consider these potential cloud-based service benefits.

3. Order those resources in terms of simplicity and necessity. When looking at cloud-based services pick those that are simple to understand and use. Only get what covers the services you need.

4. Develop a roadmap for migrating those resources to cloud services. Plan out the steps it will take to move your current infrastructure to...

Connecting the Talent Dots

A manager might need temporary talent on a project and doesn’t have it on his/her team. Energetic employees in other parts of the agency may have those skills and would like to share them as a way of broadening their professional experience. How can they connect?

GovConnect is an initiative sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management that reflects broader trends in the workplace toward project-based work. It allows federal employees to share knowledge, collaborate and apply their skills to address challenges that may be beyond their traditional job classification or organizational or geographic location. Announced a year ago, it is being piloted within several agencies and is poised to be spread across government in coming months.

When the Obama administration began developing its second-term management agenda in mid-2013, it reached out to agencies, asking for ideas. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Personnel Management suggested creating the equivalent of TaskRabbit for sharing skills across their agencies or departments. At the time, EPA had a pilot underway called Skills Marketplace, and when they suggested this, several other agencies jumped in saying they, too, were piloting or considering similar approaches. OPM offered to take the lead jointly...

Branding: 5 Lessons to Get Your Federal Startup Off the Ground

Since November 2014, I've been working to brand a public-private government initiative called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The NNMI is a collection of advanced manufacturing technology R&D institutes, each focused on a particular technology. The term "advanced manufacturing" means new and improved materials, made in new and improved ways (i.e., connected to the Internet).


These institutes matter because the USA has been slowly losing the know-how to manufacture its own inventions for the past 15 years. Flat-screen TVs and lithium-ion batteries are just two examples.

And very often, as with robots, the means to make a thing can also become a product in and of itself. The industrial robot that assembled a car can also be the robot that serves as a personal companion. 

These technologies, when successful, have enormously wide-ranging capabilities. 3-D printing, for example, is a means to produce everything from the aforementioned cars to prosthetic limbs. Intelligent fabric can make a bulletproof T-shirt or a bikini that tells you when you're about to suffer a sunburn.

The Vision

Freedom. "Make it here, sell it everywhere." It's easy to depend on buying cheap foreign-made products on demand. And that's...

Why the War on the IRS Makes No Cents

The Internal Revenue Service appropriations bill has started its tortuous path through Congress—and it savages the agency’s funding. It provides 8 percent less than the current level and 22 percent less than the administration’s request. It’s less even than its budget 25 years ago when, as the Office of Management and Budget pointed out, “there were 38 million fewer taxpayers and a far less complicated tax code.”

It’s hardly surprising that the IRS faces congressional ire. Republicans still remember the way the agency mishandled requests for tax exemptions by Republican-leaning groups. And tax reform has surged to the top rank of issues that the army of the party’s candidates propose to do something about.

Of course, the tax collection business has never been easy. The Gospel of Matthew describes how Jesus dined at the home of a known tax collector and asked him to join his band of apostles. Jesus explained he had come to call sinners. Many observers concluded he got that characterization right—and the position of tax collectors hasn’t improved any since. For millennia, attacking revenuers has been good politics.

But it’s not always good government. For better or...

The Senate's Bathroom-Stall Index

ASPEN, Colo.—Women now account for 47 percent of the American workforce, 52 percent of professional and management employees, and 57 percent of newbachelor’s degrees. But even after gains in the 2012 election, they remain just 20 percent of the Senate.

That, however, was enough to create a “traffic jam” in the women’s restroom reserved for senators, which had just two stalls, recalled Senator Amy Klobuchar. She joined with Maryland’s Senator Barbara Mikulski to press for renovations. “The architect of the capitol presented a certain number of stalls, and we told him that it wasn’t acceptable, because it was a glass ceiling,” she said. It forms an unconventional index of progress toward parity. Today, there are four stalls; Klobuchar clearly hopes that this, too, will soon prove inadequate.

It’s a favorite anecdote for the senior senator from Minnesota, frequently deployed as part of her disarming, often self-deprecating humor. She trotted it out again on Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, during a broad-ranging conversation with the Aspen Institute’s Walter Isaacson. And it plays to Klobuchar’s proven knack for offering personal anecdotes and levity in the service of more serious points.

Klobuchar used...