- By Charles S. Clark
- April 22, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency on Earth Day has interrupted its normal website home page programming with a special set of interactive presentations to mark the occasion. A simple but stirring photo of the planet is accompanied by text declaring simply, “Today is Earth Day.” Alongside are links to a slide show, events for volunteers and an invitation to send in your own photos.
Down below is an unobtrusive query, “Looking for EPA’s regular home page?” Just click and it’s back to the agency’s quotidian fare.
At a less-likely agency across town, the Treasury Department touted its own environmental initiatives that include a push to paperless payments and a reduced footprint for office space.“While people may associate Treasury with another kind of green, we’re proud of the progress we’ve been able to make on protecting the environment,” Nani Coloretti, assistant Treasury secretary for management, said in an email to Government Executive. “From sourcing our power from renewable resources and conserving water in the production of currency, to Treasury headquarters’ distinction as the oldest LEED Gold-certified building in America, we try to treat every day as Earth Day.”
- By Tom Shoop
- April 19, 2013
Brian Resnick of National Journal has a fascinating piece up about why Pete Williams of NBC News is winning plaudits for consistently getting it right (and being measured in his reporting) during the Boston bombing aftermath.
Part of it is simply taking time and care before you broadcast anything. But part of it also stems from Williams' experience working in government. Resnick notes that Williams has been in Washington since 1986, when he served as press secretary to then-Rep. Dick Cheney of Wyoming. He became Cheney's spokesman at the Pentagon when Cheney was appointed Defense secretary in 1989. Williams didn't turn to journalism until 1993, when he joined NBC.
Resnick notes that PBS recently profiled Williams, and includes this quote from him:
I decided—and I think that this is just the right way to think about it—that governments have an understandable and legitimate need to keep some things secret. It’s not keeping it secret from the citizens, it’s that certain operations work better if they are confidential and secret …
Having worked on the inside, I think you get a better sense of when the government is truly rightly keeping something secret, and when it ...
- By Charles S. Clark
- April 17, 2013
Since the scandal over lavish conference spending jolted the General Services Administration a year ago, many have wondered what Martha Johnson, the GSA administrator who abruptly resigned, has been up to.
The answer is: Writing. Johnson has self-published a first novel, In Our Midst. Here's how the book's website describes the story:
Stanton, Indiana, in 1990, is a town in which people love their kids, joke with their mayor, attend church, and support the Wood Carving Festival. But, one boy is growing up with a secret that he unknowingly shares with another son of the community, a soldier in the Korean War who died the day he came home.
Johnson, a veteran of CSC Corp. who worked for both the Clinton and Obama administrations, was vigorously leading GSA in efficiency initiatives such as telecommuting and innovative office design when she was caught up in the scandal involving overspending on conferences by some at GSA’s Public Buildings Service.
Johnson has since hung out a shingle as a public speaker on leadership issues. She does not mention GSA in her author’s bio, which says she has delivered more than 50 public speeches on topics that include sustainability, leadership ...
- By Tom Shoop
- April 15, 2013
While details of what happened in Boston today, with multiple explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, are just beginning to emerge, there is a framework in place for federal, state and local officials to respond to such situations -- and try to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
In the January/February issue of Government Executive, Charles S. Clark explored the Homeland Security Department's network of fusion centers. The centers bring together officials at all levels of government to share information (especially about potential terrorist activity) and coordinate responses to crisis situations. The most recent prominent example of such a center at work involved the response to Hurricane Sandy last October, conducted out of the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center in West Trenton, N.J. Clark's piece focuses on this center.
The Boston area is served by the Commonwealth Fusion Center in Maynard, Mass. According to its website, the center "works with federal, state, regional and local law enforcement, as well as the public and private sector as the state repository for homeland security information and incident reporting. It serves as a point of contact for local entities seeking to receive information from ...
- By Tom Shoop
- April 12, 2013
Many people in the federal community have stepped up this week to offer words of praise for John Berry as he leaves his post as head of the Office of Personnel Management. Now you can add one more name to the list: President Obama.
In a statement issued Friday, Obama not only lauded Berry for such achievements as overhauling the federal hiring process, he snuck in some praise for federal employees generally, calling them "men and women who devote their lives to vital tasks like securing our borders, curing disease, and keeping the American people safe."
Here's the full text of Obama's statement:
John Berry has served the American people well as Director of the Office of Personnel Management. He’s streamlined the way federal employees are hired, modernized the workplace, made the federal workforce more diverse, and increased the number of returning servicemembers hired by the government. John has been a champion for federal workers – men and women who devote their lives to vital tasks like securing our borders, curing disease, and keeping the American people safe. This country is better off because of John’s talent and dedication, and I’m grateful to him for his ...