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

What to Expect From Procurement in 2015

Government procurement accounts for $7 trillion in spending, annually. In light of this, it’s no wonder taxpayers are demanding better services and more insight into where all their money is going. But what does this look like, and what can procurement officials do about it?

When it comes to spending in 2015, obtaining a consolidated view of spending, gaining visibility into your procurement activities, and streamlining the process to reduce costs and best match your organization’s needs should all be at the top of your priority list.

The public sector needs to innovate to meet the need for transparency and deliver value beyond awarding contracts. Transformation is in order.

There’s a new model for public procurement excellence that can address all of these issues and bring transparency, efficiency and cost savings. Both technology and the people who adopt it, are driving the success.

And with a new year here, it’s time to act.

The federal procurement process historically suffers from a lack of transparency and efficiency. There’s a huge need to understand the basics: who agencies are doing business with, what they are spending their money on, and how much. Dirty, inconsistent data is plaguing ...

7 Workplace Vampires That Can Suck the Life Out of You

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites recent reports finding that workplace stress is on the rise. In one study, 40 percent of workers said their jobs were "very or extremely stressful."

Energy vampires are often overlooked as a major cause of stress on the job. These are co-workers who steal our vitality and leave us feeling depleted. It's important to be alert for energy vampires so you can learn how to let go of knee-jerk reactions and change your customary involvement with them.

Work is hard enough without getting stressed out, tired and discouraged by these draining personalities. Here are seven common types of energy vampires and some simple ways to defend yourself against them. 

Criticizing Vampire. This person feels qualified to belittle you, judge you and boost her own ego by making you feel small and ashamed.

Self-defense tips: Remind yourself that her behavior isn't about you, so don't take what she says personally. Address a misplaced criticism head on and directly. Don't get defensive. Express appreciation for the parts of her criticism that are useful. Come back at her with a large dose of loving kindness.

Passive-Aggressive Vampire. This colleague may be ...

Just Looking at Cash Makes People Selfish and Less Social

When it comes to money, people aren’t pursuing stacks of green paper or a collection of copper disks—they’re interested in what those objects represent. The pull of money, the economy and most behavioral research agree, is symbolic.

But what if the medium of exchange—cash itself—can change the way people behave? A study to be published next month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology points toward that possibility. Its authors found, through a series of six experiments, that people who were prompted to think about money—literally just shown a picture of bills or coins—were more likely to conceal their emotions than those who viewed non-financial imagery. This study offers only the latest addition to the list of behaviors brought on by the mere thought of money.

The idea of making people think about money and then observing how they behave first popped up in recent literature in 2006, when Kathleen D. Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, published “The Psychological Consequences of Money,” a paper describing what happened when subjects were primed with images of cash. Instead of relying on pictures, Vohs had some of her ...

How Low Would You Go to Get Ahead?

It was a couple of years ago (OK, maybe a couple of decades ago), when my wife and I took our son, then a high school student, on the pre-college tour. We visited a variety of campuses from coast to coast (and in Canada, too). At the beginning of the fall semester, we ended up in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University.

The freshmen had just arrived, and the first edition of the student newspaper was displayed on its racks. I picked up a copy.

For the freshmen, the paper had a very practical section listing all of the unofficial Johns Hopkins slang words they needed to know to sound cool and—more importantly—to avoid appearing clueless.

My attention was quickly caught by one of these words: “throating,” as in the verb “to throat.” Throating is primarily an occupation of pre-med students, though any student could engage in this behavior.

To “throat” is to directly hinder or hurt other students’ performance. Any student can throat an individual student or an entire class.

For example, a “throat” (a student who engages in throating) might sabotage another student’s lab experiment or destroy yet another’s notes.

Or the throat could do ...

Creative Minds: Tackling Chemotherapy Resistance

For many young scientists, nothing can equal the chance to have a lab of one’s own. Still, it often takes considerable time to get there. To help creative minds cut to the chase sooner, the NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards this year will enable 17 outstanding young researchers to skip post-doctoral training and begin running their own labs immediately.

Today, I’d like to tell you about one of these creative minds. His name is Aaron Meyer, a cell signaling expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and his research project will take aim at one the biggest challenges in cancer treatment: chemotherapy resistance.

Specifically, Meyer’s work focuses on a group of proteins, called receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), which are embedded in the outer surface of just about every cell in our body. RTKs bind various hormones and growth factors that activate internal signaling networks critical for cell communication, growth, and movement. RTKs are so fundamental to the core functions of our cells that many cancers hijack them to fuel their growth and resist certain chemotherapy drugs.

For example, breast cancers that produce too much of an RTK, called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 ...