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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.
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What Government Will Look Like in 2020

At our sister site, Nextgov, a team of talented writers and editors spend their days exploring how information technology is shaping the future of government. And once a year, they take that conversation public in a big way.

At Nextgov Prime, held annually in Washington, government and industry decision-makers, along with thinkers and innovators from a range of fields, convene to talk about the big trends and initiatives in the IT world are shaping how government will operate in the coming years.

These days, that conversation is more relevant than ever, with the Obama administration aggressively reaching out to Silicon Valley for help and setting up operations such as the U.S. Digital Service and 18F to show agencies the way to a more agile and (the theory goes) efficient and effective future.

This year’s Nextgov Prime will be held Sept 9 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington.  The theme is “Gov2020: Technology and the Government of Tomorrow.” Registration is now open.

Sessions will cover a range of topics, including:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data
  • Customer Experience
  • Emerging Tech
  • Tech Leadership

Nextgov Prime will also feature the winners of the Bold Awards, which recognize federal employees who tackle big challenges. Nominations for...

The Truth About Government Performance

For more than 20 years, since the passage of the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act, federal agencies have been under the obligation to establish strategic plans, set goals and measure their progress toward achieving them. Their obligations were further refined with the passage of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act in 2010.

So, where do we stand? Has government performance improved as a result?

The fact that no one really knows says a lot about how efforts to focus federal agencies and managers on delivering results have worked out.  

In a hard-hitting paper in the West Virginia Law Review, Seth Harris, who served as deputy Labor Secretary from May 2009 to January 2014, argues that there are several fundamental problems with the government’s approach to performance measurement and reporting. Two key issues stand out:

  • Congress has exempted itself from the obligation of conducting effective oversight of performance.
  • Agencies and managers are not held accountable in a meaningful way for achieving performance goals.

In the paper, Harris laments his inability to get anyone on Capitol Hill to show any interest in reviewing Labor’s annual performance index:

Beginning in fall 2013, the Labor Department’s congressional affairs...

A Step Forward for a World War I Memorial in D.C.

Just in time for Memorial Day, the congressionally chartered U.S. World War I Centennial Commission on Thursday opened an international competition for the design of a planned expansion of Washington commemorations of the Great War.

The site? Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Ave. Northwest, right across from the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The park commemorates the career of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing.

Often called the “Forgotten War,” World War I (1914-18) drew U.S. forces to Europe only for the final five months. But an astonishing 116,516 American “doughboys” were killed, and another 200,000 wounded. That made the casualty rate greater than World War II’s.

“World War I simply does not exist in the American consciousness,” said commission Vice Chairman Edwin Fountain at the National Press Club. That’s why his group is coordinating with volunteers nationwide on education programs (goal: reaching 10 million students) and commemorations to bring “renewed attention to local World War I memorials around the country.”

For years efforts were made to the rededicate the District of Columbia’s own World War I memorial (built near the Tidal Basin in 1931), but to no avail. Getting directly on the National Mall along with...

Defense IG Official Caught Up in 'Zero Dark Thirty' Dispute Lands on Her Feet

The former Pentagon acting inspector general who was dragged into the “Zero Dark Thirty” dispute involving oversharing of information with Hollywood has landed a Washington private-sector job.

Lynne Halbrooks, who left the watchdog’s office on April 17 without announcing career plans, has joined the law and lobbying firm of Holland & Knight as a partner in its global litigation practice, the firm announced on May 12. “I will have the opportunity to be an immediate contributor to its highly regarded government contracts and white-collar defense and investigations practices," Halbrooks said in the firm’s release.

The circumstances of her hiring were explored in detail by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, which places her squarely in the cross-hairs of its long-standing crusade against the “revolving door” accessed by government executives. POGO has also been at the center of transparency advocates who believe the Defense Department IG’s office may have softened a report on whether former CIA Director Leon Panetta and others revealed classified details of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“Halbrooks’ movement through the revolving door means she is unlikely to be held accountable for her role in the Zero Dark Thirty affair,” wrote POGO investigator...

A Top Spook Reunion, Of Sorts

It’s not every day that 10 former CIA directors and 10 former deputies get together. But when The New York Times recently saw fit to publish the names of three agency covert operatives, the old-boy network went into action.

In a letter to the editor published Tuesday, they expressed displeasure with the Times and outlined the history and rationale for keeping undercover agents’ names out of the newspapers.

The letter was signed by Albert M. Calland, Frank Carlucci, John M. Deutch, Robert M. Gates, John Gordon, Porter Goss, Michael V. Hayden, Bob Inman, Stephen R. Kappes, Richard Kerr, John McLaughlin, John McMahon, Michael J. Morell, Leon E. Panetta, David H. Petraeus, William O. Studeman, George J. Tenet, Stansfield Turner, William H. Webster and R. James Woolsey.

(Image via  / Shutterstock.com)